February 26, 2011

What it is, and is not, to be an EP Endorser

by Brent Laytham
Early on, we said that The Ekklesia Project was a "school for subversive friendship," an opportunity to discover friends you didn't know you had who were busy letting Jesus turn the world right-side up (dethroning the powers in the process). That was in 2000. Now, thanks to Web2.0 social media, it appears that discovering 'friends' is as easy as clicking "accept" whenever Facebook invites me to. I've accumulated 180 'friends' that way, some of whom I actually know.

Facebook friending has its advantages. I can see pictures of friends who live far away, feel a bit more connected with persons that I care about, even stalk my teenage children. But it isn't the kind of relationship that could be described as a school for subversive friendship. Why? Because it doesn't really ask much of me. Subversive friendships, on the other hand, can truly rock our world, since they are built on the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). So I thank God that we didn't choose to call associating with EP 'friending,' because that demands too little.

On the other hand, I thank God we didn't call it 'becoming a member'-that would imply too much. I'm not a member of EP, and neither is anyone else. Recognizing that 'member' is church talk, we consciously chose not to name our relationship in ecclesial terms. 'Member' means Christ has claimed us in baptism to belong to his body, the church. Because we are committed to the "unity and solidarity" of the church, we consciously avoid rivalistic language. We are a network of support, a gathering of friends, a project that is for the church by recognizing clearly that it is not the church.

So within EP we neither 'friend' nor join. Instead, we endorse-we name what claims us, a vision of God, Christ, church and shalom. Because this is about being claimed by God and one another, we have from the beginning asked some things of one another:  truthfulness, prayer, fasting and tangible support.

Over the next months, we will be rediscovering the significance of endorsing the Ekklesia Project through newsletter articles, our blog, and Facebook (it's not all bad). Our goal is to work toward an invitation to endorse or re-endorse EP this summer. Please join the conversation.

1 comment:

Chi-Ming Chien said...

Thanks, Brent. I've always appreciated how the EP is careful not to preempt the role of membership in the local congregation.

I believe that we (as EP) are at our best when we function in ways that support the local church--whether that support takes the form of encouragement for people to throw themselves to lives lived in the (messy, imperfect) local body or the form of constructive critique with the aim of building up the church.