What does it mean to be Christian? What does it mean to be VC?…. incomplete thoughts to that end:

16Aug04

The Yellow area is our context in which we live (Norwood, Cincinnati). The Blue area is VC as a whole. Both the Context and VC are centered-sets. A centered-set is a grouping of (in this case people) where the boundary is permeable. Some folks are in Norwood, Cincinnati others leave in Cleveland – the choice is theirs and they can move at will (i.e there are no walls around Norwood that keep people inside). VC is similar – some folks associate with us, others don’t. The choice is theirs. There is much relational flow here. The Core (green area) is fundamentally different. It is a bounded-set. There is a definitive line between who is in and who is not. Those in the Core would include those who have made vows to the community, leadership, etc…

Before I go on to explain the differences between VC and VC Core. Let me highlight the most important part of the thing – the arrow.

The arrow is indicative of forward movement – moving in and toward the kingdom of God. This is why we exist, this is the mission of God for this place (and every place).

So, here’s how I see this working out. Someone can be in Cincy or Norwood and moving toward the Kingdom and NOT part of VC (we do not hold exclusive publication rights!), the converse is true as well, obviously. Someone can be part of VC and moving Kingdom-ward. This seems like it could be sufficient at this point. Essentially it would be an amorphous conglomeration of persons – some moving Kingdom-ward (others not) in a particular place.

But I think there IS a need for a bounded-set Core within VC. Again, not all of VC would or should function this way, but I think God has and will call some (a minority) to make specific covenants/commitments to VC, Norwood. These persons (Kevin is certainly the preeminent example of this) would dedicate their lives to moving forward in and toward God’s Kingdom – in the particular context of Norwood/Cincy and with a particular people VC. This does not discount others from similar movements or from similar (or the same) commitments, but there is a definitive step that some should take that distinguish them from the rest of VC.

I use “distinguish” specifically, not separate. It is not a hierarchical position – rather a servant leadership one. We need leaders and core committed folks to call us forward into what God is doing.

So, what makes someone part of the Core? THAT is what I think we are struggling with as a Network!

I think there is a felt-need (and it is a real need) for more people to cross this line. I certainly know that it is not for everyone, but it is for some now and some later and some never. But we don’t know what makes someone in the core and someone not. I suspect that some of it will mean that a person makes a public statement of covenant, they are committed to a house church, they are committed to essential Christian beliefs and practices, and they are committed to particular beliefs (values) and practices that make VC unique (like community, simplicity, mission).

This is not a new issue! The early church dealt with it too. For them the rite of Baptism marked a similar movement – but we’re in a funky mix where many have been baptized apart from VC. Which isn’t necessarily bad, but makes us in need of a new rite.

So, this is not to say that VC is not open – it is, extremely so. But there is a time and a place for Core commitments.

This, as many will recognize, is from Missional Church, ch. 7, by Alan Roxburgh. I think, obviously, he’s on to something that is worth learning about.

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