Emerging Church Archives

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Measuring Emerging Church as a Trend

12 May, 2006 2:27 PM

Yesterday Google announced a new tool - Google Trends which is great for tracking how many people are searching Google for different keywords.

The term 'Emerging Church didn't really appear on Google's tracking until about three quarters through 2005. Following is a graph that shows it.

I'm unsure why there is such a leap at the start - I suspect that they just were not tracking it (other terms were tracked since the start of 2004).

So over the last 6 or so months the graph is pretty steady.


As an update to give some perspective of the numbers of people searching (Google trends just graphs it without measuring) I thought I'd compare 'emerging church' (blue) with 'Hillsong' (a large contemporary worship church here in Australia). The results are... interesting.... to say the least:


Also interesting with Google trends is that they plot where in the world people are searching for these terms from.

With Emerging church the biggest regions where people are searching for the term are (in order):

1. United States
2. Australia
3. Canada
4. United Kingdom

(no other countries registered high enough volumes of traffic to register)

With Hillsong the biggest regions of the world where people are searching for the term are:

1. Philippines
2. Australia
3. Singapore
4. South Africa
5. Indonesia
6. Malaysia
7. New Zealand
8. Brazil
9. Chile
10. Colombia

Neil Cole in Melbourne: 5th-7th April - Highly Recommended

29 March, 2006 8:41 PM

One of the best speakers I've ever heard in recent years on mission and church is Neil Cole who came and spoke at a Forge event a couple of years back.

He shared some of his story in one of the most humble and simple way. No big theories, no big words, no blog - just a guy doing what he felt God put before him to do in a way that had an incredible impact on the lives of many. Very inspiring.

Neil is back in Melbourne between 5 - 7 April for three days of teaching on 'How to Shape, Transition and Pioneer new ministries, missions, congregation and churches'.

I'm so so upset that I'm going to miss it (Forge seem to plan their events by when I'm out of town) but would highly recommend it to anyone who can make it.

The details are in the following pdf (click it to enlarge).

Forge Neil Cole

Brian McLaren in Melbourne

20 January, 2006 2:47 PM

For those of you in Melbourne who would like to hear Brian McLaren speak you might like to click on the following promotion for details of a night he's doing on 23 February with Forge.

Postcards With …N Mclaren 2

Podcast - Core Values of the Red Network, a Melbourne Emerging Church

15 September, 2005 6:22 PM

Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback after my last post - a podcast/interview of me talking about the process of coming up with Core Values at LivingRoom.

As a follow up interview today I'm posting an interview that I did with Mark Sayers (the guy who interviewed me in the last one).

Mark is a church planter here in Melbourne - he's been a part of numerous emerging missional churches over the past few years but is currently working in a community called the 'Red Network' (formally South Melbourne Restoration Centre). I'll let him explain what it is in the interview that follows.

Mark is also one of the guys behind a website that many of you might remember a few years back called Phuture - a site that was one of the first sites going around exploring issues of emerging church, alternative worship, postmodern culture and how the church might interact with that (NB: Phuture is no longer online).

Lastly some of you will know Mark best as the author of the Ignition course which many of you have used in your communities.

Here's my interview with Mark (9MB - 20 minutes long).

Apologies for some of the audio problems but I've had difficulty in editing this interview so its a pretty raw quality.

Podcast - Core Values of LivingRoom

26 August, 2005 4:01 PM

I'd like to introduce my first podcast (or sorts) to LivingRoom. The MP3 file below (just under 4MB and 16 minutes long) is the first in a mini series of recordings that I've done with a good friend of mine - Mark Sayers.

Mark is a local guy that I've come to know and respect in the past few years that is involved in the starting of a new network of churches here in Melbourne called 'Red'. Red emerged out of a church named South Melbourne Restoration Centre (South Melbourne Church of Christ) which has had an amazing influence upon our city over the last decade or two under the leadership of Alan and Debra Hirsch.

