Tonight could be interesting. I have been asked to lead our small group (which is called Bernard!!) and we are following through the book The Purpose Drive Life by RIck Warren. The topic I am leading on is “You Were Formed for God’s Family” and it is basically about the church. Kind of an interesting topic for me to attempt to address.
Now, let me be clear. I really dislike this book. I hate how shallow it is, how trite and twee and how it is a bit like ‘your-life-will-be-fine-if-you-follow-all-these-steps-to-happiness’. However I realised that it did have a few good points to make, and as I am leading the discussion tonight I can steer it a little in the direction I wish it to go.
So, I read through the chapters of the book, then I read a little of Henri Nouwen’s book Compassion and some of Alan Jamieson’s book A Churchless Faith. Finally I decided to do a word search on my blog for “church” and “community”. I knew I had blogged a lot on these subjects but I hadn’t realised quite how much.
Reading back through some of my posts I started to realise just how fundamental both church and community are to my life, and they are not necessarily part of the same thing. My craving for authentic community seems to overpower the need for church, and yet church can be part of this authenticity. I guess that my journey form a charismatic evangelical church through to not going anywhere, and finally finding my way back into formal church has been exceptionally important. My desire to be in fellowship with God’s family is vast, and yet the understanding that this needs to be meaningful and honest now takes precedence over turning up for the sake of it.
These days I feel as though I have been able to separate myself emotionally from parts of my previous journey. I am able to talk more objectively about what happened and recognise my own failings in the story. Now, I hope to be able to be more honest, authentic and generous with my feelings, with other people as well as with myself. I hope that tonight we have a productive session. One in which I can share parts of my story without it overwhelming the whole evening. I hope I am able to bring a different slant to the ideas of church and community and what that could mean for all of us.