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30 March, 2004 4:41 PM

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Questions for the Emerging Church

30 March, 2004 9:15 AM

Received this email from Angus yesterday. With his permission I post it here as a discussion starter. Angus is asking some interesting questions about Emerging Church. I find them helpful although probing - all good ideas need constructive critiques - and am interested in what others think.

'Darren,

I have a question about the whole emerging church phenomenon. I understand the disatisfaction with institutional church and its apparent inability to reach the community with the Gospel. However, what I have read of the emerging church has its own pitfalls.

Firstly, humans have the propensity for organization and formalization, this is even true of an emerging church. Very quickly the way they do things can become the way things are to be done. Falling into the same trap of that which they rejected in the institutional church.

Secondly, emerging church seems to work on the cell type principle of meeting with those of like mindedness. This has proven to be exclusivist in its actualization to the world. We end up having the rich meeting with the rich, poor wioth poor etc exclusive to the other. Is not the Gospel and a community of faith in Jesus be typified by the crossing of such sociological boundries.
I have heard of new emerging churches who have decided to target young families and although they would not say it, the expression of such churches is that those outside of the young families demographic are placed on the outer.
As far as I can see this is problematical for the whole concept of the Emerging Church as such. Does this mean I am against the emerging church movement. No I am not against it but I do have some concerns, and that there must be people who would call things into question, not to hinder it but to be a spur that will help them stay true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

God Bless - Angus Cruickshank'

Looking forward to some fruitful conversation.

Update - Dave answers Angus's questions at his blog and Tim has been writing on Emergent Theology also.

The Emerging Missional Church - Thoughts in Progress

29 March, 2004 2:21 PM

Things went well with the presentation to our denomination chiefs in Adelaide on Saturday. The response was very positive. I was one of three speakers who each addressed the topic of �new forms of mission church/emerging church�.

A few people have asked for my notes - I don�t generally use expansive notes � I tend to go with the flow. However here is a general outline (excluding some of the stories and examples that might not be appropriate for a blog) on the way I went about presenting the topic. It is pretty long (be warned - the session was 1.5 hours and this is around 1600 words) and contains links to other parts of this site that describe some of what I talked about. Hope it is helpful for some. Feel free to add, critique, question, clarify etc in comments. I'm particularly interested in how my experience compares to others experiences in their contexts around the globe. Its a living stream of ideas from a guy who is just bumbling a long trying to make sense of the world he lives in.

Introductions >>

General introduction to who I am and what I do.

Context - Culture >>

we are living in a changing world. We did a very short brainstorming exercise to identify some of the changes we�re seeing in culture � particularly looking at those that impact the way we do church.

Some of the changes identified (to name a few of many) included new ways of:

  • Learning/Thinking � I now spend as much time online interacting with others and reading article when I work on essays as I do reading books.
  • Communicating � the immediacy of online communication is having major impact on how we communicate.
  • Building Community/Relationships � again online interaction and the ease with which we travel is having a big impact upon many of our primary relationships. Along side this the changing nature of family etc.
  • Views of Institutions � more and more institutions are being viewed with suspicion. The church is just one institution dealing with this.
  • Understanding the global context �..etc

Context - The Church>>

We are seeing significant trends emerging in churches that we can no longer ignore and need to grapple with. They include:
  • Overall decline in Church Attendance - The percentage of the Australian population that identifies themselves with a denomination or local church is continuing to decline.
  • Non church going Christians as a growing segment of the Christian population. (this is a fast growing segment of the Body of Christ)
  • Young Adults haemorrhaging from the church. We are ok at doing relevant youth ministry, but the transition to young adulthood sees large numbers of people leaving the church. The stats show us that in previous decades they would return to the church as they had families (in their 20s and 30s), recent indications are that this is no longer so � they are staying away.
  • �The Church is a Joke�. Yes I shared my previous entry � �Jo�s Joke�. This represents message that I�m hearing more and more. In the past month I�d been told the same thing by three separate individuals.
  • There is a growing segment of the population in Australia (and across the West I suspect) that are culturally distanced from the Church and the way in which it operates. 30% of our population are associated with church on some level. 10% of the population are �like us� culturally � ie they talk like us, are open to some of the things we do like group singing to contemporary easy listening light pop music, they have similar moral codes to us. This leaves around 60% of the population here in Australia are culturally closed off or removed from the way the majority of the churches in our country operate. They are people like �Jo�.
  • Most of the Church�s effort goes into reaching out to those who are �like us�. Where do the majority of churches put most of their energies, resources and mission? Well apart from the vast amount of energy that we put into the already churched (just ask yourself how much time we put into the preparation of our services, pastoral care etc), most of us are doing mission that aims at the 10% who are �like us�. I�m no business person, but this doesn�t seem like a very smart strategy. Very few churches are experimenting with ways of connecting with the vast majority (and growing segment) of the population.

