Monday, 25 July 2011

AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church

The leaders of the clans get together about once a fortnight to encourage one another, to make sure we're all on the same page and to get advice and training about different problems we might have. The leaders were asked to read AND: The Gathered and Scattered Church by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay.

AND is about how the church needs to strike a better balance between the pastoral, gathered and stable (modalic) elements of the church and the outward looking, missional, scattered (sodalic) elements. Church tradition has focused on the modalic structures and somewhat neglected the sodalic structures.

There are some really nice passages and one section is particularly poignant. Hugh and Matt (with spouses) were meeting regularly together with friends to discuss "life and God", when one member of the group asked "is this my church?" Hugh replied that Church was about deciding to go on mission with God together, and that if they wanted the group to be their Church they'd have to give their life away. The group unanimously decided that they would come die with them and let God send them.

Although it has a good many of these wonderful accounts, it also has a lot of theory elements. This is the area that I found a bit frustrating and tedious, but did pick up some helpful pointers. One of these was related  specifically in how we deal with the younger people of our church:
Our role as stewards over the spiritual life and legacy of our kids is to model a holistic life of apprenticeship under Jesus.
This seems ordinary enough, but actually has quite far reaching implications. Do the teens of the church see that my whole life is dedicated to Jesus, not just the bits when I'm at church? Do I even live a holistic life of apprenticeship under Jesus? How can they watch me, and other members of the Exilio community do this, when, for some, their only contact with us is a Friday evening with just two of the adults?

So this has got me thinking on how we can incorporate the teens into the wider life of Exilio as a whole. It's hard when their parents aren't involved in the different clans, or the activities of the clan doesn't really suit them.

Overall, it's an okay book. Hugh sums it up really in his final thoughts:
Although we don't feel as if we've given you any wildly new thoughts, we trust what we've been seeing and hearing out in the field will encourage you in the unique calling you have to help lead, serve and die in God's church worldwide.
 It didn't fill me with as much excitement as Total Church.

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