One of the biggest complaints (as if there's only one, come on...) to church is the isolation aspect of those church goers. Ya know, the one singlemost segregated hour of the week where like minded people gather to hear stuff about God, exchange pleasantries, do some spiritual calisthenics and then go their various ways only to meet up again a week later.
But what about bridging this gap? What about integrating the gathered/scattered side of church? What would it look like for a church to simultaneously be both? What does it look like to listen to the voice of God as a gathered/scattered community? Could it be that the church gets to listen "with" others, culture/world, etc., instead of only having others listen "to" what the church dispenses? Could it be that God is simultaneously seeking to convert the church right alongside of the world in some greater sense for what God is up to in the world?
This is some of what we're experimenting with at the flagstaff abbey. And I'm talking in the gestation stage of things here...pretty fresh pups, if that. We're now meeting in a local bar, the green room. We're looking at having semi-structured thematic nights where missional aspects of God's world are heard, discerned, exposed, acknowledged and integrated into a curious setting for what God is doing in the world and how we are being called to become a part of a larger view of life ourselves. I especially invite you to check out our latest thoughts for what this community values by clicking down below at "Last Time at the Abbey".
The monastic life generally entails some semblance of silence. But I've been wondering if it isn't more about stillness...calming oneself down to the point of actually being present and attentive to other movements, other vibes, others reverberations. Obviously the silent thing is going to be a wee bit difficult in a bar. However, the stillness thing? Not so sure. With an invitation to hear things differently, especially in a different setting? What if becoming still ourselves for the sake of listening to something radically different and again, hearing it in a completely unexpected setting, sets up the stage for hearing differently, what could this do? to me? to others?
Who knows what's going happen with all of this. I certainly don't. But what I do know is I'm being called out to something new, and that there's a significant relationship to this gathering and scattering that hasn't quite been integrated in a way that is consistent with God's work in the world. What do you think?