When we started this journey, I figured it would bring out questions along the way. In this page, I’m going to keep track of some of the questions we’ve asked.

March 2008

Who is the audience for corporate prayer?
We are part of two small groups. One is a Cursillo Fourth-Day group, comprised of about 10 folks. The other is just us and another couple, our best friends here in Spokane. Because our friends are not Episcopalian (or Jedi, to which we are newly converted), we’ve been feeling our way together toward a mutual group experience. Michael ordered copies of Disciplines for the Inner Life for us to noodle around with shaping our discussions . . . or at least using as a diving off point.

Anyway, while we were trying to figure out what it was we might want to do (beyond nachos and friendly gabbing), Teresa asked in an email what I thought of praying out loud. I don’t have anything against it–I just don’t do it. And then I got to thinking about why it is that I don’t do it, and my basic issue is one of audience.

There are two questions writers ask themselves (consciously or unconsciously): Who is my reader? What is my purpose? And I think the problem with praying out loud is that there’s now two audiences: God, and the people you’re with . . . and I’ve never managed to meld the two enough that I feel comfortable with praying out loud.

I don’t mind other people doing it, though. I’m not even sure I spend any time thinking about their audience, either. My critique is of my own words.

The other thing that has been very frustrating to me of late is the loss of words I have on an hourly basis. Any bit of fatigue seems to result in an inability of my brain to make the synaptic connections between the word I know exists and want to use, and my tongue. This happens in my writing, too, but the long lag isn’t uncomfortable unless I’m writing on the IM. Fortunately, I have a large enough vocabulary that I can generally substitute a different word or create a definition as a space-holder until the right word is connected up with the mouth-track. I figure God knows what I mean to say, so I can just skip over the missing word without stopping if I’m just praying silently . . . there’s not an audience-issue there. This is probably the most frustrating thing about this disease (the loss of words), because they’re such a big part of who and what I am.

But I didn’t pray out loud before the word thing was an issue, so it’s not solely that.

Just what is prayer?
Our Gra writes (8 March, 2008):

Since I’ve spent the last 40 hours in almost continuous prayer for Alex and Deacon Alan, maybe it’s time to put the prayer question on your blog. “Just what is prayer?”

Since I don’t think prayer changes God’s mind and I don’t know if it changes God’s plans, what is it doing? I’m sure I don’t know, but I am constantly asking for mercy and healing to be given to Deacon Alan and Alex. By constant, I mean every moment I think of them day or night. All those times at night when I’m not really asleep or awake. “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on Alex and Alan.” I am holding them with love in my heart. I’m struggling and fighting for them. I’m asking that they be bathed with continuous grace. A times I feel peace as I do this. At times great concern for them. I sincerely hope I’m doing good for them. There are other times when I pray the outcome and specifics, but this pattern and cry of my heart is truly what I’m offering for them.

What does the hymnal say about how we worship? how we see God?

How do we select church leaders? Which positions in the church are considered leadership?

February 2008

What is the point of an Altar Call?
What makes people more likely to accept an Altar Call?

How central is Baptism to your denomination? It seemed that the altar call we might have accepted yesterday, could have come with a baptism. I’m not sure we could have been baptized-on-the-spot, but, as my friend Teresa pointed out, there’s plenty of tradition to support on-the-spot baptism.

What is the focus and purpose of Communion?

What is the point of a detached steeple?

Does your tradition have a discernment process for the laity?

January 2008

Which churches are more likely to assume that visitors are of the same denomination as the church itself? Is a church congregation more likely to assume that the person is either A) of their denomination or B) unchurched before guessing that they’re of another denomination or religion entirely?

What is the role of community in relationship to church? What makes a church community different from any other social group? What happens when that breaks down? What are the responsibilities of the parties in a church community to communicate with one another, to reconcile with one another, to preserve relationships? How far does that responsibility extend?

What about Shunning or Excommunication? Are these un-doable in all religions, or are any of them “forever”? What about the LDS practice of only allowing Ticket holders in good standing with their home churches to attend weddings or other temple ceremonies?

If your church disappeared overnight, would anyone notice? This is a question that’s been eating at us for a while, and for which we’re not sure we have any good answers, because of the questions a “no” might raise. To wit: If no one would notice, why are you still at that church? What are you doing to change it?

What is the primacy of preaching in your church? Where does it fall on the list of expectations you have for your clergy? Should a poor preacher use available sermons , or struggle on, trying to develop the skill? Should your pastor have sermons drawn up by other, more capable speakers and theologians?

Is Satan a literal being? Do you believe in the devil as a personified individual (that is, rather than an archetype, or a figurative, metaphorical idea)? The problem I see with believing in the devil as an individual is that evil takes place all across the globe, simultaneously, which would seem to indicate that Satan, like God, is omnipresent.

December 2007

Power, Authority, Tradition, Health: which is the order of importance in your church? Why? Although this particular phrasing of the question came later in the project, it reflects the initial question we had. Is it appropriate for a church to exclude on the basis of health? How are these decisions made? How does a community of faith bring these concerns to the table? How is the conversation facilitated? Is there discussion, or is the decision simply made by the clergy? Is it appropriate for a church to ask its members to “sit out” portions of the year because the church has been rendered unsafe for those members?

One Response to Questions

  1. Pingback: 52 Churches » Blog Archive » Week 4b: Southside Christian Church (online), 27 January 2008

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