This is a quick tour of what I see happening in the change in some church cultures.
Check out this book: Revolution by George Barna.
“This groundswell of spiritual passion and intensity is likely to amount to a Third Great Awakening in the United States, but with a very different look, feel and outcome than previous religious upheavals. In many ways, this new move back to God is designed to return the American Church to its roots – its first-century roots, as depicted in Acts 2.”
Here is another guy who is plugging the whole “emergent” church, subsequently renamed to “emerging church” because “emergent” is trademarked.
Here are some reasons given for the change:
The world is changing politically, from Cold War era to a post-communist era, from a world of conventional and nuclear war to a world of terrorism and genocide, from a colonial world to a post-colonial one (or perhaps to a neo-colonial one).
It is changing philosophically, from modern to postmodern, from a world of absolutes and certainty to a world of questions and searching, of challenge and anxiety, of opportunity and danger.
It is changing socially and economically, as a growing global economy and the rise of the internet and other global media make the world seem smaller and more connected, yet also more fragmented and tense.
It is also changing spiritually as religions of the world cope with new challenges and opportunities … religious and ethnic strife … the loss of confidence in traditional authorities … the shift of Christianity’s strength from the global north to the global south.
He had lunch with George Barna and wrote about the conversation.
Barna quickly interjected that the entire Emergent movement in the U.S. was simply a ‘reaction’ — stemming primarily from conservative fundamentalist groups. And although some proponents such as McLaren were getting a lot of press, the emergent movement (when compared with the “revolutionaries” he had been studying) was rather insignificant. Frankly, I was floored.
NEO-this and post-that…
This statement was very interesting to me:
When we spoke about the “Generation ‘O'” phenomenon, and how increasing numbers of former evangelicals are pursuing more ancient expressions of our faith — again, Barna retorted by writing the whole thing off as an isolated agenda that Robert Webber had created and was pushing. But when I pushed the issue further, citing the rise in neo-monasticism (something he himself had mentioned during his talk), he acknowledged that, yes, it was on the rise…
What the heck is neo-monasticism? In that article it also mentions these words “the ancient-future phenomenon”, which I think refers to how in this ultra modern world, people are trying to go back to the book of Acts.
Now there are emerging synagogues? What next?
Amusingly, I’ve even found that some people are already post-emergent. Already? So soon?
Woooah, I should have taken the blue pill
Confused? Me too!
I was very relieved to find this article: Understanding the Emerging Church which then groups all the differing approaches / opinions / strategies into three categories:
There are a good number of young (and not so young) leaders who some classify as “emerging” that really are just trying to make their worship, music and outreach more contextual to emerging culture.
The reconstructionists think that the current form of church is frequently irrelevant and the structure is unhelpful. Yet, they typically hold to a more orthodox view of the Gospel and Scripture. Therefore, we see an increase in models of church that reject certain organizational models, embracing what are often called “incarnational” or “house” models. They are responding to the fact that after decades of trying fresh ideas in innovative churches, North America is less churched, and those that are churched are less committed.
Revisionists are questioning (and in some cases denying) issues like the nature of the substitutionary atonement, the reality of hell, the complementarian nature of gender, and the nature of the Gospel itself.
A bit of sanity
Here is some writing from a blogger that I follow: Emergent Church — something of what I see…
The conversation typically challenges “top-down” styles of leadership, the mega-church approach, where “the professionals” do everything. It’s about smaller-groups, the house church movement, hearing God together, doing what it takes to help everyone fulfill their God-given desires. The “new” theology questions the effectiveness of the “Wal-Mart Church ” concept (“get all your spiritual needs met under one roof”), where the voice of God comes to the people primarily through the voice of the pastor.
The authentic community cannot be simulated. It either is or it is not.
The Emergent Church is the “church within the church,” it is about sharing life and resources and ideas and allowing our lives to significantly impact each other toward greater impact in changing our world.
Pseudo-communities give themselves away. It’s top down leadership no matter what the leadership says it is.
This post has a lot of intelligent things to say about the difference between the two styles.
What is my take?
I honestly think there is room for all approaches and we need to be tolerant of all the different needs that people have (The wineskin proverb).
Must everyone go to a church? Here’s what the bible has this to say on the topic:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near. – Hebrews 10:25
So there you have it. As Christians we must meet together. What shape or format is not terribly important, what matters is that we encourage and warn each other.
No matter if you’re in a mega-church or in a home church or cell group or if you’re just a band of brothers who meet together – if you’re meeting together and loving one another (Love your neighbor as yourself) then you’re right in the thick of it, you’re doing the right thing.
So that’s my take, what’s yours? I’d like to hear. Email me.
PS – I had a lot of fun with the pics. Heh. Added a bit of spice to a big complicated topic.