Emerging Church Archives

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Lessons from an Emerging Church - New article

13 January, 2003 1:09 PM

Check out the first part (of 2) of this great brand new article entitled Lessons from an Emerging Church by Phil McCredden. Its good stuff, very stimulation, very insightful. I always love to hear about Churches doing new and innovative things - this is one of them! Its refreshing to read an artilce written directly from the experience of someone exploring new territory and not just writing 'in theory'. Check it out - the second part of the series will be out in a few days.

Blogservations 4

12 January, 2003 12:11 PM

Have added a link on the side bar to follow this conversation which I am really enjoying.

Rachel has jumped into the blogservation again with an insightful reflection on a fun trip to the cricket. Just a part of what she said is;

I'm not much of a singer really. If I'm driving and alone, I'll start singing. If I'm at a sporting match, I'll join in. Karaoke would be my nightmare (and yes, I have done it once). I usually lip sync (badly) to songs. A lot of church songs I find really hard to sing. I'd rather listen to other people sing, or do something else that is creative.

Blogservations 3

11 January, 2003 2:21 PM

Continuing the discussion Richard writes:

I'm not sure that it is "overfarming" that's the issue. I see it more in terms of timidity in our sowing. The sower of the parable scatters seed liberally and inefficiently. He does not sprinkle the seed carefully over the good soil so as not to waste any. He hurls it willy-nilly over good soil and bad. How can the church imitate this? I'm sure that this is about far more than how we organise our church services and church structures, though these things will not be left untouched. It impacts on all of the things we do as the church, and as individuals working out of the church. It should shape the messages we send to politicians and the causes were seen to support. In all our activities we should be seeking to imitate the gracious love of God, not calculating a strategy for achieving maximum market penetration. So far, so theoretical. What it means in practical terms will vary from one context to the next, but in most it will run counter to "common sense" - because most of our common sense is shaped by the world and not the gospel. Whenever we find ourselves using words like "efficient", "realistic", "reasonable", or any of the lexicon of management gobbledegook which has become so fashionable in the church, we should be wary. St Paul called himself "a fool for Christ". Maybe it's time the church got out its makeup and engaged in some holy foolishness again. What a bloddy ripper of a statement Richard!!! Couldn't agree more!

So....this being the case....how do we infect the church with some 'holy foolishness'? How does one help a timid and largely comfortable institution to change course? I've met numerous individuals scattered through churches around Melbourne (and the world now through blogging) that think this way - that are keen for change and open to some revolutionary thinking - but most feel helpless and disempowered every time they share their ideas or dreams in the churches where they worship. They suspect things could be different but the majority are happy with the status quo - happy to keep on keeping on worshiping the 'DitchDigger'. (see Rachels comment and link in Blogservations Continued)

The debate that I'm hearing in emerging church circles here in Australia is about the way forward. Do we remain in 'mainline' churches and attempt to bring about change from within? Do we band together in new communities and attempt to model a different way? Is there some middle ground - are both legitimate ways forward?

I guess for me I've decided to take a middle ground approach of sorts by attempting to start something 'new' (whatever that means) but keeping strong links with 'mainline church' by being intentional in my relationship with our denomination and two local congregations.

What approaches are others taking?

Blogservations continued

10 January, 2003 12:41 PM

For those who've been following this thread of conversation from Quote of the Day and Blogservations. I'm interested in keeping this thread of conversation alive. Debi Warford made the following comment which I found fascinating: Let's take your farming analogy a little bit further. The way I see it, the way a lot of megachurches "do church", they end up sowing over and over again into fields that have already been reaped. Most farmers would tell you that if you continue to sow the same thing in the same field year after year, and never switch to another field, you'll wear out the soil and end up having to spread more and more fertilizer on that soil to make it produce. It's a concept called "crop rotation". See any parallels?

Wondering what others think? I think I agree with what Debi is getting at (if I'm reading her right). How do we do crop rotation as farmers of the gospel? Are we in danger of over farming the same patches of soil as church? I suspect that here in Australia we are. As I stated in the blogservations post - the way the vast majority of churches 'do church' has been shown to only appeal to a relatively small part of the population. I suspect that this is one of the reasons that church attendance here is in decline.

