Last night when we were talking about our values I think we were all aware of the danger of them being a “tick box” exercise, ok we have done them, they are on the web site, kind of thing. We really want these values to shape and define us so I spoke about how some churches have practices which embody and express their values. The idea here is to give concrete examples of how values shape the church culture and also to raise the bar of participation in the community.
Here are the practices from “Small Ship, Big Sea” of Sydney Australia. They talk about being committed to BELLS. Here is what they mean
B … bless three time a week One act of blessing, big or small to someone inside the community and someone outside of it, and an extra to be expressed either way
E … eat three times a week share a meal, coffee etc three times a week with someone inside the community and someone outside of it, and an extra to be expressed either way
L … listen one hour a week Everyone invited to spend an hour a week in contemplative prayer, listening to God, in addition to other forms of personal / corporate prayer
L … learn Everyone expected to 1. Be constantly reading the Gospels 2. Be reading another book of the Bible 3. Be reading the best of books in some other category (fiction / non fiction, christian / non christian)
S …. sent Everyone to experience themselves as “sent” into every sphere and domain of society. At the end of each day to keep a journal reflecting on two questions 1. Where did I work with Jesus today 2. Where did I resist Jesus today?
Alan Hirsch says about these practices “While the bar of expectation has been raised BELLS is by no means impossible to do. Consider this: if everyone in a community is doing three acts of blessing a week, eating together a whole lot, listening to God, learning a lot (without always having to be taught) and experiencing their lives as filled with missional purpose, then I think all of us can agree we will have a pretty healthy community. …. People, together and corporately, will simply act their way into a new way of thinking.”
So what do you think?
Can you use practices to raise the bar of participation in a church without it becoming legalistic?
Do you think “Small Ship” is being unrealistic in its expectation?
What kind of practices could you envisage us being committed to and shaped by?