Our book discussion on Finding Church continues with Chapter 19: The New Creation and the Traditional Congregation. The new creation can express itself everywhere, including in our traditional congregations. This chapter gives us a chance to look at how we can recognize it taking shape there and help us discern where the group dynamics reflect the priorities of Jesus’ kingdom and where the wittingly or unwittingly detract from it. Many people who want to know Jesus usually look first at those places we’ve called “church” for so long.
All our human constructions are a bit of a mixed bag. Looking for perfect reflections of the new creation will exhaust you. Better yet to celebrate the new creation where you find it in the hearts of people than looking for a group that is able to fully reflect it.
We’ll begin by looking at the positive things that the local congregation can add to our lives.
Excerpt from Chapter 19:
So while a local congregation in and of itself cannot fulfill all that Paul promised us about the church Jesus is building, it can be a place where people discover his reality and engage in the kinds of relationships in which his church takes expression. It’s often where people go when they first open to God, and if the teaching is sound, it can provide them with the foundation for a spiritual journey. Corporate expressions of praise and adoration can provide a place for people to engage the transcendent God and opportunities for fellowship can open a door to friendships that can last a lifetime.
However, we’d be less than honest not to wrestle with the fact that their institutional frameworks are remnants of an old creation and thus their priorities are often at odds with the priorities of the new. So while they can facilitate the writing of the creeds to define critical points of theology, an overdependence on them can easily rob people of partaking of God’s mystery as he makes himself known in the course of their daily lives.
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 19.