2.02pm on Thursday 13 June 2024

Living as the Dispersed Church

How does thinking about the Church from a Dispersed Church perspective change of view of what it means to be the Church?

Here is one example offered by Rick Brewer.

Please offer your own examples from your own experience.

"I just returned from a diocesan meeting that reviews the work of mission congregations (mission is an unfortunate term we use to indicate those who receive financial assistance.)

They request a report framed by several "church gathered" questions. I decided to answer them using a two column chart. Once column is titled "Church Gathered" while the other is "Church Dispersed." I then used the two church forms as lens to focus the questions. For example, the first question asks "since the last report, how has the spirit/life of the congregation changed?" I answered the question under the "Gathered" side which produced stock answers with churchy language. When I moved the question to the "Church Dispersed," I first noticed that I needed to radically reinterpret the data.
To illustrate, under the Gathered column I noted that we had three leaders facing significant medical diagnostic tests. That prompted comments about pastoral concerns and support.
When I took that data and view it through the Dispersed lens, I awakened to the fact that three committed Christians were frequenting medical facilities. While I do not yet have ways of knowing much about their experiences, the Dispersed Lens brought better questions into focus: "how does our liturgy help people "be" the church as a patient undergoing tests? How to they encounter Christ in such circumstance? What would help them be a point of God's presence, even in their illnesses? Perhaps other questions will arise.
For now, I realized that merely using the Church Dispersed frame brought a fresh standpoint from which to view the situation.

I know that much of the reporting required in the Episcopal Church USA assumes little beyond the Church Gathered model. I want to push for expanded reporting that includes both church forms. I suspect the change would help new thinking emerge that in turn would suggest fresh ways for the Church Gathered to support the Church when Dispersed."

Rick Brewer

Rick is Vicar of Christ Church Episcopal, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Add your examples of ways in which thinking from a ‘Dispersed Church' point of view brings new insight into the purpose of the Church.

Share you experience of how thinking from a dispersed church perpsective as well as a gathered view can be helpful.

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Peter Sinclair said…

I was working with a church group recently who had a monthly prayer diary based on the gathered church. On the 1st day of the month you prayer for the vicar etc, It was all about the gathered church.
We started work on a dispersed church version which on each dau of the mointh we pray for a different aspect of the daily work that memebers of the church are invovled in the world

Posted at 9.50am on Tuesday 22 April 2008 #1

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