On Earth as it is in Heaven: for the common good, for you!
What Business is the Common Ground Church in, and what should it be?
Peter Drucker, management thinker and influencer, asked essential questions of organizations like, “What business are you in, and what should it be?”
Business = the CGC’s reason to exist and how we engage this purpose in our context.
Simply stated, we believe that our business is the enjoyment of God’s presence, and with God, to heal the Earth. There are many other human agencies in existence to heal the Earth. What distinguishes Common Ground Church from other human communities motivated by this sense of vocation?
The CGC vision is God-sourced. Therefore, whatever business we are in, it’s defined by God’s mission on Earth as it is in heaven. The inspiration for our vocational identity as a faith community draws from the rich tradition found in the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament, especially the Gospels (good news) – in dialogue with the expansive wisdom of the sciences, the arts and other God-given fields of inquiry including contemplation.
Having “church” as part of our name makes the next statement interesting. However, a God-sourced vision leads us to conclude that local churches are not in the church business. The church is not the protagonist of its own story. We are in the abundant life business through Christ (John 10:10) for the interconnected life, including human beings, on earth as it is in heaven. Meaning, the local church is a creation for the Creation.
Capital “C” Creation here for us refers to all interconnected life including ever evolving human beings! From people and plants to planets and pulsars, energy and ecosystems, atoms to super-novas, cells and continents, souls to societies: our motivation is to heal the earth. (Check out this article, A Beloved Earth Community: Christian Mission in an Ecological Age.)
Why? First, Jesus’ program was NOT:
- to make a self-interested religious sect nor dot the landscape with sanctioned spaces within its particular religious brand,
- to establish human empires legitimated by any one religion, including Christianity, nor God,
- to shelter good, spiritually-qualifying people from the rest of the interconnected life on Earth,
- to provide good, qualifying people an escape route to some metaphysically, other-worldly paradise in the future.
So, what was God up to in Jesus? God so loved the interconnected life of the earth, of which humans belong and exist, that God became one of us in Christ Jesus. Jesus is material evidence that “God so loved” the whole creation that groans for redemption (Romans 8:19-23). God so loves you! This is God’s business. It is personal, and concerns healing the whole of Creation.
Vocationally, what concerns God, concerns us. Therefore, the CGC exists to heal the Earth. In other words, the local church is a creation for the Creation.
Good works and vocation (love) exist for the earth and one’s neighbor, not for eternity and God. (Wingren, Luther on Vocation, 10)
God’s business, our concern and call: How do we do this?
We are making the case that a life worth living means to value as Christ valued life on earth as it is in heaven. Cultivating a life like this entails a lifelong process of personal formation and transformative partnership for good. (Check this out: The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr sums this up well if you’re curious.)
There’s more to say about this life worth living. Like, grace liberates us daily for a life like this. God made us for this life together for the common good. Or, from the CGC’s historical brand,
God does not need our good works, Luther said, but our neighbor does. (Wingren, Luther on Vocation, 10)
In this grace and relationship with God and one another, we have the freedom to crowdsource how we go about doing the God-sourced vision of church for the common good. You are integral to this work.
One of the most exciting aspects of this stage of the Common Ground Church journey is the hope of living a life of value in our actual ordinary, daily lives in the context of the whole Creation. That’s why we understand ourselves as a multi-campus church distributed where we live, work and play. (And, hey, here’s the rub for some when it comes to talking this way: it won’t always makes sense to folks with baked-in preconceptions of “church,” which is clearly not a physical building according to Jesus in the Gospels. Which dare we say, should matter since Jesus kinda started the whole thing. Right? Need more convincing? Go further back in the tradition and consider God’s opinion on temple building in 2 Samuel 7.)
Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” (2 Samuel 7:7)
What then is the CGC promoting? We are developing a platform for simple but powerful daily practices that attune us to a sense of the holy and concern for neighbor and ourselves. We call this the soul work/good work platform with more to come about it as we journey together with the Spirit. (God’s not finished with us yet!)
You can get deep into more about our background journey up to 2018-19 here. The proposal used to plant this new congregation is available 2020 proposal and action plan for Common Ground Church-3.