Friday, November 04, 2005

up/rooted.west update

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For those of you that were at our October 24th meeting of up/rooted.west, I just wanted to send you this recap of our discussion and let you know how much I enjoyed hanging out with all of you. And for those of you who weren't able to make it, I wanted to keep you in the loop on what we've been talking about, and hopefully wet your whistle a little bit to come and join us next time. :)

As you know, this meeting was our first time in our new location in the Beamer Center at Wheaton College. We were joined by a good number of first timers from Wheaton College and the surrounding community. It was also great having food and drink and ice cream readily available once more for our gatherings!

The topic this past week was "WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?" and we began (after a much too lengthy introduction to up/rooted and the whole "emerging church" conversation by yours truly) by brainstorming how we have heard the gospel summarized or explained to us in the past. As you'd expect, common to most of us there was the idea that gospel is about "trusting in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of your sins so that you'll go to heaven after you die." The next question then was naturally, "If that's the gospel, why then don't we see it explained that way in scripture itself?"

This led us into good discussions about the true fullness of the gospel and what it's really all about, especially in terms of being called into service of God, and in announcing the "kingdom of God". Many seemed to especially resonate with the lament that contemporary evangelicalism has seemed to make the gospel into a consumer commodity, and that our churches are offering
salvation as a kind of economic transaction. We have packaged and marketed the gospel in order to "attract" people, but the worry seemed to be that in the process we may have lost our vision of what it is we are actually "selling" (or whether "selling" is even the right metaphor at all). This led us into discussion about the nature and purpose of the church and what it should be all about in the first place.

While more was said than can be effectively summarized here, towards the end many excellent and provocative questions were raised by Tory Schalkle about the emerging church movement and it's attitude towards questions of inclusivism/exclusivism, of church structure and government, of doctrinal boundaries, etc. Though we ran out of time to discuss most of his points, his concerns did help us choose our topic for next month. I'd invite you to join us MONDAY, NOVEMBER 21 to discuss the question of "SPIRITUAL FORMATION AND DISCIPLESHIP WITHIN COMMUNITIES OF FAITH". For those of you who were there this past week, I wanted to also give an apology and a disclaimer. First, up/rooted is intended to be a discussion and my role is simply as a facilitator. However, I personally think I did way too much talking this time, and my intention is not to play the part of "professor". So, I implore you all, if I end up talking more than say 20% of the time next meeting, please just slap me upside the head or something. And, on a related note, I need to also give a disclaimer that my personal opinions, whether about the gospel, or inclusivism/exclusivism, or church structure, are simply my own and are not necessarily representative of everyone involved with up/rooted. In conversation at our gatherings, I am simply one more voice among the rest, and the things I say are no more the "right answers" or authoritative position than anyone elses. Our hope is to encourage free and open conversation, not to simply indoctrinate everyone into some kind of new "emergent" way of thinking.

So anyhow, with all that said, I want to remind you one more time that we're meeting again Monday, November 21 from 7-9 pm in the Phelps Room in the Beamer Center at Wheaton College to discuss "Spiritual Formation and Discipleship Within Communities of Faith". Can't wait to see you there!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted.west co-coordinator

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