Church snooping

Ah, beautiful Sunday.  I am home two Sundays this time around, a true rarity, and I decided to visit a church that I have heard about in the blogo-emergo-sphere rather than my home church.  Problem is, there are so many awesome churches out here!  There’s Vintage Faith, Dan Kimball’s church which is not only emergent but is recently merged with a Presbyterian Church out in Santa Cruz, and there’s BRC’s Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco.  Then there is a host of presby churches I would love to see…. my CPM liason’s church in Santa Cruz, Stone Church in San Jose, First Pres. Palo Alto.  The list goes on.  There are just so many interesting churches, and never enough time.  But I guess it is a good sign that there ARE so many awesome churches out here in the first place.  

In the end I decided to go to Mission Bay CC, mostly because BRC is unavoidable (also awesomely fun) on the internets and because he’s running for moderator, so I wanna check it out.  So we shall see how the man does worship…. *grin*


Mod blogs

Over on his mod blog, BRC has responded to the fourth in a series of questions from the 2008 Commissioner’s Booklet. The question, “How will we lead?“, is an interesting question that gives a bit of insight into what is motivating BRC to run in the first place, what his vision for the church is, and how he hopes to get there. He writes:

There also seems to be a shadow side to the young clergy experience, aspects of their preparation for ministry that seem somewhat out of alignment with the greater culture from which they have come. There is a disconnect between who young clergy are culturally and the institution to which they are being called to serve. In the face of this situation, young clergy are left with few options: change, deal or leave.

Something must give.

Something must change.

I suspect it is the institution.

I read his comments and couldn’t help but recognize myself, and many of my friends, in them. Because the world we live in IS changing, and the church, at is best, is an institution that should be able to respond to and in culture, not against it. The early church molded itself after the culture it was a part of, so that it could work within culture and so that its members could be better witnesses and missionaries to the people amongst whom they lived and worked. Paul writes in Corinthians:

To the Jews I have made myself as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those who live under the law I have come as one under the law, in order to win those who are under the law — not that I myself am under the law. To those who live without the law I have come as one without the law, in order to win those who are without the law — not that I am really under no law in relation to God, for I am bound by the law of Christ. To those who are weak I have made myself weak, so as to win the weak; in fact, I have become all things to all people, in order that, one way or another, I may rescue some of them. But I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share its blessings with others. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

my point, I suppose, is that the “change” that BRC proposes is the sort of active responsiveness to our world which we are called to live out in our lives and in our churches. I read BRC’s answers and I see a biblical and a timely call to the church to take a look at itself and ask some hard questions–are we offering something people need? Are we being faithful witnesses? What are we afraid of? What sorts of changes might this culture require of us? Do we have it in us?
Kudos to BRC for acknowledging and putting that right out there. It’s what I needed to hear, as a seminarian who struggles daily with my call in this institution.

update on the chastity stuff

So, in the midst of thinking about chastity, I posted my thoughts on presbymergent as well as my own blog, and I must say that there has been some very interesting discussion on the issue of chastity as a result. If anyone is interested, I recommend checking it out… it is definitely worth reading. I particular, I have been intrigued by some of the ideas that have emerged from the discussion– in particular, I am realizing how much potential chastity might have for notions of “kingdom living” for those of us interested in that sort of thing. Anyways, I offer it up.

What is the deal with Chastity?

Hey there– So I am completely drowning in seminary homework, and I intended to flesh this post out more than I really have the time to do, but if I don’t post it I never will.

So here’s the “point” of the post– Karen Sloan and I met over coffee a couple weeks ago and had this amazing conversation about the church and about our struggles and journeys within the PCUSA.  Towards the end of the conversation, we somehow found ourselves on the subject of chastity.  I found myself confused by the term– what has it and what does it mean for the church today?  How has chastity been interpreted and reinterpreted within the Presbyterian Church over time?  Does it mean more that simple abstinence?  And if so, what is the “more”?

Perhaps this all stems from confusion over the meaning of “chastity in singleness, fidelity in marriage,” but ultimately I think there is more to it than that.  I feel both intrigued and challenged by the ambiguous concept of chastity, and my gut tells me that it has quite a bit to offer the church as long as we can save the term from becoming a synonym for abstinence.  So, with that very hurried and brief overview of my thoughts over the past month or so, I ask the question that has persisted for me: what does “chastity” have to offer the church today?