I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but recent developments have caused me to revisit and publish it today. So, if it seems a bit disjointed, that’s why.
A few weeks ago, my pastor started tweeting during his quiet time. #QTT is the twitter hashtag he created for Quiet Time Thoughts. Here is one from the other morning:
He invites anyone to join in and add their own #qtt’s. I’ve noticed a few other men join the conversation, but not many.
I appreciated his sharing his quiet time because 1) it immediately forces the question Did you have your quiet time today?; 2) it is a comfort knowing that my pastor has a real, vibrant relationship with God; it isn’t just something he talks about; 3) he asks difficult and probing questions; and 4) it made me realize that my 2010 Bible reading plan has been murdering my relationship with Jesus.
That last one sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I don’t have time to read and meditate on 6 chapters per day. So to keep up has meant zero time meditating on what I’m reading. Too many days I have rushed through the reading just to put a check mark in a box (which feels good to this box-checker) and sacrificed fellowship with the Author. Upon this realization, I decided that I will not follow a strict plan in 2011.
On another recent day, Tim Brister announced Partnering to Remember: Philippians. I immediately thought I should do it. But it wasn’t until I knew others in my church family would be doing it as well that I became excited about it. It’s so much better to have a lot of accountability. I memorized Philippians a few years ago…summer of 2005, I think. But I didn’t do the necessary reviewing, no one ever asked me to recite it for them (therefore, no pressure), and so I have forgotten too much of it. I can recall portions, but my memory is sketchy. Plus, I may need extra help this time because I’m older. 😉
This #qtt idea and P2R converged to remind me of something I read recently in Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer. Many years before his arrest, Bonhoeffer and his closest brother-in-Christ Bethge decided that they would conduct their private devotions each day at the same time. “This was one of the things about Finkenwalde [Bonhoeffer’s discipleship community] that had captivated him: the daily meditation on the Scriptures and the sense of union with those doing the same thing at the same hour.” This practice was a special comfort to Bonhoeffer when he was separated from his family, friends, and church. Despite the miles and/or the Third Reich, Bonhoeffer knew that his best friend was doing the same thing with the same Lord at the same time of day, thus fulfilling his need for fellowship and union in heart, mind, and spirit with another believer.
I think these kinds of things, coordinated times (and material) for spiritual disciplines, ought to be happening in a church body. Instead, it seems as though we show up at the designated building at the same time, hear the same message, and then go our separate ways to figure out “what it means for me,” then never speak again until the next Sunday. We should be discerning the application together. When the pastor preaches through 1 Corinthians, we ought to be asking ourselves, How does this apply specifically to our faith family? Wouldn’t our minds be more “one” if we were doing those things together? If we were reading and praying through the same things during the week?
One of the neat things about the internet is that it provides a window into what other churches are doing. I’ve read of other churches that are following the same readings, praying through the same prayer lists, etc., and it has served to knit their lives and hearts and minds together in purpose and in the Spirit. I think it’s wonderful! The alternative is that we go about our lives loosely connected by a few activities. That may have worked for the previous generation of believers, or for those in small towns where the community does everything together anyway, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well these days.
I wish I had more time to write and follow my thinking to its conclusion, but the children are rising and I have to make a run to the grocery store for some more cough medicine. I’m curious, though: what does your church do to encourage and foster real, spiritual community?