Sunday, February 25, 2007

Life Group

Sarah and I just returned from the first meeting of a new Life Group we're trying. Life Groups are what our church calls Small Groups. This Life Group is going to meet on Sunday afternoons. It looks like we're going to alternate between the Berryman and Owen homes. I wasn't sure what to expect and I wasn't entirely sure I'd be comfortable. My spiritual state and attitude is pretty lousy and I'm not sure I'm ready for the whole small group thing. But I am open to whatever good may come from this. My hope is that my faith may return to me in some way, shape or form.
I like the approach that Jeff is taking with the group. We are going to watch a movie on the first Sunday of every month and then discuss the spiritual, theological and cultural issues from the movie on the following Sundays of the month. We are going to see how this format pans out. It may need tweaking in the may fall by the wayside replaced by something else. The point is, it's a creative way to engage in spiritual conversation without getting all churchy (which I abhor). I think I'm going to like this. I'm not sure what Sarah is after but the things I'd like to take away from it are a sense of community and family, friendship, and an opportunity for my faith to be restored and grow. For that to be successful, I hope that I can let my guard down and let these people in. I also hope that they can accept me for who I am and love me in spite of myself. And in the end, I hope that I can accept them and love them back.
My fingers are crossed.


Cassie said...

I love your blunt honesty. You always keep me on my toes! I know that, if you are truly looking for God to restore your faith, He will. But hang on! It could be a wild ride!

Anonymous said...

Please be careful, Marty. Don't go looking for faith, spirituality, or renewal in church. You might wind up as bitter as you were at OBC.

Spirituality is a solitary practice. It exists outside all communities, bonds, and activities. I think that too often, we look for spiritual growth in the groups we join, and then wind up using the friendship bonds of the group to measure our "spirituality". The closeness and acceptance of the group mirrors the closeness and acceptance we want from god. You know, the whole, "people like me so I must be loved by god/ I'm rejected and god hates me" phenomenon. The church's activities/ acceptance become the substitute for spiritual connection and the loss of community, the stupid schisms and subsequent rejection that come from opposing interpretations of cultural phenomenon, mean a loss of faith.

I don't know that watching and critiquing some movie-guy's art will help you renew your faith or enhance your spirituality. It might make you feel like part of a community, which seems to be what you want. Discussing the spiritual and cultural implications of a movie, is more analytical, academic. It's like joining any other book/ art/ whatever discussion group.

On a macro level, the protestant christian community seems to break apart easily over small schisms revolving around interpretation of cultural phenomenon and their spiritual application/ interpretation. Members of the schisms measure members by linking the community-building activities to spirituality. This is a dangerous step, I think, toward cult-of-personality and many other church-based problems.