Emerging Church Archives

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Progressive Prayer Party

28 November, 2003 7:40 AM

I'm really intrigued and stimulated by a desription of a - Traveling Thanksgiving and church dedication show. It reminds me of a progressive dinner - but with a real focus upon prayer. Here is an excerpt:

'It was the Vine & Branches traveling Thanksgiving and church dedication show. Everyone made some kind of appetizer for all to eat. Eating is good. We started off at Matt's new place, hung out, ate, then prayed part one of the Evening prayer from the Common of the dedication of a church. So we blessed and dedicated Matt and his new place as an outpost of the Kingdom.'

They then went on to the next persons house and did the same thing.

Here is the prayer they prayed at each place:

'We, as a community of people drawn together in your Name, bless this house to be used as an outpost for your Kingdom here on earth. Give your grace to those who live in it, bless them, bless their guests, protect them from all evil, and fill these houses and these people with your Peace. In the name of the + Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.'

This is a great idea and something I'm looking forward to doing a version of next year! Thanks for sharing it Alan.

It reminds me of an idea we at Living Room have been toying with of visiting the workplace/university/school of each person in our group. To see and know more of where they spend most of their time - and where appropriate to pray for them there. I think this type of activity could be very empowering and moving.

Wolfgang on Worship

21 November, 2003 6:08 AM

"The image of much contemporary christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual led by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called 'worship service' requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional one or two hour 'worship service' is very resource hungry but produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, i.e. in changing their lives. Economically, it is a 'high input, low output' structure. Traditionally, the desire to worship 'in the right way' has led to much deominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores the fact that Christians are called to worship 'in spirit and in truth', rather than in cathedrals holding songbooks. It also ignores the fact that mots of life is informal, and so too is Christianity as 'the Way of Life'. Do we need to change from being powerful actors and start acting powerfully?"

Wolfgang Simson - Houses that Change the World

Just Don't Call it Church

15 November, 2003 12:47 PM

Just read an excellent reflection by Karen - Raw Faith about the idea of 'Church'. Karen is a 'new-er' Christian and has a fresh style of writing that gets you thinking. She sums up very well what a lot of us struggle with when it comes to Church. Here's her first paragraph:

'Well, I'm having another spiritual crisis. As a new-er Christian you can probably set your watch, or at least your sundial, by my spiritual crises. Five months into her walk? She's processing through the whole is God a man or a woman thing, right? Eight months into her walk? She thinks she wants to be a priest right? One year into her walk? She's thinking of going back to atheism, right? Two and a half years into her walk? She doesn't get church, right? Right' Read more

Emerging, House, Cafe, Organic, Post-Modern?

6 November, 2003 9:55 AM

'So what kind of church is LivingRoom?'

It is the question of the moment. It gets asked at BBQs, conferences, down the street, at family dinners - anywhere at all.

Its a good question - but its difficult to answer because to this point we havn't found a way to describe who we are in a nice neat way.

Most people assume we are a House Church - it is tempting to go with this because its a term that most Christians are familiar with - and after all we do meet 90% of the time in one-anthers homes. However the language does come with some baggage. Here in Australia the House Church movement has a bit of a reputation of being very insular in it's focus whereas we want to have a real missional edge to what we do. I also wonder if defining or identifying ourselves by the place where we meet (ie House Church...or for others Cafe Church etc) is helpful. At present the home is a relevant place for our meetings, but down the track this might not be the case. Already we meet from time to time in other contexts.

Another name we've considered is Missional Community. This one sits better with me. I've always been a little uncomfortable with the term Church because of the baggage that those in our wider community have towards it. Missional Community picks up on two of our three Core Vales (those of the Outer and Together journey) but it misses the third (the Inner Journey). Perhaps it should be Missional Faith Community - but then its getting a bit wierd. This sort of language is good for us who know what it means, but its not terminology that most people would grasp easily.