Very few ministries are aimed at the majority - who in themselves are an incredible variety of subcultures. What will it take to do this crop rotation thing seriously? Do you agree that its neccessary? What might it look like? If we continue on the same way we are - what will be the consequences?

Phuture Updates

8 January, 2003 10:37 AM

Phuture has been updated with a new article by Stephen Said called Pigs Might Fly II. Its the second in his series of reflections upon an experimental chuch called Pighouse>. This reflection is upon leadership in the emerging church.

There is also a new discussion forum with this topic - "Many people that we encounter in our travels share similar sentiments towards "church". "We are looking for something real, earthy, a living faith, deep spirituality" and the like are just some of those comments we hear. And so they set out on a journey seeking the community of faith that will satisfy. Should more effort be put into "building" something where you are rather than searching for something that someone else is building? Is searching for a community that satisfies another form of consumerism? Is this generation significant for it's apparent lack of pioneers? Have your say..."

Check them out

And by the way - if you have an article you'd like to contribute to Phuture shoot me an email. As long as it fits in with the general ethos of the site of course!

Suicidal Church

8 January, 2003 9:58 AM

Melbourne Paper The Age has this article today about a New book thats just been released by Dr Caroline Miley called The Suicidal Church.

It says the church is timid, institutionalised, racist, sexist, homophobic, and impedes the message of the Gospel. The book argues that the church has to take risks, be willing to offend, offer unconditional love and acceptance and, above all, strip away the institutional trappings that allow timid Christians to shelter inside and avoid their biblical responsibilities.

Miley says when interviewd by the Age; "The discrepancy between what the church is like and what the gospels are like is really the cause of the book. The gospels are about empowerment, and the church is frightfully disempowering; the gospels are about love and acceptance, and the church is not accepting. It's mediocre and drab. I realised it was the culture of the church - it was basically English 19th century middle-class culture. You know, don't talk about sex, it's not nice."

Looks like an interesting book - I'm sure it'll create some debate here in Melbourne.

(I have the article saved as a word document if the link at The Age doesn't last long - just email me for it)

Thanks Cam and Diddle for putting me onto this article


6 January, 2003 10:39 AM

Thanks for the links to my 'Quote of the Day' post (2 or 3 previously). It was unexpectedly but gratefully linked byJosh, Richard 1, Richard 2 and Mike. (all of whom have excellent blogs which I peruse from time to time!

I like the style of conversations people have on blogs - its like no where else! Snippets on this blog, snippets there.

Richard 1's post has got me thinking a little more. He writes: "We all want to see growing, lively churches, but it is a mistake to fall into the trap of thinking of the Church as a 'business' with a 'product' to sell....But we do not have a product to sell. We have a gospel to offer. I keep going back to the parable of the sower, who sows seed into every kind of soil indiscriminately, knowing that only some will produce a harvest....." Check out the rest � its good.

Like Richard, I am torn - I agree in part.... I don't believe we are in 'business' and we shouldn't reduce the gospel to a product. The gospel is not something that can be neatly packaged up to look great and then sold in easily swallowable sized pills. We need to continue to sow the seed. The seed is something I'm not willing to play with, to dress up, its not negotiable in my mind. However I wonder if the way we are sowing the seed is at least in part redundant.

Farmers over the years have found new ways to sow their seeds. I'm no agricultural expert, but centuries ago I take it that it was done by hand. Today we do it differently to increase our harvests. The seed has not changed (although with all this genetically modified food things are changing) but there are new and different ways of sowing it depending upon the farmer and the soil (culture) they sow it into.

