Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meetings Do Not Define What it Means to be Christian

I have been a church man, a former pastor and denominational executive. Over a forty year span I designed, wrote, developed and implemented programs with the best of church leaders. The well intentioned programs always required scheduled meetings of the intended beneficiaries. I kept people busy, myself included. I am contemplative now, less defensive of the status quo.
Recently I was given a webpage article to read, entitled The Danger of Meetings. The author Alan Richardson is one of many spokespeople who are concerned that Christianity has become defined by meetings and programs and buildings and budgets. He has not criticized anything that has not been faulted before and he makes some valid points. When Christian faith pivots around meetings, church people assess one another on the basis of attendance and performance. A meeting focused Christianity causes us to become inward looking with little time for relationships outside the church building. A meeting based Christianity may even hinder rather than help us to find a complete Christian life. In fact we can become meeting focused rather than Christ focused.

Christian leaders of existing churches can and must take corrective actions to minimize this insular posture. Some leaders, particularly younger ones have already broken away from traditional models of church to start models that are relational and fresh and vitally accenting relationship. Some are opting for house churches which determine to be less structured. The extreme danger of critical thinking about church is to go it alone. The solitary Christian disassociated from other believers is biblically unsupportable.

Here is my own list of truth points relative to meetings and faith.
1. Christianity is not defined by meeting attendance.
2. Following Christ is not to be equated with attendance at meetings.
3. Meeting attendance is no substitute for relationship with Christ.
4. It is improper to assess one’s own or another person’s spirituality or leadership competence on the basis of meeting attendance.
5. The work of God is not only with the individual but also within the context of the corporate church, so the gathering of believers is valid.
6. The gathering ideally consists of people who are committed to life giving and life promoting relationships in which they love one another as Christ loves them, open, embracing, forgiving, and love those outside the church for the sake of Christ.

Here is that webpage 'The Danger of Meetings' The paintings were done by Nathan Greene and Morgan Weistling and their work as well as others' can be seen on Christ Centred Art.

1 comment:

  1. Just a cursory read re "Meetings do not define what it means to be Christian", is excellent to criticize. We do very little in most churches to help people discover their gifts or talents. Yet, I believe this is paramount to fulfilling our mission. Even a brief read about the Parables of talents has much to contribute towards this argument.

    Take for example Eric Liddle who ran in the 1924 Olympics. "God has made me to be a missionary, aye, but he has made me fast, and when I run, I feel God's pleasure". Eric's run was a solitary one, yet he ran not to be great, but to be good for God.

    I have discovered that when I know my gifts and create, write or speak, I know God's pleasure. I believe people grow, become and fill fulfilled as they are collaborating with the Creator. Not necessarily sitting or attending meetings!

    Eighth Day Creation is one of my favourites and it is all about discovering our gifts, or helping children uncover, discover their gifts.

    Kathryn attends a church where they take all the arts seriously and she has grown so much.

    Thanks for rising this very important question.

    Esther McIlveen