Friday, August 25, 2006

the Bible as living word in community: idea 2

This post is part of a series of posts on how to use the Bible in community. Idea 1 – communal lectio divina is here. Faced with caricatures of “preaching as monologue” OR “discussion as sharing of ignorance”, we need new skills and capacities to preach the Bible as a living word in community.)

Here is idea 2. (It is adapted from a practice used at New Zealand Baptist Assembly, 2005). We did this at our church meeting last night, with 50 people in attendance.

Step 1: I affirmed “for where two or three are gathered” and invited us to let guide God us through the Bible, in community, and led by the Spirit. I explained I was going to read a Bible passage and ask everyone to write down 1 way to apply this at Opawa Baptist in 2007.

Step 2: I introduced a Bible passage. This took about 10 minutes. I referenced the original context. I challenged us to hear it, not with church ears, but with mission ears.

Step 3: I prayed; Spirit of God, give us mission ears, honour your Word, speak to us, 2 or 3 gathered, about your future for Opawa.

Step 4: I read the passage – Ephesians 4:2-13 – aloud.

Step 5: I invited everyone to write down (on a piece of paper handed out at the door) 1 way for the church to apply this in 2007.

Step 6: On the back of the piece of paper handed out was a letter (a or b or c or d or e or f). I invited people to move into a group (8 people in total) with those of the same letter.

Step 7: People broke into pairs. Each person shared their idea. Each pair was asked to choose one idea to take forward.

Step 8: Each pair joined another pair. Each pair shared their one idea with the other pair. The four were asked to choose one idea to take forward.

Step 9: Each four joined another four. Each four shared their one idea with the other four. The eight were asked to choose one idea to take forward.

Step 10: These ideas (6 in total from the 6 groups) were read aloud to the meeting and given to the church leadership.

Step 11: The book of Ephesians and the specific text (Ephesians 4:2-13) will be our “dwelling text” for much of our preaching in 2007. The church leadership will consider and action, with the congregation, these ideas.

Why do this?
- I love leading a church in applying the Bible, as 2 and 3′s, to communal church life.
- I have engaged our church community in a bottom up vision.
- steps 7-9 weed out “crazy ideas” and also increase the likelihood of ownership.
- I have some excellent concrete ideas to work with into 2007.
- I have learnt some more about the skills and capacities of my church community in applying Scripture and listening to each other. I know more clearly some strengths and weaknesses and anxieties.

It was a first time trial. I learnt for next time;
- not everyone can apply a Bible text to church life. I could have said that verbally at the start and it would have decreased anxiety for some.
- I should have provided a copy of the Bible text, because not everyone brings a Bible to church meetings.
- doing this cuts across established understandings of “church business meetings” and that produces a new set of tensions (particularly in me, the one leading this change, and having to trust that if the Bible and the community don’t “work” then I have egg on my face.)
- the process is hard, and tiring, work for all concerned.
- I need to emphasis more strongly that the more concrete the idea, the better. General ideas become harder to implement.

Oh, and what where the 2007 Opawa ideas emerging from Ephesians 4:2-13?;


Set up a community garden to interact with the community and the community with us.

Appoint a work pastor part-time to resource workers as salt and light

Everyone to know (be taught) how to lead someone to become a Christian and how to help them “grow” and do it.

“Workplace blessings” from Opawa to people who work locally as a “thanks” for the work they do. E.g. taking morning tea to local schools, kindergartens and businesses. Hot cross buns at Easter, spring flowers, book for the library, plant for the garden…

Look for the talents and gifts that other people have and encourage them in using them inside and outside the church.

Work with and equip individuals whose passion is overseas mission, to prepare them for a mission trip in 2,3 or 4 yearsÂ…

Every person be given the opportunity to mature in one area of discipleship of Jesus. Pair up men with men and women with women for 2007, using people with apostolic, prophetic, teaching or evangelistic gifts to help mature someone else in that one area of discipleship.

Posted by steve at 12:53 PM

1 Comment

  1. This is excellent stuff, Steve.

    Comment by Pernell — August 26, 2006 @ 5:27 am

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