I guess there are difficulties with most labels. People will always have baggage with certain terms. When it comes down to it our words to describe our identity will only ever be secondary anyway. Of primary concern should be who we are in reality. The proof is in the pudding as they say - and people will know what this Living Room thing is by the way we live our lives.

Interested in your thoughts.


2 November, 2003 1:55 PM

Thanks to emergingchurch.info for kindly featuring me as 'pick of the blogs' for the month. (Thanks too to Paul for the heads up.

Whilst over there admiring the poo brown color they surrounded my quote in (that sounds terrible...I actually like brown...I have a couple of T-shirts that color) I checked out Matthew Glock's reflection entitled Words betray us... adventures in cross-cultural emergence. He starts with this:

The constant instantaneous flow of ideas and information provided by the Internet emboldens those who want to see the church emerge and flourish in today's world. It is pretty cool being able to post some thoughts on your blog and before you know it reactions come from around the world. The very strength of the emerging church blogosphere reveals its weakness. Much of what you read concerning the emerging church could bear the title, �The emerging church in the white, anglo, post-modern, post-christian subculture�.

His thoughts resonate with some of the stuff I've been thinking about for a while now - especially since coming home from out trip.

Oh, and while there I also found a couple of interesting new Emerging Church bloggers - Wee beautiful pict and What is the Emerging Church.

What do we do with New Christians?

28 October, 2003 4:43 PM

Should we extract New Christians from their 'secular' networks, or resource them to live there missionaly?

Recently I've found myself in a number of conversations with new Christians.

Its so exciting to spend time with people who have just made a decision to journey with Jesus and who are discovering God in new ways. They have so much energy, so much passion and the biggest and most fantastic ideas about sharing Jesus with those around them. It is inspiring to hang with them.

Having had these conversations I'm left asking the question 'What do we do with new Christians?'

In some senses they are 'babies' in their faith, they don't know much, sometimes they come with 'rough edges' and behavior that disturbs those of us who have lived our lives almost exclusively in church circles.

One of the typical responses that I've seen from churches is to extract the new Christian out of their current life and place them in a new and improved one. This is done for their protection and to build them up in faith. They are told to 'clean up their act' behaviorally, to stop hanging around with their current friends (who have a bad influence on them) and to spend copious amounts of time at church services, in bible study groups, in new believers classes, baptism classes and socializing...sorry 'in fellowship'... with their new family.

I know numerous people who within weeks of becoming Christians went through this process, even to the extent of being told to change jobs, end long term relationships and move into new suburbs to be closer to their new life at Church.

Whilst I agree there are times when extraction might be good (ie in cases of addiction or abuse) I wonder if it is really a wise - or biblical - approach.

Neil Cole recently said 'What you do with a new Christian in the first 24 hours is crucial - the first 24 hours is like an imprint upon their lives that will greatly impact how they live for years to come.' He went on to say that if you treat them like 'babies', they will usually continue to live as babies.

His approach was very different. It included immediate baptism (no classes or preparation period), immediate immersion in Scripture (they get them into small groups that read 30 chapters a week) and immediate evangelism and praying for friends. They are not babied but rather their energy and passion is harnessed and the momentum is allowed to continue. New Christians are not extracted from their network, rather the aim is to start a new church within it. The new Christian instantly becomes a missionary in the world they live. As a result they often see whole families, groups of friends and networks won for Christ very quickly.

This approach makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

Church and Discipleship

27 October, 2003 7:57 AM

'We need to lower the bar of what it means to be a church and raise the bar of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.'

Neil Cole - 15th October 2003

Differences between Traditional/Seeker/Emerging Church

20 October, 2003 9:08 AM

I received an email from a college student in the US over the weekend asking for information on Emerging Church's approach to Care.

Due to personal circumstances this week I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get around to answering it so I thought I'd open it up for discussion in the hope that others might be able to offer her some wisdom. Here is what she wrote...

'In my Pastoral Thelogy class I am studing the differences between the traditional, seeker sensitive, and the emerging church. I was hoping that some of my research would come from people who are involved in these churches and who have a understanding of them. If you could give me any information on the views and ways that the emerging church does things it would be greatly appreciated.

