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The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

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12.04.2008

Just something to think about...

Nancy sent this in an email to me, and I asked her if I could post it on the blog for discussion by everyone in the group. Please offer whatever feedback or ideas you would like - Jesse

"I have thought a lot about what [Nick] prayed last Sunday night
regarding that maybe our group becoming a bit complacent and that we don’t seem to be blogging as much (although in your prayer you said that might not matter and you could be right). But it made me really sad. I just checked and there is no new posting on what is happening this Sunday yet.

With that thought in mind, I wondered if we might as a group really pray about direction and how we can be a light in our very unstable and uncertain world right now.

I e-mailed my nephew a fairly long e-mail and here is a portion of what has been on my mind…

In the loss of my evangelical belief system and foundation, I am coming to realize how difficult it is to love and worship God without it. Do I need to develop a workable belief system again? What do I really believe? What do I really know? This requires a blind trust that God will pull, teach and connect me to beliefs that continually evolve and perhaps change over time…Am I ok with that? This is radical and problematic for most because then it potentially could become all about one individual’s interpretation and perception of God—“cherry picking” so to speak. Can I trust and have faith that the One True God is revealing himself to me?” And so I ask…Can we trust that as a group God is revealing himself to us collectively? How united are we on what we think? Do we need to be united or is it better that we
do not get caught up on anyone’s collection of beliefs (perhaps there is a balance there)?

These are just a few thoughts and perhaps one of you could put something close on the blog. It’s kind of a “where are we now as a group and what do we think” blog or
discussion. Just something to think about."

9 comments:

Jesse said...

Hi Nancy -

My initial thoughts, having just glanced over your email, is that I think you are right on in a lot of ways, and I would love to consider this for a few days, and bring it up in conversation to the whole group. The general question, "How does the cohort function/serve/exist in post-modern, 21st century American Christianity, specifically in Columbus?" is a very important question. We asked it a year ago and the result was that we decided to start meeting regularly. I think it'd be good to ask the question again and see where everyone is at.

For myself, I know I have missed the last two weeks and have not been active blogging or suggesting new ideas because of the busyness of life - however, I am more and more convinced that this "expression" of Christianity, being outside of the church and but in "real life" is more valuable, more powerful, more "Christian" in every sense that I can think of, than the previous expressions of Christianity that I have known.

I also want to say that I am so so thankful for this community. Andrew recorded the "human sexuality" discussion for me since I was out of town, and I have been listening to it for the last few days as I drive in the car, and again and again I am deeply grateful for each person in our little group - and excited to get to know the newer folks even more!

So I am fully on board for sharing, discussing, seeking, and trying out new things and new ways of how we are meant to live out God's love and life here and now, today.

Regarding the blog, I have tried to be more intentional about writing regularly on my personal blog, and this may have taken me away from this blog a bit. I know that a few others in the group also have personal blogs, and perhaps we could link to those on the side of this blog. It would provide a bit of a branch-off, seeing what individuals in the group are thinking about and going through and what they contribute to the cohort as a whole. My only hesitance is that it feels like "promoting" and I don't want the blog to be my personal advertisement space, if that makes sense.

What do others think about linking to the personal blogs of individuals in the cohort as a way to connect more? Or would it be more detrimental?

Jane Johnson said...

Nancy,

I confess to having a similar kind of struggle since deciding to leave organized religion. I think that you described it perfectly in your post. How do we deal with the freedom we've chosen? Enjoying it is one thing, but growing in it might be something else. How do we deal with the state of (relative) uncertainty that we have chosen? In the past few years I've gone through some months when I put aside a certain way of knowing God because I didn't know what to think it, and sometimes I think this caused my relationship with him to suffer. For example, lately it's been difficult for me to pray about anything personal, because I'm not sure about how I should approach God with my own desires. On the one hand, I really do think that all of my experiences have become the tools that God uses to teach me, but on the other, I have a feeling that I'm missing a certain amoung of discipline that practicing a more conventional faith would give.

Zack said...

Wow great post Nancy.
Thanks for bringing this up.

I've felt a bit of a shift in the group lately to approaching topics more in an intellectual then a personal manner, that sometimes makes me and I think others feel unable to talk because we feel like our views are too different maybe too traditional or that if I say something I'll just feel dumb.

It's almost like in trying to get away from groups that are exclusive of people who believe differently our group has inadvertently become exclusive even of ourselves to talk about who we really are and things we're really thinking about because it might not be up-to-par with what everyone else is thinking or something.

So here's the thing if our group is going to merely be a discussion group and not try to mascaraed as some kind of emerging church or something (although I know there is still controversy about what exactly is a church whatever) then it is fine and great for the discussions to be intellectually based and keep everything at a distant impersonal level. However when we mix in now people who are longing for some sort of spiritual community different than what mainstream, evangelical, non-emergent whatever churches are offering and think they've found it in "Thee Emergent Church" and we are somehow a representative of that then it gets all complicated.

