Early this month (March 30 – April 2) I was part of a consultation on the spirituality of young adults hosted by Trinity Church Wall Street.
The gathering featured Alt. Worship pioneer Jonny Baker. He is a sort of a non-official bishop of the emerging church in the UK and beyond. Jonny facilitated part of the conversation about tinkering with spirituality, read about it on his blog. I’ve been following his ministry and creative input since the mid 90’s and it was good to meet him finally. We had very good conversations about the expression of the emerging church in UK, the view of the american version of emerging/emergent (hot topic these days, see Jonny’s comments about the topic on his blog).
The group of around 33 people involve mostly in young adults, student ministry was divided into groups to discuss 3 main topics – Social Justice, Intentional Community and Spiritual Formation. While I was personally interested in the intentional community group, I was asked to participate in the Faith Formation discussion.
These are some of the insights I took with me from that conversation:
- uncomfortable with the power dynamic inherent in the word
- it shouldn’t be a question of heirarchy of authority, mentoring is a gift
- spiritual direction has become too professionalized
- intentional communities give the space to put into practice what we say we believe, and that is living out the kingdom of God
- young people have neither nuclear families nor viable village-models, our extended families have become professionalized and that make can make severing our ties with our parents more stark and traumatic.
- why can’ there be a tertiary order – communities you don’t have to live in but places you can hang out, like catholic workers
- what is conversion? what is evangelism? it ought to be about finding one’s own faith and seeing the divine in each life but can we do that without tinges of imperialism, colonialism, and triumphalism?
- if the gospel is going to be truly transformative and liberative it’s got to be connected to the reality of life – we can’t predict what will be on the other side of it.
- is a strengthened church the inevitable result or just our desired result? Are we serving God or ourselves?
- we cannot let established organization have the last word – we have to also be working outside the system.
- evangelizing ought to include our own limitations and understanding, and our limitations in living out the gospel.
- this intention to convert others contains a certain violence.
- are we really trying to transform our church, or are we trying to fill our church?
- we should be thinking about authority beyond hierarchy
- we can find the info line but what we need is meaning and relationship
- young adults respond to age, experience, and wisdom; it’s authority which they distrust.
- our fears about the blind leading the blind, where does authority actually reside?
- authority is relational, church is not repository of information and/or truth
- thinking of leadership this way de-links the notion of church from physical buildings and dioceses
Beside the great conversations, the food at the retreat center was unbelievable – see menu.