Anyway - Mark's a brilliant thinker so when we stumbled upon the idea of recording some interviews with one another talking about our lessons of planting LivingRoom and Red I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

This first recording is Mark interviewing me about how the Core Values of LivingRoom. We explore a little of how we came up with our Values and how we reinforce them etc. In part II of this series I ask Mark some questions about Red's values. I hope you enjoy this - it's pretty basic in terms of quality but we'd like to do more of them if people find them useful. here it is:

Core Values of LivingRoom.mp3

Tension Points in the Emerging Church?

7 July, 2005 12:04 AM

Andrew Jones writes a thoughtful piece on 12 Tension Points in the Emerging Church. He writes:

'I have noticed there is still a lot of tension in the relationship between emerging church and the traditional church. Not as much as you think, but there is certainly a lot of heated discussion, mud-slinging and tabloid criticism. There is even the threat of physical abuse and organizations withdrawing favor, or young people leaving their denominations and starting fresh expressions of church without the blessing of their elders. Not good! The emerging church is called to be a reconciling community and part of that reconciliation must happen in the realm of communication.

Here are 12 tension points. I am sure there are many more, but these came to mind yesterday on a London train....'

Read more at TallSkinnyKiwi

I find Andrew's list quite helpful in describing many of the discussions on EC on blogs around the world. As I read it I found myself resonating - yet at a second and third read I began to ask myself if we at LivingRoom are experiencing any or all of these tensions.

I ended up having to answer the question 'no'.

Whilst at times there has been a little tension - it's actually been rare. Most of the critique that we've had as a group has either come via this blog from overseas (no offense to my OS readers - they've also been among our strongest encouragers) or as third hand criticism via word of mouth from largely nameless faces.

I'm not sure what this says. There could be a number of possibilities:

- Perhaps the Australian context is more accepting of new forms of church and mission?
- It could be that the EC has been pretty under the radar here?
- Maybe LivingRoom isn't an EC?
- Could it be that I'm blind, deaf and/or just plain ignoring the criticism?
- Maybe we're the perfect EC that's found all the answers?
- Perhaps we're so far off base that no one is bothering to critique us?
- Maybe we're reasonably good at explaining what and why we do what we do?
- Or perhaps we're just a wishy washy blend of EC and established church?

I'm not sure what it is (although am leaning towards it being an Aussie thing) - but I'm not too disturbed as I think that Emerging and Established churches have a lot to offer each other and many things to learn together

Questioning Church

25 May, 2005 1:46 PM

Over the past week I've had a number of interactions with Christians that have left me feeling a little downhearted.

In each case I've had people asking questions about LivingRoom and 'churches like it' in a way that was verging on attacking.

Now before I write any more - I will say that I don't mind questions about LivingRoom - in fact I welcome them. I actually believe that questions from outside our group are very helpful in keeping us on track and developing a community that doesn't evolve into something that is unaccountable and disconnected from the mainstream theologically.

However questions can be asked in a variety of ways - one of which is aggressively.

The actual questions asked were the normal ones that I tend to get presented with - things like:

  • Why don't you sing?
  • Why don't you meet on Sunday?
  • Who is your pastor/minister? Why don't you have one?
  • Why don't you have a Sunday School program for kids?
  • Do you have a building? Do you want one? Why not?
  • Why don't you have an evangelism program?
  • How many converts have you had?

Again the questions are not bad ones - but the tone with which they were asked seemed to be getting at whether we were legitimately a 'real church' or not - and in most cases the implied undertone was that the answer to this question was 'no we were not'.

I don't particularly mind if people want to work out if we're really a church or not - its a good question and one we seek to answer at LivingRoom. We believe we are a church - we believe that we're not a perfect one, but we're on the road and seeking to know what God would have us be in our context and hopefully are responding to this.

These conversations have left me wondering what would happen if every church were asked questions like these.

