Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Wellspring Community

Wellspring is a safe community for people who are spiritual but not religious.  We don’t judge, condemn, or use the Bible as a weapon.  We don’t have a long list of rules.  Questions are normal and we embrace the mystery of God.  We believe that God is beyond our ability to completely grasp or comprehend and so we hold our beliefs both humbly and loosely.  We don’t require certainty or that everything resolve.  Any person is welcome to belong in our community without having to agree with our beliefs.  We don’t tell anyone what to think rather we help people discover for themselves.  We value diversity and dialogue.  We are a community of spiritual seekers.

The people of the Wellspring community practice following Jesus as a way of life more than as a system of belief.  We believe that following the way of Jesus is a better way to live in the here and now not just in the hereafter.  We believe that we are called and sent to represent God’s dream for the world.  We believe that it’s our task to create foretastes of God’s kingdom here on earth.  We seek authenticity and transparency.  We seek to love unconditionally and to include the excluded.  For us being loving is more important than being right in our beliefs. We work to extend mercy and compassion to those in need without making them our projects.  We strive to recognize injustice and oppression and to work to make certain that every person gets treated rightly and fairly. 

Wellspring communities are not organized institutions.  We work to limit any hierarchy. We don’t have our own building and we don’t offer programs.  We don’t struggle for power, control or authority.  We avoid using religious jargon or cliché’s as much as possible.  We aren’t “churchy”.  We are real, we are honest and our gatherings are casual.

At Wellspring we are gaining freedom by closing the gaps between our beliefs & values and our actual behavior.  We are seeking to identify and gain healing in our places of habitual brokenness.  We are moving toward restored wholeness in six dimensions of life; spiritual, physical, psychological, economic, political, and social.

The community of Wellspring in Tomball gathers every Sunday at 4:00 P.M. at Main Street Crossing for some music and discussion.  Main Street Crossing is located at 111 West Main Street just before the railroad track and just under the Blues Brothers.  The dress is very casual and no child care is provided.  Our community is small and

We who make up the community called Wellspring believe that we are called to journey with people who are spiritual but not religious, joining with them in their movement toward faith & God.  We hope to be a safe community where individuals can pursue God in a non-judgmental & non-threatening environment.  We are seeking to follow the way of Jesus for the common good.

We believe that every person in every group asks the question; “will I be safe here?”  Will I be accepted for who I am?  Is this community safe enough to share what I really believe?  Is it safe enough to express my doubts & fears?  Is it safe enough to share my pain & my brokenness?  Is it safe enough to disagree?  We hope that you find, as we have, that this is a safe community.  Our pledge is to keep it safe.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Christian Fundamentalism

The following is from the book The End of Religion by Bruxy Cavey.  I love what he says.

Because the holy texts of nearly all religions hold the seed of violence, fundamentalists of every stripe tend to become increasingly violent, in their attitudes if not in their actions. William Temple, former Archbishop of Canterbury, insisted that if our concept of God is wrong, the more religious we get, the more dangerous we are to ourselves and others. But here is the strange thing about the Jesus faith (and I am not talking about the religion in general, but those who follow the teachings and example of Jesus specifically): The more precisely someone commits to following his teachings as modeled by his example – in other words, the more of a fundamentalist someone becomes about the teachings of Jesus – the more loving, forgiving, and gracious that person should become.

The problem with many Christian fundamentalists is that they are not fundamentalist enough when it comes to Jesus. Please understand, whenever the Christian church has become violent or intolerant or just plain uncharitable, it is not because of a fundamentalist adherence to the teachings of Jesus, but precisely the opposite. It is because Christ’s teachings have been patently ignored. Many Christian fundamentalists do not follow Christ, but have replaced his teachings with the prevailing conservative ethos of the day masquerading as religious dogma.

