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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Post-Congregational II

Since writing about post-congregational folks in this blog a month ago, I have had several private email or personal conversations with people who are themselves, post-congregational. I have also continued to ponder the phenomenon. The following observations are simply more musings on the subject.

• Many post-congregational people do not appear to be post-denominational, although some probably are.

• Many post-congregational people are connected to each other by various webs; actual or virtual, including social media such as Twitter and facebook, plus other electronic media like blog networks and email. Others are not connected.

• Some post-congregational people get together physically from time to time at locations such as campgrounds for reunions or other gathering events. Friends who are in congregations join with them there.

• Post-congregational people often disregard previous generations’ social conventions or ‘the old rules’.

• How post-congregational people feel about traditional sacraments is unknown, but may be somewhat ambivalent. (I would like to know.)

• How post-congregational people will relate to World Church, Mission Centres or congregations in the long-term remains unknown, but the relationship seems to me somewhat tenuous. This may vary by generation. For example post-congregational Baby Boomers may have different church allegiances than those in Generation X or the Millennials; not better or worse, just different.

• What percentage of post-congregational people support the church financially is unknown, but the fact that some do tells us that they still feel a great sense of connection.

• Like many others, post-congregational people really do appear to be deeply ‘spiritual but not religious.’

• Some post-congregationals may be inclined to connect to the church electronically for discipleship formation. As was pointed out in a comment to the previous post, the Unitarian Universalist Church already provides resources for that on their website and has for many years. If we are to continue reaching out to these folks, we may need to do the same.

• Are Post-congregational members part of the ‘Emergent church?’ Probably yes. They are certainly part of the post-modern age.

• The number of post-congregational members appears to be increasing while the number of those actively connected to a congregation seems to be decreasing.

Once again, the purpose of this conversation is an effort to reach a clearer understanding and not to judge people’s decisions or positions. Your comments on the subject are invited, especially if you are post-congregational or know someone who is.

Posted by Carman

2 comments:

  1. As a post-congregational person, I'd like to respond to your comment above about wanting to know how we feel about sacraments. I can't comment for all post-congregational people, only for myself.

    For me, the essence of a sacrament is that it is an act of reverence by each participant, assisting them to draw closer to experiencing the divine. It is not something that God needs us to do - God is always reaching out to us 100%. It is simply an opportunity for us to move from "normal time" into "divine time" and renew our spirits, stir our souls.

    For any sacrament, the power is not in the authority of the persons offering or performing it; it is not in the rules and regulations surrounding it; it is in how it speaks to and stirs the heart of the participant.

    There was a time - many years ago now - when the official sacraments of the Community of Christ were important to me, because I did connect with God through them. As I have moved through the stages of becoming post-congregational, I have developed my own routines of connecting with God, connecting with Spirit. Through consistent practice of meditation and stillness, I experience the Spirit in ways far more powerful to me than I have ever experienced through official sacraments. I feel far more connected with the people through fellowship and life-sharing events than I ever did through sitting together in the same pews.

    So, long answer to a short question. The Community of Christ sacraments are now basically irrelevant to me. I feel no need for them. Participating in them no longer adds value to my spiritual journey.

    If I happen to be in a congregation on a Communion Sunday (which might happen once every 2 or 3 years) I will participate, but it has less value for me than my morning meditation. It's just a ritual that gets done.

    If my child or grandchild was sick we might call for the Elders for laying on of hands, but more important to me would be connecting with the circle of energy healers I know - most of whom are also post-congregational.

    If someone is being married, then I'm happy to celebrate that occasion with them, but I don't feel their relationship is any more blessed or sacred than those couples who partner together. The blessing of the relationship is in how it is lived out each day, not whether it has been officially sanctioned or blessed.

    By and large, sacraments of membership and ordination are irrelevant to me now as well. I'm happy for anyone who makes a commitment to walking with God in a particular path - and I understand the impact of making a public commitment - but I don't feel that any particular form of sacrament around it is what is important. In terms of membership, we're all part of God's family to start with. In terms of ministry, we're all called serve according to our gifts and talents. For practical purposes, we need to know who the members are, who the "managers and executives" are. But again, to me, membership is more about choosing to live out one's commitment to the community than having gone through the sacraments. Ministry is more about choosing to develop and give of one's giftedness in serving people than in having a priesthood card.

    The sacraments can have tremendous meaning in the life of the participants, if and only if the participants place great meaning in them. I no longer do.

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  2. Thank you Anonymous. I appreciate your thoughtful comments very much. Each one of us is striving for more depth in our relationship with God. It is through sharing our personal views, which grow our of our experiences with the Divine, that we can come to deeper understanding of each other. I find that very helpful. I hope others will share their comments as well. It all helps our quest for community.

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