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Power Surge at Franklin Federated; Week One

October 11, 2011

We are embarking on a grand project at Franklin Federated Church, and I hope some folks that are only reading from a distance might join along via this blog.

I hope to get into a weekly update cycle here as we become a Discipling group of Christians at Franklin Federated. I hope some of them will chime in here or on our church Facebook page about how it is going. We’ve got a great system that several of us have found in a particular book, and I’ve been carrying that book with me everywhere as I sought to get a handle on what it might mean to become a better disciple in my own life.

I also encouraged the congregation to pick the book up and give it a read. Some are doing so. I don’t feel it’s essential, but it is great for those folks who want to know what’s going on before we actually get around to doing it. The book is called Power Surge, by Michael W. Foss, and it is a fast read and very accessible to lay folk. The tag is “Six marks of discipleship for a changing church.”

The book was written in 2000, but little has changed for churches since then. If anything, it has gotten worse. Foss wrote in the pre-9/11 world of dwindling membership in Protestant churches, and tried to help light a fire under some of those staid pews. One year later, the world changed (in some ways permanently, but mostly temporarily) and there WAS a bit of an up-tick in attendance. But inertia is a more powerful force than almost any other, and church membership and attendance figures seem to have settled right back down into their downward spiral.

It is not my intention to synopsize Foss’s book here. You should buy and read it on your own if you’d like to remake your faith and your church. But I will say that he proposes a move from the “Membership” model of church to the “Discipleship” model. The Membership Model is characterized by churches that still believe they are the center of their world, the focus of their ministries tends to be on the Members, rather than people outside the church. If you “make waves,” you’re doing something wrong. The goal of the Membership church is to grow the church.

But the Discipleship Model is after something bigger. Instead of serving “paying members,” like a country club, the Discipleship church is about reaching OUT, and following the Biblical injunction to lead folks to a new life in Christ. That’s the goal. If they become members, great! But if they move away, the thought is that they will continue a life in Christ somewhere else. We are not told in scripture to grow our churches. We are told to grow the large Body of Christ. There’s a lot more to it, and I urge you to read the first two chapters of Power Surge for the details. I need to move on to the practices!

PoWeR SuRGe, so written, is an acronym for the six marks of Discipleship, and we are beginning at the right place; the “P” stands for Prayer.

Not just any prayer, any time, though folks with an active prayer life already should be encouraged to keep doing what they are doing. Foss simply adds another level. Daily prayer is the goal. Not just on Sunday, not only at meetings or on Bible Study days. You cannot achieve a high enough level of discipleship without daily prayer. Furthermore, Foss and his colleagues at their church focused on plain-language and centering prayers.

Plain language means extemporaneous. Not written-out. Not prepared in advance. Simply spoken from wherever people were. We seek to pray the same way at Franklin Federated, avoided “high-production-value” prayers and instead letting our hearts shine.

Furthermore, this week we began a practice of Centering Prayer during worship; simply sitting in silence, not speaking, letting ourselves “be still and know that God is God.” I put training-wheels on the process, using a short mantra that I repeated three times while folks sat for 30 seconds. the mantra was “Come, be my light.” I reminded folks that in Centering (or silent) Prayer, other thoughts intrude. I urged them to participate as they were able, and to just let the moment pass if it did not connect for them. I was grateful for the new layer of our prayers together.

This coming week we will sit in complete silence for the 30 seconds, and I hope to get feedback from folks about how it feels to respect our “holy time” together. We also asked folks to begin to try this on a daily basis, and I hope some have, letting God in to their rushed weekly routines where they can. We will continue on in this manner into the month of November, but I will be back in a week (with a shorter post) to let you know how it’s going. Once we’ve had some time with this mark of Discipleship, we’ll move on to the next one!
In the meantime, if you were there, feel free to offer feedback in the comments here. It would be great for folks outside to know how it felt on the congregational side of this process.

Be at peace this week, as you seek God in the silences.

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