Sunday, April 26, 2009

Friends to know with

In Brian McLaren's “The last word and the word after that”, one of his main characters talks about a small group of friends he 'knows' with. It's more than just an intriguing idea, I think it is a necessity. He explains his concept of 'knowing with' by commenting that learning and knowing are ultimately communal, social experiences, and that 'I can only know so much until I find a community that shares my knowing.'
It's not that you have to surround yourself with people who think identically to you, but you need to have people to bounce ideas off of, people that you trust, that will affirm and expand on your good ideas, and disagree intelligently with your bad ones.
For too long we have held onto our misguided ideas of truth and not given ourselves the opportunity to honestly search for better understanding
The best setting for this is a safe group of friends—where no idea is too far out, but no one is immune from having their pet theory de-bunked.
For some reason, this isn't necessarily common in the church. We don't trust our deep or potentially treasonous thoughts with anyone for fear of excommunication. And so our questions remain, and the original possibly flawed premise continues to be taken as immutable.

Back to McLaren's group of people to know with. He has them meeting periodically, not for accountability, but for mutual growth. As an essential part of that process they ask each other five questions:
How is your soul?
How have you seen God at work in and through your life since we last met?
What are you struggling with?
What are you grateful for?
What God-given dream are you nurturing?

These five questions are a great place to start in processing the ongoing journey that our lives need to be on. What hasn't already been stirred up by these questions is still fair game for discussion.

I think this kind of friendship is what 'church' should encourage and empower. Instead of stifling doubts and dreams, we need to foster an atmosphere where we are allowed and challenged to continue to search for deeper understanding.
A place to be vulnerable.
A place to be weak.
A place to doubt.
A place to ask questions.
A place to grow.

Now all I need to do is find/create that kind of relationship for myself.

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