I have to say that when I worked in my last church (300 or so people, meeting in a largely mainstream way) that i never got asked any of these questions - in fact I don't remember ever being challenged on our model of doing church at all.

The reason for this is obviously because the church I was in was largely doing what was generally accepted by most Christians as 'doing church'. They met on Sundays, they had a pastoral team, they met in a building and had offices, they had established programs, they had contemporary worship services etc.

This would be an opportune time for me to weigh into the 'established vs emerging church' debate and to deconstruct and critique the 'established/mainline' church. Perhaps in a previous time I would have done so - but in the past 12 months I'm realizing more and more that such a debate isn't really helpful. My personal opinion is that there is room for a multitude of models and expressions of church. My previous church is a legitimate expression of a Jesus centered faith community for the context that they are in. I doubt any of their members would say they are perfect - but they, like us, are seeking to hear God's voice and respond to it.

I guess what I'm saying here (in a round about - not very well thought out way) is two things:

1. When we ask questions about models/logistics/styles of doing Church - perhaps we should first consider the tone of voice and the agenda that we have in asking the questions. Neil Coles words of 'if you're going to base the bride you better be willing to face the bridegroom' ring in my ears. This is a message that both emerging and establish church people need to hear as they make comment on one another.

2. Perhaps with this attitude in mind the questions should be asked in a dialogical way. You see being asked such questions in a positive tone is helpful for me as someone involved in LivingRoom - it keeps challenging me back to the basics of who we are, what God is saying to us, what our culture is like etc. I think all churches should revisit some of these sorts of questions from time to time.

For example, perhaps it would be helpful for my previous church to be asked questions like I have been this week (not accusingly - but genuinely to assist in their discerning of God's voice:

Why do you sing?
Why do you meet on Sunday and not Tuesday for your main gatherings?
Why do is so much of your giving tied up in pastors wages
Why do you separate kids from parents each Sunday?
Why do you have a building? How is it being used?
Why do you have so many programs?
How many converts have you had?

Please hear me as asking these questions in a loving way - I know that the answers can be legitimately answered - some of the answers will reconfirm the choices that this church has made - but perhaps some of them will challenge paradigms that need a challenge and perhaps would identify a new expression of what God might be wanting to do in that place.

Interested in others thoughts.

Are Emerging Church Blogs Getting Stale?

13 May, 2005 6:02 PM

Someone pointed me to a post written by Mark at the First Epistle of Mark titled Behold, I am making all things stale and boring - a critique/observation of the Emerging Church - or at least its blogs. You can probably tell that Mark is a little disalussioned by the EC blogging scene by his title - his post is worth a read. I both resonated with it and reacted against it a little. Here is the comment I left on his blog which has some of my initial thoughts:

Good post and a topic I've written on from time to time.

I personally read a lot less blogs on the topic of Emerging Church (and have written on the topic myself less) these days for a combination of reasons:

1. I have less time
2. a little frustration (similar to yours) of an insular group talking about the same stuff
3. perhaps less need to keep talking and a desire to start doing more
4. I've felt a nudging from God to get involved in the wider blogging community and be a little more outward focused in my blogging.

Having said this - I still value EC blogs (despite them sometimes going in circles a bit). The reason I value them is on a number of fronts:

1. They are often written by people early on in their EC journey and are a thinking out loud, learning experience - testing ideas, learning from each other, experimenting with theories and even testing them in practice. This is vital for their own personal walk and the communities that they are a part of.

2. They are part of an important dialogue in the wider church. Whilst you and I may have heard all the arguments, been convinced (or not convinced) and perhaps are thirsting for something new - so many others have not. I spent a day today with 100 or so church people, many of whom have not heard of the EC movement (is that what it is) and who were incredibly stimulated and moved by what they heard about some very very basic Emerging Church thought from one of the EC Bloggers that many look to as quite prominent. I didn't hear anything new (although it did remind me of a few things that I'd pushed aside) but the basics were rich for most in the room. I wonder if this is true for the EC blogging community also which I believe plays an important role in awakening a conversation that needs to happen in the wider church today.

