Ekklesia/Dallas

Don’t You Forget About Me…

December 29, 2008
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Hurrah! This is a blog first. A boy has written a post… and it was unsolicited. Even better! I would pay attention to this fella, he’s a seminiarian. (!) Also, anyone who references The Breakfast Club is a winner in my book.

Blogger: Marcus Toussaint

Handsome devils.

Handsome devils.

At Tyler’s birthday bash.

L to R: Marcus, Krystal, Tyler

Marcus rocks out, makes coffee, sells hiking boots, talks to animals, and goes to seminary…in that order.

Hometown: Highland Village

Favorite Verse: 1 Tim. 2:15 ; )

Favorite Coffee Drink: Adam Bomb…I guess.

Currently reading: What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

Job: Barista/REI Sales Expert

Perspective:

I think in order to understand “community” we need to break the word down into its fundamental derivations.  Community comes from the root “commu”, which I think is an Indian yak-god, and the suffix “nity” from which we get the modern “dirty” as in, “nitty-gritty”.  This means that truly being a community means being a people that embrace dirty yak-goddishness.  …I think this is good scholarship.

I’m kidding of course, but you would be surprised at how some people come up with things; in fact, the word “ekklesia” in the Bible may not mean what we think it does–there is debate over what it means to be “the church”. But there always has been.  Likewise, there has always been debate about what “community” consists of.  In lieu of the cultural dissolution of the family and the overwhelming isolation that our fierce Western individualism has born in the past century, we Americans in particular greatly need to be shown how to “live life together”.  We need examples of what God has “assembled” us for.

Fortunately, few things communicate the aches within us like Hollywood.  While there are numerous movies to pull examples from, I’m going to focus on just two that I think not only rock, but always speak to me about what community looks like.

The first is the essential 80’s flick The Breakfast Club.  I’ve got to admit, at first I didn’t see what was so legendary about this conveyance of high school lethargy…but after awhile it struck me.  A group of token kids from every clique you knew growing up is forced to do detention together only to learn that they have something in common:  they are all terribly messed-up.  The jock hates his overbearing dad, the devil-may-care Goth chick is really insecure, the perfect cheerleader isn’t so perfect after all…  Through a rather painstaking process where they’re subjected to a central authority, they learn to embrace each other for who they are and walk out as friends (There’s even a dance at the end…Biblical!).  Obviously, the analogy breaks down at some points; the principal is a cast-iron jerk, and God is not.  But isn’t it a great picture?  Living in community is difficult because people are not like you; they’re weird, awkward, insecure, of different ethnicities or socio-economic backgrounds. The main (perhaps the only) thing that makes it possible is that what we have in common is ultimately stronger and more meaningful than all our differences: our God.  This is a truth worth living out.

The other film I have in mind is one of my favorites from the past year or so, Lars and the Real Girl. The movie was slower than it had to be, but I think it begs fruitful contemplation. I won’t spoil too much. In his own safe, self-inflicted isolation, Lars has slowly gone nuts in his small town.  But all that begins to change when his new girlfriend, an anatomically-correct sex doll (whom he imagines to be a prudent former-missionary), arrives in the mail.  Lars is inseparable from his real girl, and the fact that she might be imaginary is crazy-talk, no matter who says so.  Now, Lars’ family and the townspeople could send him away to an asylum, view him as the village pariah, or at least relentlessly mock him, but they don’t.  Instead, out of love for Lars, they treat his doll like she is real…not to humor his fantasy, but to help him.  They embrace him through his myopic self-centeredness, and over time open him up to find healing.  I won’t spoil the ending, but it is a great picture of the redemptive value of community.  To say, “We love you for who you are, but we also love you enough to not let you stay that way”.

We need people to show us the areas of insanity in our lives while loving us through them, and we need a diverse community of believers that breaks the artificial barriers we build and reveals Jesus Christ as superbly valuable in this world.  It’s something worth fighting our own insecurities for.


It’s hard work..

