This week I heard that I have been selected to give a paper at the Evangelical Homiletics Society in October 2009. The Conference Theme is: "Promoting Community through Preaching."
So, erratically (!), through these next few weeks I want to sketch out my paper called: "Exploring the architecture of community formation." It may sound odd to use the word "architecture." In fact, it runs slap into the dire danger of people describing church entirely by architecture. "I go to the church on the corner of Main Street and Fourth Street - you'll know it? It's stone, with a tower." No, the church is never the building.
But I want to use the metaphor of building for good reasons:
First, it's biblical. Building is one of the most powerful metaphors for the church in the New Testament.
Second, it's structual and visual. An architect designs a building to fulfil a purpose - to move off a blueprint into solid construction.
Third, it requires building skills, energy and the right materials to develop.
Fourth, it's a work still in progress. As a massive project it is inclusive and continues to grow.
Fifth, it speaks loud and clear of community formation.
Notice I begin my title: Exploring! Look out for future blogs!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
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Architecture must also be adaptable. A design suitable for one location must be adapted to the new site conditions when applied elsewhere.
Of all the preachers that I have sat under (and there have been many since I have moved frequently), you promote community and a consciousness of the body and our responsibilities one to another more than most, possibly the most. You repeatedly bring us back to the idea that our focus should be on Christ, his will and his relationship to the church. Therefore, I think you should have a great deal of worth to say.
Since coming to Northern, I have regretted that true community seldom seems to exist. I have just heard that we will not experience chapel next year, meaning that Northern community through preaching will not exist. Do you join me in my sadness?
Why have they decided not to have chapel? What is the reasoning for a seminary not having a time when seminary students will be taught preaching by example together? It does not seem logical. They may rethink this though, like they have rethought moving.
I am told that it is because we (students) don't attend and that the budget has caused us lose our chapel coordinator. As for moving, I'm not convinced that we are staying in Lombard forever. It just doesn't make sense, given the economics. But we digress....I'll miss chapel and hearing the likes of Dr. Quicke.
What an important issue raised by students. The question about building community in a seminary has troubled every seminary I have belonged to. I think my best experience was at Spurgeon's ( In London) when everything stopped mid-morning for 20 minutes daily chapel worship (or 1 hour on Tuesdays!). A bell rang out, and nearly everyone piled into chapel, sharing a different sense of belonging together - as praising, praying worshippers. I am pretty sure that the intentional structure of teaching schedules and numbers of live warm bodies had much to do with its effectiveness. My prayer for Northern is that, in spite of our many commuters and slender resources, we might be intentional about creating future worship times. I certainly have never wanted to miss a single opportunity over my nine years here.
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