Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Matter Of Christian Faith Communities

I have been thinking of two types of Christian faith communities in relationship to spiritual formation of Christians:

(a) The community that nurtures
In the community that nurtures, the community is the context in which spiritual formation takes place. People join a community for what the community may offer them. Then by taking part in the community undergoes spiritual formation. When they find that they cannot learn anymore from this community, they leave to find other communities that may help them. This is akin to a university where one joins the community to learn skills for a certain profession or to acquire a degree. Once that is achieved, the person leaves for other communities.

(b) Nurturing community
In a nurturing community, spiritual formation takes place because the person is the content of the community. One grows spiritually with the community because the community is growing. One becomes the community and takes on characteristics of the community. The analogy for this is the family. One is born into this and is always part of it even when relocated to a different geographic location.

I wonder which type of Christian faith community do you belong in?


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Blogger Paul said...

I would love the people in my church to see our church community in terms of the 2nd model. But I wonder if that is fair as in the past and even now, I would encourage people to leave and find another community because my church community cannot help them grow further.

Would it be wiser (and would it be fair) to ask people to stay on and help a community that cannot help them grow so that it will in turn be able to help them later on?

9:16 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi Paul,

Good comment. The question here is really how people sees their Christian faith communities. Is it something "I can be part of ? " or "What can I get out of it?"

It is not a matter of you (the pastor) asking people to leave in the latter. People will automatically leave if they think you are not fulfilling their needs.
Remember we are living in an age where spirituality is very individualistic. It's me and my God.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Hi all, I agree that we are living in an age where spirituality is very individualistic. As one of my friends commented once, "Sometimes we see churches as "boutique churches". We pick and choose as we fancy"

In my opinion, whenever someone expresses he/she is unable to grow any further in the community, normally it is more than an issue of growth - usually it comes with some form of unhappiness, disagreement or a feeling that the church is not moving/growing anymore.

If growth as defined by a person as receiving spiritual input and being taken care of only, then the person will surely come to a stage of "I can't grow anymore". Leading, motivating, inspiring, serving, taking care of other people in a community helps a person grow too. And he will continue to grow because he will continue to make mistakes and learn from them as he encounters different characters.

Some people leave their community because the church is not growing or going in certain areas. For example, missions. Is it wise/fair for them to leave? It depends on what God is telling them. I for example, chose to stay in my community even though my church is weak in missions (and i'm very passionate about missions work). I could have easily gone to another community where they are very strong in missions work. But what my Master tells me I must obey.

In terms of missions work, will I grow more over at the new community than my current one? Probably. But does God only wants me to grow in the area of missions? Probably not. Staying on had helped me to grow in other areas (like surrendering, persevering, helping others to catch the missionary zeal, birthing a new missions work etc).

So I think there needs to be a lot of teaching in this area of community living. We're certainly more into institutional living (type A model) than community living (type B model) in this present age.


10:08 AM  

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