I also have been challenged recently by the idea of 'new' and our need for it in society. You write no one writes anything 'new' - I wonder if anyone ever did. Most conversations in all areas of the church today are reshapings of previous conversations.

I can't remember where I heard this - but in a book I've read in the last year or two I was challenged to think about the growing need that western culture has for 'new things' or 'novelty'. In previous generations and centuries the main 'needs' were for food, shelter, relationship etc. Today we live in a world where we 'need' new things. The latest gadget, car, book, idea, theory, paradigm etc. Whilst I don't have anything against new things - I wonder how healthy this obsession is with new/novelty and whether the church buys into it.

I too thirst for a new conversation - but perhaps God's calling us into an ancient discussion. I don't know - maybe I'm wrong - but I'm going to sit with that for a while.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not having a go at you Mark - I resonate with your post - but I guess I'm also seeing the value in the EC blogging scene.

Lastly I'll point you to an interesting post by Anil Dash - one of the people behind the MovableType and Typepad blogging systems who wrote an interesting piece on the blogging cycle and some of the observations that he's made about a variety of blogging communities. Perhaps what you're describing is part of one of the steps that he writes about.

The Out of Bounds Church Review

1 May, 2005 5:24 PM

Darren (the other one) is writing a chapter by chapter review of Steve Taylor's Out of Bounds Church. He's written 5 chapters so far. Looking forward to getting my hands on my own copy next week at the Melbourne book launch.

book launch - out of bounds Church

28 April, 2005 10:59 AM

I'm looking forward to this upcoming event here in Melbourne. It'll be a great night and something worth adding to your diary as Steve's a wise man who I respect greatly even though I've only spent a short hour with over a beer one time.

'On Wednesday 11th May at 7.30pm, Northern Community Church of Christ and Forge are launching Steve Taylors book - Out of Bounds Church. This is an event not to be missed if you are in the vicinity of Melbourne.'

Read more at book launch - out of bounds Church

Emergent - Key Issues

26 April, 2005 12:23 PM

Stephen Said has some good discussion going on at his blog about some of the key issues that are facing the Emerging Church - he'd like your thoughts. His initial post is Emergent - Who's doing what... and the follow up one with a list of issues that have been submitted is Emergent - Issue from the street. This issues list is quite good:

  • Effective Mission/Faithsharing
  • Sustainability (in terms of employment, paying the bills etc)
  • Sustainability in terms of spirituality.
  • Discipleship in a po-mo consumer based context (including a comnsumer based Christian context).
  • Community building and development.
  • Theologising.
  • Thinking/Imagination
  • Relating to the traditional/conventional church

Head over and add to is in Stephen's comments section.


18 March, 2005 4:36 PM

Phil over at Signposts is looking for examples of Multi Congregational Churches and would like your help:

'I am wondering if you are in a Church that you would consider to be multi-congregational? Or maybe you know a Church that is multi-congregational? I want to compile a list of Churches who are attempting to have more than one congregation. In particular, I am keen to find out Churches who are operating emerging church like congregations alongside established congregations.

So, what do I mean by multi-congregational? Well, I dont mean Churches that have multiple worship services but rather Churches who have taken seriously the idea that a Church can have people who are meeting at different times, in different places, in different styles etc. Clear as mud?'

Head over there if you can contribute to his search!

A short history and explanation of the wider emerging church

22 February, 2005 9:20 AM

Alan Creech did it again - he put into words (in a pretty helpful way) some of the stuff I'd been trying to explain to someone just yesterday. Head over to Next Wave's article - What I am and what I'm not - or a short history and explanation of the wider emerging church - the title says it all....

