Thursday, September 15, 2011

New church life grows in Midtown

Our GPS team held its weekly meeting Sept. 14 at Jacob's Well, the church at 42nd and Wyoming that used to be Roanoke Presbyterian Church.

Tim Keel, JW's founding pastor, talked with us about how JW has succeeded in the same building in which Roanoke eventually met its demise.

He first asked us to imagine three intersecting Venn circles, such as the ones displayed here.

Let "C" here stand for a congregation's context, which means who its members are and where they're located, among other things.

Let "B" here represent a congregation's theology, which means, among other things, answering the questions "Who is God?" and "What is the Gospel in this time and place?"

And let "A" represent a congregation's systems, or structure, which means, among other things, how a congregation orders and governs its life.

Many churches, Tim said, will fully engage one or two of those circles and do pretty well with them, but not all three. The result is that in one congregation members are willing to shift theology a bit or context a bit but no one is allowed to mess with that church's governing system.

Another church might be willing to make adjustments in governance and context but if you don't get its rigid theology exactly right you won't be welcome there.

In reality, all three of these areas are moving targets and it's difficult to keep track of all at once and to discern what might need to change in each. But if churches don't try to manage all three areas they probably don't have a long-term future. That's one reason the GPS team is at work trying to imagine a future for Second that pays attention to all of these areas and that recognizes when and where and how change must happen.

In the end, Tim said, congregations must invite people not to a church but to a way of life -- to what we on the GPS have been calling a sense of transformation.

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