The topic is care.
Assumptions/Starting point
Water Baptism
Baby dedications
Healing ministries
Counseling Funerals
Ministry to the poor/ compassionate ministries
Church discipline
Biblical Example of how the emerging church would do care

Feel free to contribute to the conversation below.

The quiet re-emergence of the church

16 October, 2003 12:05 AM

Melbourne Newspaper The Age today had an interesting article entitled The quiet re-emergence of the church. Its about some of the changes that are happening here in Melbourne in the church.

I was excited to hear about it (thanks for the email Rob) but was a little surprised by the content - it didn't really go into much detail or give any specific examples of communities that were 'emerging'. Maybe it wasn't the place for examples but I found it a very general and not very grounded.

Whilst I'm glad it is on the agenda, I'm somewhat disappointed by the article and wonder what the point of it really was.

Update: Signposts already has commented on it - similar sentiments to mine, yet more eloquently expressed.

To Save or not to Save...

13 October, 2003 10:38 PM

'Emerging churches are not seeing people saved.' Steve responds with a good post.

Does anyone know how to make tents?

3 October, 2003 6:10 PM

Do we need to rethink how we encourage 'ministers' to think about training, careers and skills?

I'm a little unsure about posting this...but here goes. .

When I was 21 years of age and began to feel God's call to 'ministry' (I still struggle with that word) I turned to those 'wise ones' around me for advice as to how to move forward. The encouragement I received was pretty unanimous.

I should quit studying the Marketing degree I was studying (I was three quarters of the way through) and go to bible college full time. I should work part time in any job I could get. If the opportunity for part time ministry as a youth pastor arose I should quit my secular work, cut my study back to part time and take the work. It sounded sensible so I quit my degree, enrolled in bible college and took a job selling office stationery part time. A position came up at my home church to be a youth pastor and I took the job.

After 10 years of working in churches and as a missionary in high schools — I find myself wondering about the wisdom of the advice I was given and the decision that I made.

Let me state clearly that on one level the path I've taken has been most satisfying. God is good and has provided for me in so many ways. He's also been gracious enough to use me in the work he's doing around me.

However I wonder if there might have been another way?

You see I now find myself in a bit of a predicament....

I'm now 31 years of age. I have almost finished a Bachelor of Theology. I have no other formal qualifications. I am working for a small organic church that has amazing potential in many ways, yet because of its form it's unlikely to ever employ a minister more than at a part time rate. Most of my limited work experience outside the Church is in laboring, retail sales and other 'odd jobs'. I live and feel called to one of the most expensive parts of the city to live. I am able to pick up the occasional gig speaking in churches, marrying people or taking photos at weddings. I'm married to a wonderful woman who fortunately is able to earn a reasonable wage — however in the medium term we'd love to start a family and share the parenting responsibilities which will mean her cutting back on work.

Now I'm not sharing this to have a 'pity party' (although to be honest it does stress me out at times) but because I am concerned that the 'wise counsel' we give our young people exploring a life of ministry could be setting them up for a more a fall.

I know so many ministers who get to mid-life only to find that they are trapped in full time ministry even though they are burnt out or have lost their call (and even their faith) because they have no other skills or options to sustain them and their families. They are unable to take a break from ministry because they know nothing else than working in churches.

Today over lunch one of my colleagues reflected that he wished he'd continued to work in the business world along side his study and ministry. He said he'd recommend to any young person that they explore tent-making as a way to sustain themselves in a life of mission and ministry. As he spoke I found myself wondering what life might be like if I'd managed to complete my marketing degree and continued to circulate in the group of friends and contacts that I once did instead of ripping myself from it and immersing myself in the Christian world.

These are unfinished thoughts. I'm interested in others thoughts and experiences.

By the way, if anyone knows how to make tents, I'm willing to learn.

