Q & R: Non-denominationality
Here's the Q:
Really enjoy your writings. Quick question, What was the process by which you became a "non-denominational minister"? I am a retired priest (in good standing!) who needs a new vehicle to do what I have always loved doing but in conscience can no longer do it the way I used to.
Here's the R:
I think the process for non-denominational ministers is that there is no process. My story, briefly, goes like this. I was raised in a nondenominational Evangelical home where church planting was normal and expected and highly entrepreneurial. ("If you feel called to try it, go for it.") In high school, I helped start a little fellowship group that grew and eventually became a little church - a wonderful group that reflected the best of the Jesus Movement of the early 70's. We started in a house and then moved to a school. That group fell apart a few years later, and I said, "I'll never do that again!" But then it happened again after Grace and I got married - we started inviting people over for dinner, and then started a weekly fellowship/Bible study, and then one thing led to another and after a couple years another little church started. We started in a house, then moved to a series of schools and finally bought some property and built. That was our focus and community for 24 years of my life, and we'll forever feel connected there, and they're doing well - in fact, I'm sure their brightest days are ahead of them.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about "ecclesial communities" or "faith communities" - groups that don't take on the burdens/expectations/associations/etc of the category of church, but are focused on disciple-making and spirituality, community, and mission. This will be the focus for my next writing project (after "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?"), tentatively titled Catachesis, Subversive Liturgy, or (somehow) both.
In the best of all worlds, traditional denominations (I'm especially thinking Mainline Denominations - as Frank Schaeffer recently recommended - and the historic peace churches) would find a way to enfranchise these ecclesial communities ... "ecclesiolae en ecclesia" or maybe "ecclesiolae on the margins of ecclesia."
My motto is that new churches/communities can innovate (thought too few do) and existing communities can imitate ... so I see the two as symbiotic, not competitive. I hope that helps a little! I have a feeling that a cadre of retired priests and pastors like yourself, if properly mobilized, could team up with some young, emerging leaders and really make an impact over the next 10-20 years. I'm glad to say that many denominational leaders are dreaming about this, and new networks are constantly forming, like the Transform Network ... and the work of Jopa Productions, which is hosting two important church planting conferences next month. I'd highly recommend checking them out ... the lineup of speakers/facilitators is amazing.