Other Christian fundamentalists replace following Jesus with following the Bible. These kinds of fundamentalist are often good-hearted people who are completely sincere, but sincerely wrong. I am thinking of those Christians who love God and are very dedicated to following the Bible, but fail to realize how the Bible is meant to be read. According to Jesus, the Bible is a developmental narrative that points toward and calls us to follow the gospel – the good news message of Jesus. The Old Testament and New Testament work together to form a kind of before-and-after picture (an idea developed further by the apostle Paul in the book of Galatians, and one that we will return to later). Jesus claimed that just following the Bible is not enough. He said that we must use the Bible to point us to him, and then follow his teaching and example. This was his complaint against the Pharisees, the main Bible-thumping fundamentalist group of his day. Today’s Christian fundamentalists (or, more accurately, Bible fundamentalists) need to hear afresh these words of Jesus (to the Pharisees): “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” John 5:39-40

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chrisians Need to Repent!

The first message of Jesus was “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” The word repent means to change your thinking and then re-order your life based on the new thinking. It means to stop going in one direction and to turn and head in a new direction. The call of Jesus to “repent” was as much to the religious crowd as it was to the non-religious. I’ve come to believe that if Jesus were here in human form today his message would be the same. I think Jesus would be calling for Christians (especially those in the U.S.) to repent! He would be calling for us to repent of our attitudes and behaviors that are not consistent with his character and nature. He would call for us to re-align our lives according to his kingdom agenda rather than any other agenda.

There are a growing number of people that are giving up on church & Christianity. Most are not giving up on God or Jesus – just the church and the religion of Christianity. Many feel that Christianity (the organized religion) no longer reflects the spirit of the person it claims to follow. (Remember that Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion but a movement and a way of life.) Last week author Anne Rice announced that she’s quitting Christianity. Here’s what Anne said:

"For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian… It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist – lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become."

I hear what Anne is saying. I hear her heart and I can identify with her. I “get” why so many others are dropping out. If it weren’t for the wonderful group of authentic followers of Jesus that I journey with – I’m afraid I would be counted among the dropouts. As a result – I want to call Christians to repent! It’s time we reorder our lives and focus just as much attention on our “orthopraxy” (right living) as we do on our “orthodoxy” (right belief).

Here are seven things I believe Christians should repent of:

1. We need to repent of our insistence on keeping people busy, busy, busy, with church activities & services that might make for good church members but are not making good followers of the way of Jesus. We have become so focused on “church growth” or on maintaining our institutions that we’ve forgotten to ask “are we really making disciples.” It seems to me that Jesus was about simplifying people’s lives not making them more complex.

2. We need to repent of our religious legalism. We’ve created long lists of “do’s & don’ts” – all intended to help people get closer to God – but instead we’re keeping people from God. Instead of helping people find life – we’re known as those who suppress life. When Jesus said “my load is easy and my burden is light” I believe he was separating himself from the religious legalism of his day. For Jesus, connecting with God was much simpler than most Christians make it today.

3. We need to repent of our arrogant – know it all attitudes. In our need for certainty we’ve lost our humility and have forgotten the many mysteries of God. Even the great apostle Paul acknowledged that at best his understanding was “foggy.” We’ve convinced ourselves that our understanding of God and the Bible is totally flawless and that being “right” is more important than being “loving.”

4. We need to repent of our angry – often hate-filled, and mean-spirited ways. Jesus said that “blessed are the peacemakers”. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and our enemies. We’ve convinced ourselves that it’s o.k. to have so-called righteous indignation and that its o.k. to treat people unkindly. But that isn’t the way of Jesus.

5. We need to repent of our smug, condescending, judgmental, & critical spirits. Jesus said “don’t judge & you won’t be judged.” “Don’t condemn & you won’t be condemned.” “God is kind to the ungrateful & wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-37) Many seem to think they are better than everyone else – especially those who might have beliefs that are different than theirs. It’s interesting that we love to point out the sins of others but we fail to acknowledge the seriousness of our own sins.

6. We need to repent of tying Christ to one political party’s agenda & making monsters out of anyone who sees things differently than we do. Jesus came declaring that all of the kingdoms of the world are flawed and that people need to align their lives with God’s kingdom and his agenda. We need to spend more time seeking “God’s kingdom & his justice” (Matt. 6:33) and less time seeking a given parties kingdom and its ideas of justice.