'you've got to understand that many of us have been doing what we're doing, in some form, for much longer than the term emerging church has even existed. Some of us have even been doing something different (at least different from the common norm) for longer than we have even known what the word postmodern means! Wow. OK, this is why it's all very hard to define and pin down. It's not like we all heard of this cool new thing, left our old stuffy churches and joined a new club. No, we didn't do that. Well, I can't speak for everyone, but I'm telling you, that's not what this phenomenon is all about.'

Forge Intensive - Feb 05

19 February, 2005 4:48 PM

I'm currently at the Forge Intensive and enjoying the interaction with some great people thinking through subjects around Mission, Christology, Culture etc.

I won't blog about it all because Phil has been doing a great job of it over at Signposts in his this category of his blog.

Wish you were here.

Those of you in Melbourne can join us tonight at 8pm to here a session with Mike Frost or tomorrow night (Sunday) at 7pm for an alt worship reflective gathering. Its at 81 High St Preston.

Forge Intensive this weekend!

16 February, 2005 5:51 AM

Just a reminder for those of you in Melbourne/Victoria who might like to come along to Forge this coming weekend. There are still places available and a couple of ways you can be involved either by coming along for the whole weekend (starting Friday night and ending Sunday night) or by just coming along to one of the three open nights.

Those coming for the whole weekend will hear Mike Frost, Alan Hirsch, Mark Sayers, Deb Hirsch and plenty of stories from different practitioners doing missional church. There will also be some practical field trip like options on Sunday afternoon.

Those just coming in the evenings will hear Mike Frost both Friday and Saturday nights and can participate in an Alt Worship reflective service on Sunday night.

Feel free to bring others along.

The weekend will be held at Northern Community Church of Christ in Preston. There is some cost to the weekend but we've tried to keep it low by encouraging participants to BYO meals or buy them at local cafes. Let me know if you want more information.

Update: - Prices are $70 for workers and $50 for students for the whole weekend. Open nights are $15 for students and $25 for workers (not including Sunday which I think is free, we'll be taking an offering for the Tsunami appeal though this night).

My Emerging Church Presentation

13 February, 2005 10:34 PM

Denominations And Emerging -2Last week I mentioned that I was putting together a presentation (job interview) on my 'hopes and dreams for the emerging church' and 'how denominations might resource the emerging church'. A number of people have asked how that went via email. This is actually something I've been wondering about too - until yesterday when I got an email yesterday notifying me that two of us who applied for the positions have been appointed to do the research position. My only sadness is that I won't have a chance to work with the other two presenters as I found all the others ideas really stimulating.

I'm looking forward to the next 6 months of work on this and will no doubt speak more about it on the blog as it all unfolds.

I've put a little movie file of the presentation I did above. It may not make a lot of sense on its own so I'll add some commentary of each slide below. The presentation was only 5 minutes so I felt it was very 'light' and had loads of broad brushstrokes.

The file is 1.8MB - click it to load it up and when its fully loaded you can go through the slides simply by clicking the frame to forward through them or by using your arrow keys to go forwards or backwards through the presentation (this may work differently depending upon your browser). I hope it works for you. Let me know. Anyway - here it is.

