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New Spiritual Fellowship


Jim R
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I want to start a progressive spiritual fellowship in my area. I am way out in the sticks and there is nothing like that for at least a hundred miles. Getting a fellowship of 20 people would be success. My area in the bottom 1% of population density for the U. S.

 

I am torn between two ideas. #1 is No Creeds, no guidelines, no dogma, just compleltely open. #2 Is using Jesus' two great commandments. "Love God" and "Love your Neighbor" as a guideline or founding principle, giving some shape or form to the group. Just a little substance for people who have to have something to grab hold of. Simple,yet those two commandments say it all.

 

I want to turn no one off. I want EVERYONE to feel welcome, but we are going to be a progressive and spiritual. I foresee studying the 8 points offered here,The Bible, Marcus Borg. Bishop Spong, Wayne Dwyer, Deepak Chopra, A Course in Miracles(one of my favorites), , the Buddha, New Thought Chrisitanity and so on. Wide open spirituality but the capablitlty to focus so much more love than a traditional denomination and staying within the umbrella of Chrisitianity.

 

So help me out. Idea # 1 or idea#2,or something else? What do you think?

 

I got thick skin, let me have it.

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I think it depends on how inclusive a group you want it to be (and by this I don't mean anything negative

by less inclusive). For instance, if you want ONLY Christians to be in your discussion, I think the second would work pretty well. OTOH, if you want to include people who might be interested in talking spirituality but be of other traditions (or no tradition), for instance New Agers, actual Buddhists, agnostics, deists, etc.

then I wouldn't use the second. That doesn't mean that you would need to include the later groups. Just

if you wanted to what would work and what wouldn't.

 

BTW, I was involved in such a group many years ago. It worked out very nicely and we stayed together

for quite awhile. I think the only uniting thing was that we had read Matt Fox's books (i.e. Original Blessing),

and were interested in his ideas. That discussions rarely stuck to that, and we covered all sorts of ground.

We also did various kinds of meditations, like walking meditations, finding altars in nature and things like this. It was a wonderful group. Don't know what happened but over time I think without a regular structure

it is hard to keep such things going. Those Commandments could be starting points for the group, or you might find something else such as a book or...

 

Anyway, I don't know that all the people in the group were Christians. I was definitely not sure of the term

then either. I'm not sure if a statement like the "Great Commandments" would have been a turn off or no for me then.

 

BTW, I would probably not try and impose a structure on the group (we discuss this and that) or it is going

to be more the religion of Jim. :-) (not saying you are of course). You can be an effective leader and figure out what the group wants to do and be. I think that the kinds of things we did that were most meaningful like the nature and comtemplative things we did came from the group and weren't any one person's idea.

We had a good group leader, who lead but didn't manage.

 

 

Good luck on your group. Sounds interesting.

 

--des

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Hi Jim:

 

I would start it out simply. Have the ideas on how to progress from the starting place, but don't try to operate on it until everyhone is familiar and comfortable. I'm a great believer in potluck dinners where everybody brings someting to share in the way of food. That starts things out as a family would. Other good things usually come from that as a starting place. It's probably the oldest collective human custom.

 

Good luck and keep us posted from time to time.

 

flow.... :D

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Thanks Des, I see myself as a "coordinator" or "facilatator" and co memeber of the group.I have a B.A. in Religious Studies and a ministerial ordination from a small non denominational outfit, so if anyone wants to get hitched, I'll be there for them Whether or not we are a "group" or we have "church" will depend on how many people we get. (Ideally we would have "church" and a couple of "groups")The church that is sponsoring Bishop Spong in December and that has a notice on the home page is in Michigan (where I live). Their web page is interesting and apparently they have "affiliate" groups. They are few hundred miles from me but I have an adult child who doesn't live too far from there that I could stay with. I am going to check them out and see what I can learn and if they help.

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I am torn between two ideas. #1 is No Creeds, no guidelines, no dogma, just compleltely open. #2 Is using Jesus' two great commandments. "Love God" and "Love your Neighbor" as a guideline or founding principle, giving some shape or form to the group. Just a little substance for people who have to have something to grab hold of. Simple,yet those two commandments say it all.

 

...

 

So help me out. Idea # 1 or idea#2,or something else? What do you think?

