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Church Re-Imagined: The Spiritual Formation of People in Communities of Faith Copyright 2003/2005 by Doug Pagitt Youth Specialties Products, 300 South Pierce Street, El Cajon, CA 92020, are published by Zondervan, 5300 Patterson Avenue SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Pagitt, Doug, 1966-
Church re-imagined : the spiritual formation of people in communities of faith / by Doug Pagitt.
ISBN-10: 0-310-26975-X (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-26975-5 (pbk.)
1. Spiritual formation. 2. Church. I. Title.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version (North American Edition). Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan.
Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations,
and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means---electronic, mechanical, photocopy,
recording, or any other---except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Web site addresses listed in this book were current at the time of publication. Please contact Youth Specialties via e-mail (YS@YouthSpecialties.com) to report URLs that are no longer operational and replacement URLs if available.
Edited by Carla Barnhill and Linnea Lagerquist Proofreading by Julie Wilkerson Cover design by Dustin Black Interior design by David Conn Printed in the United States of America
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A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW AGE Welcome to Solomon's Porch. It is truly an honor to invite you into a week in the life of our community. We hope you will be our guest and fi nd friends and kindred spirits with whom you can journey in the pursuit of life in harmony with God.
Let me make a few clarifi cations from the beginning. The intention of this book is not to tell you how you can have an effective church in the 21st century. I'm not laying out a how-to guide for reaching 'target audiences.' I won't even try to convince you that you'd be better off having a church with the practices, intentions, and values of Solomon's Porch. My desire in writing this book is to provide a descriptive glimpse at the efforts of our emerging community on the chance that you will fi nd our story useful as you seek dreams of your own.
This book is more about our community's honest longings and efforts than our accomplishments and results. It is a collection of the hopes and aspirations of a people trying. Our efforts to arrange our lives around communal spiritual formation are, at times, awkward and pathetic. Yet at other times, they are wonderfully forward-leaning and pull us toward God in ways we never anticipated. They are nearly always sincere attempts toward sustainable Christian spiritual formation, utilizing practices that extend beyond the education model of Christian discipleship.
Maybe, like me, you're wondering why I'd write a book when so much of this is in the experimental stage. I've spent many hours struggling with the idea of 'selling' what I think of as a vision for Christian community that is God's to give, not mine. What's pulled me through is my belief that there are wonderful people---pastors, teachers, lay leaders, new Christians,
lifelong Christians---who are not interested in a model program or approach to spirituality, but are searching the stories of others to fi nd permission to pursue their own deeply held, unspoken intuitions about how faith and church could be. In some ways this book is an act of poetry; it is an attempt to put words around our experiences and desires to allow others to step inside.
In an ideal world this would be a two-way conversation. We would be mutually inspired by sharing our stories, visiting each other's faith communities, eating in each other's homes, and discovering the details of each other's lives. In reality, of course, we have few options beyond visiting Web sites, reading books, and meeting one another at the occasional 'New Church Trends' conference. But I hope that this book will inspire you to seek face-to-face conversations with other searchers as you seek ways to make your own dreams of faith become reality.
A NEW APPROACH FOR A NEW AGE This book will bring you into our community and our life. You will meet our people through journal entries, hear stories from each day of the week, and be invited behind the scenes to see how we are trying to live. First, though, let me explain what lies behind much of the design and practices of our community. In some ways this book is not about the 21st century---it is about the 1880s and the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution.
Beginning with the Industrial Revolution, innovations in travel,
communication, and science have changed the way we defi ne community and live in it. Incredible advances in medicine have made life possible where once there was only death. These shifts have changed the way we think about what it means to share our lives with others and how we measure the value of life. We have revolutionized how we live and nearly all that we believe, know, and understand---but much of the thinking and practices of Christianity have stubbornly stayed the same.
It seems to me that our post-industrial times require us to ask new questions---questions that people 100 years ago would have never thought of asking. Could it be that our answers will move us to re-imagine the way of Christianity in our world? Perhaps we as Christians today are not only to consider what it means to be a 21st century church, but also---
and perhaps more importantly---what it means to have a 21st century faith. The answers to all these questions will have an impact on how our faith communities are structured, what we do in those communities, and the practices we utilize for spiritual formation. They infl uence how we experience community in daily life, how we relate to others, our faith and beyond, and even how we understand the gospel itself.
Perhaps most importantly for our conversation in this book, these changes call us to rethink the value of the education model in spiritual formation. The heartbeat of our efforts within Solomon's Porch is to pursue a way of life in harmony with God created from means extending far beyond what educational formation can provide. I do not intend to spend time discussing the failings of the education model, but rather to lean into the future with descriptions of our practices---some tried and true, and some experimental.