Home > Christianity, Church, Jesus, Quakers > The Quaker Meeting as Shared Space

The Quaker Meeting as Shared Space

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to interact with Dan Kimball’s book, They Like Jesus But Not the Church, in hopes of showing how the Quaker church is in a wonderful place to be the type of worship community young people are looking for. Today I want to address the first “wish” of those who like Jesus but are not fond of the church:

1. I wish the church were not just a sermon or a lecture but a discussion.

As a movement that has divided along the line of programmed or unprogrammed, it is often difficult to say exactly what Quaker worship should look like. And there is no need to develop a meta-practice that any given meeting (church) must fit into in order to be rightly considered Quaker.

I do believe it is the case, though, that Quaker meetings need to provide space for “discussion.” Perhaps discussion is too crass in the context of a worship community. But the invitation for the community to respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit is vital to the worship community’s health. Whether a particular Quaker church provides an entire hour for this type of “open mic” experience, or some smaller portion of time, it is essential to Quaker theology.

And more than being essential, it is what a younger generation (the generation mostly absent from the church) is looking for. Providing opportunity for the worship community to engage in discussion, in sharing, instead of being lectured/preached at could perhaps be the difference between a dead movement and one bursting with life.

I imagine the reason this is not done more often, especially in our more evangelically-minded meetings, is that it is risky. Providing space for others to share leaves open the possibility that anything could be said. And yet, I think this is one of the main reasons the younger generation values discussion – it demonstrates a willingness to take a risk, to let go of an agenda, and allow the worship community to practice listening for and responding to the work of Christ.

Micah Bales has spent considerable time thinking about church within a Quaker context. I’d encourage a visit to his blog.

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Categories: Christianity, Church, Jesus, Quakers
  1. Christine M. Greenland
    January 17, 2011 at 1:23 AM

    Jamie —

    This is not just a challenge among evangelical Friends, but among the so-called “liberal” branch. My sense from here near Philadelphia, is that there is a group of serious-minded younger Christian Friends who are absent from meetings because they have no opportunities for discussion about how to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. I continue to learn how to be a Friend from those who are 30-40 years or more younger.

    Seems to me that’s the age of most early Friends when their ministries began.

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