Friday, September 22, 2006

Is the Grass Greener?

My buddy Adam Ellis pointed me to a church in Birmingham called the Disciples' Fellowship that as I looked through their site, I found it extremely interesting.

The part that found the most interesting was on their Journey page. Check this out:

Blueprints for Church by Tyler Priest
  • be messy.
  • don’t have members.
  • don’t have church building with steeple.
  • don’t have sign out front—nothing except small and unpresumptuous “Worship” stickered to side of door.
  • don’t have anyone on stage to lead worship.
  • don’t have bells (or whistles, for that matter).
  • support missionary from Africa that is bringing the good news to USA.
  • let guys in that show up drunk.
  • care more about people than programs.
  • give up children’s classrooms for recovering alcoholics to live in, or share the space.
  • if sharing the space, allow partition to be a pair of jeans strung across rope.
  • have a tomato, squash, and banana pepper garden on side patio.
  • light up candles, brew coffee, see what happens.
  • let IBM guy tickle ivories each week.
  • don’t meet twice on the same day.
  • be church every day.
  • take in rejects that other churches don’t want around.
  • allow “it’s all good” guy to pretend he’s Catholic.
  • pay rent on building.
  • create space to cry, laugh, breathe, stretch, grow.
  • have CEO’s hanging out with rehabbers.
  • sustain an emergent cohort.
  • welcome 12 step groups of all kinds into building.
  • don’t make Jesus a commodity for sale.
  • purchase and dole out cigarettes to those who can’t control how much they smoke at one time.
  • see questioners as maturing spiritually.
  • let anyone talk about anything at any given time.
  • change up worship format every week.
  • listen to guy who talks about cat named Osama Bin Laden.
  • never shut or lock pastor’s office door.
  • don’t do “altar calls” and neglect guilt-inducing invitation songs.
  • sing occasional U2 song.
  • allow women to have voice beyond just singing.
  • allow folks to belong before they believe.
  • talk about stuff like a healthy family.
  • pour out love of Christ into Honduras.
  • be free to move about the kingdom.
  • move away from black and white distinctions and toward mystery of God.
  • ask more questions than answers.
  • don’t make it about “us.”
  • whatever happens, always say, “it is what it is” or “it’s all good” or even “everything’s holy now.”
  • see what happens after lattermost phrase is said.
  • let random red-headed guy play djembe drum if he wants to.
  • be real and honest in all things, at all times.
  • communicate primarily through email and blog.
  • begin worship time whenever somebody starts singing.
  • eat big meal together once a week as a part of worship.
  • don’t have church van.
  • hang around for long time after benediction.
  • serve wine.
  • discourage having vision statement or strategic growth plan.
  • don’t have designated elders.
  • sometimes be liturgical.
  • make room for artists, thinkers, and kids from up the hill.
  • reflect Trinitarian community.
  • create and nurture such a community so that it hurts to leave after just one summer.
How does that strike you? Does that seem like the type of church you'd want be a part of? Too informal? Too pie in the sky? Do any of those bullets especially resonate with you? Do any make you think, ""?


Paul said...

There is a certain attractiveness to a no program church as long as it is on mission. It would be fun to see what direction it takes.

Tony Arnold said...

Some I liked, some I did not. I especially disliked, "communicate primarily through email and blog." If we are to bring the good news to the world and be the hands and feet of Christ, personal interaction, including listening, must be the primary communication method.


Scott Freeman said...

It's pretty much all a crap shoot at this point isn't it?

Phil said...

What do you mean, Scott?

Clarissa said...

Scott's a nut, from all the comments I've seen of his! I think he's just joking. But I've been wrong before.

I do think there should be elders/shepherds/pastors -- someone who's helping guide and mold ... maybe they're saying that should be done "unofficially". And in a church where we were "members" about 9 years ago, though there were no official "elders", there were certainly those who naturally shepherded and who people naturally "flocked" to for advice, encouragement, and guidance. I love quotation marks.

JMG said...

What's a "Trinitarian community"?

Scott Freeman said...

It just seems so intentionally unintentional.
But what's better? Unintentially intentional.
It seems that there is so much discussion about how to do church (or not do it) that a lot of times we fail to BE the church.
Maybe we should just punt the whole thing--we meet where we meet, we do what we do.
But unless we are with the people--in the muck and mire of our lives--is what we do at church really important.
I'm a little tongue in cheek but a little not.

Justin said...

I don't know how I'd feel about no elders...

everything else seems ok.

Phil said...


My thought on the trinitarian community is the example of the interdependency of the Trinity on the three separate yet one entities.

Tony, I was thinking that communication would be about announcements and meetings and the like. Not the real personal communication like you're referring to.

Justin and Clarissa, the no elders thing caught me off guard too. Part of me wonders if that's the younger, postmodern tendency toward anti-authoritarianism (10 sylablles!) and I would agree about the need for some kind of leadership whether "official" or not.

TCS said...

we have a student who worked there last summer and took another job in town just to go there this past summer. She said to me (other than I would fit in there, which I think was a compliment, and a nice way of saying I don't fit in here) that when she goes there that she is encouraged to be more like Christ because of the people. that they don't tell her to do anything differently but she just wants to be like them and have the life they have. That's sounds pretty good to me.

Thomas+ said...

I have one to add to the list:

See if it will last 2000 years.

Or 2 years for that matter.

I think what they really mean is:
"have a church where no one sins against each other, and its all good."

Is it just me, or does it sound kind of juvenile>

Phil said...


I don't think they mean that at all. I mean if they did, they could just found a Remnant-type church. Is this idealistic? Sure, but wasn't idealism one of the hallmarks of the early church?

What impresses me the most is an organic simplicity about it. But that's just my take on things.

TCS said...

one other thing... being that that is a copy of a blog post from someone in Abline... I think that should be read more as a tone setting document and not as a list of laws. Many churches wouldn't even let you share that. Too worried something wrong is there.

DJG said...

I hope to visit there soon. I will be glad to report back to you.

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