Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Short History

  • next-wave > church & culture: What I am and what I'm not - or a short history and explanation of the wider "emerging church" by Alan Creech

    Good conversational article on what the changing church looks like today, beyond "emergent" and "postmodern", looking at how these things were happening before the labels, how some are formed out of hurt and pain, how leadership structures are different. My downside for anyone wary of these changes is that it's going to happen, but you'll still find churches and local bodies that will not move in these new directions, and that's okay. My upside is that these churches will be the ones that reach your children and grandchildren - this is the church your son or daughter is looking for right now, possibly. It's more organic, more relational, less institutional.
    Relationships are very important here, almost paramount. They are the vehicle through which all things "church" flow. If it short-circuits or goes against the grain of relationship, they don't do it. I'll pause here and say I'm all about that. They've tapped into part of the way God designed us and are flowing with it. See, institutions aren't very relational. There may be relationships happening at the micro level of these churches but I would say that's in spite of it and not because of it. Titular, hierarchical leadership which separates the "clergy" from the "laity" (laos = people, aren't we all that?) is anti-relational and thus against real spiritual formation in the Body, thus anti-God. Do the math I guess. Share moment again: my original "vision" when I pulled out to start Vine & Branches included the word Relational in very high order. It was about being more relational, less hierarchical, and more grace-oriented/less legalistic or rule-based. So, I used those words and had concepts in my mind about what a church should look like and was deeply familiar with the Cell Church movement - then it evolved from there into what we are now. The lines criss-cross quite a bit. We emerged out of the ashes of the old way and grew into something new and perhaps very old.
    Some of the words and concepts seem to be so far out there that it looks like folks have left Christianity. To be honest, some have left too much behind. But other times however, it seems to me that what's been left behind needed to be dropped and what's been found in its place is more true to Christ, the Body living the life of the Kingdom together.
    There are churches started by people who've pulled out of denominations, or maybe to the very edge of them, who still value Truth as it has always been handed down in the ancient catholic tradition - the universally held truths of the church from the beginning. The term McLaren has thrown around lately - post-protestant - is a good term for this bunch. I honestly don't think it fits with everyone in the "emerging" arena. There is still a good bit of sola scriptura, old line protestantism in the mix. In this newer world, though, there is an embracing of all things Christian and not just one chapter. Oh, there was also this Bob Webber dude who wrote a book called Ancient-Future Faith a while back that struck some chords. Again, not everyone in the whole phenomenon has resonated with this ancient catholic thing, but many have and are. I personally see this as a further evolution on the whole simple/organic thing. It's that with a theological compass, as it were.

    There is a good deal of good deep theological thought going on in this stream of the whole business. How these churches are "constructed" are flowing from deeper waters, I think. The rethinking of pulpit-pew preaching is not just about people being bored by that, but more about this being a very limited view of how the church functions as she meets together. There is more of a holistic view. In other words, there's not just Martin Luther and Zwingli to take into consideration, but also, and perhaps more, there is St. Ignatius of Antioch, Origen, Tertullian and Basil. There are the many monastic renewal movements starting in the 6th century and on through the middle ages. There is the deep and ancient tradition of Christian Mysticism which has been handed down and which still exists today in many Catholic monasteries. Perhaps St. Patrick and many of the Celtic missional monastic tradition could be mentioned as highly influential of this stream.
    I want to be here, in some shape or form: seeking the lost, emphasizing evangelism in community with others, and adhering to the truth unwaveringly.

    [article linked via A Cup Of Rich]


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