Church, community and Bernard

Tonight could be interesting. I have been asked to lead our small group (which is called Bernard!!) and we are following through the book The Purpose Drive Life by RIck Warren. The topic I am leading on is “You Were Formed for God’s Family” and it is basically about the church. Kind of an interesting topic for me to attempt to address.

Now, let me be clear. I really dislike this book. I hate how shallow it is, how trite and twee and how it is a bit like ‘your-life-will-be-fine-if-you-follow-all-these-steps-to-happiness’. However I realised that it did have a few good points to make, and as I am leading the discussion tonight I can steer it a little in the direction I wish it to go.

So, I read through the chapters of the book, then I read a little of Henri Nouwen’s book Compassion and some of Alan Jamieson’s book A Churchless Faith. Finally I decided to do a word search on my blog for “church” and “community”. I knew I had blogged a lot on these subjects but I hadn’t realised quite how much.

Reading back through some of my posts I started to realise just how fundamental both church and community are to my life, and they are not necessarily part of the same thing. My craving for authentic community seems to overpower the need for church, and yet church can be part of this authenticity. I guess that my journey form a charismatic evangelical church through to not going anywhere, and finally finding my way back into formal church has been exceptionally important. My desire to be in fellowship with God’s family is vast, and yet the understanding that this needs to be meaningful and honest now takes precedence over turning up for the sake of it.

These days I feel as though I have been able to separate myself emotionally from parts of my previous journey. I am able to talk more objectively about what happened and recognise my own failings in the story. Now, I hope to be able to be more honest, authentic and generous with my feelings, with other people as well as with myself. I hope that tonight we have a productive session. One in which I can share parts of my story without it overwhelming the whole evening. I hope I am able to bring a different slant to the ideas of church and community and what that could mean for all of us.

Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

A sense of belonging

On 7 October 2007 I went for the first time to a little Anglican church just down the road from me. That means I have been there a whole year now and I still can’t believe that I have found somewhere to call home. My months of wandering around meant that I was becoming disallusioned and desperately needing somewhere that I could feel at home. The church has given me the space to be me, I have hooked up with a cell group that is good fun and that has made a huge difference to my sense of belonging.

The church is at the centre of a village community and it’s focus on community has been one of the most important things to me. It has events for the community, prays for the people of the parish and expects to be central to the life of the village. It is a vibrant place, filled with hope and they have just started a big redevelopment of the building to make it more user friendly. For the first time in years I want to be at church and I miss it when I am not there.

I needed somewhere that I could be authentic, and whilst I am quite sure that many of the people at the church don’t approve of everything I do or say, I am still convinced that they approve of who I am. Last night I went to cell group and the new curate came to join us. We were talking about various things and she gave me a real affirmation of who I am called to be and she encouraged me to be authentic about my faith. A sense of belonging has given me back the confidence to be who I am, without shame and without excuse. You can’t buy that with a Mastercard!

Written by Anna Williams in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

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