Struggling to Be Church: Halting Steps on the Journey

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

Despite the fact that I have been attending church services since my time en utero, it is not until the events of recent years that I have begun to realize more fully that being church is neither so easy nor so difficult as it appears.  Let me explain.

I am co-founder of a discipling ministry called Sanctify.  We began in July 2007, sprouted from the ashes of failure in the soil of discontent.  Our dreams were, and continue to be, a bit outrageous (not that this is any problem for an almighty God).

But there is a problem: Sanctify has stalled in its development and has been stalled for a while.  Three problems plague us:

  • We are insular.
  • We are small.
  • We have unrealized potential.

In at least a few of us, this stall has instigated a yearning for greener pastures (see here and here).

Personally, I am leaning toward planting greener pastures, rather than seeking them out.  This will require hard work and deep trust, but the draw of the vision is greater than the fear.

So, in preparation for what is necessarily a group decision, I have run our problems through the essential ecclesiology filter (content, embodiment, and formation of the faith).  What follows are some possible avenues for transformation.

  • We are insular.
    • Create the relational space to become a city church, a cross-section of various congregations in the South Bay.
    • Take steps in space and time to accomplish this.  Our monthly dinner is an excellent venue.
    • Letting the dinner be a dinner, take steps in our weekly gatherings to practice intentional discipleship.
  • We are small.
    • Recommit ourselves to obey the command to go make disciples.
    • Intertwine our ordinary lives more fully. (I do not know what this will look like or how it will fit in busy schedules.)
    • Own up to our personal and corporate responsibility to ask others to join us.
  • We have unrealized potential.
    • Call ourselves to radical trust, of the mustard seed variety.
    • At every opportunity, put actual flesh on the vision and live it.
    • Figure out what skills we need and get trained.

Sanctify is definitely a work in progress and its current situation is evidence of the too frequent disconnect between theology and practice.

We walk this journey in halting steps, but we do walk.

About Laura

My name is Laura and I am on a journey, pondering the implications of God's glorious design of humanity and integrating every aspects of this design into a description of whole life health.
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4 Responses to Struggling to Be Church: Halting Steps on the Journey

  1. Alan Knox says:

    I like what you’re writing about here. Its good to recognize different possible areas for transformation. It is also possible, however, to combine the three areas. For example, these three statements are from the three different areas:

    1. Letting the dinner be a dinner, take steps in our weekly gatherings to practice intentional discipleship.
    2. Intertwine our ordinary lives more fully.
    3. At every opportunity, put actual flesh on the vision and live it.

    Why not combine these three by inviting believers and unbelievers to have dinner together in your home (or restaurant) regularly. Make it a part of your life, not just a part of your weekly gathering.

    Just one suggestion…

    -Alan

  2. Laura says:

    Alan,

    Excellent suggestion. Inviting unbelievers to the meal has always been on the table; I guess my ingrained understanding of discipleship is still separate from ordinary life. Yet another example of having a good theory yet to be put into practice.

    Retraining my discipleship-looks-this-way soul will take time and effort. Illustrative stories are quite welcome. 🙂

  3. Andrew B says:

    A book is not really an answer to this question, nevertheless, I am suggesting “So Beautiful” by Leonard Sweet, even though I am only just through the introduction.

    He is writing about Missional Relational Incarnational lif and church in the 21st century context.So it could be inspiring in the discovery of greener pastures and in seeing beyond the insular.

  4. Laura says:

    Andrew,

    First, thanks for adding your voice to the new blog :-).

    Second, though books are not the answer, they can certainly help with the needed mental transformation. I’ve put this on my ecclesiology book list. I may try to convince one of my fellows to read it (my course load this fall is a whopper: I’m already doing homework and the term doesn’t start until 8/26).

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