Of all the posts detailing my spiritual journey, this will be the most disjointed…the why should be clear as you read along.
Of the various streams of the Christian faith that I have been part of, Evangelical is in some ways the broadest and in others the most specific.
Communitas, an organisation Liz and I joined about 5 or 6 years ago, is Evangelical. When I was part of the Assemblies of God (a Pentecostal denomination), they were part of the National Association of Evangelicals. In other words, the umbrella is pretty broad, with the Bebbington Quadrilateral (The 4 aspects of the BQ are Biblicism, Crucicentrism, Conversionism, and Activism) tying them together.
Feel free to google any of that or read the history of fundamentalism and evangelicalism if you are interested. I won’t be able to get into that here.
However, according to some, evangelical has become a way to classify political points of view in America. This has made many uncomfortable. You can find many articles online about whether or not it is time to retire the word and replace it. For now, it is the word we have.
Because Evangelicalism is such a broad tent, it is difficult to write about the specific ways I have grown or benefited from being part of it. Again the Vineyard very much emphasised it having a foot in the Charismatic camp and one in the Evangelical camp. So, it would be difficult for me to say this came from here or that came from there.
For example, the most significant shift in my thinking and practice over the past decade-plus would be an embracing of contemplative practices and an emphasis on spiritual formation. That was a process that began in the Vineyard and has continued as I’ve sought out others with a similar focus. I have thoughts on this that I want to expand on, but I’ll wait for another post.
So, how did I end up in an Evangelical organisation?
After our time with the Vineyard came to an end, we took a year to try and figure out what was next. There were many groups that I liked a lot of what I read, but there would always be a significant issue (usually their view that women could not be in leadership) that said that this was not going to be a good fit.
One day I was going through my Twitter stream. I saw Alan Hirsch (who co-authored one of my all-time favourite books, “The Shaping of Things to Come”) mention running into his friends from Christian Associates at a conference. Despite the name, which thankfully was changed shortly after, I checked out their philosophy of ministry and found it to be a good fit.
One of the things I’ve appreciated most since being part of Communitas is the freedom and encouragement to experiment and try different things. That has not always been our experience. That is something that I have greatly appreciated.
So, why did I leave?
Easy. I didn’t.
We are still part of Communitas. And while the back and forth in the States over Evangelicalism at times makes things uncomfortable, here we are.
But with two more streams to wade into.