Saturday, November 25, 2006

Emergent Church Issues

Just took a great class on the emerging church. Here's some provocative quotes from the week:

We have a church in North America that is more secular than the culture. Just when the church adopted a business model, the culture went looking for God.... Just when the church began building recreation centers, the culture began a search for sacred space. Church people still think that secularism holds sway and that people outside the church have trouble connecting to God. The problem is that when people come to church, expecting to find God, they often encounter a religious club holding a meeting where God is conspicuously absent. It may feel like a self-help seminar or even a political rally. But if pre-Christians came expecting to find God--sorry! They may experience more spiritual energy at a U2 concert...
(Reggie McNeal, The Present Future, 2003)

"People in a postmodern culture have never been told that at their very essence they suck."
(Mark Driscoll, leader of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, talking about our gospel of self-actualization in the consumerist church of today)

"A generation of churches have chosen to keep their traditions and lose their children."
(Comment during a video)

Lest you think this was all a bunch of reactionary trend-stuff, I want to mention that this class gave a balanced and pastoral approach to the emergence of a new kind of church and I found it very inspiring and I hope everyone gives good thought to where the church is going in the next 10 years because there are some potentially great things in store if we open our eyes and our hearts and our minds and seek to be "missional communities ... consisting of followers of Jesus who are seeking to be faithful in their place and time." (Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches)


Missional Jerry said...

Reggie Just did a conference for the Mid-Atlantic district - well attended and recieved.

I'll be posting an interview with him soon.

I already posted some of his missional church ideas.

Tony Tanti said...

Interesting quotes Jon, I don't know if I understand the traditions vs. children one. What's the context there?

I always fear that new ideas end up becoming new trends. I'm hearing this 'missional' word being thrown around a lot now and it's pretty broad. I mean it's not like the business model churches and Willow Creek mimicer's aren't being missional. Outreach and missional thinking is always at the heart of new ideas before they become boring trends. They don't lose their meaning because they were bad ideas but rather because they become formulas and the heart of it, telling others about following Christ, is lost along the way.

For me it's still all about context, Willow Creek still probably works great in Chicago. The business model might work in business cities, where it fails miserabley is when a pastor tries to use it in a prairie town or a poor area in Vancouver.

I'm a big believer in the idea that in Canada missional thinking needs to start with individuals who are willing to be Christ to their co-workers and friends regardless of their spiritual condition. No church program or philosophy will ever accomplish half of what one person can by just being a good friend.

Plus I loathe the term "Pre-Christian." I liked the rest of the McNeal quote though, some great insight there.

Coutts said...

missional is just another way of trying to promote what all Christians should have been all along. we will bend over backwards to reach every culture but our own.

i don't care for the pre-christian term either but was direct quoting. not sure what other word to use: non-christian, unsaved, unchurched, non-believer, unbliever .... all a bunch of ways of talking about people and categorizing them according to whether they claim to have prayed a prayer or not.

certainly a huge thing happens when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour (or should) but we instantly gain the right to divide the world into two categorical labels that we alone can identify?

i guess we need some word to talk about a world in need of Jesus, I just feel uncomfortable with the binary line drawn by the frequent use of them.

you are right. I think Willow Creek is probably more "missional" and "emergent" than even many "emerging" churches. the point is supposed to be embodying Christ in local communities and when we copy Willow in form but not principle we generally fall short.

Coutts said...

oh, the context of that tradition/children quote, if I got it correctly, was talking about traditional and seeker-service churches basically aiming at a certain group of people to the detriment of another.

Tony Tanti said...

Ahhhh, I get the children quote now. That's good.

I know you were quoting, I liked your articulation of why you don't like the labels. I agree, first of all it's not for us to say and second of all they're all negative. non/un/pre all have a superiority implication for those who don't have the prefix. And let's just admit that we're really just talking about people that don't go to church. Aren't we? I recently discovered that I friend I'd been praying for already considers herself a Christian. Always has. Believes in Jesus and the whole bit.

I think I'll leave it up to God who's in and who's out.

Sorry for the tangent there.