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.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


Is the Cohort "Pointless"??

I think this is an incredibly insightful and thought-provoking post from Dan David Hayward, aka naked pastor. He describes the church as being "pointless." A selection from the post (with emphasis added):

If a church has vision and is goal-oriented, then it has deviated from its healthiest self and will impose burdens on its members. It will have become something else… like a lobbying group, an activist group, a missional group, or something other than just a church. It can still call itself a church. But it should admit it has opted for a utilitarian identity rather than just accepting its identity. A church will have to choose to be utilitarian or just be. It can’t be both.
In other words, churches should be pointless. Pointless like my family is pointless. My family is not without its problems and issues, but it is a vibrant, rich, joyful and dynamic community. But it is completely pointless. It doesn’t mean things don’t happen or that we haven’t had an affect on others or the world. But we are pointless. We’re not even intentionally pointless. We are just pointless. And I love it for that. That’s why I love to go home every day and just be, just relax, just love and be loved.

What do you think? Should church be "pointless" as Dan David suggests? This is very contrary to the contemporary idea that each church should find its identity, its mission and its purpose. But part of me really resonates with what Dan David is saying and I think he is on to something. I think he is describing that indescribable aspect of the cohort that makes it so valuable - we don't have to work at it. We don't have to force it or make it "something." It just is.

Are we pointless? Is that a good thing?


Adam Lehman said...

I think pointless is a great word to be chosen if you're simply trying to stir up discussion or ruffle some feathers (which it obviously did, so nice job on word choice.).

This is my thought on the cohort (or a church) being pointless....

We've become so so so focused on what a church does for us and church workers have become so so so focused on what a church can do for you that we've grown a community revolving around the exchange of religious goods & services.

This misses the mark for both church "goers" and church "workers."

But I think that God is up to something, the church - as God's body - does something; they take up God's cause.

So pointless? I'd say no. Is there just one point? no. There are a bunch of points, but simply living in relationship with God and other seems to be the main one.

nakedpastor said...

Hi. I'm the Hayward, but please call me David. LOL.

I didn't use the word to ruffle feathers. I mean what I said. Very much so.

And I still argue that if you opt for a utilitarian identity then you've deviated away from your healthiest self.

NancyJ said...

What do you think? Should church be "pointless" as Dan suggests? …we don't have to work at it. We don't have to force it or make it "something." It just is.

I think our Cohort may be more like the model that Dan is suggesting. But I don’t think it is because we are pointless. I think that is because we are guided by our deepest values and highest priorities. We support each other, love each other. We are adaptable, spontaneous yet get together to plan three months at a time. We have order and structure choosing the pattern of worship, friendship and challenging discussions each month. We look outside of ourselves to participate in the larger communities where we live.

If you asked me, “What is the deepest value of the Cohort?” I would say it is…to love each other and continue.

So this may look like we don’t work at it, and maybe you could define us as pointless, but we really do well together because we share so many of the same values and agree on some structure and order. Isn’t that what happens within Dan’s family too? No mission statement written down, no purpose defined and yet a very good thing.

Can a Church be pointless? Because think about the Church’s deepest value and highest priority—it is defining its beliefs and theology. Everything decision, every action, every motive comes out of having defined beliefs. And these are beliefs that have everything to do with mission and purpose and evangelism.

And what about me as an individual, can I be pointless? Can I ‘just be?’ Any of you who have ever attempted that know how hard that is. Stop trying to control, stop trying to make something happen, stop striving, stop trying to fix, just stop. Every single time I have attempted this--I panic.

But this is Advent Season. If ever there was a time to stop trying so hard to fix everything, this is a good one.

My ability to ‘just be’ even for this short period of a few weeks is a direct result of my values and priorities shifting gently. My deepest value and highest priority during Advent… to focus on who Jesus is in my life, the Season of Christmas and what it means for me personally that Christ was born in the City of David.

I don’t think the best thing is necessarily to be pointless although I too love that idea. In order for the Church to ‘just be’… in order for me to just be,

I have to remain expectant and willing to rediscover what is most important.

Jesse said...

I'm glad a few people are jumping in on this conversation. It is really stretching my mind and concept of "church," but in a good way. I feel as though it is giving me some freedom that I didn't have before. Freedom to *just be*

First - Sorry David for getting your name wrong :/ And thanks for chiming in. I also corrected the link to your homepage, and I want to mention that he posted a follow-up - "Church as Pointless #2" here: http://www.nakedpastor.com/2010/12/09/church-as-pointless-2/

So a few of my thoughts: When I think of "pointless" I think of being "agenda free." I have been to many churches that as soon as I step in the door I feel like the leaders are sizing me up to see how I fit their agenda and how I can be useful for the mission of the church. Usually Kellye and I get asked to volunteer in the first few weeks. Sometimes this felt like a compliment, but other times we though, "What if we just want to be here and relax? What we don't want to *plug in*?"

For me, a beautiful thing about the cohort is that it is free of agenda. We don't *have* to do anything. And we come to the gatherings and come to each other just as ourselves. I have struggled with this in the past. I have wanted the cohort to adopt a social justice cause, or to generate a set of core values and beliefs that would guide us. Maybe these things are helpful and good in certain contexts, but I'm realizing that there is something beautiful about justing being together, sharing life together, and finding God together. The comparison with family is really helpful for me.

I do have one question, for David, or anyone else: What about spiritual formation? Is that goal of any spiritual community? Isn't that what makes us different from family, in a sense? We come together and are formed by God's Spirit and God's Presence? Hopefully we are brought closer and closer to God's image and light? I wonder if spiritual formation is the one purpose (or "point") of a spiritual community.

Thanks again to everyone for chiming in.