Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Emerging Church?

I've been hearing quite a bit about the "emerging church" lately, and it's been brought even more to my attention by reading the blogs of author Lisa Samson and her husband Will Samson. The Samsons just returned from Greenbelt, a Christian festival in England that bills itself as " an independent Christian charity working to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel"...and at which, apparently, "the emerging church" was an underlying theme.

I did a little net research on the term, and found that there is a book titled The Emerging Church co-written by Dan Kimball, Rick Warren (of "Purpose-Driven" fame), and Brian D. McLaren.

This from the back cover of the book: "As we enter a new cultural era, what do worship services look like that are connecting with the hearts of emerging generations? How do preaching, leadership, evangelism, spiritual formation, and, most of all, how we even think of 'church' need to change?

"The Emerging Church goes beyond just theory and gets into very practical ways of assisting you in your local church circumstances. There is no one right way, no model for us all to emulate. But there is something better. Dan Kimball calls it 'Vintage Christianity': a refreshing return to an unapologetically sacred, raw, historical, and Jesus-focused missional ministry."

Well, I must say I like the sound of this "vintage Christianity." Coming as I do from a very traditional Baptist background, I'm probably resistant to a great deal of "change," and I take it change is what the emerging church movement is all about. What's the old joke: "How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?" Shocked reply: "What do you mean, CHANGE?!?!?"

I'm not for discarding methods that are tried and true--if it ain't broke, don't fix it. BUT...that said...I do think we as Christians need to be open to new methods and techniques to reach a lost and dying world, many of whose citizens are completely closed to our message.

I'll be reading more about the emerging church and evaluating what its proponents have to say. I'm definitely intrigued.

We have short memories and attention spans...

This from Culture Clips: "QUOTE: 'Immediate reaction to [Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ] seemed to be quite intense, but people's memories are short and are easily redirected in a media-saturated, fast-paced culture like ours. The typical adult had already watched another six movies at the time of the survey interview [about The Passion's impact], not including dozens of hours of television programs they had also watched. In an environment in which people spend more than 40 hours each week absorbing a range a messages from multiple media, it is rare that a single media experience will radically reorient someone's life. The greatest impact through media seems to come from a constant exposure to a consistent message that is well-presented and is personally meaningful or useful.' —Christian pollster George Barna, commenting on the results of a new survey that sought to measure the lasting impact of The Passion of the Christ. Just 10% of the 67 million adults who saw the movie (36 million born-again Christians and 31 million non-Christians) reported 'that they had changed some aspect of both their religious beliefs and practices in response to the movie' [Barna.org, 7/10/04 stats]"

1 comment:

Dianne said...

I found your post very interesting, Cindy. Of late, I find myself wishing we could clear away from the church all things that obscure its original purpose. Like you too, I come from a traditional (Baptist) background and while that's comfortable, how much what we're so comfortable with is really what Jesus intended when He established the church? I tend to think "church" was intended more as an embodying or way of living out what Christ taught, rather than what we've made it today. We go to church, build churches, etc., but aren't WE the church? I don't know . . . just things I've been pondering too.

I just checked out a novel on the life of Paul and the early church by Walter, Jr. Wangerin - it looks promising.

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