Talking about UnLearning Religion, here’s a quote from page 64 of Shane Claiborne’s book. (Shane, if you are reading this… real likely… I hope you don’t mind.)
“…I was puzzled, grieving over the state of our church. ‘I think I’ve lost hope in the church,’ I confessed, brokenhearted, to a friend. I will never forget her response. ‘No, you haven’t lost hope in the church. You may have lost hope in Christianity or Christendom or all the institutions, but you have not lost hope in the church. This is the church.’ At that moment, we decided to stop complaining about the church we saw, and we set our hearts on becoming the church we dreamed of.”
At Jacob’s Well we talk about being the kind of church you are, not that you have. That’s why we don’t have a building. It gives us nothing to point at and say, “That’s Jacob’s Well” except for ourselves. Since there is no grand edifice to impress people, no building to impact the landscape of south Minneapolis it is going to have be us. Us, following where Jesus is leading us – individually and together. Each of us on the leg of the journey that we are on. Putting into action what God has shown and given us – powerfully, imperfectly, limping, hurting, shouting, bravely, joyfully, gladly. Real people… who know that they what they are becoming belongs to God.
My fear? There are two of them. One is what it will mean for me. Following Jesus still scares the willies out of me because it threatens what I’ve figured out and am holding tightly to. The other is that we won’t do it. That we will talk about and agree with ‘becoming the church we dreamed of’ instead of doing what it takes to become it.
OK, so if you are in Minneapolis and not in a Group discussing this book, come join me at Turtle Bread tonight (Wed. April 2, 7 pm) on 48th St E & Chicago Ave S. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book yet (if you are, try to get through chapters 1 & 2) or aren’t a Jacob’s Well person. I’ll have copies with me for 10 bucks.
And if you live in Timbuktu or something and can’t get there tonight, post your ideas, comments, etc here and let’s get an on-line conversation going.
You’ve got some good fears! Going against the grain is not easy. Especially when we’ve been going with the grain in most ways all our lives. Difficult to give up that security and comfort and get out there on a limb. Being the church in action, not just word… easier said than done, too. For sure… Sounds TOUGH (but I think Jacob’s Well is doing it!). I’m struggling with *how* we do it? With families, kids and other responsibilities, we can’t drop everything like Shane did but there is a way for each of us. For me, that means much more than just giving money. It means action. Without action the world remains sterile. Peoples’ lives remain sterile. It’s relationships and interactions that change lives. (And can change the world.) As a church, then, we inspire others to do the same. To act as Christ, to help like Christ, together and on our own. (Ultimately, we’ll fail. Be we do this as much as we can!) We act for the poor (financially and in spirit), the lonely, the misguided, etc… Now I see how you’ve wrapped this around UnLearn. Quick, aren’t I?
This is something we have to do together. Money is important, but it doesn’t cut it. I don’t think this is easy. Especially, as you note, for families with already established lifestyles and assets. But we can stretch, can’t we? I think a few brave souls have to start it out, and take others, one by one, by the hand to go where we aren’t likely to go.
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Came across your blog somehow and learned about Claiborne’s book. I will add that to my To Read List. Thank you.
Our 5-year old was once told by someone that going to church on Sunday is how you show that you love God. We had to un-learn (to use your words) this and teach him that the church is all the people who follow Jesus. It is not a building and so you can’t actually “go to church” because how do you go to something that you are.
If you are interested, I am attempting to dialogue more about these things at http://irreligiouslife.wordpress.com
(A life without religion is what Jesus came to teach us. Thus, “Irreligious Life”)
I think it’s healthy to teach kids (and adults) that being Church is about being in community. Maybe an analogy would be that just like we are happy when all the members of our family get together to be with one another, so God is delighted when we all come together to be family. We come to let God and one another know that we love them, and to get equipped to go out into the world.
Thanks for waking me up on my blog. I haven’t been attending to it for several months and want to revive it! Check in from time to time.