The world is the point, not the church

 

Too often the focus of churches is the church itself. Churches can become clubs. Keeping the institutional church going, building buildings, maintaining buildings, etc. can sap the life and energy and time of a congregation. The church; however, is not the point. The point is to love the world as God loved the world.


Mission Teams

There are too many words in churches. Christians spend too much time worshipping and meeting for Bible study while neglecting doing anything Jesus did or said to do. As Clarence Jordan put it, "We'll worship the hind legs off of Jesus and never do a thing he said to do." So at Wedgewood people are encouraged to be on a mission team.

We are always open to forming new mission teams.


Liberal church

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Words mean different things to different people. "Liberal" to us, among other things, means being compassionate, empathic, having a thinking faith, open to truth in non-Christian traditions, and honest about the complexities of life and truth. It also means supporting women in ministry and welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. It does not mean being a Democrat. Christianity should not be tied to any political party or candidate. On the other hand, a liberal Christianity is one which recognizes separation of faith from politics is not acceptable for people of faith. God is concerned about all of life, as we also should be.


Stewardship of the property

For the first three hundred years the Church existed without buildings. One reason for not having buildings was the Church during part of its first 300 years was persecuted. (If you are being persecuted why draw attention to yourself!) With the Church becoming the religion of the Empire during the time of Constantine it quickly developed an "edifice complex." Some believe becoming the religion of the empire had negative consequences that continue even to the present.

Wedgewood is aware buildings can get in the way of being who God wants us to be. The focus of many churches tends to be on having bigger buildngs, more buildings, nicer buildings, all of which takes a lot of money. Some churches even relocate to get more affluent members to feed their building addiction. To finance its "edifice complex" churches can extend privileges to their richest members, the people Jesus said had the most trouble understanding and living the kingdom of God. A church focused on buildings can also forfeit its prophetic function, being afraid of losing the money of those who want the church to focus on heaven and not on political issues. Earthly matters are too divisive and the last thing a church needs is for people to get upset and leave and take their money with them, is the stance of many congregations.  (Remarkably, some large churches with nice buildings are prophetic. It can be done, but it is rare.)

Another disturbing trend is churches which just have to have buildings are not good stewards of their buildings, fearing their precious buildings might get messed up.  Churches typically use their buildings on Sundays and during midweek, without much use at other times.  Is this good stewardship?

At Wedgewood we try to keep our buildings in good order, but we are not interested in having the nicest church buildings in town. Rather, we seek to be good stewards of our buildings. Currently 9 groups use our buildings, including another congregation. We housed the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America for 15 years and a district office for Al-Anon/Alateen for four years. A Korean Congregation was housed at Wedgewood for 10 years. The church in July 2007 was able to move into its own building in Matthews, NC. We currently house The Charlotte Spirituality Center.


Anti-Business Model of Church

Many churches in America have adopted, consciously or unconsciously, a business model of church. Their bottom line is how many people are members of the church, how big their buildings are, how nice their facilities are, how big their budget is, how many individuals are on the staff. Bigness, however, may not be a sign of being faithful or a sign of God's favor. Rather, bigness may be a sign a church is reflecting the values of its culture instead of challenging congregants to accept and live the values of the kingdom of God. Ironically, by adopting a business model of church congregations increase the likelihood they will be run or dominated by rich people (You need money to pay for the bigness.), the very individuals Jesus indicated had the most trouble accepting and living kingdom of God values.

[Note: Just as the bigness of a church is not a sign of God's favor neither is smallness. Smallness, or lack of growth, can be a sign a church has become a club and is not welcoming of newcomers. On the other hand, what if there were churches which intentionally adopted a model of church which encouraged a congregational size that enhanced intimacy and care, and committed itself to start new congregations when active participation exceeded one hundred people.)


Permission Giving Church

 

Why is it so hard to get churches to approve doing what Jesus said to do or approve doing what Jesus did? Why do churches make making the world a better place so difficult?

If a person wants to do something for Jesus and the world, we ask that person to share what they want to do with the congregation to see if others want to join in. Most of the time we put the ministry in the mission plan and provide funds. It's that simple. Some times others join in and some times they don't, but we try not to get in the way of anybody wanting to do good.


Inclusive Ministry / Equality of All People

Distinctions of power and privilege and estate, which apply outside Wedgewood's doors, do not apply within our doors.  


Thinking Faith

By " thinking faith" we do not mean that being a Christian requires being smart. Rather, what we have in mind is a faith that is faith, a faith that does not confuse faith with certainty, a faith that has more to do with being honest: honest about God, honest about the Bible, honest about life, honest about ourselves and others, honest about having doubts.


No formula / creed

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We resist formulas. There is no one right way to worship. There is no one perfect model of being and doing church. There is no one right way to preach or pray or perform baptism or the Lord's Supper. Much of what goes on at churches is nothing more than personal preferences. Does God really care about all the church matters we get so uptight about?

We also resist creeds. We are suspicious of any Christian who has it all figured out. We reject coercive doctrinal Christianity.


Freedom of the Pulpit

Wedgewood is blessed with many preachers. Wedgewood preachers are encouraged to preach what they want to preach and congregants are encouraged to discuss and disagree with sermons. No one sermon can contain all the truth. The sermon is viewed as a catalyst for thought/action and not as the final word.