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Sustainable Christian community…

April 8, 2008

If Christianity is to become aware of what it is, we must abandon the pastoral church which takes care of people, which is the usual form of the Western church. Instead, we have to call to life a Christian community church. Either we set about this church reform by ourselves, or it will be forced on us by the loss of church members.

Jurgen Moltmann

Jason Evans included this Moltmann quote in a talk he gave at San Jose 07.  He talked about new models of church. 

How do we call to life a Christian community church?  How can we fully engage the missional identity and vision for church, while not sacrifice the value of caring for people?  I am convinced these kinds of questions are being stirred by the Holy Spirit.  I find myself carrying an eager curiosity–looking for how this stirring is being expressed across the Body of Christ.

I get what Moltmann is saying.  There is primary orientation that must be nurtured in the identity, vision and culture of a community seeking to follow Jesus.  God’s transforming mission is both outward and inward.  The Church must be committed to both realities if it is to be viable/sustainable in a post-Christendom world.

They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.  Psalm 1:3a

On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.  Revelation 22:2

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2008 11:36 pm

    that’s a great quote. i’d never heard it.

  2. April 11, 2008 10:16 pm

    The Moltmann quote is powerful. On my more cynical days I’m convinced the change will be forced on us by losing church members.

    What I’ve noticed in pastoring is that people do seem to have a “church exists to serve me and meet my needs” mentality. That mentality seems to be completely contrary to what Jesus is calling us to as his followers. Ultimately, it unsustainable because the church, as institution, no longer has the resources to pull this off as well as the culture. Mega-churches may be the last expression of church that is big enough and rich enough to try.

    In a church like the one I pastor, there are some people that work like dogs to TRY to meet everyones needs and care for one another. Ultimately they get burned out and frustrated because many other people just want to be served. At the end of the day, we rarely get outside of ourselves to accomplish the mission of kingdom expansion and disciple making that Jesus calls us to. How will that change? When need to help each person in the church own Moltmann’s quote. What will it be? Are you here to be cared for? Or are you following Jesus in community? If leaders can say “our church is about following Jesus in community” maybe positive change can happen without a total collapse of the churches we now serve and love…I’m not sure…

  3. just an apprentice permalink
    April 12, 2008 5:51 am

    Michael,
    Thanks for your comments. I believe that sustainable Christian community is dependent on a community being shaped by two things. 1. Ecclesiology beyond “me and Jesus” (who needs the church) and entrepreneurial church (this is the American version of Gospel as commodity, marketing church as service or experience provider to consumers (seekers). 2. A community seeking to live the Gospel incarnated not only as gathered worship, but peace, justice and righteousness in the local context (“across the street”) and the world. The community will continually be seeking to be shaped by Gospel. The community will engage culture as resident aliens, not as natives. If the community is unable to feel a tension between culture and Gospel, we are probably not attending to Scripture deeply enough. Then the question becomes–how do we give expression to Gospel living corporately. The answer to that question will be unique to the gifts, graces, callings, and context of each community of disciples. However, it is no small thing for a community to embrace this primary identity and vision.

  4. Laura permalink
    May 11, 2008 3:09 pm

    Thank you for the post and greetings from Northern Europe! This kind of Christian communities described above are forming at an increasing pace. I am myself active in one. Transformation of life according to Jesus’ example is a lifelong challenge and one needs support from others on the road. Small groups provide individual support and encouragement more effectively than large masses.

  5. just an apprentice permalink
    May 12, 2008 5:27 am

    Laura,
    Thanks for your visit. Does the Christian community you are a part of have a name? Website? I would love to learn more about your community.

    Peace,
    Brian

  6. name good name permalink
    November 8, 2010 11:54 am

    Laura, Brian, I am trying to find such communities too. Truly indebted for any info. Jason.

  7. Hannah permalink
    August 17, 2012 2:07 am

    I just recently started researching Christian self sustainable communities and now seriously searching to move to one. I want to build my own house out of natural materials, SuperAdobe perhaps, strawbale, etc. I have so many dreams & visions & ways in which I can contribute. Perhaps build homes for foster kids/families. I am needing to be around Jesus of the bible believing people, the true God and Holy Spirit of the bible, not alot of these fake/misguided/altered Jesus beliefs. I got baptised in Feb. (again), recommitted every aspect of myself back to God/Jesus/Holy Spirit and ready to do His will for my life, in His timing, His way. It’s not about me. I got distracted & sidetracked but now He has my full & undivided attention! Nearly lost my life due to satanic attacks. Ugh. I want to learn and understand scripture and actually LIVE IT OUT! Can anyone out there suggest any community that sounds like may be a fit for me? Thanks! Hannah from Missouri :)

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