Dear Church, Have You Considered...?

April at the Yellow House was our month for focusing on Humble Submission to Christ’s Body, the Church. This is not a month we take lightly, gloss over, or shy away from around here. As a new monastic community, part of our inherent purpose is to learn to be the Body of Christ with these people in this place in such a way that helps to preserve or reawaken parts of the Church's identity that over time may have been forgotten or become distorted. This is obviously no small task, but it's a deeply important one and our little cell of the Body has a small part to play in that preservation and reawakening.

So we practice being the Church we dream of together (aware that only once in a blue moon do we "get it right") submitting ourselves to one another and the God that connects us in love. We read about the history we stand on (see The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle), learning to see the patterns of cause and effect that got us to this moment and thoughtfully considering where the Spirit could be moving in our midst for today and the days coming. And we engage conversation with folks in other cells of the Body, specifically those working within the institutional church...a part of the Body that we love dearly, to which we owe much of our own formation, and for which we have some questions. We commit to thinking critically, but never settling for criticism that isn't hand-in-hand with compassionate creativity.

In one brainstorming session, we sat down to dream up some ideas we'd love to see experimented with in local congregations, and we've shared the shorthand version of that list below. Perhaps these simple bullet points could get our collective wheels turning in some fruitful directions. If anything sparks your curiosity, we'd love to dialogue in the comments section below or via email or face to face if you're looking for some conversation (and coffee...we always have coffee): 

-Creating intergenerational & interracial mentoring relationships

-Prioritizing community members getting to know their neighbors. “Get to know your literal neighbor” charts (idea credit: John Hawkins of Clearview Church, Shreveport)

-Small-group based relational tithe’s

-ECO-FRIENDLY BULLETINS. Biodegradable or electronic bulletins or at the very least recycling bins stationed at churches. OR 4-6week’s worth of information in 1 bulletin which is reused each week. Create weekly e- bulletins and encourage those with smart phones not to grab the hard copies.  

-Mini-experiments in life-together (i.e. 2-week structure retreats that mimic and teach intentional community)

-A system of needs-cards/provision-cards and a way to match them up

-Gleaning rooms for clothes and/or supplies and/or food pantry

-Open-minded Bible studies and discussion forums (not being afraid of controversy)

-Creating/carving out space to grieve and respond to current events/social injustices

-Encouraging daily morning prayer within zip coded small groups and/or at the church

-Standing in solidarity with oppressed people groups outside of the church (going to them). Asking, “What do you need?”

-Asking, “What do you need?” of neighbors that live directly around church buildings.

-Prison visits + re-entry programs within the church

-Encouraging hospitality rooms within churches and within homes of community members

-When 2 small churches are dwindling, joining up (even and especially when one congregation is black and one is white)

-Encouraging more participation from congregants 

-Partnering business leaders in churches with neighbors to help provide jobs

-Embracing and creating times of silence 

-Having a feeding night for congregants and the broader community (and incorporate communion)

-Considering a more racially diverse staff in an effort to encourage diversity of the congregation

-Writing music that pertains & speaks to the lives that are actually being lived by community members

-Teaching and focusing more on all of the spiritual gifts

-Free child care for single parents (a list of who would be willing to be on that list)

-Diversity in language during service as to also encourage diversity (dual screens or translators)

-Is your church ADA accessible? Sign-language friendly?

-Creating insurance alternatives

-Creating/encouraging covenants and pathways for reconciliation within small groups

-Financial assistance classes, years of Jubilee (encouraging the forgiveness of some form of debt every few years), asking families to not live in houses bigger than what is needed OR having them invite others to live with them

-Encouraging community members to live geographically close to other community members or to the poor or different

-Encouraging intentional relationships

-Setting up a retreat center with pastoral care and guidance and offered to people with little money

-Offering income based or communally funded counseling

-Reassessing what resources are being wasted and what ways they can become more sustainable

-home-based programs to save on church resources and/or multi-purposed church spaces (soup kitchen by day, shelter by night, church by weekend)

-encouraging/teaching nonviolence

-encouraging the coexistence of singles and married people and families (specifically things for singles that doesn’t pertain to life starting “after marriage”)

-small groups that are zip code based

-Community gardens

-resourcing people with information about how to do meal wagon and coalition child care

-Tool libraries, car pooling, etc

-equipping members to be foster parents or better yet, homes that invite single/young parents to live with them

Thanks for reading! May we become the Church we dream of...little by little.