Perhaps I'm stretching the metaphor to much. But when I look at the way many Churches and Christians sow the seed of the gospel into our culture today I wonder how effective it is. Take a typical outreach service that is run in many churches (including my own over the years). We sing 'contemporary' songs (something that in Australia a 'normal' person would never do unless they were drunk or at the football), we sit all facing the front, looking at the back of everyone else's heads except the 'experts' up the front, we listen to a guest 'expert' talk in a monologue for 20-40 minutes about how we should live our lives (something else the average Aussie at least doesn't do too well) and then we are asked to pay for the pleasure by putting money in the bowl that circulates at the end to pay for the 'guest expert'.

I'm not saying that this is a completely redundant method - obviously many of us have been touched by these services ourselves. However I wonder if we are sowing our seeds in such a way that only a certain percentage of the population will be open to.

One study into worship found that the style of music (contemporary worship) that over 90% of Australian churches play every Sunday appeals in style to around 10% of the Australian population. This is a fantastic and more relevant way for reaching the 10% of the population who are so inclined, but what about the other 90% of the population? Maybe we need to readdress the imbalance - if these are the stats and we are called to reach 100% of people why are less than 10% trying to reach the vast majority while the other 90% 'compete' for the minority.

Perhaps I'm being a little simplistic - but I can't stop thinking about this stuff - as 'Church' we need to really grapple with this - lets keep the 'blogservations' happening...

Numbers Game

2 January, 2003 1:21 PM

Thomas comments on the age old numbers game that so many churches play!

Emerging Church Similarities

30 December, 2002 8:56 AM

Was reading Mike's blog and followed his links to THIS article on characteristics of the Emerging Church at TheOoze by Spencer Burke. As I read, it was as if I was reading my own thoughts - its as if God has downloaded the same thinking into multiple brains. (Matrix Style) Compare Spencers first three points to what I wrote November 29th about the Living Room. Quite bizarre how we're all thinking the same sorts of things!

'New' Communities

29 December, 2002 3:03 PM

Spent a little time surfing today - looking for evidence of the emerging church on the web. Found a few that interest me - they seem to be exploring similar principles to us as we shape Living Room. Its amazing to see the parallel thinking in groups from around the globe. Some of the principles that continue to show up are

-small congregations/cells
-growth through planting new cells - multiplication
-shared life together
-shared disciplines/practices of members

Check out these communities - let me know if you come across others doing the same sorts of things!!

Landing Place
Circle of Hope

Meet the guru

27 December, 2002 8:24 AM

Our team blog, Stinky Convoluted Past , welcomes Alan Hirsch into its blog team. Al is the head of Forge (my boss at Dreamland - so please leave lots of nice comments after his posts telling him how great I am!) He's one of the foremost thinkers on missional church in Australia and around the world. He's a sought after speaker and writer - one of the deepest thinkers I've come accross and a hero of mine!

International Conversations

24 December, 2002 9:01 AM

Spent more time with Ian Mobsby yesterday - thanks so much to Steve Taylor who put me onto him! The blogging has already paid off for me having met Ian through blog contacts.

We spent more time talking through the issues of emerging church in our two countries. It seems that there is a lot more politics going on in the UK. So far I've felt relatively free from that here in Melbourne. Perhaps I'm naive, but I've received incredible and generous support from two mainline denominations as I've explored the idea of planting a new type of church over the past year or so.

I think there is a realization among many denomination heads here that if we don't start to birth new types of communities soon then the church runs the risk of continuing its steady 'decline'. As a result of this thinking denominations here are putting up money for 'experimental' projects and communities and are providing legitimacy and support networks for those of us taking on the challenge.

I didn't realize how unique a position we are in until talking with Ian and a couple of others this week via email. It seems that in many places around the world that some denominations are not even at the point of acknowledging that the church is in decline despite the evidence being to the contrary in many western countries.

What is the relationship between 'emerging church' and the more long term 'mainline' (I don't like that word...) churches in your region?? How does this affect what you are trying to achieve??

A question for Emerging Church practitioners!!!

21 December, 2002 4:29 PM

One of the biggest things on my mind as I look at 2003 with reference to 'Living Room' is 'who'?

