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Kerk (in) delen

By J. Modderman


Church arranged in groups. A community heading from doctrine to meeting.\ud Religion has become fashionable again, which nobody had expected. However, its shape has changed, which is also true for churches which strongly emphasize their orthodox character. For a long time they have managed to limit the processes of modernisation by living up to traditional patterns which focus on preaching. This is still true, but it proves to be less and less adequate to cause a bond. The believer, being a person himself, with his own needs little by little moves to the centre of attention and this turns out to be at the cost of the doctrine. Because of this the character of the community has started to change. The solidarity which has long been self-evident and was found in a shared sense of faith asks for more activity to be achieved. The challenge with which the community is faced, is to find models which on the one hand justify the doctrine and the tradition linked with this, but on the other hand it must also find new ways which guarantee the continuity of the ecclesiastical organisation in a time when a bond with traditional institutes is no longer self evident. An example of such an intervention is the introduction of the small group, also called house-congregation, cell-group or ’mini-community’. In itself this phenomenon is not new, in a sense as old as the church itself because the church itself started as a church of small groups. Ecclesiastical history proves that the phenomenon has never disappeared. The conventicles from the time of the Further Reformation are a well-known example. With the introduction of a structure of groups this part of ecclesiastical history is often referred to in order to justify such an intervention. Besides attention is paid to the security which is characteristic for small groups which gives people the opportunity to have heart-to-heart talks, thus contributing to the growth of faith of its members. Besides small groups generate growth because the way to church-life via the small group can be found easier. In this context successes booked with this intervention in the United States are often referred to as good examples. However the question is if the assumptions which are the basis for such a choice are right. If this principle of organisation is widely introduced into churches which emphasize their orthodox character, the question is what this means for the church as a community. My study proves that the idea of small groups being a safe haven for members of the church, thus contributing to their growth, must be strongly detracted. Neither do small groups not or hardly contribute to growth of the church. On the contrary, small groups contribute to processes of internal secularisation, as my study proves. Secularisation is a complex idea – I will not deny this –, but something on which opinions do not differ is that a decline of the influence of what is transcendent most definitely contributes to secularisation. There are many different causes for this, but the much acclaimed security (which is so often said to be found in such small groups) has only resulted in the fact that topics for discussion increasingly deal with everyday affairs, rather than with matters of faith. A sacral meaning is emphatically given to the meeting of the believers in such small groups and consequently secular aspects are placed in the sacral domain. Because church councils strongly emphasize the importance of meeting fellow church members (hoping that a stronger of faith will be the consequence), the essence of the community belongs less to the field of the doctrine and more to the field of meeting. Because of this we see the movement turn round. It has always been a central idea that faith leads to the founding of community, now the idea is that that founding of community leads to faith. \ud This is the reason why groups of faith develop from communities of doctrine into communities of meeting and this means that the doctrine is continually fading into the background

Topics: Bestuurs- en organisatiewetenschap, groups, community, church, ecclesiastical organisation, postmodernity, doctrine, religious practise, transcendance, immanence, secularization
Publisher: Kok
Year: 2008
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