Dreams and Hopes

  • A United Church - my dreams and hopes for the Emerging church are actually my dreams and hopes for the Church in general. Whilst I am fine with using the name 'Emerging Church' I do worry that in doing so and in all the talk about it that we see in books, online, in conferences that it is being presented as THE alternative to church and as THE answer to some of the pressures that the church currently face. I love some of the fresh things that are emerging at the moment in Christian communities around the world but my dream and hope is that they do not set themselves up as separate from the rest of the church but that whilst they are different that the line between Emerging and Established church is somewhat blurry. I dream of a United Church.
  • A Church with Flavours - Sitting in Brunswick St a few weeks ago on a hot day I was enjoying an icecream cone with numerous flavours on it. As I sat and ate it and enjoyed the variety of tastes in one snack I watched the many different flavours of people that wandered past me in 15 minutes. I began to reflect upon the flavoursome city that we live in - Melbourne is both ethnically diverse and sub-culturally diverse - but are these flavours represented in the church going population? I suspect that studies will show that we're a somewhat Vanilla flavoured church - I dream of a Church with Flavours.
  • A Church that Dreams - As I look back over Church history I see that many of the times of richness and change come about when individuals and small groups of people dare to dream of something new and different - when they dare to dream of new ways of connecting with the world around us. I've had dreams of how church can be for many years but its only been in the last few that I've had contact with church leaders who have given me permission to think outside the box and to dream. I suspect that sitting in the pews of many of our churches are some amazing dreams in embryonic form - I dream of a Church that encourages Dreaming.
  • A Church that Experiments - Dreaming is one thing but actually putting flesh upon the ideas is another. You can have all the dreams in the world but unless you follow some of them you'll only ever be a 'dreamer'. The LivingRoom and the other 30 or so Emerging Churches we know of here in Melbourne have only ever come to be a reality because people have decided to take the ideas, theories and dreams and test them. Sometimes experiments fail, sometimes they succeed but no matter what the result something is learnt through the process. I dream of a Church that Experiments.
  • A Spirited Church - Whilst I have not seen any examples of it yet one of the dangers of being involved in dreaming, experimental churches that try to connect with culture is that they could lose some of their focus upon the person of Jesus. I will only speak from my personal experience here - but to be honest I can see how amidst the creativity, ideas and fun (it is often a lot fun) of it all that it would be possible to lose site of the purpose of it all - to let go of some of the core beliefs and practices that have made the Church what it is since its inception. I dream of a Church that continues to worship, pray and connect with Jesus.
  • A Church that Cares - Similarly amidst the newness, experimenting and everything else that seems new and fresh in the Emerging Church I can see that it would be easy to loose site of the call of Jesus to be the light and the salt of the world - to lose site of the outward focus of faith - to lose of the call to serve, the call to care and the call to the margins of our society. Perhaps this is a concern that I have that is broader than the EC but for the whole church. So many of us (and I'm one of us) struggle to get out of our comfort zones and actually learn what it is to Love our Neighbour. I dream of a Church that exists as much for those who are not in it as for those who are.
  • A Church that Creates - I long for the day where creativity around Christian Communities is not just expressed through a weekly 30 minute time of singing. I believe in a God who is a Creator and I suspect that he's calling for us to join him in the Creating process. For too long 'creation' has been limited or kept out of church - I dream of a Church that releases its people to Creativity.
  • A Church that Connects - Lets return to one of my earlier points - I dream of a church with flavours. Nice idea and one that I long for. But the reality of it is that I suspect that if this dream is to come to pass that we are going to have to learn how to connect with people again. I think most people I've been involved with in churches over the years would agree with and know missional theory pretty well. They don't need to be convinced about mission - rather they are either so so immersed in Church culture that they do not know any non church going people or they are petrified of building deep relationships with people around them. I suspect that with the rapid change of culture around us that we've lost the art of connection and of relationships - without this what hope do we have of being a church of Flavours? I dream of a Church that Connects.

Denominations and the Emerging Church

I was asked to present on how the denominations could help resource, sustain and support the Emerging Church. I started by saying that everything I had to say was a suspicion and that I didn't believe in a one size fits all approach.

