Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Basics, round two

Had another one of those discussions the other day where the first question, automatically it seems, was "how many members do you have?" I don't think it is really a question of like how legitimate and successful are you, though I wonder sometimes about the measures people apply, but I think these questions are more asked of us in a kind of wonder, like they are really asking how are you able to do all this? when they come in the community center, or the real question behind the question is, "I know how many members my church has or other churches around here have and I don't see anything like this from them, so, wow, how many members do you have? It must be astounding." Of course it is astounding when I tell them. (See the post below called "The basics.")

I know the other confusing thing is about our space not being primarily identified as "church space." Some know I am a minister; they call me Rev. Ron and they ask sometimes if "we are a church?" or where my church is. Those are questions I love dearly...

I wrote this below the other day and it seemed to capture a bit more of the "basics" that I am coming to know as we approach the one year mark of our "grand opening." What a year but that will be for another post. Or you can read back through the posts from this past year, especially those that reflect local stuff, and see for yourself, or go to http://www.turleyok.blogspot.com/.

"Our community center space is called "A Third Place" and that is what the sign says above our storefront space; often we don't have anything that says The Living Room Church anywhere on the outside, as we want to emphasize to people who are interested in us that the idea is that the church is not to be associated with any building, or even a set organizational structure.

In our first building in Turley when we were still trying to be an attractional model of church and still used the original name of Epiphany and even later after changing it to The Living Room we had the usual signage that identified our building as a church and had overt religious imagery and language outside; but in our new and bigger space now that we follow a more organic incarnational missional model of church it is the community space we foreground since our mission in and with the community is most important.

Inside, along with information about other churches too, will be information about the origin of the community center as part of the Living Room Church, and we do have a cross inside the center, and we have a place for people to list people in the community who need prayers, right along where we list names of people in the community who have birthdays, and where people can list items and services for exchange.

Using old congregational history terms, we see ourselves as people of God existing to serve a parish, and we "church" (as a verb, not noun) in order to better do that, rather than trying to attract people from the parish to come build up an entity (noun) known as a church. Besides, in our organic way, we might change our name again, and again--we have been talking about calling ourselves God's SalvageYard since it reflects our environment and mission more--and since we might find ourselves meeting in a variety of places too as needed, so putting a church name on a building doesn't make practical sense either. End.
Type your summary here

Type rest of the post here

3 comments:

Philocrites said...

Ron, do you see what you're doing as being a postmodern version of the "community church" approach Clarence Skinner and John Haynes Holmes advocated in the 1920s? I know the differences are huge, but they were also trying to break out of the dichotomy that set "church where you worship" apart from "place where you serve the world." Can you or do you point to precedents within UU history for what you're doing, or are the relevant precedents entirely in the Evangelical emergent/missional world?

Ron said...

Philocrites, probably the closest I am most aware of in our part of the tradition would be Jenkin Lloyd Jones and the Abraham Lincoln Center in Chicago; last year at GA, the presentation on the lessons to be learned from the Lincoln Center and JLJ, and the workshop Susan Smith and I did on organic/emergent both had a lot of cross-over in philosophy and manifestation. But yes I think you are on to links with Skinner and Holmes and I will have to look at their stuff again. Of course :) the most relevant precedents which we UUs share with the evangelical world would be our common ground in the pre-constantinian world.

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