OK I'm writing this without thinking so I'll have to ponder for a bit and come back to it later. Maybe do people want to get together after Greg's Recital for a bit and talk?

Scot said...

Yeah, what she(Nancy)said...:)

Jane Johnson said...

Zack,

I understand what you mean about the group becoming exclusive in a certain sort of way, in a way that makes anyone who at a certain moment has a more traditional belief feel like it would not be well-received to utter it in the discussion. For some reason I have felt like I was walking on eggshells at the last couple of meetings. It seems like we have been missing a feeling of community lately, and I would be interested in talking about this issue.

I think something that all of us have to keep in mind is the structure of the group, which is basically no structure. This means that if anyone would like to take the discussions or the worship time in a new direction, or add something to our community practice, that person should feel free to take the lead.

Adam Newby said...

A thought:
In "institutional" church, I found it easy to be complacent. I found it easy to just stay in the background. If I didn't do anything, no big deal. Stuff still got done. There was a "structure" there for community whether or not I did anything to create it. I found this true even at DF. It was easy. No work involved. Built-in community readily available anytime. I would take it when I needed/wanted it. No major investment needed.

Now, in this way of doing church, there is no "built-in" community. It takes input and work on my part. And I'm still complacent. I don't do my part. It's easy to put the busyness of school and work ahead. To think that I'm too busy to build deep relationships. I don't have time. I could do the same thing before, but it really never got noticed that much. It didn't seem to matter. But now I notice it a lot. So I think that's a good thing. A good thing that I notice it. I appreciate more what community is. I feel like I'm missing community now. But I don't seem to be willing to do my part to have it.

Sometimes I think I should just go back to that way of church. But I don't think going back to an "institution" where there is a built-in structured community is the answer. It seems like it took the absence of that to teach me what real community is all about. I don't know what the answer is.

Kristen Kuzmick said...

Hello my friends.

It's been a while. Instead of working on my finals, I thought I would chime in on the conversation.

Nancy, your comment about having lost your evangelical belief system and finding it difficult to love and worship God without it is something that I can really relate to. I, too, am struggling to define my relationship from God apart from my past Church experiences and evangelical beliefs.

On Thursday at my new church in Boston (thecrossingboston.org), we discussed the advent conspiracy, a movement started by some Christians who are seeking to get back to the true meaning of Christmas, to stop consuming, and to start worshiping.

Advent is a quiet and somewhat dark period. It is a period of waiting, of wilderness. On Thursday, we were asked to reflect on how we can "worship more fully" in our lives. I've been thinking a lot about the effect that "losing my evangelical belief system and foundation" is having on my relationship with God. I feel like I am in the wilderness. At church, I could not answer the question, "how can you worship God more fully?" I'm not sure I know how...

Have I intellectualized God to the point that I can no longer experience God's presence? Do I even know how to worship God, talk to God, be with God? I have left my evangelical worship songs, bible verse memorization, and small groups. I don't like sitting in the pew anymore. And I don't know the black and white answers that I once thought existed. So, now what?

I have a hunch that it has to do with community; real and authentic community. But, I am even unsure of this. Adam, your comment about community and complacency rang true for me as well. I desire community. I desire to "do life" with other people. At least, I think that is what I desire.

When I read of some other 'emergent' communities who seem to really be investing in each others' lives and living out this 'Kingdom of God' lifestyle, I'm envious in one sense and skeptical in another. Is authentic community really attainable? Or, am I merely romanticizing something that doesn't actually exist?

Relationships are hard. They take time. Trust. Vulnerability. Risk. Work. I wonder, do I have the energy? Is it worth the investment?

I wish I had answers to your thoughts instead of more questions. But, I guess that's why we are in this together. To ask questions, to wrestle with each other and with God. And ultimately, to love. To love God and to love one another.

I miss you all.

NancyJ said...

There is a Christmas song by the group Point of Grace called, “Not that Far From Bethlehem.” It’s quite beautiful. A portion of the song says…

”We’re not that far from Bethlehem where all our hope and joy began. For when our hearts still cherish him, we’re not that far from Bethlehem.”

We are not far from hope. And maybe we are not that far from each other in beliefs. I believe it is worth rediscovering which ideas still hold for us personally and as a group and have faith that God is pulling us to exactly where we need to be.

eve said...

hey all, in regards to what adam thoughts on complacency. for me i have felt like a leader in organized church for a while. for a long time, middle school - though college. then i started questioning my organized church and at the same time started questioning lots of other things. i feel like i went into a little identity change/confusion and am not fully out. i find i don't speak out as much, i'm less confident in what i think so i'm less confident in saying it. i feel like choosing to speak out is a big effort. for me i have fears of being misunderstood or unheard. i think for some reason i might be saving face if i chose to just listen but i know that i profit more from talking and raising questions.