Thursday, August 21, 2008

Welcome to Nuni De Community

I love “church.” I love walking with folks as we struggle to live in to the call on our lives. I love wrestling with difficult questions. I love a good sermon. I love beautiful theology. I love communities that reach beyond themselves.

There are many things I love about the “church.” To say I love them is on par with a fluid passion that penetrates obsession with ease and rests comfortably close to apathy in many moments.

I am tired of carbonite churches with their BS liturgy and overly produced worship music. I believe there is room for them in the Kingdom. I just am tired of the happy meals many churches are serving us.

We get the sampling of tatters in the greeter at the door. The warm, silver haired man with the honest eyes reaching for your hand as you enter the door. It is the flock of seniors that hover over you that freaks me out.

We are offered a seat but not a position at the table. We are relegated to the toy in the box. We are there to be counted and displayed. We are never to fully involve ourselves in the community and challenge the paradigm in which mission, evangelism, or education is done. Tradition is the rock to which we stand.

I am tired and weary. I want so much to be a part of a community of saints that are vulnerable, honest, and seeking transformation. Perhaps I am a bit rustic in my want. Perhaps not, I just know that I am not alone in my quest.

I have had many conversations over the past few years with strangers in pubs, on planes, and in the lunch room of a rural central Oklahoma McDonalds. A common theme in this conversation has been the lack of honesty in the worshiping community or a place to be part of and have their voice heard.

I am a recent graduate from Austin Seminary. I am filled with ideas and a passion to be the “church” to those God sends me. I sometimes make myself laugh as I really get a whiff of the smoke I blow. I am an idealist with very little reality.

In seminary every paper I turned in said, “Beautiful ideas. I love what you are speaking of. Your paper lacks structure and is not very cohesive and is not very clear.” I dream and dream big.

This has lead me to dream of the “church” I would love to be a part of. I spent the last year in seminary shaping it from all possible ways. Almost every paper in that time was in some way related to my idea of a “church.”

I gave this idea a name, Nuni De Community. I set up a website. I set up a twitter account. I dreamed of it most of the time. I spilled this dream on to 50 plus pages for my final paper in seminary when the paper required only 15 pages. I was filled with excitement and adventure as I created this vision.

I imagined the who, what, and why’s. Then I got married and moved to Louisville. I chased many leads to serve this community in ministry. Then I got to hang out with Philip. He mans the Church Growth and Development Office in Louisville. He is also my wife’s boss. He loved my ideas. He encouraged me. I spoke to anyone that would listen. I email BRC. I called this EP and that. I enlisted the minds of my Presbymergent family. Then I thought…why not.

So here I am. I am ten days from cracking the wine bottle on a worshiping community. I have a vision and hope. I have no budget. I have a few folks committed to be in community. We have no idea what this will look like or if it will be anything.

I am seeking to plant a worshiping community with no money and am hoping that it will inspire others to just go out and gather as a community and invite others into that sacred space for fellowship and wrestle along side each other in the difficult questions with honesty, intimacy, and integrity.

Our mission statement:

We are a worshiping community in Old Louisville seeking to be the Body of Christ to our neighbors. We wrestle with today’s church and its inability to transform the lives of those that find themselves on its shores. We seek new ways to be an incarnation body to the world. We desire to be free of the chains of differences and celebrate diversity, in all of its beauty. We answer the call on our lives in service to our communities as we endeavor to be the church and cease doing church.

We gather to create a safe place for all to explore faith, grace, love, and compassion.

We are not a “church” founded in bricks and mortar. We are a worshiping community founded in the principles of Gods unbiased love and never ending grace.

We are not just Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, or Catholic…or even Christian. We are seeking to be Christ-like, sans all the religious pomp and circumstance. We subscribe to a belief in God as witnessed in Jesus the Christ. We are inclusive and open to all. All are welcome...come.

I will document the growth of this community and our journey to be a worshiping community in Old Louisville that seeks to be the Body of Christ to our neighbors as we wrestle with the crap we bring to the Table here on this site every fourth Friday.

If you are in Louisville we meet at the Old Louisville Coffeehouse on the NE corner of Forth & Hill Monday night from 7-9pm beginning September 01, 2008. All are welcome to Nuni De Community.

5 comments:

Sarahlynn said...

I am energized by your passion and look forward to hearing about the development of your faith community.

But I'm not sure I understand all of it . . .

