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I recently came across this blog post by Jason Byassee over at Duke’s “Call and Response:”

The concept of traditioned innovation holds that entrepreneurial advance in the church for a new day is never a start from scratch. We need always to be innovating boldly — and truth be told the church is entirely too reticent to change too much of the time. But when we change we don’t do so just for change’s sake, or to attract more people, or from scratch. Instead, we always reach back into the depths of Christian tradition to recover something we’d neglected there and reframe it for a new day.

As a part of the radical reformation, our tradition is steeped in “traditioned innovation.” We’ve always been “reaching back into the depths of tradition to recover and reframe,” whether it was reviving the practices of adult baptism and footwashing, or insisting on reading scripture together in community – like the first believers must have done with Paul’s letters or Mark’s gospel.

But I’m curious: what things ought we to recover and reframe right now? Whether they’re things from our Brethren history or things more ancient, what are the aspects of Christianity that you wish we did more of, or better? Which traditions are you recovering, now? What innovations are taking place in your communities?

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I don’t think anyone will argue we live in a diverse world. Today’s technology and culture have made amazing advances in connecting us to others who are very different than we are. However, the church (worldwide, denominational, and local) has been reluctant, hesitant, and at times flat out refused to embrace this diversity.

Thankfully, some of these trends seem to be shifting. I read with great interest about the “emerging” church that is growing in recognition and numbers. Part of my affinity comes from strong similarities I sense between their commitments to living out the life and teachings of Jesus in the midst of community. Yet one of the distinctive elements of many (most?) of these groups is their tolerance, acceptance, and comfort with diversity. Read the rest of this entry »

The last several posts on here have touched on the issue of belief, particular beliefs and practices we understand to be “Brethren” in nature. Rather than talking about particular beliefs, I’d like to take a step back and foster some discussion on belief in general.

Recently I stumbled across this excerpt from a recent Rolling Stone interview of comedian and satirist Steven Colbert:

Rolling Stone: A lot of people view what you do as liberal vs. conservative. But what you’re saying is that the show is really about people who are flexible in their beliefs vs. people who are fixed in their beliefs?

Colbert: If there’s a target in our present society, it’s people not willing to change their minds. If you’re not willing to change your mind about anything, given how much is changing and how the sands are shifting underneath our feet, then that dishonesty is certainly worth a joke or too.

It got me thinking about how having flexible beliefs in the midst of our quickly changing, shifting world relates to being people of faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Dana’s great observation about the “tag line” prompted me to think about the three elements depicted within it; Peacefully, Simply, Together.

One of the things that arises in the 300th Anniversary Study is the low numbers of respondents who identify with the Peace witness of the Church.  Many lament this development, others see it as affirmation of an already perceived reality.  I am not sure its so much a development given the numbers of Brethren men who went to into Civilian Public Service on one hand, and those who served in various positions in the American military in World War II.  Yet, it is clear regardless that around 20% of the Church of the Brethren members self identify the Peace Witness as part of their personal system of belief.

There are a number of ways to approach this question, such as how we measure a belief, how we understand the Peace Witness etc.  But I think a helpful phrasing of the question at the heart of this reality is as follows:  How are we to understand these numbers and the strength of the Peace witness within the Brethren today?

Friends,

The last several weeks have seen some interesting and important discussions here on Already and Not Yet. The exchanges have been insightful, kind, and productive. When those of us who administer the blog look at the stats for the blog it is clear this has created an interest in the blog not seen in previous months. We would like to continue this trend!

In order to do so we we are establishing a schedule of postings and recruiting contributors.

We will be posting questions for discussion every Tuesday and Thursday to develop a rhythm on the blog. Please subscribe, comment, or even click over to see what is going on.

If you are interested in contributing questions or short pieces to the blog, leave a comment here and we will be in touch to add you to the rotation.

There are few places for sustained, denomination wide conversation. It is the hope of us here at Already and Not Yet that this forum can be a place to begin talking about The Church of the Brethren and the Church Universal in the 21st Century. Join us!

I’m spending a couple of weeks in Cincinnati, where BVS has just opened it’s first intentional community house for volunteers. Ben Bear, a former BVSer who signed up for another term just so he could participate in one of these communities, describes his motivation like this:

“When I did BVS the first time, I got to live out the first two parts of the Brethren tagline – peacefully and simply. What I’m hoping for this time is to get the ‘together’ piece, too.”

So, what defines Brethren community for you? What are the practices that we participate in together that form us into Christ’s body? And, how are they different from any other group of people – civic or Christian?

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