Friday, January 11, 2008

CovenantClusters is a Covenant Community

Technical Update 1/15/2008: My Techno Husband, who uses a different browser, noticed that there was a code bleed through in my numbered list...I have corrected that problem. Sorry for any confusion!

[NOTE: During this series on CovenantClusters: The Vision Unfolds, it will be important that I keep Abi's Terms updated ... and that you acquaint yourself with what is over in the Scriptorium. There is a link to Abi's Terms in my sidebar, but I will try to be as link-friendly as I can!]

If you want to understand the vision for CovenantClusters, you will have to wrestle with my understanding of the term covenant (yup, it's the very first listing over in the Scriptorium). I have come to find out that there are way too many different thoughts floating out there concerning this word ... and if we are to effectively communicate here, I must help you understand what I mean when I use this word.

Unfortunately, many times it is most efficient to begin defining terms by explaining what you don't mean. Hmmm ... this is very much akin to a type of learning I have coined the phrase reverse mentoring to describe (yes, I just added it in the Scriptorium!) So here goes:

I have found that most people, when they hear the term covenant, think of Abraham and the covenant God made with him to bless the world through his countless descendants. While that's not a bad place to start, I find that too few separate the covenant God made with Abraham from the New Covenant God made with Jesus Christ as our representative. And this is a big deal to me, the separation of these covenants into old and new, or first and second, as some have been calling them. (First and second is too problematic for me, personally.)

I've spent enough time over at Jesus Creed and The Forgotten Ways (and other important blogs) to know that there are many who do not believe as I do about this. I am not particularly interested in rehashing that discussion over here. This is where folks come who want to understand what CovenantClusters is about....

So, we need to take a break here, friends....

One of Abi's basic rules of engagement for discussion is that we must be willing to listen fully to the other in order to be able to understand the view of the other. I usually phrase it like this:

  1. Consciously set aside your own presuppositions.

  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to all God’s truth.

  3. When you encounter an idea that raises a question in your mind, make a note of it right then, but don’t dwell on it. (Keep paper handy to record your notes and questions.

  4. Set aside your doubts long enough to try to understand what is actually intended.

  5. After you have read the entire section, including all references, go back and review your questions. Then, when you're ready to ask me your thoughtful questions, go for it!

Keep in mind that this exercise is not intended to stifle your questions or prevent lively discussion. On the contrary, the search for all of God’s truth requires lively, thoughtful, humble discussion – agreeable disagreement – among God’s people!

This means that you will need find time to go over the Scriptorium and read my entries about Covenant and cHesed (don't miss the link to the chart) ... including the link to Chris McKinney's site, which includes a lot of information from one of our important common sources of information: What the Bible Says About Covenant by Mont W. Smith. (Some of you will remember me mentioning Dr. Smith's passing last November.)

The vision of CovenantClusters is not about a group of people covenanting together to be or do anything new. It is about groups of Christ-followers who cluster together as local representatives of the Body of Christ -- what I call the Christian Hasidim -- faithfully living out the terms and conditions of the New Covenant, cut once-and-for-all on a Roman cross outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.

Go with God.


tgrosh4 said...

Even though I'm not been posting much, I'm prayerfully listening/considering. Thought it would be good to let you know.

AbiSomeone said...

Thanks, Tom, for checking in ;^)

I have become much more of a thoughtful lurker, myself, in the last few months! It is good to know you're out there praying and pondering.

Janet Woodlock said...

Gosh... I almost never take time to reflect about what I read on blogs... I just shoot out the first thoughts that come to mind.

See, I'm doing it now! Ughh.. old habits die hard.

But I love that level of intentionality... and am convinced that the extraordinary is released through deep listening. I think when Jesus said "Mary has chosen what is better" it wasn't only because Mary benefitted... but also I think Jesus found it a pleasure to be deeply heard. Understanding is a wonderful gift.

AbiSomeone said...

No worries, Janet! ;^)

I actually think that blogs flourish, sadly, precisely because people no longer take the time to sit in the porch rocker and talk about "stuff." This stifles deep thinking in general, IMO, and feeds our yearning to be able to process verbally -- at least, for us verbal processors. And it removes the opportunity for the "listeners" out there (like my husband) to serve and cherish others by listening to them.

On the other hand, blogs provide a wonderful opportunity to hear the thoughts of the folks who do not process verbally, but think things out within themselves. Blogs give them an audience for their thoughts in their own time.

Anyway, I developed this strategy to help people process information that is new and/or different from what they currently believe. Works really well, if folks are willing to expend the effort. ;^)

So many times (and especially on blogs) people don't bother to understand what is being said and jump to wrong conclusions and respond based on erroneous assumptions. It does not make for effective communication. :^(

And this series is about helping people understand something (covenant/cHesed) which might be completely new and/or VERY different from what they have been taught or experienced ... and if they really want to understand, these listening tips will facilitate a good conversation.

As so many know (or are coming to know), the quality of the question asked reveals the comprehension of the one asking the question.

I bet Mary asked a good question or two....

Janet Woodlock said...

So true Peggy... so many blogs are a minefield of misunderstanding.

One of the things that has stood out to me from the mentoring initiative I've been involved with is how beneficial the gift of space and intentional listening has been for the mentees involved. It's reinforced to me how rare good listening is, even among Christian communities. Which is such a shame... for verbal processing with someone who listens deeply so often unlocks the deep issues of the soul... and clarifies God's new invitation.

AbiSomeone said...

Here's to more intentional listening all around, Janet, and especially in the Body of Christ!

And, again, bless you for mentoring those precious sisters. Certainly, the vast majority of valuable thoughts and insights have come to me in the midst of important conversations.