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Emerging with legs April 8, 2006

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.
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If the emerging church is to be more than an historical anomaly, then the following must happen in denominations, associations, and congregations:

1. Proliferation of organic faith friendworks. What this means is that Jesus followers, whether they are contained within a denomination or not, must develop networks of friends who are different than they are and truly be their friends. Engage with these friends in peer, non-hierarchical, unforced conversations about faith – engage with them in meals, wathcing “24,” and child care swaps – engage with them in service, sacrifice, and generosity.

2. Differentiate the Religious from the Godly – and persue the latter. I have yet to see an organized church do this well. In the few places where the talk of confronting religion for the sake of God is allowed, the conversation goes well until the topic nears a sacred cow. It is at that instant when religion reasserts itself and stifles any and all progress made. Many times, just by the mere fact that the sacred cow was for a moment in play, the religious backlash is so fierce that the institution is set backwards rather than forwards. For this to happen on more than a personal level, savvy, courageous, and humble leaderships is required.

3. Overhaul the definition of the follwing word: CHURCH. If the word, “church,” is not already an irreversibly contaminated word, then it needs massive redefining. It must no longer be synonymous with building, social club, networking opportunity, the saved, the elect, the elite, organization, and institution, and must come to mean people who love large in service, generosity, inclusion, goodness, and hope. They must do unbelievable things – things that pleasantly confuse the irreligious and make possible the legitimacy of Jesus in their lives.

4. Non-denominational emergents must make space for denominational emergents (and pre-emegents). One of the criticisms of emergent types is that they have this little club, this fledgling movement that is self-proclaimed as exclusive, superior, and enlightened. Frankly, I think most of the criticism is more rhetorical than substantive. Anyone can find a bad example and generalize it to the whole. It’s a decent rhetorical technique, but it is not all too honest. At the same time, emergents need to do a better job with their deep ecclesiology – blurring the lines between denominations without writng them off. Their inclusions must be more than rhetorical as well. This will only be done with skill and patience and through mutual meaning-making between peoples from various groups and identifications.

5. Denationalize Christianity. I will address the American church only since it is all the experience I have. Americans have the uncanny ability to recognize opportunity, colonize it, own it, defend it, and make the bar on membership high with many requirements. I short, American aaccumulate power and utilize it to the their own best advantage. The most amazing aspect of this process is that it is mostly, if not completely, invisible to the people doing it. Americans have done this to Christianity. In some denominations and congregations, it is literally impossible to determine where the religion ends and the patriotism begins (or is it the other way around?). However, in others it is not completely overt, which almost makes it worse. Democracy, capitalism, free market, consumerism, individualism are highly valued in most American churches. None of these are the values of the church found in the Bible, in history. These are American values. It’s not that they are all bad values, but rather to attribute them to God’s will is overstasted and creates unnecessary barriers between people.

More could be said on these 5 points and more points could be added. In fact, feel free to do so.

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Comments»

1. Justin - April 9, 2006

“Denationalizing Christianity”

Amen and Amen

I love capitalism. I think its the best economic system that we’ve come up with yet. Capitalism raises the most people out of poverty, it creates new things that help our lives. Capitalism isn’t God though. Its great, but not God. We need to realize that. Same with democracy. However, I think sometimes people take things in the other direction and don’t realize they are doing the same thing the republichristians are doing. Socialism, as a system of government, hurts people. It stifles freedom. We, as Christians, if we are doing our job, shouldn’t need the government to redistribute our money. We should be doing it on our own. If we do, it will be much more effective anyway. When we help people ourselves, rather than letting the government do it, we develop relationships, and through relationships we can help people get out of poverty. All the government does is enslave people to a check in the mail.

Anyway… i’m not really sure why I commented, but I just wanted to add I guess.

2. Steve - April 9, 2006

There are so many books on Emergent out there and I’ve only had time to read a few. A pair of words I’ve seen joined together is ancient/future. Guessing this means something about respecting ancient wisdom, like from the catholic and orthodox church fathers, and attempting to see and feel through them as opposed to our reading them through our reformation-trained eyes. Those folks said and did some interesting things. Why not explore and test and honor and revitalize this Christian tradition, thereby creating from the old something new for the future.


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