  • Emerging Church Toolbox - One of the wonderful things about the emerging church scene here in Melbourne is that every community that I've happened upon brings a unique and different approach to doing church - I guess this goes to the very heart of what the EC is and is something we often celebrate. As a result of this any interaction between the EC and denominations needs to be a tailored approach. I suggested instead of building a one size fits all strategy for planting and supporting ECs perhaps an EC toolbox approach could be developed where different 'tools' could be more appropriate to different communities at different times. I gave some examples of such 'tools' as being:

    - training and coaching - this could range from the informal to the formal on a whole variety of topics and areas
    - support and accountability - again this could take on a variety of levels and forms
    - networking - connecting leaders and groups with others that they could be supported and encouraged by
    - logistical support - how to open a bank account, insurance etc
    - money and resources - some might need wages, buildings, people etc
    - introductions and protection - with other local groups and networks

  • The Gardener - I used a metaphor of a gardener creating an environment for growth rather than making trees, plants etc. From what I've observed of the Emerging Church they don't tend to respond well to being built - rather they evolve, grow.....hmmm....emerge.
  • Permission and Space Creation - In some ways this is similar to the last point - I reflected upon some of the experience that I've had with our denomination in planting LivingRoom - really they heard my dream and created a space for us to give it a go by giving us a grant to get things going and affirming what we are doing. For other groups this 'space creation' may be more of a physical space than others.
  • Cheer - Again with LivingRoom our denomination has cheered us along again and again. Many many times I've heard our denominational leaders 'talking up' the different emerging missional communities that they see springing up in our denominations. This both inspires and affirms those of us involved but also makes it easier for us to explain and legitimate what we do.
  • Normalise - Cheering is great but there is also a need to normalise the EC. One of the critiques of EC that I'm seeing more and more is that its just the latest, trendy, cool thing for cool people living in hip parts of the city. I wonder if this comes from some of the 'spin' and hype that has at times been ascribed to some of the communities talking this language. I can only talk for my community and myself but from my perspective we're just a normal group of people living in a pretty middle class suburb in Melbourne trying to make sense of life, faith and what it is to be followers of Jesus. We believe pretty much the same things as most other churches I've been a part of and are just trying to do it in a relevant way for the culture we're in. I think denominations can be involved in both cheering and normalising - but it can be a fine line to walk.
  • Lessons from bike Riding - I finished with another metaphor - this time that of a parent helping a child learn to ride a bike. Its not a perfect analogy (I'm not big on the paternal approach to starting EC's) but talked about how teaching bike riding has different stages where different things are needed. At times you need to be pretty hands on (do the balancing, steering and momentum making), other times its more about running beside with an encouraging hand on the shoulder, other times its about hands on for a few seconds and then hands off before a few more seconds of hands on, other times you let go completely and help pick up the child after a crash before encouraging them to ride again - other times its about letting go and watching them ride off with mixed feelings of elation at a new freedom but also worried about the risk involved. Depending upon the community a different approach will be needed at different times for new churches - sometimes its a fine line but I do believe that the denominations can both offer a lot to the EC but also receive a lot.

By no means am I presenting the above as the a definitive strategy - I only had 5 minutes to talk - but it is a response that is largely out of my own experience. I'm looking forward to being a part of the research ahead which will hopefully flesh out the topic some more.

A Taste of Liquid

10 February, 2005 12:12 AM

Today was 'A Taste of Liquid', a mini conference here in Melbourne exploring 'Culture, Spirituality and Justice'. As someone on the organising group it was a pretty long and tiring day but also one that I find myself looking back on now with some real satisfaction.

This afternoon we had around 70 people show up for a time of a panel discussion (on the three topics above), an interactive time of unpacking some of the ideas raised in the panel and quite a bit of time of networking and meeting others in the extended network of communities exploring emerging missional church around Melbourne.

Tonight was a larger group who experienced a session of short stories from 12 or so people from different emerging/missional communities around Melbourne. This time was filled with the stories of some pretty diverse and creative examples of communities from around the city - some of which I'd not heard of before.

After this time we rotated through three different worship/reflective experiences that focused upon Justice (it was a multimedia presentation using music and imagery), Culture (an interactive bible exploration using fuzzy logic) and Spirituality (a meditative reflection on a bible passage, poem and silence).

I really enjoyed the day. There were things we will no doubt do a little differently next time, but overall it was a positive experience for most who attended judging by the reactions afterwards.