Let me put it in terms of a hypothetical - If you were about to start a new experimental church and you could have your pick of anyone to join - what type of people would you be searching/praying for to be among the first to form a core team? What character attributes and experiences would they have? Who would you avoid initially (if any?)? What type of commitment would you ask from them?

Tipping Point

21 December, 2002 4:28 PM

Reading more of the Tipping Point again this morning (for my previous thoughts on it go here) and again found myself connecting the ideas there to starting new churches. In particular I was drawn to his ideas about how epidemics often spread out of small networked small groups rather than super large ones. The idea is that 150 is about as many as can be in an effective organisation or community. Once a group goes over that it is inevitable that smaller 'clans' will begin to develop within it as it becomes impossible for members to maintain relationships (or to even know) with all others in the group. This is why most armies keep units of soldiers to under this number, likewise anthropologists have found that this is the average number of many tribes of indigenous people groups around the world.

His thesis seemed to be that if you want to start an idea epidemic, then one of the strategies that would help it to be successful would be to utilise small communities or groups. He gave examples of when groups splitting into two when they got to the magical 150. Through this they were able to sustain real growth.

This fits with alot of my thinking of late when it comes to Church. My experience of churches has been largely with two communities who in my observations have struggled a little with getting much larger than this magical 150 number of committed members. New people come regularly and even join, but there is also an outward flow as people move on to other local congregations. Churches have to find new and creative ways and models of growth if they are to be sustainable and take seriously the mission that we've been left with to make disciples.

Its my desire that Living Room be an entity that retains its smallness and which grows through multiplying and spawning new communities of faith - not the only feasible approach to the problem I'm sure, but one I'm committed to move towards. Any thoughts my friends?

UK conversations

21 December, 2002 4:01 PM

Yesterday Al and Mark (from Forge/Dreamland) and I caught up with Ian Mobsby formally of epicentre UK for coffee and conversation. It was a really worthwhile time of hearing stories, asking questions and sharing dreams for Emerging Church. As a relative Newbie to EC it was great to sit at the feet (figuratively thank goodness) of these three guys who between them have 30+ years of experience of 'doin it'.

Am catching up with Ian Monday to talk more specifically - want to pick his brain a bit from the direction of our plans with 'Living Room'. I have so many ideas, yet relatively little idea of where to from here!?!

Church Brew

20 December, 2002 1:01 PM

Quite the discussion brewing at this forum on Do we need a new name for 'Church'?


18 December, 2002 4:29 PM

had a good time with Mark, Kel, Steve and Kamahl today. There are some exciting things opening up for us in the new year. Most are 'in the cone of silence', but are going to mean a busy year for us all. I really do enjoy hanging with those people. Its great to be in such regular contact with people who not only think in missional ways, but who are also 'doin it'. To be a part of Dreamland you have to be a practioner of what we are on about. I think that's a great criterior - there are too many people around the traps talkin the talk, but not walkin the walk. I come home from Dreamland meetings inspired every time! (also with a caffine and lolly headache!)

empty narcissistic echolalia

17 December, 2002 11:06 AM

Mark writes a potent reminder to bloggers everywhere on the STINKY blog. Couldn't have said it better myself so I'll quote him -

"In a world of spin and novelty there is a real danger that we can become a community that sends articles that talk about trends and social phenomenon that we share and critique and talk about and read the latest book/blog/article etc and lose track of any real connection with grassroots mission. We face a danger of hyperlinking ourselves to an empty narcissistic echolalia. We face the danger of becoming a community of amateur christian sociologists." Go here for the rest!

Preaching - a waste of time??

15 December, 2002 4:01 PM

Sunday again - spent most of today preparing for a sermon for tonight at FESTival at DCCC. Hmmm - I love to preach, but in the back of my head has been the question all day 'is preaching a relevant form of communication for today?' Honestly - I don't know....might have to ponder this some more...after tonights sermon!!!

What do you think?

Stumbled upon Levi's table on

14 December, 2002 2:44 PM

Stumbled upon Levi's table on the web - some of what I'm sensing the Living Room will look like seems to already be happening here - good stuff! Might have to get in touch.

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