Monday, August 17, 2009

7 whole ways not 1 in 7

Steve Taylor writes about a visit to an organic community, and compares it to our normal models of church. Fascinating:

Here is what Heronswood offered:

1. A space: a historic house and established gardens, around which one could wander, free of charge, absorbing the peace, or pay a small entry fee to wander another part of the garden.

2. A cafe: selling a range of food, a real try before you buy experience of new vegetables and imaginative possibilities.

3. A demonstration garden: ln which new vegetable varieties were grown, stretching the imagination, offering possibilities. Tied to this was a demonstration plot showing “the size of garden needed to feed 3 people for a year.” It was quite stunning to realise how little a space of land was required to grow vegetables.

4. Which was tied to “product” in the form of plants, seeds and books. You could buy those new possibilites you see in the garden. You could purchase the seed pack required to start your own garden. Lots of resources were targeted at beginners, both books and hands on starter kits.

5. Regular workshops were offered, in how to plant, compost, harvest. A chance for relationships, a chance for those who might not get books, but might learn by hands on practice.

6. A festival, twice a year, offered a chance to celebration.

7. A committed core, the diggers club (what a great name) in the form of a membership group.

What would it mean to stimulate our thinking by placing ecclesial life and mission alongside this type of multi-faceted place, the hands on experimentation, the one-off workshops, the festivals, the demonstration plots, offering a wide variety of ways to access?

Most churches offer a church service, which is essentially targeted at (7) the committed core, the members, those inside the community. If they get missional, they run (2) a cafe or a variety of community facing programmes. But it pales into insignificance alongside workshops, festivals, product, demonstrations, space and core.

Read it all here. Ht Prodigal Kiwi(s) (again)

To be fair a lot of older churches offer '1', though for only a limited amount of time as the building is normally locked.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Dave, for this cross reference. AS someone who's been told by people all my adult life "I don't go to Church because I'm not reigious" our problem is that people experience Church not as a community of people, but as a group of fans for religion. This impression is desperately reinforced by locked churches, defensive attitudes, exclusive pastoral policies, all of which obviously validate this take on what we are. It can even be reinforced by too-zappy megachurch style worship experiences like Broadway shows. Perhaps one way out is to work out where are the points of "organic" human contact in the communities we serve, and intentionally grow those rather than focusing entirely on Sunday showtime.