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March 25, 2003

A question

A question for you my friends - What are the 5 most important, non-negotiable, aspects of faith and discipleship for you? If you had to boil it down - you had to get to the crux of it all - what would your core values, your DNA, be when it came to your faith. (It doesn't have to be five - it can be less or more if you wish - but start with a few at least)

This is part of the process we're going through at Living Room at the moment - we're dialoguing on it as a community. Its a question we're initially asking of each other and answering as individuals as we try to make some sense of who we are corporately as a community of faith.

Another question that taps into the same topic that a wise friend often asks is - What makes a Church unique from any other group of people, whether they be the local football club or a local Mosque?

I'd be very interested to hear the 'blogging community's' (what ever that is) response to either or both of these questions. Responses invited - discussion will be highly valued!!!

Posted by Darren at March 25, 2003 03:36 PM

ahh racism and religious vilification all in the one post - very efficient of you!

Posted by: Phil McCredden at March 25, 2003 05:51 PM

That's easythe difference between a church and a football club and a church and a mosque is that a church is a group of people gathered together around God's word which speaks ultimately of his son, Jesus the Christ. The Greek word for church ("ecclesia") is usually translated as "assembly" and it appears in Acts 19 when the silversmiths cause a riot in Ephesus (see verses 32: "for the church was in confusion"; 39: "But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular church; and 41: "And when he had said these things, he dismissed the church"). It also appears in Acts 7 in Stephen's speech before the Sanhedrin (verse 38: "This is the one who was in the church in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us") and here is where the crucial difference lies: whereas the verses in Acts 19 are to do with different gatherings of people (eg. legal gatherings, riotous gatherings), the verse in Acts 7 is to do with the gathering of God's peoplethe church as the body of Christgathered together to listen to God speak. I doubt that happens in a football club and in a mosque, well, they aren't really listening to God if they're saying that Jesus didn't die on the cross.

Posted by: Karen at March 25, 2003 07:16 PM

My wife and I (and quite a lot of people I've talked to) have been trying to do that exact thing and come to the crux of what and why we believe.

This unfortunately has mainly been sparked by the constant examples of hypocrisy, intolerance, religiosity (If thats a word?) and values which totally contradict what Jesus was all about, coming out of the main stream "church" and world leaders who claim to follow Christ!

Recently I've been looking at the Sermon on the Mount. This is Jesus' blueprint and values of life in the kingdom. I really struggle to find these values reflected in the church (sorry to generalise so much) and far too often see the same values of which Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees.

I believe it will only be when Christians turn upside down the values of our McWorld and start living as Jesus clearly spells out. It will only be then when the church can be distinguished between a football club or a glorified social club.

Sorry again for generalising, and being so negative. I know there a fantastic things being done. (An obvious example being the Salvo's!) I don't pretend to be living anything close to the standard Jesus sets, but it frustrates and saddens me when I see the church actively going against what I believe Jesus teaches.

I wish I had the words of C.S.Lewis to express my faith. I can't think of five things.

Jesus is the crux and it is Jesus, which (should)make us unique.

Posted by: Stu at March 25, 2003 09:26 PM

I agree with Stu - it's all about Jesus. I've had a go at this question on my blog.
I'm more stuck on the second question. The difference between the church and, say, a football club is pretty clear to me. A club is an association of individuals with a common interest. The church is a community of faith. At the theological level it is more like a family than a club.
My question is, could the same be said of the Mosque?

Posted by: at March 25, 2003 09:41 PM

who wrote that last comment? Good question.

Posted by: Darren at March 25, 2003 09:50 PM

I did. Can't think why it missed out my name & stuff.

Posted by: Richard Hall at March 25, 2003 11:33 PM

Hi Darren!

Non-negotiables of faith for me are: 1)prayer, and 2)sacrifice. I'm really not too good at either one at this point but always working on it... 3) dedication to truth regardless of the status quo.

I personally haven't seen a lot of difference between church life and various clubs, etc. I prefer AA or Alanon to church because people don't go into it having to have it all together. It's not real dogmatic. I've had my best experiences in Alanon. We pray together, nobody was pastor (haha), and we support one another.

Posted by: Laura at March 26, 2003 07:32 AM

I have thought that the ideas of church/faith community should be fairly vague - otherwise we can place a box around what we think church is, and leave ourselves unable to change.

I like one of the ideas used for identification of those of indigenous descent - identification and acceptance.

First, you need to identify yourselves as a church or a community of faith (whatever that might mean) - a sporting club wouldn't.

The second is acceptance by the rest of the 'church' that this group fits within our understanding of what church is. For many/most christians, this would place the mosque outside of our understanding of church.

Posted by: dan at March 26, 2003 08:13 AM

The difference between a church and a local footy club is something I've often pondered. I'm involved in both my local church and my local footy club.

Both provide great community, both provide a place where people from the fringes of society can belong and mix together. There are genuinely good people who care about me at both the club and church...

A few years back, our coach's daughter died and the footy club rallied around him, providing support, meals etc. I often see similarities between the two.

