That Institutional Church

dusty-typewriter.jpg I’ve previously mentioned Barb Orlowski’s research among people who have left institutional church — there’s still time to participate in a brief confidential survey, and she’s doing a final call for assistance in her study. Noteworthy in this connection is a story on her work in the Winnipeg Free Press with some introductory material on spiritual abuse.

While we’re on the subject of the institutional church and the fallout therefrom, I’m dusting off my keyboard and declaring next week (Feb. 4-8) “Pagan Week” here at Subversive Influence. Monday through Thursday I’ll be blogging through Frank Viola and George Barna’s Pagan Christianity… the series is mostly written now, and you’ll want to tune in and follow along. Following the four days of blogging through the book, I’ll be doing an interview with Frank Viola and posting that on Friday. Lots of discussion fodder for certain!

So it’s a Conspiracy!

New Conspirators 08 Christine Sine put me onto an upcoming conference in Seattle at the end of February. It does look interesting; there are a lot of emerging conferences around, but this one seems to be attempting to engage missional, emerging, monastic & multicultural “streams,” or should we say “conversations”? That’s the gist of what they’re attempting to do anyway, and the list of participants includes a healthy cross-section of emergent and missional and others who are seeking to reimagine church, recover lost practices, redefine spiritual formation, or engage culture. Lots of good stuff attempting to change the face of our faith expressions for the better, and they make an interesting intersection when they’re brought together. I’m not likely to be able to attend, but after my brief overview, I like the shape of the discussion.

Missional Order: Shalom

peace-who-enter.jpg I introduced the concept of Shalom yesterday as I was concluding my last post on the missional order. I should take this opportunity to explain that my many musings on this subject over the past week-plus, although they are tagged “missional order”, do not represent the formal outcome of or substance of discussions in our gathering at Seabeck. Many of these themes emerged at one or more points in the discussion, but the thoughts I present are my own ruminations arising in these post-Seabeck weeks. Of course, many of my thoughts go back to much older ruminations, and I’m busy wrapping them all up in this series. A series, mind you, which I never intended to be a series. Nonetheless, I’ve summarized it as such in a sidebar below. Back to Shalom, a concept which also makes an appearance in Luke 10, where a blessing of peace is extended to those from whom the 70 sought hospitality, and the notion of “a people of peace” arises in the reception of the greeting of peace.

Missional Order: Who We Are, Living in Exile

Generations Photograph When I left off, I had just been quoting from page 1 of Walter Brueggemann’s, The Land: Place As Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith, and we noted on the walk of the Christian faith, we are not the only ones in places of exile. We left off saying that we can least afford to lose the promises we’ve been made which connect who we are with where we’re bound — the three things our stories are to remind us of while we’re in exile. We’re intent on remembering who we are, which connects us with our story and the promises made to us — and in connecting with the past, we are assured of a future. Part of that is illustrated in our interconnectedness with our family. Somewhere there’s a photograph when I was an infant, with me and my mother and my grandmother and my great-grandmother and my great-great-grandfather that was printed in the newspaper under the heading “Five Generations.” Things like this were once taken note of, especially in smaller communities. We’re down to just three generations now, but someplace we have photographs of my kids with their great-grandfather. We have old family photographs copied, someplace, with names written on the back as best anyone could remember who they were, knowing that if we didn’t write them down now, they’d be lost. (Not this photo!) And we have some stories. Connecting with the past is important for a people in exile.

Missional Order: Three Remembrances for Living in Exile

old-window-door.jpg I’ve been working up to this all week, and I doubt I can cover it off in a single entry, but let’s see what we come up with, shall we? Just piecing together some themes following the Seabeck Gathering sponsored by Allelon, I have begun to consider The Role of The Rule (and other disciplines) as part of The Subversive Nature of the Ordinary in helping to keep us on the path during a mapless quest or an aimful wandering — a Peregrinatio. Len picked up a theme from me of covenant renewal, which I commented further upon, saying I didn’t plan to hit the theme until today, that I was just foreshadowing. Well, the pressure’s on.

Missional Order: The Role of The Rule


One of the subjects that came up at the Seabeck Missional Order Gathering on Tuesday (I think) was the question of language. In the formation of an order and the conversation around St. Benedict’s rule, some question was made about the language we use and how we express it. Before I left for the gathering, the question had been put to me by more than one person. After all, words like “rule” and “order” sound a little to the rigid or legalistic side. In the charismatic tradition, the verse that speaks of “a God of order, not disorder” is met with the challenge of what order might look like to God, and the fact that it might look very disorderly to us. In context, the conversation was essentially what we hope to achieve in the formation of an order… whether it’s done in an elitist exclusionary way, a legalistic fashion, or what. What does such an order or rule do for us, anyway?

Church-Leaving Forum & Help Request

Questionnaire Today we’re thinking and/or talking about The Great Church Exodus (more below)…. Barb started it. Barb Orlowski is in the D.Min. program at A.C.T.S. Seminary at TWU in Langley, B.C.. Speaking of Christians who have experienced the emotional and spiritual effects of authoritarian or controlling church leaders, Barb writes,

There are many Christians who have faced the untimely distress of this particular yet widespread phenomenon. Many have simply left the church, while others have made an effort to reintegrate into a local church setting. It has taken courage for them to desire to reconnect with a pastor and seek their assistance in processing their grief and disillusionment with previous church leaders.

She is looking for research participants to complete her dissertation on this subject — specifically, she needs people who have at one time or another left church (i.e., you have a CLB) following very negative experiences. She describes it this way:

Random Acts of Linkage #27

So it continues. As I keep windows open for reading, reflecting, and interacting I sometimes end up with several windows on a related theme that I want to blog about, or else I begin to leave a link for this list and in starting to compose a brief comment, I end up with something that deserves a post of its own. And once again this week, I’ve had a browser crash that lost me a slough of open tabs and windows of stuff I’d considered important enough to keep open and ponder… but I can’t recall what they all were, and I don’t keep a very long tail on my browser history. Sigh.