First of all, let us apologize for the length of this post. The amount of things to say perhaps pushes us over blogging etiquette, but so be it.
The purpose of this post is to determine if there is interest in forming a more committed and serious Columbus cohort that could potentially, for those that so desired, serve the function of a church. Just to keep things in order, we’re going to post why we think this might be needed and how it might look.
Why do this? – There are a few reasons that we see, resting primarily on a lack of this type of institution in the Columbus area. We feel that there is a portion of the population that the Emergent movement could speak to particularly well and demonstrate the love of Jesus. There are many, many churches in the area that serve other slices of this city’s population, contain a congregation that is experiencing spiritual growth, and are reaching out to some sort of local “mission field.” However, we have not yet found a place that seems both spiritually alive and doesn’t consider emergent ideas heretical. We have not found anything like this in the area, although admittedly we have not looked everywhere. Also, many of our own lost or disenfranchised friends would have great difficulty searching for God in the church options this area currently provides. It seems, though, that many of these people might feel open and curious in an emerging-church environment. We can get more specific if people would like, but we suspect that other people have experienced similar things as well. That being said I (Nick speaking) regularly receive emails from people asking, “where are the emergent churches in Columbus?” I have to respond that there aren’t really any, but here are some churches that we know of that emergent-ers seem to find tolerable, and then end by welcoming them to attend one of our discussion groups. I believe that there is a strong demand for a church that is built on emergent ideas in the community and although we would begin very small, we could soon grow in number.
All that being said we do not necessarily believe a “house church” is the final word on the solution to this problem. Jane and I desire to see this potential house church grow someday into a church with its own building and a great enough number of people attending it to really allow the church to impact the community around it. We, meaning this cohort, have had some great conversation about this lately. Basically, if there was already an emergent church in Columbus, whatever that might look like, then this particular movement would likely not be needed This group would function as a house church at first, and likely for a long period of time, but primarily due to numbers and the lack of a facility. However, if at any time we are large enough in number to justify a move we believe that should only occur through lengthy debate, appeals to the Spirit, and near consensus with the group.
What would it look like? – It would take the shape that the members conceived, though we believe there are a few basic guidelines that could lead the group. We are presenting these here as brainstorming topics, something that must be discussed by the group as a whole. A few of our ideas are, in no particular order:
A fluid and minimal hierarchy – as purely Spirit-lead as possible
An open-mindedness to postmodern ideas
Some sort of occasional liturgy or worship element
Actively appealing to the Columbus community, both in terms of spreading
the word about what we’re doing as well as serving it
A group that still places primacy on the work and teachings of Jesus
As far as function goes we have some basic ideas that also need to be discussed at length. Basically we can foresee three different types of meetings that would occur within a month. They are:
Twice a month a discussion group much like what we have now (which we originally desired to hold twice a month). This could be about any topic that is beneficial for discussion. We imagine that these discussions will usually be based on some sort of text (book, topic, movie, article, poem, painting, dream, mental image, etc.). Moreover, these meetings could be led by anyone and this position should regularly rotate so that a firm hierarchy is avoided. This includes even interested non-believers, as this would be a wonderful time for them to raise questions.
Once a month a “celebration of the faithful.” This connects to the ancient version of the Mass which had two elements, this being one of them. For our purposes it would consist of a shared meal followed by a liturgical celebration that could include scripture or readings from the Church Fathers, worship, private and corporate prayer, and communion. This event would be open to anyone, though the person/people leading this should probably be confessing followers of Christ.
Once a month a fun activity that would both unite the group and be a great opportunity to invite interested people. This could be something like a game night, bowling, wine tasting, anything that would bring people together to share a activity and fellowship.
Okay, these are our thoughts. What we are mainly interested in right now is to see who else is interested. If a few people are we will set up a time to discuss all these issues in more detail. Obviously someone would not need to attend all four meetings a month to be a member, though there should probably be some people committed to coming every week for the group to survive and thrive. In other words, we still want people to feel free to come to just the discussions or just the liturgical celebrations. So please post if you would be interested in taking this leap. We will only go forward on starting an emergent house church if other people make it apparent that they would participate in it.
Nick and Jane