Context - The Church�s Response >>

How has the church responded to the changes in our world and the growing cultural distance? There have been a number of movements that come to mind:
  • Contemporary Worship � Worship in the language of the people. New styles of music that people can relate to, more every day language being used in songs etc.
  • Seeker Sensitive Services � Communicating the gospel in a language that the ordinary person will understanding. Using multimedia and the arts (often secular) to communicate the messages of Jesus.
  • Alpha like programs � systems of explaining the gospel in relevant language.
  • Alternative worship � exploring new (and ancient) and creative forms of worship that are more indigenous to culture.

Now hear me right please � I am not attacking or downgrading the importance of any of these methods. I have personally been deeply affected by each of these approaches and know of many others who have come to faith and grown in their understanding of God through each. They are each valid responses to the post-modern world we find ourselves living in.

However (there is always a �but�), I wonder (please hold back your stones now) if perhaps these above approaches might still be largely aiming their efforts on the 10% of the population that are �like us� culturally.

You see the interesting thing about each of the above movements/approaches is that they all seem to be about improving the way we do things with the hope that if we do, people will come to us. They all seem to me to be rather attractional � if we build it � and its good enough � they will come.

Jesus says � �Go into all the world and make disciples�. He says, �You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the Ends of the Earth�.

I�m struggling to find a place where he says, �build it and they will come�.

Formation of the Livingroom >>

at this point I simply shared my own personal journey of coming to the place of planting the Livingroom. I�ve previously written about it here and here.

Livingroom Core Journeys >>

As part of this journey we discovered the three core values/dna that will centre everything we do upon. I�ve previously written about them in quite a bit of detail - they are the Inner, Outer and Together Journey.

Livingroom � Some Specifics >>

I shared then about some of what we do at Livingroom, some of the things we�ve experimented with etc. Much of it I�ve shared previously on this blog � I�ve provided links for each where I could find them.

Global Trends >>

In addition to these features of Livingroom, some of the trends and characteristics of Emerging/Missional Church that I see in the global movement include:
  • Culturally Savvy/Incarnational � take culture very seriously
  • Participatory � all are encouraged to participate/lead
  • Bi-vocational Leadership � Many are lead by leaders with other work/focus
  • Attached Businesses � Many are exploring models of business that not only fund what they do but provide proximity spaces to connect missionally
  • Ancient/Future � exploring both ancient and new ways of praying and engaging with Scripture
  • Question Everything � Scary sometimes but a life giving process
  • Creativity � The Arts and outside the box thinking are central
  • Food/Celebration � the meal features in many emerging churches
  • Practices � Amidst the messiness/chaos of these grass roots communities many are exploring simple disciplines/practices that draw them back to their core values and help them to live them out in daily life
  • Networked � denominations feature less and local and global networks are emerging for support, accountability and shared learning
  • Dissatisfaction � many have an element of angst/frustration/dissatisfaction with �the church�. As with sand in an pearl producing oyster this is healthy, but shouldn�t become the primary reason for the existence of the group � the challenge is to do something positive with the angst and birth something new.

Of course this is only a partial and sweepingly generalised list. This is a pretty similar list to what Steve Taylor came up with in his A � Z of Emerging Church article. I actually handed out copies of this article. He says it better than I could!

Looking Forward >>

In finishing up I wanted to encourage the group to keep the conversation alive. The fact that they are grappling the issue as a denomination and actually funding groups like Livingroom is really progressive. When I share with others around the globe how they support us I get the feeling that many denominations are not willing to engage with this stuff. Its inspiring to be a part of such a permission giving group who not only let us dream, but back us with resources and logistical support however they can. My encouragement was to keep moving forward, keep giving permission, talking up the issues with the wider denominational community and keep exploring ways to resource and develop leaders and groups.

Throughout the session (1.5 hours) we have quite a bit of discussion, questions and throwing around ideas. Over all it was very well received and I�ve come away feeling very positive about the experience. I guess now the question remains what we�ll all do with the conversation. Looking forward to seeing what emerges.

Blogger Idol Week 11 - Blogger Pageant

28 March, 2004 4:37 PM

Blogger Idol

Welcome to Week 11 of Blogger Idol.

The Theme for Week 11 is 'Blogger Pageant'

It is a little different to other weeks, this week you need to imagine you are in a beauty pagaent (ok, its a stretch for some of us). You've gotten through the swimsuit and evening wear sections and its time to answer a question. Your entry this week is to answer a question. You can answer it in any way, but your answer must be to one of the questions on the following three pages of 'pageant questions'. To get the questions go either here, here or here.

Approach them in any way you'd like, be creative, be serious, be funny - whatever!

Anyone with a blog can enter this round by following the simple steps outlined below - remember unlike the TV Idol shows this is not a competition.

blogger_idol-1.gif

Here are this weeks Blogger Idol Submissions


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