I am coming to the conclusion that Bean has a real desire for the Christian to make a difference in the world and to be the church in action. The main problem I am continuing to have is with her insistence that being a non-goer is the way to accomplish this. She seems to have had events that have taken place in her life that are directing her current responses. The word I have been continually using is reactive because I feel, based on her writings, that she is being motivated solely by her personal experiences. The danger, as I have stated it, is that she is advocating her course of action away from the organized church as a viable and seemingly desirable response for others to take. I don’t understand the need for such a response.
She offers a collection of stories to try to validate her position. She states, “let the following stories help to reassure you that without church, there are still many ways to offer blessings, extend hospitality, find mentors and mentees, share your gifts, and learn from others.” Of course there are many ways to be the church outside of the church building. That is exactly what church is. It is the people not the building. But the things she just stated can be a mission statement within the local church gathered as well. Does the church gathered always do these things well? No, they don’t always focus as they should on these things. That’s why we need vision statements as a church to keep us focused and to direct our efforts. That is the purpose of education within the church. Bean really needs to focus this drive she has towards the hospitality aspects of the faith in such a way that she can multiply her efforts. She comes across as too much of a lone minister. I believe that an individual such as Bean could make a great impact in the local church as she leads others to see the importance of meeting the needs of people in the community.
There is a statement that she makes with which I greatly resonate. “Our days are filled with moments to behold each other. We can take the time to simply slow down and notice our kids or family members without any agenda.” Yes, we do neglect others more than we should. I know I do. Church can become a distraction in which we hide behind our rituals and services. We may begin to think that the time spent on Sunday is all that is required. We may fail to look into the lives of others or to simply as Beans puts it, ‘behold one another’. Lots to learn here. Our worship services need to be times of praise and of preparation for daily ministry. It should be fueling and centering us for the week ahead. She continues to add, “In this culture, time and attention are two of the most valuable gifts to give.” Yes, this is very true. I am convinced that we have become a distracted people. We hide behind our technology and our television. We waste time with things that ultimately don’t really matter. We preoccupy ourselves because we fear the silence. We often hate to be left with just our thoughts.
I really appreciated this quote. “What would the world look like if we, the ‘church scattered,’ went about our days paying attention, practicing beholding others and passing the peace in natural ways?” What a great thought to ask the gathering church? I am convinced that many of Bean’s arguments for being a non-goer would best serve the reader by challenging them as a goer of the church to evaluate effectiveness within the church family. Many of her points are right on key, but they hint too much towards a more secular tone since they come across to me as removed from the overall mission of the church which is called to bring others to faith in Christ. Doing good things and being a blessing are only complete as they share the overall message of the Gospel which is to call people to repentance and to Christ. I am missing this emphasis from Bean and her writings. I am not saying that she does not desire such a thing from those she ministers to, but the deeds seem too removed from the message. Perhaps, this is one thing that the church gathered can provide. It can provide a continued emphasis on the ‘why’ of doing social ministries.