Thursday, April 9, 2009

During one of the first years of  Roger Paynter at FBC, under the leadership of Chair, Cathy Jones, the deacons held one of their monthly meetings at Still Waters  with former pastor, Dr. Bill Denham, in attendance. A major part of the evening was talking about the things the deacons remembered from his tenure. Unanimously, the two dominant memories were a) the creation of small groups and b) the reading of theological books that enlarged the church's thinking about the faith. Deacon after deacon gave testimony that night, remembering the books, what they learned from them, how the groups shaped their understanding of what it meant to be church together, the church-wide conversations that went on, etc.

But who would we read? How would we organize groups given the growth of Austin? What would this look like? What would it accomplish?

Writers like Elton Trueblood, Gordon Cosby, Findley Edge, Bruce Larson, Robert Raines, etc, names that very few people remember, were on the cutting edge of the renewal of the church during the 1960's & 1970's. But they are mostly gone and their writings don't speak to our time very well. Who has taken their place? Some of the names include Richard Rohr, Eugene Peterson, Henri Nouwen, Joan Chittister, Barbara Brown Taylor, Wendell Berry, Stanley Hauerwaus and others.    But there is one name that is shaping the conversation in the broader Christian community almost above any other. Brian McLaren is a wise, fresh thinker who is being read and discussed by Christians of every stripe, from the most conservative to the most liberal, from those deeply imbedded in the traditional church to those on the cutting edge of the emerging church. That does not mean that everyone embraces all that he writes; indeed, he has a way of challenging assumptions all along the Christian spectrum, a sure sign of the Spirit's Presence.

Our Discipleship Committee is creating an opportunity that will address two major concerns in our church. One, they want to organize small groups BY NEIGHBORHOODS as we have an increasingly difficult time knowing each other in the fast paced/traffic-plagued Austin in which we live. Two, they want to generate a church-wide conversation around the fresh, stretching, stimulating ideas in Brian McLaren's latest book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises and a Revolution of Hope

Consider exploring the possibility of using the time between Easter and Pentecost, a time of fresh renewal, to be part of such a group and such a conversation.   Follow this link and indicate your desire to be part of such a group, giving us your preferences for times, days, etc, even indicating the possibility of either hosting or leading such a group.

What are you doing INTENTIONALLY to deepen your faith, to deepen your sense of Christian community?


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