Friday 29 October 2010

Keeping an ecclesia in modern times

The last weeks in Belgium we thought about the formation of and giving the possibility to grow for an ecclesia.

Important is the position people have to take to go ahead. In the traditional institutional churches we can see that they did try to make everybody happy, the last few years. They looked for all sorts of formulas to be "cool". To be with its time is no problem in such a way, as long as the church does not betray its calling. The church has to show others that it is part of this world and that they they self already are anchored in a particular culture. The church or ecclesia can show that they stand open for contemporary influences and trends.  In some affairs, the community can go along but it may not disavow with it its own individual character.  In the Church it must be possible as in the society having cultures live together  and lead churches together.  That variety can only feed the church community only when everybody holds them self to God's Laws and follows the teachings of Christ Jesus.

If the church will wring itself into different positions to grow then the church becomes in danger. We can see this in the institutional churches who twisted them self in all sorts of curves to bring about that growth.  And that can have unwanted effects.  The attention for 'outsiders' can swallow so much attention that the care for the members of the municipality with it shatters.  One can go so far in adapting the ecclesia to what one thinks that outsiders expect or wish that members of the municipality become hit and get a feeling of alienation. According to me lies there the reason that the institutional churches became crooked and many churches become empty.  One has given too much attention to serve the others to their wish so that the individual character of that church went up and down as a jojo on and changed as hygienic men change of underpants. This was however not the manner to hold the Church clean.  Purity in the belief community can be there only as it holds clear belief points and keeps to them.

Identity gives security. Every ecclesia has the freedom to choose its own form or identity, but it has to keep to the Biblical teachings in all ways. We cannot avoid that men in this post-modern time is more directed on relations.  Churches have to form a community.  The dividing of the meal is just as important as the listening to a sermon. But for us Christadelphians the Word of god is the most important and the Word part or reading of chapters from the Bible should take the most time of the service and be the central focus. All the texts in the meeting can be centred on the Bible chapters been read.
Men of this time have difficulties to be quite or to listen for a long time. Therefore it is most adviced that each member of the community also is actively involved with the service, a.o. by reading each some verses froem the daily reading. They are no longer been directed on the listening to a long sermon through one person, but the reader of the exhortation could try to have it enlived with examples and changes in his voice. It can also help that when an exhortation from somebody is taken that all the members read succesively. Men can sometimes learn more in a service through to participating more active and more creative.

In the Dutch article Al of niet toegeven aan de wereld we discuss how far we can go to adapt to this world. In Opbouw van een ecclesia and in Opbouw van een ecclesia en  verbonden kosten we look at how we can construct and keep an ecclesia.

For our Dutch readers thye can find more in the following articles:
Nederlandstalige lezers kunnen hier meer over vinden in de volgende artikelen:

Kerkgroei en samengaan
Al of niet toegeven aan de wereld
Opbouw van een ecclesia
Opbouw van een ecclesia en  verbonden kosten

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