But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. - 1 Peter 2:9
Last week our core team gathered over tacos to discuss how we might go about being a more holistic church. There's a buzz word if there ever was one.
But let's be honest: who wants to go to a church when there is so many other things to do on a Sunday?
Why not be the church?
A few key elements of being the church:
1) Where do we see God active in our lives? (ie. our city, neighborhood, families, friends and networks?)
2) Availability and vulnerability: showing up and counting yourself ready to roll up your sleeves or give a listening ear rather than dropping by and consuming.
3) Intentionality, thoughtfulness, conversation and planning: so much about church planting is doing things because that's what we think churches should do. [more on that soon]
So, we did talk about being a more holistic church - knowing that talking is never enough... but you have to talk in order to do, right?
One helpful tool we reflected on is something called the "praxis" or "pastoral circle." Knowing we are each called as the priesthood of all believers, or to pastorally be engaged in our world, the praxis circle helps us to see and hear, analyze and reflect, plan and act.
When we "Insert" ourselves, when we situate where we are in our day-to-day lives, what is our day-to-day reality? What do we experience?
And having situated our context, what is our "Social Analysis?" What is it that we see and hear in our respective contexts? What's happening culturally? What's happening in this season?
Knowing we need help to discern, we search for what God might be up to in our community - this is the crucial part of "Theological reflection." Theologian Rita Nakashima Brock writes "Jesus is brought into being through Community and participates in the co-creation of it…. Hence what is truly Christological, that is truly revealing of divine incarnation and salvific power in human life, must reside in connectedness and not in single individuals." Only in community can we truly reflect and contemplate what God is up to. This isn't some sort of groupthink exercise - each person is absolutely free and crucial to the discernment process.
And then after we reflect together, we might plan together a "Pastoral Response." Rather than set up programs we assume will serve others, what might it look like to discern what it is we can or cannot do?
This is a always in process, always being refined. Like each of us.
This is what it might look like to be on a journey as a more holistic church. Rather than a quick, church start up that's more akin to a franchise (ala McDonald's or Starbucks).
Key to everything about being the church is prayer and contemplation.
As Joe Holland & Peter Henriot write in their excellent book, "Social Analysis: Linking Faith and Justice," nothing we do as the people of God can be done apart from prayer.
When it comes to Insertion, Social Analysis, Theological Reflection, and Pastoral Planning:
[These] four elements … all need to be located in an atmosphere of celebration, infused with an ethos of prayer.
That's what we hope to become: a church about prayer & service, action & contemplation, faith & justice, personal growth & meaningful community.