Saturday, November 14, 2009

Churchless Faith - do churches help?

In a recent post in the Prodigal Kiwi blog, Paul Fromont writes the following (taken from an email conversation with a couple of friends) about 'churchless faith':

Crises often function to highlight our unfreedom and lack of wholeness. Thus they also highlight our need for deep liberation and healing. And in this sense I think that Richard Rohr and David Tacey are right in highlighting the place and importance of crisis (which includes disillusionment etc). I also think that churches are incapable of helping in any deeply meaningful way. In this sense church will invariably, and I’m going to say, needfully fail us for this is a journey that we must own and take responsibility for. Sadly too, the church, like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, often acts to prevent people from encountering and experiencing God (and so research by someone like Paul Hawker can suggest that people in church seldom, if ever, experience God). Church all too often gets in the way, both intentionally and unintentionally – church and belonging, in particular ways, doing particular things, fitting particular expectations etc become more important - become central to church belonging.

Often too, the local church often seems incapable of opening up the kind of space needed for people to explore the deep questions, aspirations and longing of their lives, while continuing the belong.

[He comments on the above] People therefore invariably find that these deep questions etc take them beyond the edge of church belonging... and as Alan Jamieson’s most recent research indicates (published in 2006 as Five Years On in NZ), very very few ever return to a local church context, even though they may continue to belong in a much broader and more marginal sense than a lot of church goers are comfortable with.

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