Emerging church as a manifestation of our subcultures weakness PART 2

Often interpreted as a place of shelter and support for birds, the mustard seed of Jesus has indeed grown into a huge tree, but the birds are scavengers that have taken the seed of the word from the world, and are now a great evil harbouring in the branches of the church, that over time has corrupted it. The seed of the word has been genetically modified and what has been re-sown into the world is only a shadow of it’s former self.

A sweeping statement, and I know there are good and bad, but I wanted to start with this alternative interpretation of the Mustard seed, as I seek to re frame church in order to highlight and recognise the need for change.

Over time the corruption has led to a multi-faceted dualism, that splits worship between lifestyle or an activity, sees church as activity rather than a community, changed the inclusive kingdom of Jesus to an exclusive club, and reduced prayer to a time rather than a constant. So how do we progress if as in the last post, radical change is seen as inappropriate, and evolution is part of this trees sub cultural weakness. (Read yesterday’s post to see how this fits)

One thing we can take from the emerging church is the willingness to experiment, but we need to experiment from a different starting point. One that is different to the multi-faceted dualism, but which starts with defining Church in the light of the whole of the word, rather than one that focuses on style or a single activity. An emerging church that does not address mission, or is about a group of people coming together to worship in ways that they can relate to stemming from their cultural experience, cannot be church. Whilst I acknowledge the emerging churches would hope to develop a more holistic approach (and many have), there is still much to do.

We need to reconnect church with a life of worship (thus redeeming worship), reconnect church with prayer that never ceases (redeeming prayer) and by doing so to reconnect church with the life of faith and church the whole of our life.

Therefore a new definition of Church in the post- Christendom west that I would suggest is a way of being and living that is a series of chaotic but intentional encounters with God, one another, and the world, founded on the holistic teaching of Christ.

We need a community led approach to church that is inclusive of outsiders, and exhibits this chaotic but intentional way of being. I would advocate a valuing and engagement of all that each member of community brings, regardless of whether it is deemed as secular or sacred because through the redemptive process of reflection (see Outside In part 2) even that which seemed wrong or difficult can add to help us understand God, connect with one another and engage the world.

I will post what I think this can/may look like in practice tomorrow.

11 thoughts on “Emerging church as a manifestation of our subcultures weakness PART 2

  1. yes.
    oh yes.
    i’m loving this!
    yes, dualism is so evident in the church’s thinking, but no ones seems to point this out. Thus we ‘worship’ when we’re in a church building, with other christians around… but when we’re at work, or in the pub? errr… that’s beyond understanding for a lot of christians, but I don’t think Jesus ever meant for this to be the case.

    what i am not 100% about is the ‘inclusive’ church bit, which i know you’re hot on. I think I think (yes, the duplication is intentional!) that there is a time for the church to be together, as the body of christ, without outsiders. Then there is a time for the body to integrate with outsiders, and allow them to ‘observe’ what we do/believe/live out, etc.
    HOW exactly this is to be worked out is anyone’s guess.
    so, anyone, could you please step forward…!

  2. I hope to post what this may look like and hope we can discuss it when we meet. It is building on the Dobedo. but I need to work out how to write out what I am thinking.

  3. Now we’re talkning – this I like. I’m really struggling about church right now. I will leave my pastoring in a month (at least as a paid pastor…). My thoughts and struggling is not the only reason – but a part of. So Richard come on, shoot!

    My thinking has been helped by this “Radical Orthodoxy” thinking. A main thing for them is what they call to be post-secular (my be you should call it holistic). The post-secular thinking doesn’t accept that some areas of life should kept away from the kingdom of God. One of my friends asked a young girl: “Do you know it is worship to buy a fairtraded banana?”. She was strucked by the question – but it is true – isn’t it?

    I’m looking forward to see what you will see about the shape of that church Richard – Fredrik

  4. perhaps it’s more true to say that buying fair trade produce CAN be worship, rather than it IS worship! If we’re doing it because we want to love God and to love his people, then it is worship. If we’re doing it because it makes us look good, or because someone else wants us to, etc etc… then it’s probably not. Of couse, it’s not as cut and dried as that, and I reckon that a lot of what we do is with fairly mixed motives… so worship might be involved, but sin (selfishness) too, to some extent.

  5. of course, but thats were worship is grounded in our lives in the mix of our being “in christ” and sinners.
    But I wonder is it possible to talk about that as some sort of implicit worship?!?! I mean as christian we know that the creation is praising God – but that isn’t all human beings confession. I mean we know that love is coming from God and if God wasn’t love there wouldn’t be anything like love – and of course it doesn’t matter if it is a christian who is loving or a muslim – the source of love is God in every case. But for the muslim doesn’t know that the source is in God – implicit love. Is it possible to talk of worship in the same way? I don’t know I just try to stretch my mind a little bit.

    And my friends question was of course in a context of challenge. It was meant to stretch a young girls mind who made a difference between the spirit and the body – like that I think RIchard is talking about.

  6. woa. there are several different strands to this conversation. the bits that i understand i think i generally agree with! i personally feel we are looking at a reformation; just as with the first, the Word/Bible was restored into the hands of ordinary believers, now with the second the Church is being restored into the hands of ordinary believers with Christ as the true Head.

  7. Also Thanks to Alexander for the comment I think there is much to learn from the simple church approach, and wonder if some of the issues I seen you discussing like mission, childrens stuff may be linked to the need for a redefinition of church. See my next post

  8. I have to apologize…I quote my friend wrong…(and I should be an academic…). What he actually said was: “Do you know that it as much worship to buy a fairtraded banana as to lift your hands while you are singing worshipsongs?” This includes of course that you do it to honor God. Sorry!

  9. Have just briefly read a report by George Lings – church army bloke up here in Sheffield – reflecting on the impact of Mission Shaped Church – mission-shaped church or just mission flavoured.

    In the report he makes a point about the number of churches who in responding to msc, do not really take on board the underlying thinking behind msc, rather they tweak their existing practice and pretend it’ll do.

    I mention this, because in my mind it resonated with what you’ve been saying about the need for a radical rethink about what we mean by ‘church’, and how we ‘do’ it etc…

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