"I am tired of carbonite churches with their BS liturgy and overly produced worship music. I believe there is room for them in the Kingdom. I just am tired of the happy meals many churches are serving us."

Carbonite = explosive? Megachurches? Or traditional mainlines? Or both?

"It is the flock of seniors that hover over you that freaks me out. We are offered a seat but not a position at the table. We are relegated to the toy in the box. We are there to be counted and displayed. We are never to fully involve ourselves in the community and challenge the paradigm in which mission, evangelism, or education is done."

I respect that this has been your experience, but fortunately it has not been my own. As a young Presbyterian, I lead an adult ed group, will be serving on the nominations committee next year, and have been asked to help redesign the Presbyterian Women (circles) at our church. My even younger husband is an elder, as are several of our 20's into 30's friends.

Perhaps this is something that varies from congregation to congregation, or perhaps it's even more personal than that.

Unlike many young people, I find closeness to God in the rituals and worship practices of my childhood. And I do better with the hovering crowds once I know the silver haired folks as individuals. :)

In fact, when I was a recent college grad, I sought out a traditional congregation because I was tired of exclusively being around kids my own age; I wanted elders and babies.

But there are so many ways I don't enjoy worshipping (e.g. in a media-rich megachurch environment with praise music) that I am enthusiastic about your energy in creating the experience that speaks to you.

Stushie said...

"I am tired of carbonite churches with their BS liturgy and overly produced worship music."

No liturgy is BS, Ryan, because it is given to God. You may not like it, but it doesn't diminish its value before God.

Elaine said...

Ryan, if I visit Louisville in the future, I look forward to dropping in for worship.

I've often wondered what a small church that followed Presbyterian theology and tried to set up communities that followed about half of the New Monastic ideas would look like.

If you find out, will you tell me?

Elaine
Norman, OK

Ryan Kemp-Pappan said...

@sarahlynn
Carbonite is what Han Solo was frozen in. I use this phrase to describe a frozen, threatened place. One that has been placed on display in the dungeons of our culture as life unfolds around them.
I am tired of communities that fear taking risks. If we really believed half the stuff Jesus taught and sough to live it out in an incarnational way the institution of the PC (USA) would not exist due to it being liquidated and distributed to those in need.

As far as the flock of seniors [I was playing on flock of seagulls there], I am pointing to the voice of many youth that go to church to encounter a thankful and welcoming crowd only ot be relegated to the comfortable, less adult halls of the church. I am thankful that your and your husbands experience is different. It gives me hope.

I have experienced and have heard many stories speaking to what I shared. We are welcome into the church but we better not try to change anything and must conform to the way it has always been done. That in my book is not a community it is a reform school.

I do not envision a worshipping community absent of all ages, shapes, colors, and sizes. We mean all are welcome. It is my hope to be a part of a community that embraces the gifts of each member of the community as they enter into the community, as each person enters the gifts and abilities of the community change. It is a continuous process of imagining, equipping, and reimagining the community as it ebbs and flows in its pursuit of Christ in service to its neighbors.

@stushie
BTW calling something BS is equivalent to saying it is lame. This is what I am referring to. Sorry for the BS there…I was quoting a dear mentor and friend on this one. It should be “full of balloons and grab ass theology.” Thanks Stan! Stushie, I am speaking to those of us that are frustrated by the seemingly cookie cutter “contemporary” service that is supposed to speak to us. I want depth and relevancy that move me to mission and service in my community. Where is the social cry to serve from our churches? Many of us have been to wrapped up in who is in or out and have forgotten our neighbor.

The Kingdom of God is big enough for all of us and that diversity of interpretation and response to the Gospel. The community we seek to foster and be a part of is just one way and many visions to be in relationship with God and the Other.

@elaine
I hope to share all of the lessons we learn here with everyone. I will consider it successful if we learn something and do not hurt anyone in the process.

Sarahlynn said...

"If we really believed half the stuff Jesus taught and sough to live it out in an incarnational way the institution of the PC (USA) would not exist due to it being liquidated and distributed to those in need"

I suspect that might impede our future ability to reach people and accomplish mission, though.

I like the liturgy because it encourages us to work with portions of the Bible that we might otherwise pass over for something "easier," but I'm very much with you on this one:

"I am speaking to those of us that are frustrated by the seemingly cookie cutter “contemporary” service that is supposed to speak to us."

Yes!

I watch with interest to see where this goes.