November 2, 2008
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This is Christy. We are in the same small group and I had the privilege of being bunk mates in our cabin at the Launch retreat. She was gracious enough to write on her experience with community and I was busy enough to post it several weeks later. I apologize, but without futher adieu, this is her perspective:

Blogger: Christy Thompson

[At the Launch08 Retreat; From L to R: Krystal, Ashley and Christy]

Hometown: Kerrville

Favorite coffee drink: Definitely not a quad tall pumpkin spice

Favorite verse/passage: Philippians 1:9-11

Currently reading/watching: Holiness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Job: Interior Design

Perspective:

Community is hard.  Community is work.  But,  community has eternal rewards that are absolutely worth the effort.  We are all human, so community groups aren’t perfect – but our humanity is why we desperately need community.  Effective community spurs us on in our response to God’s pursuit of us.  Community is essential to our lives as disciples on earth.  Discipleship is a key principle in the Bible, and God encourages us as Christians to maintain these relationships and provide accountability to one another.  My community group goes through our struggles together.  Sometimes we don’t have the answer; but, together, we process God’s word in search of it.  We also get to rejoice together & celebrate the blessings in our lives.  Basically, community is a blessing and a gift from God.  Question is – How do you steward this gift?
If you’d like to be a guest blogger, we’d love to have you! Drop me a line with your perspective 🙂 krystal.mullins@gmail.com

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A new way of living.

August 12, 2008
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Here is the lovely Sarah. She’s an amazing friend and is genuine in her interactions and walk with the Lord. Here is her perspective.

Blogger: Sarah Chambers


[L to R: Sara, Kristyn, Brittany, Kelly, Sandy, and me]

Blog: http://www.sarahelizabethchambers.blogspot.com

Hometown: Dallas

Favorite coffee drink: The vanilla chai latte at Crooked Tree Coffeehouse. The vanilla part makes it awesome!

Favorite verse/passage: Philippians 4: 6-7

Currently reading/watching: Olympics and just finished reading Sex God by Rob Bell. Highly recommend the book…well and the Olympics. Go USA!

Job: 4th grade teacher

Perspective:

At first when asked to write for this blog, I thought I would need to focus in on my experiences with one particular community I am currently apart of. In trying to determine which community I would write about, I had to take a minute and appreciate the joy in that and consider the irony. Two and half years ago I didn’t know what terms such as “biblical community” and “living life together” meant. Though I grew up in a Christian home; I never went to church, rarely hung out with other believers, and more or less lived life for my enjoyment alone. I don’t think I have perfected my definitions of living in community, but now I have actual experiences to gain understanding from. Back then I didn’t surround myself with others that pointed me toward anything really much less Christ. And yet I had friends, laughter, and fun. So what is the difference? What makes this “biblical community” an improvement in my life instead of just a new way to live?

I am a pretty messed up person frankly. I suffer from selfishness, pride, insecurity, control, body image….etc. Some of the ways I have coped with my deficiencies have included alcohol, shopping, starving myself, turning to food, and of course boys. When I started going to church and joined a community group two years ago I still lived this lifestyle, I just had another one on the side. Then something happened, I began to really get to know these girls and became involved with their lives as they became involved with mine. I’m not new to this experience of making friends or anything; I haven’t lived in a cave up until 2 years ago, but these girls were different. They cared how I was living my life. It made a difference to them if I had two drinks or five. They told me to my face that I looked unhealthy and needed to gain weight. But most importantly they loved me through everything and constantly encouraged me to hold onto the promises in God’s word, that Jesus loves me and died on the cross so that I could be free from the life I was living.

It hasn’t been just one person that I can point to and say yes this person has gotten me to this place, and I would be a hypocrite to leave out that ultimately it is God’s grace that has enabled any growth in my life. Rather this collection of experiences with other believers, this “biblical community” has changed my life. Do I have friends now? Yes. Do I still have fun and laugh? Of course. The difference is the joy. The joy in living for Christ and the blessing of friends who love me where I am yet continually point me to Jesus.


Mini-revelations.. and the beginning of something exciting.

August 11, 2008
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‘Revelation’ seems like such a big word. Adding ‘mini’ in front of it makes me feel better and somewhat justified in using such wordage.

I’ve had some interesting conversations with several people recently about the local church. I think the fact that part of my job at RightNow is to talk to pastors that may or may not feel the necessity for a young adult ministry. When I get to talk to the few leaders whose hearts are burdened for this generation, I could talk to them for hours. I love hearing their passion about raising up leaders in the local body. I think it’s important for us as young adults to be active and making a difference in the world instead of behind computer screens or Guitar Hero. [Which trust me, this is harder for me than for some.]

