Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
If the research he read is true -- then Gen Y, Gen X -- are fine with the Gospel (as they understand it) but not too happy with the institution of the church.
This struck me as a wonderful "marketing" opportunity for us Convergent Quakers. Except, we (all Quakers not just the Convergent types) if not adverse to advertising our existence, are not very good at it.
Which is understandable at one level -- how do you capture on a billboard or bumper sticker a spiritual experience as deep as Quakerism offers?
This made me think that one small step might be by undoing a name change that many Friends adopted in the 19th and early 20th century -- the name "Church." As in Podunk Friends Church.
If Gen Y et al like Jesus but don't like the church -- let's get rid of the "church."
By that I mean the name on the front of many a Friend's congregational edifice. Let's drop Podunk Friends Church and go by Podunk Friends Meeting -- and alert the local media to why we're changing our names.
Name changes are all the rage in mega-congregations and those who want to be -- just in our county alone we've got things like Connection Pointe, LifeWay, and all sorts of things that used to Podunk Christian Church or Southern Baptist of Podunk or ...
So let's go back to Meeting and invite folks to Meeting. For one it sounds a bit more hospitable than church. We could emphasize that what we mean by meeting is "gathering" -- we're getting together for worship.
And then we invite people to the second meaning of meeting -- encounter. We come to meet other like-hearted people. People searching for the sacred. Some having found more than others, some of us just learning the way or beginning to think about the Divine seriously.
I say like-hearted, notice, and not like-minded. We don't all have to think alike -- which is a good thing, since few of us do. Sometimes I'm of two minds about things all on my own!
Besides meeting other like-hearted people, we come to meet God. To encounter the Divine. Not just to be told about the divine through story, sermon, song, and silence, but to actually gaze into the face of our loving God and listen for God's words to our souls. What more winsome invitation could there be than, "If you like Jesus, but not the church, then come with us -- come to Meeting and meeting."
Monday, October 06, 2008
Instead it became largely a time to talk about various issues that various Friends were interested in -- prison ministry, being open and affirming of gays, national legislation, and so on. All things, it seemed to me, that were already being undertaken and accomplished by other active Friends organizations.
I understand that the group is still meeting and still sorting out what it is called to be. And hooray for them -- taking time to let a leading season seems to be perfectly in keeping with our testimonies concerning discernment.
But as I thought about that meeting today, I came to the conclusion, based on what I heard at that meeting, my work as a congregational consultant, a writer of Quaker spirituality, and our own little experiment with the Friends in Fellowship group, is that much of what I would hope from such a group is underway in the convergent Friends movement.
While I may not be strictly Convergent (I'm still not certain that I fit (or understand) the definition exactly), the convergent Friends movement is, it seems to me, the Quaker version of the emergent church movement. I find a lot of vitality in the Emergent movement – a group, according to their own words, “is a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” (Emergent Village). They also say that they are about
Why I think the convergent Friends movement (and indeed much of vital Quakerism outside of the convergent movement) has much to offer is that it embraces the above all within the context of the rich diversity of Quaker faith and practice.
I like the idea behind the word “convergent” – one definition of which is ”tending to come together from different directions.” I am concerned that there be places for theological hospitality and deep discussion about Friends testimonies and their applicability in today’s world.
I don’t think that developing another group of “like-minded” Friends is going to be very helpful to us. That would seem to me to be “divergent.” I know what I cherish are rich times of worship across “lines.” What feeds my soul is when whatever dialogue growing out of that worship is done with respect and caring – me listening and learning from my Evangelical brothers and sisters, my more mystical brothers and sisters, my liberal brothers and sisters and letting Christ teach me through all of them.I don’t think convergent Friends is the final answer for all Friends in all circumstances.
I do think it has a lot to offer to those of us inside Friends who long for places of deep spiritual engagement (and all that means) and those outside of Friends who hear about us and wonder where to connect with a people who seek to be known as the Friends of God in an open and welcoming way.
PS I"m still willing to try an organize a "Convergent Friends" conversation at "The Great Emergence" if there's any interest.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Since there are all sorts of things planned specifically for Friends, (check the Convergent Friends site at http://convergentfriends.org/2008/09/15/announcing-covergent-october-2008/ for blog rolls and activities), I want to announce one that is open to a wider audience, but still has a lot of interest for Convergent Friends. It is "The Great Emergence" in Memphis on December 5-6, 2008.
Workshops will be offered with some of the best practitioners of emerging Christianity, including Tony Jones,