Saturday, December 03, 2005

What is/Am I/Are We emergent? 2.1

This Blog post has been long in the pipeline as I have often thought about what is emergent and what isn't, TSK puts its down pretty well I think when he comments: "If I had a candle for every minister who believes the emerging church is a runaway faction of anti-establishment philosophers, sipping starbucks on leopard-skin couches and projecting the Matrix movie onto labyrinths, then I could probably light up the entire worship space at an Emergent Convention."

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In my exploration and understanding of the emergent conversation, it has been hard to run away from these conceptions. While I have and continue in many way to identify with the emergent movement, I've found the fact that I still want to meet together, hear preaching and musical worship, a definate methodological barrier to diving in headfirst (with a couple o classy front flips) to how emergents are (possibly even prophetically) opening up the door to a new "way"of doing church. But Ive also thought "surely there is another way, surely we can still do church but have emergent mindsets?" Firstly for those of you who are saying eh?..what the heck is emergent, well quite, thats what I was saying about a year ago, for a less than perfect, but ok definition check out wikipedia of emerging church What inspired me to finally write this post (of which the subject probably isnt quite clear yet) was Andrew Jones' set of posts of John Hammett. Im only on 2.1 Here are the rest of this series Hammett on Emerging Church - Intro Hammett on Emerging Church 1.2 Hammett on Emerging Church 2.1 Hammett on Emerging Church 3.1 Hammett on Emerging Church 4.1 But Im afraid the sole inspiration cannot be given to as it was a link I followed to the ooze (that I actually forgot existed until just now) THE OOZE: Who Is Emergent any way? It made me finally get a short idea of what emergents really saw emergent as, and it turned out that I wasnt too far off the mark, and I could maybe finally put to rest some wonderings of my own: - Am I emergent underneath my empowered evangelical front? - Is the Church I go to emergent? Where do these thinkings come from, well the first one is that I know my future is tied up to the church, as a) Im currently training, formally and informally to be involved in church for the foreseeable future and therefore how I see church or my conceptions of church are important, because if I believe it then at some point I probably will have to defend it. The Second question, this really comes from the knowledge that this church plant that Im involved in is different, its definatly not traditional church and it has methodological, missional and philosophical differences to your regular joe Charasmatic/evangelical congregation. So where do we lie?...The Church and my own conceptions, these, just to quickly add are not necessarily linked. Here are the sections of the ooze article that really lay down the pre-fab for this post "If we light a candle, are we “emergent?” If we meet in a mega-church, but are an “alternative service,” are we emergent? Couches? Book of Common Prayer? Goatees???... ...It may be helpful to think of a continuum of "emergence." As I look around, I see three main areas of reconsideration within the emerging church movement. They are methodological, philosophical and theological... Many churches which claim to be "emergent"....but are mainly concerned about methodological change. They seek methodologies for making themselves more attractive to the unchurched, but ministry philosophy and theology remain largely static....God bless them in their mission as they attempt to reach people, right? But “emergent”? I’m not so sure A little farther down the continuum of emergence are the churches rethinking not just methodology but also ministry philosophy. Many of the Acts 29 churches fit in this category. They are willing to change the way that they do things both on an external level (the look and feel of things), on a deeper level (ministry philosophy, how spiritual formation/discipleship is done), but they aren't really thinking theological change. If anything, many, like Mars Hill in Seattle, actively resist change in the area of theology. The last (and, I think, most "emergent") group of churches out there are the ones who are rethinking all three categories. For them, being emergent isn't just about how Sunday morning is done (methodology) and neither is it simply a matter of changing how things like discipleship and teaching are done (ministry philosophy). It's also a matter of continuing the work of theological discovery. " Sorry that was a bit more extensive quoting that I originally intended but hopefully it will help you to see the thought provoking parts of this article for me. In the first quote, it seems, Im assured that not lighting candles or having couches in your service dosen't necessarily count you out of the emergent fold and I think these 3 aspects of emergence are helpful. On a personal level all 3 of these aspects in the last year or so have been challenged, and many times changed. But in part I think my exploration of emergent churches have been somewhat of an outworking of a formative period in my own life of understanding these three things and taking on belief systems about them on myself. In short if that made no sense, Im 20 studying theology, and working in a church and so it is inevitable that my thinking towards methodology, missional philosophy, and theology would evolve, and it may not be all down to my further understanding of the emergent movement and its implications. On a corporate level, the Church Im involved in definatly has moved from the methodological norm in many ways, these at first may seem like skin deep changes to a traditional charismatic service but they are indicative of a philosophical paradigm shift for many people involved in the church. - Half way through the service we have a "breakout time" in between worship and the teaching. - Worship is seen as a foundational function for the church (as opposed to the tradition I come from where it is an additional element, and the preaching is seen as the "high point" of service that everything builds towards and comes from) This doesn't mean that teaching of the word is in any way diminished in it standing, it just is not the sum of everything. This comes from the methodological as well as spiritual foundation that meeting with God, changes us, to change our community. These are just two small differences within the main sunday service. Theologically, like the Mars Hill example, the church holds to traditional evangelical truths and again like the Mars Hill example, sorry for another quote: "They are willing to change the way that they do things both on an external level (the look and feel of things), on a deeper level (ministry philosophy, how spiritual formation/discipleship is done), but they aren't really thinking theological change. If anything, many, like Mars Hill in Seattle, actively resist change in the area of theology. " In conclusion on Church: In Bob Hyatt's (wrongly attributed to Doug Pagitt in first posting..sorry Bob, hope the link makes up for it) article (until now referred to as THE OOZE's article) there are presented 3 "steps" to emergent nature churches if you like, the last quote describing the second. I would probably place the Church in the second,conservatively that is,in that the ministry philosophy has changed from a traditional model, in both the missional (outward facing) aspects and the discipling (inward facing) aspect. The methodolgical changes are maybe more real for someone who experiences them on a weekly basis than they've been presented in this post. Theologically as I previously stated there is no move, personally I would be in the same place, while I dont accept theology as a finished work, Im (honestly speaking) not in need of a dispersed theological base and enjoy the theological common ground found in the church, that in many ways enables us to evolve the methodological and philosophical aspects of the church. In Conclusion Personally: I actually think I come out closer than I would have expected to the Church Im involved in, yet while my theology is fairly static (while not being too self assured to be in community with variant theologies) my methodology and philosophy would probably be a bit more extreme in its change from a traditional model. Final (yet not final answer) placing of the Church: Not emergent Final (yet not final answer) placing of, well, me: metro-methodological, hehe, probably not emergent Listening to: Gone from the album "Late Registration" by Kanye West

[posted with ecto]


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