Is the Emerging Church just another Male thing? II

3 October, 2003 5:05 PM

The conversation that we started on this topic has kindly been continued (and extended to include the 'whiteness' of many Emerging Church people) over at The Ooze's blog. Check out the comments for some interesting perspectives.

Distinguishing Accents

2 October, 2003 9:07 AM

One of the highlights of our recent trip OS was just listening to the huge array of accents and languages that people spoke. There were common words between some languages, but also huge variety. Even within small regions the accents could vary incredibly.

This week as I've surfed around different blogs and sites of people grapple with issues of Emerging Church I've begun to wonder if perhaps we are speaking different languages (or at the very least with different accents) when it comes to what we are doing.

I've seen people write about the commonalities between what is happening in Europe, the US, Canada, Africa, Downunder etc - but I've never seen anyone try to describe the differences.

I think it would be important for us to identify these for a number of reasons.

1. So we can celebrate our diversity. I don't believe we are called to be clones of one another. I'm a big believer that church should rise up and be relevant to particular contexts. I'm all for us creating indigenous worshipping communities and therefore believe that there should be a vast variety of different expressions of Church across the globe. Our differences are not something to hide and push under the carpet, but they should be celebrated.

2. So we can learn from and challenge one another. Having said that we should be diverse, there is also room for examination of our differences in order to spur each other on. I suspect that each region of EC has a lot to offer and teach other regions out of their own personal experience and context. This is not done in order to clone, but to encourage, inspire, teach and bring some accountability.

Having said all this it can be a little daunting to point out differences - they can often be framed as critiques - I've found this post quite hard to word out of this fear - however if done so in love I think it might be a worthwhile venture. In doing so lets allow each other the grace to make some 'sweeping generalizations' and keep in mind that even within our 'regions' there will be an incredible amount of diversity also.

So what are the accents, flavors and unique things that you're observing about EC in different parts of the world? What can we learn and celebrate?

As I rush out the door this morning a couple of basic observations spring to mind.

Firstly I think there is a lot that we have and will continue to learn from those in the UK when it comes to Emerging forms of Worship.

Secondly, one of the emerging strains I've noticed out of a lot of Aussie and NZ EC's is a strong missional and justice focus.

Got to run, interested in your thoughts.


1 October, 2003 9:29 AM

This looks like an interesting new site on EC.

Controlled Chaos

26 September, 2003 2:52 PM

Its amazing - you begin to gather with a few other likeminded people - you pray, you dream, you talk and you begin to grow as a community. You spend time listening to each others stories and as you listen to God and each other you begin to see a way forward as a group. At some point you look up from your red wine and vegetarian meal at those around you and you realise that you're 'a Church'! It all seems rather chaotic, haphazard and random.

What's even more amazing is that one day you jump on the net and find yourself talking to a guy who lives on the other side of the world and he asks what your church does when it meets. You tell him and after a short pause he says 'That's exactly what we do - virtually word for word!'

Perhaps things are not quite as haphazard or random as they might seem.

Hypothetically Speaking

25 September, 2003 10:40 AM

Here is a 'Hypothetical' Question: If you were asked to run a 14 week course on 'Alternative Worship' how would you approach it? What articles and books would you use? What subjects would you cover? Who would you use as a model and what resources would you point your students to? What ideas would you like to see explored? What assessment tasks would you give?

The group that you'd be 'hypothetically' working with would be a mixture of worship leaders and bible college students (mixed ages from young adults though to....older adults).

Loving Critique?

23 September, 2003 3:11 PM

Lately I've been hearing an increasing among of criticism of some of the newer forms of Church that are popping up around the place. At first it was nothing direct but were under the breath comments, remarks that could be interpreted different ways or 'knowing looks' between people at meetings. But lately some of the criticisms are beginning to surface in more tangible ways. (which I actually think is a healthy thing and welcome)

A lot of this criticism is that those in the 'Emerging Church' are too negative and cynical about the 'mainline' Church. Some have even gone so far as to say that the EC is actively setting themselves up against and working in opposition to what most churches are doing having written them off as being irrelevant.

