Friday, June 12, 2009

55. Principles for a Co2, church of Two (or Three)

The following is an adapted version of John Whites thoughts on simple church and Co2.

Foundational principles for Co2

1. Only fact you need to know for simple church - Jesus is present when we meet in His name. (Mt. 18:20) This is central to everything.

2. Only skill you need to master for simple church - how to listen to Him (and do what He directs). It’s His church and He is the leader (Mt. 16:18). Key principle in Jesus’ life (and ours): find out what the Father is doing and do that. (Jn. 5:19)

3. Simple church = a vibrant family of Jesus. Vibrant means full of life, healthy, transformational. Not just a meeting but 24/7 family like relationships.

Some practices that help us function this way…

1. SASHET. Principle: intimacy is the result of mutual self disclosure. “Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.” (Romans 12:15, The Message)

This practice helps us grow towards being what Eldredge calls a “fellowship of the heart”. “We check in regularly with one another… out of a desire to watch over one another’s hearts (p. 200). …God is calling together little communities of the heart, to fight for one another and for the hearts of those who have not yet been set free. That camaraderie, that intimacy, that incredible impact by a few stouthearted souls – that is available. It is the Christian life as Jesus gave it to us. It is completely normal. (p. 202)” Waking the Dead

Share one or more words that most describe the present condition of their heart. (Each person shares at the level of vulnerability they are comfortable with.) Use the acronym SASHET as a starting place: Sad - Angry - Scared - Happy - Excited - Tender. (or other) (No advice giving here.) For instance, “I’m checking in today as sad, excited and tender and here’s why…” After sharing, each person expresses their commitment to the community by saying, “I’m in.” The benefit of checking in like this week after week is cumulative as trust and safety grow.

2. Listening to Jesus. After checking in (SASHET), take 10-15 minutes for everyone to listen to Jesus. What does He want to say about what was just shared? What does He want to share with individuals? With the whole group? What direction does He have for ministering to each other or to the world? Listen for His heart. Come back together and share what you heard with the group. Be tentative: "I think this is what He is saying..." Freedom to fail. Weigh what is said. Goal is to "strengthen, encourage and comfort". (1 Cor. 14:1-3) Keep practicing. Your ability to hear gets better with practice.

We have found Mark Virkler’s Four Keys to Hearing God’s Voice helpful here…

1. Quiet yourself

2. Fix your eyes on Jesus

3. Listen for spontaneous thoughts

4. Write what you hear

A short written explanation of the Four Keys is found here:

We also found value in watching as a group (DVD) Virkler’s 10 lessons on the subject

A note on spiritual practices. As Dallas Willard writes: “We meet and dwell with Jesus and his Father in the disciplines (or practices) for the spiritual life.” (xi) The Spirit of the Disciplines Practices are valuable for both individual lives and for group life. The three practices above are not absolutes. They are merely tools to help us towards the kind of Kingdom life that we desire to live. See 1 Tim. 4:7-8.

Alan Hirsch comments on spiritual practices in The Forgotten Ways: “We would not develop a philosophy of ministry per se (for their churches), but rather a covenant and some core practices. Behind this thinking was the belief that when we talk about core values, the appeal is to the head. I have yet to see a set of core values in any church’s philosophy that I cannot agree with. They are, in some cases, little more than “motherhood statements” in confessional communities. What we wanted was to covenant ourselves to a set of practices that embodied the core value and demonstrated it. Each group (and therefore the majority of the individual members of the group) had to be engaged in a healthy diet of spiritual disciplines – the only way to grow in Christlikeness that we were aware of.” P. 46-47

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