I especially enjoyed meeting a number of this blog's readers and some fellow bloggers that I've never met before. I was actually surprised that when we put up a list for bloggers to put their URLS on that around 15 or so links appeared almost mysteriously during the afternoon and evening (Christop has a full list of bloggers who were in attendance here).

So a good day - but one that left me rather weary so its time to find my way to bed.

Hopes and Dreams for the Emerging Church

4 February, 2005 12:33 AM

The other Darren just posted a private conversation that I had with him on MSN....umarrrrr!!!! (will have to watch what I say in future)... But its ok because I was about to post it myself...

I said a couple of days ago that I was preparing a presentation (its sort of a job interview) on Emerging Church and Denominations. I'm still working on that (and would value any insights that you might have) - but the other part of the presentation is on 'What is your Dream for the Emerging church?'

The other Darren answered the question by saying:

'that it stops hiding behind the emerging label and takes on the reality that it is The Church'

That is an answer that resonates with me. Its actually something I've been pondering all day as I've done a bit of preparation for my presentation. I agree with Darren. Whilst I don't mind the term EC (and think its useful to have a term to describe what is happening) I have worried about its continued and constant use (I'm as guilty as the next person) in the past few months/years.

My worry with the term is that in continuing to distinguish what we do as 'Emerging/Emergent/Organic/Simple/Liquid/New/Post Modern...(insert favorite term here)' that we might actually be setting ourselves up for a fall.

Don't get me wrong - I think there definitely is something going on in the lives of individuals, communities and even denominations around the world, something is 'emerging' - but in defining ourselves constantly in this way I wonder if we alienate ourselves from the rest of the Body of Christ that we are called to be. I've heard an increased amount of rumblings about the EC in the local scene here in Melbourne recently and wonder if some of it comes as a result of us setting ourselves up as somewhat different or separate from the Church.

I'm not suggesting that we don't use the word any more - but rather I'm feeling a growing urge to build relationships with the wider Church community and to be more aware of the consequences of our choice of language and labels.

My dream or hope is not for the Emerging Church - rather it is for the Church. I'll leave it at that for the moment (stay tuned for the rest of my presentation next week) but that is where I'm going to start. I can't wait for the day (and I hope that it will come) where the line between 'Emerging' and 'Mainline' or 'Traditional' church is blurry and where such blurriness doesn't matter.

So what do you think? What do you think about the term Emerging Church? What are your Hopes and Dreams for the EC?

Children in Emerging Church

3 February, 2005 3:01 PM

Barb points to this helpful article on Children and the Emerging Church which I'm going to keep on hand to point people to when I get asked about the topic (every few weeks it seems). It is written by one of my heroes - Neil Cole. He writes:

'In order to have a spontaneous church multiplication movement, we must not confine expansion with controls. For this reason, I dont recommend that there is only one way to take care of kids in a simple church. In fact, we usually give two or three options and let churches decide for themselves. My experience shows, however, that there are better ways than others. Integration in church life has proven more powerful than segregation based on age....'

I think Neil is onto something here - we have 5 kids that come to LivingRoom from time to time and its something that has been on my mind for a while now. We talked again last night in our planning time about the idea of integration with kids and came to a decision that to do a specific kids ministry/Sunday School type thing was not where we were at. Instead for us we want to be very very intentional about our relationships with our kids - love them and make a real effort to engage them over our meal and community time. We make a conscious effort to do all age friendly activities from time to time but at other times are fine with the idea of the kids going off by themselves to have a play and be themselves with one another while we do what we do. One of the insightful comments a parent made last night was that if we work on the relationship that the kids will want to stay with us, even when we 'talk adult' together and that this is probably the best integration we can do.

Emerging Church Participants and the Local Church

17 January, 2005 5:18 PM

Garth is wondering 'how many of those who consider themselves part of the EC still worship or are attached to their local church. How many have started something new and no longer attend the 'structured' church? '

Vote here

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