I've sat on this argument for a while now and spent some time asking if there is some element of truth to it.

To be honest I can think of a few times when I have heard negative remarks made about the mainline church in conferences or in conversation - there are times when I've wondered if those speaking have gone too far with their critiques. I've witnessed on a few occasions bridges being burnt and relationships being broken over such comments. This saddens me as in my reading of the words of Jesus in John 17 - we are called to unity and love as we interact with one another as his disciples.

However I wonder if there is a place for evaluation and critique when it comes to thinking about the state of the church today. Without it does the church run the risk of becoming somewhat stagnant? It strikes me that throughout history the church has often made great leaps forward in times when those within (and particularly those on the fringes of it) have had the courage to ask questions, make stands and argue against those in the centre. We see this throughout history, going right back as far as Paul in making a stand over the Gentile issue.

Unfortunately as we trace these instances back through history we also see that these can be times of pain and even of splitting within the body. In nature we often see that its in such painful circumstances (even to the point of death) that change and new growth comes.

Perhaps we find ourselves with somewhat of a paradoxical calling?

We are called as the Body of Christ to love one another. By this love the world will know of our discipleship. However we are also called to be a dynamic organism that is willing and able to change and become renewed as we worship and reach out to our world. There is some tension here - yet I do not see a problem with these two callings working themselves out together.

I've got more to say - but have to run. Thoughts anyone?

Boxing the 'Emerging Church'

21 September, 2003 10:48 AM

In the current Hot Topic Penny writes an interesting question/comment:

'I've been in the middle of moving and have missed a couple of months reading, but all of a sudden (it seems to me, at least), this exciting new stuff going on at Living Room and others has become labelled and to some extent, put in the box of 'Emerging Church'.

I read here some months back that there are now conferences on Emerging Church, discussing how they should be structured...AGGGHHHHH!!! Here we go again! I've been part of a church for 7 years that grew from nothing - it had no denomination requirements, no structures in place - the church was completely free to follow its own vision of building community. 7 years down the line, and it's hard to tell it apart from other 'new' churches. The people wanted the same leadership roles, the same Sunday and Wednesday meetings, the same accountability....

I'm frustrated that such a cool idea like Living Room has felt the need to align itself with others who are doing similar 'new' stuff - why not have the courage and vision to do your own thing and not harp back to the old structures (which come from the Roman Empire, not Christ)?

Will the 'Emerging Church' become just another historical ideal, like all the other denominations that have come and gone?'

Thanks Penny, there are some interesting questions there that I'd like to open up for discussion.

Pete Ward talks about the importance of 'Liquidity' for new churches - do we run the risk of solidifying as we develop relationships with other new churches, as we name our movement and even as we formalise what we do? How do we keep the spark of creativity, enterprise and life burning?


20 September, 2003 10:36 PM

In my jet lagged state this afternoon I was fortunate enough to spend an hour or so with Ian Mobsby from Moot. He's passing through Melbourne after spending a few weeks out East (New Zealand) where he's spent time interacting with some innovative churches there.

It was good to hear more of what God is doing in London through and in the gang at Moot. It sounds like they are on a similar journey to us at Living Room exploring art, story and community. He also suggested some great contacts of people doing similar stuff to us that I'm keen to connect with.

The more I hear about what is going on around the world the more inspired I am here in our local context.

Alfresco Dining

17 September, 2003 6:32 PM

Last night V and I spent a very pleasant evening with Steve, Jonny and Jen (who we all think should start a blog - it would be a good one!). We ate alfresco in their courtyard making the most of Londons mild weather while it lasts. Jonny and Jen cooked up a storm!

Its always an interesting experience to meet people that you've only ever 'virtually' interacted with before. It was good to hear more of how the Alt Worship and Emerging Church movement is going here in the London. The more I hear the more I realise how similar our experiences are across the globe, especially between the UK and Australia - we seem to be talking a similar language which is refreshing.

Thanks for your hospitality guys!

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