 

I got thick skin, let me have it.

 

Let the group decide. 2 minds are better than 1. 3 minds are better than 2. 4 minds are better than 3. You will lead, of course, but trust the group's wisdom. Trust the process. Trust the Spirit.

 

You make me want to move to beautiful Northern Michigan. I like snow!

Edited by mystictrek
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Thanks Mystictrek After I posted I considered that possibilty. You reinforced that. The other item that the make up of the group might decide is:are we a progressive spiritual group or a progressive Christian group? I consider myself a non traditional progressive Christian but an alternative spiritual group might not attract others describing themselves that way. A subtle point but it could be important. As "A Course in Miracles" afficianado, and having did yoga and qi gong for years, I could ride either horse comfortably.

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I like the idea of letting the group decide too. As for what you "advertise" as I see two possibilities:

Either advertise (I am using the word losely) as a progressive spiritual group and you might get a very wide

range of opinions and ideas, or advertise as a progressive Christian group (you might say we are open to those with other ideas and beliefs). As you see here we have a pretty wide range of opinions and not

all are entirely "Christian", certainly not in the typical sense.

 

Have you thought of finding someone to help out and assist you organizing this?

 

--des

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I agree with letting the group decide. Which practically means advertising for "Progressive Spiritual". I think the church growth folks would tell you that people who are involved at a practical level rather than just at a participant level will stick around longer. So, it might be good to delegate tasks to people whose gifts are compatible. Good luck! Wish you were closer!!!

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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to give a very "partisan" reply to this, and that is to suggest that you emulate the Quaker tradition of testimonies. Quakers have no creeds, but do have commonly held testimonies like the Testimonies of Simplicity, Integrity, Community, Peace, Equality, etc.

 

I too feel that without some structure your group will not be as beneficial as it could be, but you don't need to use the word "God" if you plan to have an interfaith group.

 

Instead, I suggest sticking to spiritual principles instead of theological constructs.

 

What about something like " We are a group that values love, honesty, community, and the Golden Rule"?

 

Just a thought :)

 

~ Lib

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Thank you for that note LibChrisitian, I just may take your advice. I have just finished reading "Jesus Rode a Donkey, Why Republicans Don't Have a Corner on Christ" by Linda Seger, ThD and she frequently references the Quakers. The Quakers may have a few things worth emulating and checking out. Cheers Jim R (Sorry I took so long to reply to this, I have had some technical difficulties logging in and posting but if this message gets thru, all will be well,)

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I don't know if this will help any, but for the group I'm working with we're using sort of a "negative identity." Here's how it goes:

 

************

Although we primarily identify as Christians, NOT all of us...

~believe that Jesus is the "only way" to God

~believe that the Bible is the normative "Word of God"

~believe that "traditional" or "orthodox" theology is a faithful articulation for God in our emerging age.

 

[Note: those not comfortable with this will probably not feel comfortable with this commmunity. After all, the vision is of an inclusive community, so the inclusive voice has preference.]

 

***********

 

This allows for non-Christians to participate fully. It also allows those who adhere to any of the beliefs to participate...as long as they are comfortable sharing space with those who do not.

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The actual name we are currently using is "Emerging Christian Spirituality Group." So, technically, both. :) In the core group we have a total of 11 (including me). Among them are Christians, Non-Christians, and even an atheist.

 

The reason it works for the Non-Christians and atheist is because they I've made it clear where I'm coming from. I believe that Christianity should be a religion that shatters boundaries as it draws people into spiritual community that makes a difference in this world. Often, this translates in the field of new church development as "become like us." I, however, believe that the call to Christian leadership is to invite others into spiritual community in a way that doesn't require them to abandon their own identity. The result is a very diverse community that holds a whole lot in common (they are all stereotypical "postmoderns"), and none of them feel threatened by me as an "evangelist." They trust me because I allow them the freedom to explore and become whomever they are called to become (Christian or not), and because I help them in that development.

 

Personally, I see this as a Christian community because of my understanding of Christ's call in this world, regardless of whether they become a community of Christians. Indeed, it may become more of a multi-faith endeavor led by a distinctly Christian perspective. I don't really know what the future holds. But that's part of the fun.

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  • 4 months later...

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