De-Churched and De-ICed II

I started blogging with a rule to myself to never apologize for a post, but maybe the previous post deserves an apology, if nothing else, for the fact that it was poorly written and confusing.

I probably shouldn’t care what people say about de-churched people. Heck I’m not even sure if I am one. But I might be. It probably depends on who you ask and where you set the requirements. Even while attending church, I have always identified with the de-churched.

As long as you believe that the de-churched are idealist church shoppers who are too wounded and independent to get involved with you because they only like their buddies, you can just write them off. I mean really, why else wouldn’t they want to be a part of your deal?

The bounded set-centered set example is sometimes used as a way to view people’s spiritual journey and salvation without the traditional hard lines of deciding who is in and who is out. That’s kind of how I feel about church. If you have a bounded-set church definition, I probably fall outside your lines. Whatever you have decided qualifies as “real church” probably disqualifies me.

With a centered-set definition of church, believers are in the process of finding where they fit in the body and the people that they are to be connected to at this moment in time. A centered-set definition of church encourages relationships across congregational lines, it encourages relationships with not-yet believers, and it allows for a fluidity of relationship that is resilient to changes in life and circumstances.

A centered-set view of church is more concerned that people find the relationships that they should be connected with at this time than it is with making sure that they are on the membership roll of an organization. It’s less about commitment or lack of commitment to a specific group and more about unity and devotion to people.

Just as I believe the Spirit is always at work drawing people to Jesus, I also trust that He is at work connecting people in the Body. Because of that, I don’t want to assume what that is supposed to look like for someone else. Even if they might be in a phase of missing it, I want to encourage them that God will hook them up where He wants them to be.

Hopefully this isn’t confusing too. :)

HT to Bill for the term De-ICed, love it!

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20 thoughts on “De-Churched and De-ICed II

  1. This post really resonated with me. I’m in the middle of trying to figure out not how to change churches, but how to attend two very different churches (ELCA and A/G). Where do the two circles intersect and why can’t I be in the middle. By the way, I continue to love your blog and your courage in describing your journey.

    1. Thanks Nadine. That’s a great example. Sometimes the answer isn’t as clear cut as “just pick one.” Isn’t there a rule somewhere though that you can’t attend two? ;)

  2. I also read the 2 blogs that (I think) prompted you to write both of these posts. The ‘Ultimate Consumer’ comment totally gave that away; reading that thread got under my skin as well, even though I wouldn’t be someone who would be considered ‘de-churched’ or ‘de-ICed’. It bothered me for two reasons; and you do touch on both of those reasons in your posts.

    First there is the whole lable and dismiss thing that bothers me. My whole life I’ve been a people watcher. When I look at people I wonder what is going on behind thier eyes. I’m quite sure that thier inner lives and stories are at least as complex as mine… probably more so (hey I’m a fairly simple guy). Whether they are in a consumer oriented IC or outside of any IC, to assume that it’s due to consumerism is to deny that complexity and flatens them into 2 demensional people that we don’t have to get to know or treat as real human beings. It’s also rediculous to blame someone who’s been born into a consumer culture for being a consumer. I would be willing to bet that many of these ‘consumers’ are ‘Casualties of the American Dream’ (HT Addison Road) who recognize that there is something not right with the world and with thier own lives, and are looking answers as best they know how. Heck, I’d like to find an exit from this crazy 40 hour work week merry-go-round that wouldn’t be devastating to my family; or at least I’d like to find the guy who decided we should work 40 hours a week and smack him….. anyway….

    And second, that thread (and much of what passes as preaching and teaching in most IC’s I know) is at best deistic and at worst naturalistic. There is absolutely no mention of the Father’s, Jesus’, or the Spirit’s involvment in building the Church. Sorry if that is harsh sounding, but honestly I find it easier to see God’s involvement in creation on the Discovery Channel than I do in even my own local IC. The talk always sounds like God is off somewhere else, and we’ve got to figure things out on our own until he get’s back.

    Well sorry that was so long, hope it’s not too confusing either :)

    1. Rick,
      It is the label and dismiss thing that bothers me too. People are complex, and if we are believing the best about them, maybe they aren’t just stupid and lazy.

      Jesus is building His church and He can show people where they fit. One of the reasons this can be a touchy subject is just because someone doesn’t fit in a particular group doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything wrong with the group OR anything wrong with the person.

