thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Scripture and Community

scripture_closeup_0.previewPlease excuse my absence the past couple of Mondays. The fall season has been incredibly busy. And while I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, I have been doing some significant reflection upon the relationship between Scripture and community. Two books have energized and informed my thinking and I wanted to recommend both of them to you. The two books are Jim Belcher’s Deep Church and the second is Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes’, Free for All: Rediscovering the Bible in Community.

Drawing upon C.S. Lewis’ phrase, “deep church,” Belcher explores the ongoing dialogue (that’s my overly polite term for much of what is going on) between the traditional church and the emerging church movement and searches for the best insights of all sides to forge a third way between emerging and traditional. Belcher calls this third way, “deep church.” — a missional church committed to both tradition and culture, valuing innovation in worship, arts and community while remaining firmly rooted also the historic creeds and confessions.

The thesis of Conder and Rhodes’ book is that the Bible is intentionally and relentlessly a communal document. “Emanating from the triune divine community, the text becomes the living Word of God as it is received as such by specific human communities.” They suggest that interpreting the Scriptures is a collaborative effort between the community of authors and compilers of the sixty-six books of the Bible (canon), the historic community that has received and read these texts as sacred (catholicity) and specific practicing communities of faith in the world today (people like you and me).

I have to confess that both of these books have informed and fueled a prompt I received in April from the Holy Spirit while attending the Q event in Austin. The prompt was in regard to my own perspective and, might I say, consumption of the Scriptures, especially in connection to my preaching and teaching. Why do I choose the Scriptures that I chose to preach and teach upon? On my best days, I do believe I can honestly say, God lead me to the texts that I am speaking on and on my worst days, I think I can honestly say as well, that I select texts to pursue my own agenda for the church. Grappling with Belcher’s pursuit of “deep preaching” ( center-set preaching that focuses on Christ and the Gospel), along with Conder and Rhodes’s concept of a “hermeneutic of peoplehood,” have solidified a couple of decisions that I have made regarding my preaching and teaching for the next season of my ministry.

  • Beginning on the first Sunday in Advent (November 29), our community will embark upon a one year experiment with the lectionary (a lectionary is a listing that contains a collection of Scripture readings appointed for worship on a given day or occasion. We will be following the Revised Common Lectionary)
  • As well on Tuesday evenings, our community will be invited to engage in the ancient Hebrew practice of midrash (a vigorous dialogue over the meaning and interpretation of a Biblical text).

I look forward to sharing more about this process, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your thoughts on the relationship between Scripture and community. How does your community interact with God’s Word? What role does the community have (both the larger and local community) in the interpretation of Scripture? Who selects what Scriptures are preached and taught and why? How much input do you have? How much input do you think you should have?

Stay connected…

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Filed under: leadership, worship gatherings

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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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