After a few lengthy discussions with leaders on the opposite side of the spectrum, I discovered something-

It is very easy to criticize the Church.

I know, right?

I say this because I’m guilty of flinging around definitions, explanations and accusations in a single breath. I’m currently reading Shane Claiborne’s The Irresistible Revolution. I will admit, I was and am still a bit hesistant about this fellow’s book. I’m usually fairly hesistant until I’m halfway through the epilogue. Something he said in the foreword really resonated with me. Well, there are a few things but in particular he made mention of “a movement bubbling up that goes beyond cynicism and celebrates a new way of living, a generation that stops complaining about the church it sees and becomes the church it dreams of“. Wow. That’s pretty cool, I don’t care if you’re an Evangelical, Emergent, Emerging, Calvinist or all of the above [ha].

While I could write about how the 3rd chapter of the book brought me to tears and the 4th challenged me as well as encouraged me, I’ll refrain. I’ll leave you to pick up a copy. 😉

For the next several weeks, this will be a place for believers to write on their perspective on life. I’m super stoked about this for there will be such a beautiful display of many different observations on faith, love, community and the church in general.  Here it goes:

Blogger: Krystal Mullins

Me with some girls from my small group, 4th of July weekend

[L to R: Christy, me, Ashley, Sarah]

Hometown: Arlington by birth, Austin by choice

Favorite coffee drink: The made up ones that the Watermark coffee crew concoct with espresso, mocha and more. Holla.

Favorite verse/passage: Isaiah 51:12-16.. it puts things into perspective. I know it’s random and obscure.. but that’s me.

Currently reading/watching: This awesome old guy at a coffee shop playing the banjo. A-mazing!

Perspective:

I have been surrounded with some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ.

I have experienced community on large and small scales. [I’m getting kind of tired of typing and speaking the word “community” but I’m not aware of a suitable Thesaurus replacement.] Whether it’s a missions debrief discussing how God worked through the hearts of people and the hands and feet of missionaries or whether it’s chatting at a Starbucks, a meeting place exactly halfway between residences, God uses the words and actions of fellow believers as reminders. Reminders that the Lord is in everything. Not just the “ministry” within the four walls of church but life in general. The coffee shop. The workplace. Concert venues. Porches and patios. Newly moved-in apartments. God’s love has been infiltrating my heart in ways I wouldn’t have expected.

Living and participating in communities of faith is hard. Not only hard, it’s near impossible. Why? Because we are selfish and about 1,839 other reasons why, left to our own devices, we will never experience life together.

That’s where the Spirit comes in. Good thing, too.

That’s when hard truths are spoken in love. Intercession becomes, not a practice of duty, but a real way to experience the love of our Savior. Meeting early one morning for coffee is a blessing and not just another thing to pencil in on our calendars. The Word comes alive, not a list of do’s and dont’s. I don’t know how to punctuate multiple of the word “don’t”. Two apostrophes or what..any suggestions?

Anyway, with all of this to say, it’s the church that I dream of. I catch glimpses of it over coffee and over the phone, at work and at gatherings. I’m incredibly blessed with the girls I have the pleasure of hanging out with and meeting with on a consistent basis. They encourage me to not settle for less than what the Lord has for me. They are also way fun and have cute clothes I can borrow. All fashion aside, I hope to be a person of faith that can step out and help in cultivating this elusive concept of community… and use more alliterations as they are also alluring in allegories and awesome artifacts of the Amazon. I don’t know.

The Lord has stretched my understanding of what it means to have a faith to live out in this world and a Love to share with those around me that, like myself, desperately need it.

Each week will be a new blog posting..hopefully. Next up.. Miss Sarah Chambers. 🙂 Watch out, this girl can blog up a storm..


Tuesday afternoon thoughts..

May 20, 2008
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I stumbled across a random article by Erwin ‘The Man’ McManus called The Cause Driven Church. Thought I might share it with you… in light of the points he brings up, a whole lot of what’s swirling around in my head is making sense. Anyway, hope all is well 🙂

The Cause Driven Church

by Erwin Raphael McManus

The early church existed with a dynamic tension: it was both expanding and consolidating – growing and unifying. The Bible tells us that first century believers “shared everything in common” and that “the church was being added to day by day.” We want our church to live in this same tension.