      Are there people who are missing it? Maybe, but we would be best off encouraging them that God has a place for them and they can trust Him to find it.

  3. I like categorizing and labeling people, and then filing them into their respective slots. It makes it so much easier to manage them.

    I don’t understand why God hasn’t utilized this system yet. It may be because it’s so hard to alphabetize the files using the Hebrew alphabet. It would have been so much easier if He would have just taught Abraham English. Think of how much work that would have saved King James in finalizing the only true Bible.

    1. I like your idea of categorizing and labeling people to increase the ease of management. However, we must insist that those lab/cated persons behave true to their assigned lab/cats.

      King James was an effecient lab/cater…much more so than Moses.

      T

  4. I like McChurch, you can get a kids meal as well …..

    It was McGavran, who wrote: ‘People become Christian fastest when least change of race or clan is involved’ (HCGP). In Understanding Church Growth (1970, 3rd Ed. 1990), but shouldn’t the church be a reconciled community that includes all, especially the socially marginalised?

    I like the questions Tim Chester poses,
    If I can be part of a virtual community on the internet then why not be part of a virtual internet church? Or should we develop ‘matrix churches’ in which neighbourhood expressions of church co-exist with other expressions of Christian community. Could I belong to a workplace ‘church’ and a local church?

  5. Mark,
    There are lots of people that I consider brothers and sisters in Christ, both local and virtual. Locally, there are many people in different congregations that I have various degrees of fellowship with. Sometimes I attend services at these places. There are also a handful of believers with whom I walk in closer relationship. I enjoy and appreciate the parts of the family that I am exposed to and experience. I’m not sure what that says about where I “belong”.

  6. Grace, I have resonated with the centered-set approach ever since I learned what it means. I still believe there is a point of conversion, but I don’t believe we always know when people have reached that point–nor should it affect how we love them or whether we include them.

    As to the de-churched thing…I think you’ve touched on it when you talk about one’s definition of “church”. The way I see it, the only way you truly can be de-churched is to be “de-Jesused”–that is, to reject Christ. (My Calvinist brethren are probably cringing right about now.) It seems to me that we who follow Christ are in the church, whether we want to be or not. It has nothing to do with how or when we gather, or with whom. :)

  7. I have Tom. I would love to write about that sometime soon. What the article said about post-church attitudes may be true in some situations, however it assumed a lot about the beliefs and motives of people who do not fit in well-defined church categories, whether institutional or house church.

    1. Thanks for your reply, Grace.

      I found Frank’s assumptions about beliefs and motives somewhat stereotypical, though I’ve heard people actually make those stereotypical statements.

      I guess Frank uses a bounded set-centered set perspective (?)

      T

  8. Language can be interesting.

    In our family technically we have a Certificate of exemption to homeschool aka homeschoolers…. but homeschoolers look at us and say bah, your unschoolers, and we look at them and say nah, we are lifelong learners.

    Same thing with church…
    churchgoers look at us (non attenders) and call us heathen, the heathen look at us and some are curious and want to know more, some look at us and call us freaks (and worse) and we look at ourselves and say, we are believers in Christ aka his church.

    What name fits depends on who is calling it and the colored glasses they are wearing.

  9. Journey to Simplicity

    While we all have our own specific journey, the markers on the path from Institutional Church to “simply follow Jesus” are remarkably similar.

    1) After much thought, prayer and soul-searching, disconnecting from the IC (i.e. not attending church events anymore)

    2) Uneasy freedom (like a cat easing out into the yard) becomes ecstatic freedom (2 year old escaping from the bathtub). No manmade constraints!

    3) After the freedom in #2 turns to isolation we yearn to connect with others in His body… but only in a simple/organic/non-heirarchical way.

    4) The quest for others who are like-minded begins. This can take a long time.

    5) You find others, proceed with caution, acknowledge that we will never agree on every little issue and that how we interact is critical as we seek truth together.

    To simply follow Jesus, right here, right now, together… that’s the heart-cry for me, and for more and more folks I meet. How we relate to each other is of critical importance… more important than us getting all our theology right to begin with :-)

    I would offer the following as a place to start. http://livewickmedia.com/simply-follow.html

    Ever onward.

    – Steve

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