GenComm: the upshot


What did happen, and what would I have liked to hear and say instead?

Table of Contents

Surprisingly, it is hard to concentrate on even this morning. Like busses, today has been busy personally as well with some demanding writing and thought (unpublished, but more on that probably tomorrow), and two intense conversations with non-Christian friends. Still, if I make no attempt to write now the moment will pass without any chance to say what I wanted to say.

Straight off then, this post is about what was not said at GenComm. I am getting better, but am still too timid and hesitant to thrust myself forward and have a say when I feel short of breathing space. The meeting was well under two hours (perhaps even a shade on the shorter side of 1.45), and not much strong came out as each discussion time whipped past (three minutes of group time for college group plus houseparty plus reps’ training and bible studies). There was ample time for the GenComm to basically agree that weekly Central is good to keep, but that was essentially a foregone conclusion anyway given the current CICCU climate. The few things that I was hoping would come out did not (and indeed, perhaps it was just because I did not say them). Thankfully though, what did not come out was much diviseness. The feedback times rolled by very rapidly, and the questions consistently skirted the issues which prevented us from falling into boxes. That is, with a direct question about what direction college groups should be taking would have split us quite quickly, but asking about the format of bible study training meant that in the few minutes most of did not identify strongly enough with implications to latch onto a side. There was a mix of opinion as some people liked it and others strongly disliked it, but as a group I felt like most of us were not identifying strongly enough with the underlying ideas to want to make arguments either way for the sake of it.

So, perhaps I am unrealistic, and GenComm will not manage to deeply capture real theology (in my most expansive feeling of the word, as we know God and he changes our hearts and lives). If the questions had been less practical, we would perhaps have drawn out more of the disagreements that we know are in there somewhere, given the very different feel of some college groups. GenComm then has these two sides to it, first the practical, finding out arguments, points and counter-points, to explore what problems the membership has or would have with new ideas. Though briefly, some good things did come out of today on that front. Secondly, and of much more concern to me is the sense that we should be training ourselves as a whole committee to discern theology (not factual doctrine, but what our patterns and desires teach). What is the CICCU’s place in Church, the relationship between our identity as an inextricable community and our focus away from pastoral concerns? What is the individual’s role in God’s mission, for example for a shy person finding it hard to proclaim? We really need to get on top of that one given at least some freshers I know leaving other college groups because they have felt unaccomodated. Not everyone can ‘just talk’, and maturity does not mean learning to act as an evangelistic extrovert [¿Not sure actually, but please go with it for now?]. These are vital to sort out how and what reps do. The second goal I hope the GenComm can be made to cover then is this theological oversight. Without the language or terminology, we get so much teaching from churches and have so much discernment that we must be able to get somewhere with this. Some people like how college group is feeling, others would say that it just feels wrong, and it is that innate and vague sense of balance that I wish could be drawn out of the GenComm. As a committee, just where do we lie on these scales? Which way do we need to move, and which way as a group are we wanted to shuffle? This is the most ambitious idea for GenComm really, that as a leadership we can gauge in a vague but sufficient sense where we are and what little course correction is needed.

So, this post [still in draft form] will go over as a first order the things I was trying to draw out of my discussion group, and explain what I would have liked to hear us spending another half hour digging down to. The exec needs to sample the mix of deep joy and unease in the membership over how closely our mission and equipping are patterned on the real love of the church (cf. Dick Dowsett). The second part of this post is unashamedly practical, given the lack of written feedback forms this meeting. The things I did not have time to say I will write up briefly here and send off and an odd bag of considerations and suggestions.

1. GenComm as theological compass

This is in fact rather hard for me to write, given that I have begun (and finished) expressing all the sentiments here many times before, but usually been too reticent to show to anyone before and certainly too unconfident to leave my official reflections on direction in the CICCU files. This is at last going to be an attempt to get some of this feeling down. I say feeling advisedly, because really all of my life and theology and most of the GenComm discussion does boil down to this: when one says that 5.00 is good for Central every week, and another says it feels too busy, the point is not in the least pragmatic. The convenience is a foil: it is whether Central aligns or not with what we want that determines whether we like and whether it therefore compares favourably with other options for the evening. More subtly, most GenComm arguments come down to this to, as happily those who want longer college group bible studies find themselves producing the points that link group is not a big time drain, especially if BSGLs are going the study training instead of reps, and so on. We argue for what we want very often, so I want to write about where it is that the CICCUhas really been going with all this, hopefully stripped of any pragmatism and showing nothing more than another tip of the iceberg of my feeling for my brothers.

[...or, I would... but choir calls. My friends can guess where I am going: that CG and Central must reflect who we are as Church together; that we support and build up one another; yata-tata-ta. My practical concerns later are pretty boring in comparison.]