falling off the edge or swimming against the tide is a good provocative post from richard. i am torn on this issue. i think i have concluded that it is both/and. actually we do need people to head off and create new communities that are not necessarily incredibly diverse - it's a natural way to start mission. but we also need intentional multi cultural /generational etc churches. and in fact we should only be able to speak imaginatively about church, the body of christ when we mean the whole thing down the ages, across the globe, across the cultures - the small expressions are not church in that respect but an expression of church. if you drop in here richard you are not alone in your thinking... simon bell presented a compelling paper on this at the IASYM conference and i suspect will publish more on it...
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It appears in the UK the emergent/emerging/missional church as done well in forming partnerships with traditional denominational churches ( esp. Anglican ). I think we across the big pond need to learn from that experience...and at the same time not get trapped into thinking we've re-invented church. The reality is we are just a thread in this beautiful tapestry ( the church ) that Christ's creativity continues to weave into a thing of beauty. He weaves the old & young, the ancient and emerging faith. This tapestry is timeless and eternal...it's design stretches from the beginning of time to eternity. In a tapestry the first thread is as important as the last thread...we need it all in a sense.
Posted by: ron cole | January 18, 2005 at 11:18 AM
Hey Jonny! In my presentations, workshops and teaching sessions, I actually don't use the emergent language anymore. As I have reflected on my time doing thisd stuff now, I realise that it (conciously or subconciously) creates a dichotomy, forces people to choose sides, and is quite sectarian in nature.
It is hypocritical in one sense too. Emergent types will readily discuss, espouse and practice elements of Christian tradition that we draw from pre modern times and are happy to be identified with it, yet we claim that we have nothing to do with the "modern" types of churches which we are reacting against. You just cannot select bits of history that you like and then try and distance yourself from the bits you don't like.
Wether emeergent types like it or not, we benefit enourmously from boomer/modern church!
The last few months, I have been using the language of renewal. The more I do that, the more I realise that in many respects, we emergent types need to find a sense of humility (we are not the answer to all of the churches ills, rather another element in God's unfolding desire for his church) and the modern/boomer church has a role to play and must be invited. I am convinced that it is encumbent upon us (the emergent types) to humbly acknowledge our place in history and then need to invite everyone else to the party, listening to what they havce to say, in the same way we would love them to hear what we have to offer and contribute.
I hope this has been a fair attempt to try and summarise quite a few issues?
Posted by: Stephen Said | January 19, 2005 at 12:47 AM
Thanks for the comments Jonny. I firmly believe in the need for culturally specific groups that are "new" but the tension I feel is that the "newness" so often becomes yet another Protestant splinter. This is of even greater concern when the mass of "newness" is on the powerful side of the equation.
Posted by: imagine | January 19, 2005 at 09:52 AM
Sorry, Jonny; forgot to add something else. The phrase "an expression of church" is an interesting one. I've heard it from some of the same sources you probably have and I'm not entirely sure what that means. It sounds neat but are we saying that an expression of church is:
1. normal church in disguise (as what?)
2. one part of what a church is (in the same way my football team is one part (community) of what a church is)
3. church on the way to becoming church (and therefore ought to be intentionally aspiring to be something else that it isn't)?
...or am I missing something here?
Posted by: imagine | January 19, 2005 at 09:59 AM
Enjoying the discussion, Jonny. I've been looking at similar issues over the years in a pre-modern context, trying to find the balance between culturally different outworkings of church, and the unity of the whole church. We do need both! I look forward to more discussion.
Posted by: Keith | January 20, 2005 at 07:51 AM