A Culture of Participation

This has been a difficult post to put together…

Recently I just finished reading a great book called: Everyday Theology. It’s a book about looking at Culture and the things we produce and the trends we have and learning what they say about the human condition. Not just to criticise it, but also to 9780801031670affirm it! It was such a good read, I don’t think I’m going to sell it effectively in my own words. Each chapter is written by a different guy looking at a different cultural text or trend…

Anyway there was a chapter on Blogging which I found very interesting and wanted to try and capture the rabbit-trail it began in my mind. The author shared that Blogs have become a place of surprising vulnerability and openness. Surprising in that people are effectively sharing things so personal that they might not even share them with their family and friends. (I know this isn’t always the case) But he gave the example of members of his youth group who’d share posts and speak in ways (on their  blogs) they wouldn’t share with their parents but with strangers…

Anyway, that wasn’t what grabbed me! He talked about the rise of “christian blogs”, (the book was published in 2007), and how more and more people were posting faith related articles to their websites. Teaching, preaching, sharing their opinions etc. In looking at affirming this the author said that this was relating to the participation we should see in the church.

I don’t quite know how I feel about this. On one had I’m excited that writing has become a pathway for many people to contribute and build up the Church without having to write a book. I think writing isn’t used much in Sunday services so having blogs as an outlet seems really good. However I am also sad, that people resort to blogs in order to share their walk with God or write devotionals because there isn’t space for it at Sunday services. Maybe I don’t explain this well…

But the model for Church that I see often is a small team of people giving lots and lots to their church. And everyone else going to receive. I shared from my BRT post this week that Paul says: “Whenever you come together, let everyone be ready with a psalm or a teaching or a revelation, or ready to use his gift of tongues or give an interpretation; but let everything be for edification” – 1 Cor 14:26. I also see this need in the Navs group that I run, which tells you I’m not sorted in this either.

Here are a few of my thoughts on this:

Some people to step back – If there are people in the Church who are willing and able to contribute, but there is no room for it. Because the “core team” are able to manage it by themselves. Maybe they can consider stepping back. This will allow other people to grow and develop their skills/gifting and take more responsibility for the Church’s growth. In doing this those stepping back, learn the importance of inter-dependence and the value of the different members of the body. I think it is wrong to assume a leader, is the one person who shouldn’t/doesn’t need to be dependent.

Some people to step forward -If there are people who are happy just coming to the services and listening or “receiving”, but make no effort to build up the church. Then maybe they need to step up. I appreciate the Church isn’t just sunday services, so this might take other forms. E.g leading a community group, praying for the believers, blogging.

Acknowledgement of other gifts – I also think we need to value other people’s gifts. I think there is a place for saying some gifts are more important than others in regards to building up the church, Paul himself says this! However, this doesn’t mean that we take away value from the other gifts. For example I remember hearing that Bethel are using dance in their services. Is there the space for this at your church, are there people who want to express themselves in this way. Maybe it is painting or writing. At the youth camp I served at last year, we gave the kids the chance to draw pictures during the sung worship times. Perhaps someone is naturally gifted in mathematics or graphics, are we thinking how to incorporate these things.

I know this post sounds like a rant and it probably is. I’m speaking just as much to myself in it. I haven’t got this one sorted yet, and I want to improve in this area.

How can more members of the Body participate in it’s growth and transformation towards Christ-likeness? How can I, as a “leader”, help encourage and build a culture of participation?

 

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