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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:

Context - The Church>>

We are seeing significant trends emerging in churches that we can no longer ignore and need to grapple with. They include:

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:

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:

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.



always interesting to know how to comunicate to this audience - too 'prophetic' and you blow any chance of a second hearing - too gentle and you they don't listen or pass you off. Content looks good - I guess a stack of stories of how you are connecting missionally would have been the key.

hamo » 29 March, 2004 5:04 PM

I tend to agree with Hamo
In discussions with some people over the last few days its "stories" that seem to be the key to learning and teaching. I certainly find when I am running training sessions that personal anecdotal stories that relate to the subject and better explain the practical uses for a theoretical discussion seem to connect with the audience better. I am sure that there are cross overs into this also - and dont forget the master himself used story telling as a way of teaching truth.
Let him who has ears to hear, hear.

Tim » 29 March, 2004 8:03 PM

Darren, this looks great. I'll bet you could write this up and get this published. Even if you don't, I'll be bookmarking this one and coming back to it again.

Darryl » 30 March, 2004 12:19 AM

Darren - You tie together a lot of diverse thinking quite well. I'll be back to read more!

Andrew Careaga » 31 March, 2004 11:11 AM

Thanks for the time we spent together talking in SA about emerging church and your living room. Have you come across Margaret Wheatley's web site called The Berkana Institute? Have a look at it. I believe Margaret's understanding of change in living systems is wonderful and applicable to the churches today. There is also an article about how the establishment can support pioneering works. I would think this easily translatable to us. Thanks again.

John Field - Gen Super for SA » 13 April, 2004 1:27 PM

G'day Darren,
I meant to mention the Web site called "The World Cafe" to you in my last email. If you haven't found this one I suggest that you have a look. Wonderful WEb Site.

John Field - Gen Super for SA » 20 April, 2004 10:57 PM

I have gotten a lot of inspiration from Howard Snyder's book on Radical Renewal. He is Wesleyan but writes like a radical Anabaptist. His "New Testament" ecclessiology and acute reflections on the DNA of Christ's Body cause me to flinch. I think that the institutional church is the problem! We need to free ourselves from it so that we can become authentic to the pagans we are sent to reach. Otherwise, we will not be very incarnational in our ministry. Not surpassingly, when Wesley looked for a model for renewal, he turned to the primitive church. From that quest he discovered small groups, lay ministry, spiritual disciplines that led to growth in grace, and a passion for those that the church ignored (the masses on the fringe of his society). I used to attend Holy Trinity Brompton in Central London and one of its plants (St. Stephen's in W-9). The Alpha Course is attempting to reach secular people who have no connection with the church. However, they are still promoting the institutional church. A friend of mine went through a painful renewal time in his pastorate. He sold the pews to a museum, put in normal lights, removed the steeple, and took down the sign that said "church." He no longer has a program based church. Rather, he has a community focused cell-based church. It is working even though the institutionalists (traditional members) raised hell. George Hunter tells us to do church for the unchurched. In any case, a young seminary student that I know is being appointed to a new church after he graduates this June. During the last 12 months, the church has not had a "real" pastor. The people became the church. In that short time, the declining church doubled its attendance and empowered the laity to be ministers. They have a vision and a passion for their community. The young seminary student asked me what he should do. I responded, as little as you can. Continue to release the people to be an apostolic band of believers who are winning their world to Christ.

Bill Payne » 30 May, 2004 6:36 AM

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