Monday, August 3, 2015

What I Learned in Church (7 Habits)

About 9 or 10 months ago, I started thinking about the nature of life in community, and considered for the first time that the point may be not so much to embrace each participant in order the better to hold the community together, but rather to transform each of us and prepare us to go out and on to the next stage in our lives. I began to wonder . . .

"Could it possibly be that we're not supposed to try to hang onto people? Is is possible that we're supposed to prepare people, and then let them go??"

(See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Apostles )

This summer I'm in Berkeley, CA, and it's giving me a good chance to reflect on experiences at my home congregation in Chicago, IL (St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square). "What has been different in the way I live my life," I've been asking myself, "as a result of being part of that church community?"

I think there are, in fact, some habits that have been nurtured in me by being part of the St. Luke's community. Some that come to mind:

* "love each other" - I put this one first, though it's the hardest to explain -- or at least to explain genuinely and honestly.

* "listen" - This one I know for sure, because I can remember specific times when groups of us have worked on it intentionally together. (See Listening for Community (A Chicago Encounter))

* "make worship happen" - We have a pretty "high church" style of worship at St. Luke's -- and it can be tempting to just sit back and let it wash over you -- but I've unquestionably gotten into the habit of coming to church in an "active" posture on Sunday mornings.

* "be part of the wider community" - Challenging!

* "have agency". . . in the sense of both "ministry" AND "governance."

* "take Jesus seriously" - (I wonder: Does this happen everywhere  . . . ?)

* "pray" - Yes, this required a kick in the pants; what's your point?

There are stories that go with each of these. I'm enjoying thinking back over them. I'll add posts in the weeks ahead to amplify on each of these.

I wonder if this resonates with the experience of others? What habits have you picked up along the way? Have those habits made a difference?

Related posts

I've been thinking about the Occupy movement and what it has to do with Christian witness. The conclusion I've come to is: a lot! In fact, I think it's central to our understanding of what Christ's life and death meant.

(See Occupy Palm Sunday! )

I believe when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine and said "Remember me this way," he was much more interested in encouraging us to keep having conversations -- conversations that really matter -- with others . . . and finding ways to be in relationship with our neighbors  . . . all the while reminding us "never underestimate the power of food"  . . .

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry))

We busted out of our big Neo-Gothic church building on Sunday and gathered for worship on the Boulevard. (Or, to be more precise, beneath the trees on the median alongside Logan Boulevard in Chicago, during the weekend-long "Boulevard Fest" sponsored by our congregation.) I've decided to embrace this new feeling of exposure and try to learn some lessons. I put them under the rubric "Congregations that worship in glass houses . . . (complete the sentence) . . . . "

(See Congregations That Worship in Glass Houses . . . )

I'm not sure the "7 habits of highly effective people" are necessarily identical to the "7 habits of highly effective apostles." But they do pose an interesting framework to consider building from.

(See The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Apostles )

I wondered at how we could have covered all that in just a minute or two -- the time it takes to go a few stops.  After all, when I walked onto that bus we were strangers.

(See Listening for Community (A Chicago Encounter))

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