7. We need to repent of our narrow view of the gospel. We need to go back to the scriptures and re-learn what the essential gospel message of Jesus was and is. I believe that we should develop our theology of the gospel through the lens of Jesus first – rather than through the lens of the apostle Paul. We should look forward from Jesus rather than back from Paul. “As we have used the tools of biblical scholarship carefully, we have begun to learn that the biblical message is more radical, more inclusive, more transforming than we have allowed it to be.” (Missional Church p. 5)

I’m sure there are many other things we Christians need to repent of – but these are the seven that are most on my mind today. As I think about these seven areas of repentance I acknowledge that I need to repent of all seven. I acknowledge that symptoms of these seven things continue to seep from my being despite my best efforts. I don’t have my act together and I don’t have things all figured out. My hope is that I will follow the way of Jesus more closely than I ever have before. My hope is that I will more accurately reflect the character and nature of God through the way I live. My hope is that I will welcome God’s kingdom agenda into my life more fully and that I will align my life more completely with that agenda.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it."
 (Matt. 7:13&14)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why Are People Turned Off By the Christian Sub-Culture?

Many people are rejecting the Christian sub-culture today - but that doesn't necessary mean that they are rejecting Jesus. What turns you off about the Christian sub-culture? I'm putting my list together and will post it next week. I would love to know what you think.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Answers to Tough Questions

A friend sent the link to this dialogue with Dallas Willard. I think you'll like it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Rescued From What & Restored To What?

Remember that you were rescued and be grateful! The Passover is set aside for the Jews to remember their deliverance from slavery and oppression. It’s a time to be thankful. Communion or the Eucharist is set aside for Christians to remember what Christ has done to rescue/save us. But what are we saved from? I know the Bible says that we’re saved from the penalty of sin. We’re rescued from guilt and condemnation. I am grateful for that but at the same time I’ve never done any “really bad” sinning. I grew up going to church. I became a follower of Jesus when I was young. I have been following Jesus fairly faithfully ever since. I’ve never been oppressed like the Jews and I’ve never had to be forgiven for anything bad so what have I been rescued from? What do I have to be grateful for?
The word saved carries the meaning – to be rescued/saved from our sins & restored to wholeness. The name Jesus means – the God who rescues and restores.
Rescued from what and restored to what?
The following is a list of the things I’ve realized that I’ve been rescued from.
1. I’ve been rescued from condemnation for my sins. I’ve been forgiven for “missing the mark. I live guilt free.
2. I’ve been rescued from a wasted life - From a stolen and destroyed life.
3. I’ve been rescued from hopelessness. I have hope for the future and eternity.
4. I’ve been rescued from my brokenness – I’m less broken and I am moving towards wholeness.
5. I’ve been rescued from self-absorption, selfishness & self-centeredness.
6. I’ve been rescued from the bondage of religious legalism.
7. I’ve been rescued from having no compassion and no concern for justice in the world.
8. I’ve been rescued from my hunger for something eternal.
9. I’ve been rescued from feeling alienated from God, unacceptable to God, and unwelcome by God.
10. I’ve been rescued from being absorbed by the culture of the empire – greed – power- violence.
What would you add to this list?

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Wellspring Creed - updated

We added another paragraph to our creed that we think is important. What do you think?

We believe in God – the creator of the universe:
God is full of mercy and grace,
God is just and loves justice,
God is love and is on our side,
God’s hope is to be in relationship with every person,
God’s plan is to restore all of creation to wholeness, and to see his dream for the world - his kingdom come.

We believe in Jesus the Christ:
Jesus the human expression of God,
Jesus the savior of the world,
Jesus the living demonstration of God’s dream for the world.
Jesus came to put the world right again,
Jesus came to display the justice of God,
Jesus came to provide real & eternal life – life as God intended it to be lived.

We believe in the Holy Spirit:
We believe that the Holy Spirit is here now,
The Holy Spirit guides us into truth,
The Holy Spirit empowers our lives as we seek God’s kingdom as our first priority.

We believe that God has a purpose for each of us, and so in faith:
We commit to recognize & honor God,
We commit to pursue a relationship with God,
We commit to embody the character of God,
We commit to align our lives with God’s dream for the world – helping to make the world a better place.

We believe God is holy – wholly other – beyond our ability to completely grasp or comprehend.
We believe that God is larger than any of our ideas about him or words used to describe him.
As a result, we hold these beliefs humbly and loosely -
Embracing the mystery.