Whilst similarities exist, there is also some uglier aspects to the club (a culture of drinking to excess, the way women are viewed). The church also has a few of it's own too (hypocrisy, exclusivity, politics).

So what makes the church unique?

I think it's the underlying set of core values. Whilst the footy club does have some admirable principles: mateship, giving your best, goal setting, etc, in my opinion, this is where the Church goes one better... unconditional acceptance, integrity whatever the cost, a recognition that we are made in God's image and that he has a plan for our lives.

Additionally, it's the importance of living up to these values which differentiates the two. There's a stronger expectation as a Christian to live out the principles, as that's what being a Christian is all about.

At a footy club, if you don't achieve them but can kick 50 goals in a year, you're still a good bloke. :)

Posted by: Diddle at March 26, 2003 08:23 AM

Difference between a Football Club and a Church? Probably not a lot. Both have their fair amount of spectators. Both have groups of people who roar with excitement when the team does well and complain when the coach isn't leading the team to victory. Both lots of spectators could probably change the direction of the organisation if they really wanted to, but they are too comfortable being spectators to do anything about it.

The only big difference is that people generally get more out of a football club than they would out of a church. That whole sense of being a part of something that has a direction and makes it into the newspapers and tv and talkback radio. People are always talking about football clubs and offer praise when the club does well. When the church ever does anything, it usually goes un-noticed.

As far as the top 5 things are for my faith. Probably only needs 2. Love your neighbor as yourself, ie, do to others what you wouldn't mind them do to you, And love God with all that you are.

Posted by: Regan at March 26, 2003 09:05 AM

This meme is one of the most interesting to me & it is going on across the web & in communities around the globe. Things I've learnt: church is more of a verb, rather than a noun; church is where people can collaspe upon God & one another; building meant to "fence in" church more often than not fence it out

This blog has some of the finest insights on community I've seen: http://magdalen.blogspot.com/

Posted by: bob at March 26, 2003 12:44 PM

Does their have to be a difference? Why can't Church happen where ever the Christian is? Or even more fundamentally, why can't Church happen where ever two or more are gathered in His name? I think I've had Church in the locker room, in the fishing boat, in the Boardroom, in the machine shop, in the hospital, in the prison.

On the other hand I think I have at times not had Church in the Church or in the Bible School or in the Christian Camp or in the Youth Group or in the Bible Study Group.

Posted by: Ron at March 26, 2003 02:09 PM

I agree Rob - I think I MAY have even experienced church with my Muslim friends who love Jesus! Or am I taking us into a new debate?

Posted by: noeyedeer at March 26, 2003 02:12 PM

Well a couple of our congregations have had church in a mosque with muslims a couple of times. Some of the most memorable church experiences that I have had.

Posted by: dan at March 26, 2003 02:16 PM

Core things of faith: contemplation about Christ (and the trinity as a whole), compassion as a result of contemplation, social action (and sacrifice) as a result of compassion. those are three, but I think there's a lot packed into those three.

The difference between a club and a church is simple enough--two or three are gathered in Christ's name, rather than the name of a favorite sports team. It may be harder to draw the same line with the Mosque, though they aren't gathered specifically in Christ's name.

Posted by: Eileen at March 26, 2003 11:43 PM

Uhm, you guys, this fellow is obviously trolling. The best way to get rid of a troll is to ignore him. Then again, I answered him to on my site. Oh well, there are always going to be detractors in any cause.

Posted by: Rich at March 27, 2003 01:59 AM

A "church" (parish or denomination) is a community people can join either because they are looking for (1) a social club (formed around each other) or (2) an activity club (formed to do "projects" in the neighborhood) or (3) a community formed around particular values (love and justice, for example) and open to anywhere those values might call them, collectively, to go.
We find the churches that offer what we want and expect. We leave the churches whose focus doesn't match ours. If you are looking for an undemanding social life, you won't hang around a church whose center is justice work or spiritual development. I have left churches whose justice work was grounded in a need for activity rather than a longing for growth and closeness to God. Maybe at different stages Christians need different kinds of community.
Bob sent me! He was right; your questions are interesting. -- Magdalen (Laura)

Posted by: Magdalen at March 27, 2003 03:21 AM

Good comments by Laura (aka. Magdalen). I think we do need different kinds or practices of community depending on different stages of our journey...but then if we as community are growing toward God, and together, perhaps the community is sufficiently felixible and fluid to change with us along the journey, after all church is the people that comprise it...Regan's characature is also accurate...

Posted by: Paul at March 27, 2003 05:21 AM

With regard to views expressed on the difference between churches and clubs, etc.

Coming from a churched position, it is easy to find differences between church and clubs. My main fear is that in some cases it would prove much harder to distinguish from an outsiders perspective. (Sorry if I'm repeating myself from previous post.)

Posted by: Stu at March 27, 2003 07:19 PM

Some really good answers here. The point that resonated with me the most, however, was the comment that church is a verb as opposed to a noun. Amen.

Posted by: Mike at April 2, 2003 05:57 AM
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