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Reactions to Shapings of Things to Come

5 October, 2004 11:07 AM

Just stumbled upon a review of an event in London where a couple of Aussie colleagues of mine from Forge spoke - and it seems caused something of a stirr. Check out this commentary at small ritual for one opinion of the 'blah' event.

'it made me angry because thrown together/ordeal/deadline/risk/survival is my everyday work experience, and it's no fun when it happens all the time. it burns. and this 'communitas' as described by frost sounds remarkably like the conventions of team-work and team-building within large corporations.'

Emergent Like Slime was impressed with the teaching:

'Actually I found that Frost and Hirst's enthusiasm for innovation and a church in 'proximity' to the community, 'practicing the presence of Christ'won me over; the final appeal to us to stop expectingcongregations to be evangelists and start enabling them to be christlikealmost made me cry as well as laugh, though of course I'm a sucker for rhetoric blended with sincerity.'

Si (no permlink?) took some good notes of the different sessions which look pretty similar to our Forge Intensives.

Maggi was also less than impressed with the sessions writing:

'I'm a lot less than excited about the Hirsch and Frost vision of Church. It's too much hard work for the wrong kind of ends, in my opinion. No time to pray. No space for the kids. No time to visit the hungry, the elderly, the sick. In this vision you'll be too busy giving away the gospel to have time to contemplate what it means. You'll have no energy either if you buy into the macho, gangland-inspired Fight-Club vision of Church.'

update - it seems Maggi was not writing about the talk (she wasn't there) but the book.

Nouslife doesn't seem to have been there either but bounces of Steve's comments and writes:

'I am concerned that liminal and risky are considered normative. I think I know where that stuff is coming from; I've served my apprenticeship in church growth circles and in circles where faith is spelt R-I-S-K. But to seem to encourage continual hyped-up-ness is not going to help burnt-out church leaders [or memebers come to that]. I once took over in leadership at a church where the constant sdginess had been a norm. It's great for a while; really exciting, encouraging, giving a sense of direction, of purpose that we are changing the world. Then we run into the wall: we go emotionally numb, all the old tricks don't work any more at enthusing us, relationships that had been put on hold start falling over though lack of maintainance and everything begins to feel tired. People start leaving; they can't keep up the pace and their lives have been wrecked. Our paralimbic systems are not supposed to be switched on all the time. We need times of normality, of consolidation of -God help us!- Sabbath.'

I've often suspected that what is happening in 'Emerging Church' circles around the world might have different accents - I wonder if some of these reactions reflect that. I'll be interested to continue to follow how the reactions are from other bloggers as they get back to their computers. Andrew Jones was there but is yet to update - and Jonny was too but is probably so busy organizing and trying to keep Alan and Mike out of the pubs that he hasn't yet given much of an opinion.

Great conversation - following it with interest.



Darren, Jonny has something to say here: http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/2004/10/frost_and_hirsc.html

graham » 5 October, 2004 6:45 PM

Hello, from a Free Church pastor in the U.S.

Yes, traditional churches are crippled by lack of innovation and energy. But what I read about the "Emerging Church" (apart from the vagueness and faintly triumphalist spirit of that title) seems more anti- things than anything else. Anti-leadership, anti-structure, anti-definitions (which amounts to anti-standardization). Then mix in a hefty amount of historical illiteracy, when it comes to the recent (20th c.) history of church renewal movements.

But if you can't (or refuse to) define, then you can't avoid heterodoxy and you can't achieve identity. Loose or non-existent leadership leads to no discipline, hence no discipling. A city on a hill might be a city without walls, but then that means it's easily overthrown.

Novel, avante-garde church plans were all the rage when I was at seminary in the 1990s, but they seemed to almost always fail in practice because of either internal disorder, or iron-fisted rulership to counter the disorder, or the community was wary.

Rev. Jack Brooks » 26 October, 2004 1:37 AM

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