This tension is illustrated by two biblical images – the body of Christ and the army of God. The body of Christ is centered on community; the army of God is centered on cause.

Healthy community flows out of a unified cause – not the other way around. Jesus called his disciples and said, “Follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” This was not an offer of community. “Follow me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to” is a statement of cause. But the neat thing is, when they came to the cause, they found community like they never knew could exist. That’s the power of the church.

One danger of the American church is that we often try to offer people community without cause. Without cause, you’re just another civic organization. You don’t have life transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come to the world to seek and to save that which is lost.” The cause of Christ is accomplished by expanding the kingdom of God.

Communicating the gospel in a postmodern context can make us feel forced to compete with the entertainment industry. You might be able to compete if you have millions of dollars and that level of expertise. Most of us don’t. We have only one advantage that neither Hollywood nor MTV has. We have the presence and power of the living God!

Why in the world would we eliminate God’s power from our core strategy and actually move to a deficit rather than to an advantage?

[http://www.erwinmcmanus.com/cause-driven-church]

 

If you arent familiar witih Erwin, check out his bio. He kinda looks like a Beatle in this pictures but pretty cool nonetheless.  😉

[http://www.erwinmcmanus.com/bio]



Life Together

May 12, 2008
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Has anyone read Life Together by Dietrich ‘The Bomb’ Bonhoeffer?

Comments?

[Its an easy read for anyone who’s interested… I’m reading through it now.]


A Community in Faith.

May 12, 2008
2 Comments

My dear friends,

I write this to you as I sit in a coffee shop, my mind racing with thoughts, books and study Bibles piling up around me. What are these thoughts about, you ask? Well… these are thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for the past 4-6 months but more in depth within the last 4 weeks.. and since then, these thoughts have been multiplying like crazy due to some amazing conversations I’ve had with about half a dozen people.

These are thoughts on Biblical community.

Most people think they are experiencing ‘community’ for an hour or two on Sunday mornings, maybe on Wednesday evenings if they are really religious. Most people call this church [or so I hear]. They live their lives as normal as possible, to the best of their ability. Then a week goes by, another Sunday rolls around, and they get to experience ‘community’ again.

There is something drastically wrong with this picture.

I am not writing this to try to revolutionize Biblical community. I just want to live in it. Not just a once a week gathering but day to day be involved in the lives of believers around me. Be the community. Be the Church. Be a part of something that the Lord has already put into motion. Our job is to jump in.

I also write this to you with no real tidy resolution…. [yeah, I know].

However, God is bringing me to action. I’d love to invite you to be a part of something. Something that is not necessarily anything new or cool [even though I think it is pretty fun]. It’s a Saturday morning breakfast: a time of eating great food, fellowship and prayer afterwards. What did the apostles do in Acts? They 1) devoted themselves to teaching and fellowship 2) as well as the breaking of bread and prayer. They committed themselves to community and being in tune with the Body as to sufficiently meet the needs of the Church.

I want to have a time where we can get together as the Body of Christ, not bound by topical Bible studies, small talk, denominations, church membership, surface relationships, busyness, just fill in the blank. What an amazing privilege we have to meet together as believers to spur one another on and bathe our city / neighborhood / families / friends in prayer!

Right now, I’d love to experience ekklesia in Dallas. So that’s going to be the name of the gathering/blog…although I thought SMAK was really stinkin’ creative [Saturday Mornings At Krystal’s]. Let’s just say that I won’t prevent anyone from calling it that….but I have a feeling this won’t be at my place all the time. I’d love to be able to meet in different areas of the city. For now, I’d be blessed to host it at my apartment. [“Hey, are you going to SMAK?” “Dude. Who’s not going to SMAK?…that’s the question..”]

If you feel moved to be a part of this, let’s chat. Email me. Once I talk to a few folks, I’ll send out an update on when we’ll meet up. I also don’t think meeting in community should be limited to any type of gathering. I want to know and experience what it means to be continually living in community and being intentional about it. Aaand I want this blog to be an open forum to discuss and update, to encourage and bless. So let’s have at it! [If you don’t comment, I’ll hunt you down. In a friendly Christian way…uhhh..what?]

🙂

Much love from Above,

krystal