Monday, June 22, 2009

Love the church Q&A

I'm trying to remember the questions from our Q&A session at the end of love the church, I think these are most of them...
  • How do we fit together thinking about universal and local church - can we just say we're a member of the universal church? It's true that Christians are to be in the universal church, but the church appears in the world in local congregations under leadership. The church is the context of the Christian life, in relationship with other Christians. NT letters are to local churches, Jesus ministers to local churches and can shut them down. 
  • How can we encourage diversity in the church? My consideration here is that since the all tribes and tongues and cultures will be present in the universal church in the new creation there's no reason why there shouldn't be diversity in the local church, the gospel transcends cultural barriers. Ethnicity and culture is permeable. If the demographics where our church is located are not diverse, don't expect it - but if they are... don't flatten diversity, consider cultures when planning meetings, music and preaching. Be aware that we naturally incline towards those like us, do the opposite. And know, that in Adam and in Christ we all have more in common than any cultural differences. We can celebrate cultural differences.
  • Isn't prophecy the same as preaching? Those who tend to argue this tend also to say women can't preach, but we know that women can definitely prophesy, so you have to work out whether women can preach to the whole church or not. There is some overlap, preaching can be prophetic but the two aren't necessarily the same.
  • If I'm offered a great job elsewhere how does loving the church fit in to the decision? When offered a job we tend to consider location, money, comfort, convenience and how interesting it is. Let's give the effect on the church a seat at the table. It's not that we can defer responsibility for the decision, but we can at least include it in the process!
  • How does church life work for students? Being a student is wierd for church life, it's wierd for life. To live one place for 30 weeks a year, and another for 22 weeks is wierd. Commit quick. Churches can build on students. Commitment to church begins with relationships, and it will hurt in the holidays - but it's better to face the hurt than stay distant. Commit on the basis that you'll attend the funerals of the people in the church if they don't attend yours first - presume you're there for life unless God calls you elsewhere. 
  • What about CU & church? CUs exist for the church - they are churches partnering together through students, supporters, and others from local churches to reach students and see them added into the church. There is no conflict only synergy. Students have more time than they realise and you can commit to both - my experience is that those most committed to CU are most committed to church and vice-versa. The key again, is relationship - involve church in your life and your life in church.
  • What about excellence in church life? We want to do things well to help people understand and grow, the challenge is not to make an idol of making things work well. I want to be the worlds best preacher, not so I can have my name in lights but so I can best serve my local church and I'll study and think and craft my sermons on that basis, likewise for musicians, Bible readers, prayers, prophesiers etc., surely?
  • How can we encourage someone to speak in tongues in a meeting? The fear here is 'what if there is no interpretation for the tongue?' - if the tongue isn't given we don't need the interpretation. You can pray briefly the first time if you're that concerned to avoid craziness. Home groups are a great place to get started in praying in English, praying in a tongue, prophecy, praying for healing etc. Start small and grow. There will be mess in church life and that's ok, the key is to pursue love, to pursue the good of the body. Death to self, life to the body. 

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