Originally posted on 19 September 2005
In a lecture presented to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa a few months ago, Eddy Gibbs, a long-term voice for change in the church, talked about his view of “emerging church”. What found really interesting in the report I received, was his list of emerging church characteristics. He since wrote a book on the topic. While it is now slightly outdated, I do think that the picture he presents of the “ideal” emerging church should be aspirational for all church leaders.
“For the past three years I have been working with a younger colleague at Fuller Seminary, interviewing around 100 emerging church leaders in the UK, the US, and other areas of the English-speaking world in an attempt to answer those questions. Here is our tentative list:
- Their churches are worship-inspired with everyone playing an active role in creating the worship experience.
- They are mission focused, committed to responding to the needs of their community and especially in serving the poor.
- They are shaped by context, i.e. seeking an indigenous expression of church that is culturally appropriate.
- They seek to contextualize discerningly, ensuring the integrity of the message and refusing to soften its radical impact.
- They disciple intentionally, which means that they are more concerned to challenge people to live as Christ-followers rather than gathering a crowd.
- Their churches are structured relationally rather than hierarchically. This means that everyone has their place to belong and ministry to which they can contribute.
- Their churches grow organically, which means that they are reproducible, much like a strawberry plant sending out runners that set down new roots and produce more strawberries.
- They network extensively, usually by means of regular contact with the internet, with chatrooms and blogs.
- They gather together periodically the smaller cell churches for times of celebration and re-tooling for mission.
- Lastly, they serve compassionately, in that they are committed to holistic spirituality, rejecting any separation of the spiritual from the secular, which occurred under modernity.
I like it a lot.
Originally posted on 1 May 2006
These are notes I used for a study on the issue of the Incarnation.
One of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith is the Incarnation. This is a technical theological word that describes the fact that God became a human. Jesus Christ was both 100% a man and 100% God. The implications of this has kept theologians both thinking and fighting with each other for the past 2000 years. I am not sure that we will ever fully understand the Incarnation, but I want to share with you tonight what I believe the Incarnation means for the church – for us, today.
When Jesus was on earth, he taught us how to live lives pleasing to God. It is not just His words and his preaching that are important. Its His example and what He actually did that are important, too.
When we think of the Incarnation as a model for us, we probably immediately think of missionaries who leave the land of their birth and go to a far off country where they have to learn a new language, wear strange clothes and participate in weird customs. But that isn’t the only application of Jesus’s example. The Incarnation is a model of ministry for us here in our church.
Right at the start of His ministry, Jesus called a select group of 12 disciples to be with him, and live with him in community for 3 years. In addition to this group, there were at least 72 others who regularly lived with the disciples and travelled with them. There were many hundreds who offered them hospitality and, of course, many thousands who would come every now and again to hear Jesus preach.
Continue reading What the Incarnation Means for the Church
Originally posted on 19 February 2005
Based on a chapter in my 2004 book, ‘Mind the Gap’, here are some insights into the generation gap in church.
The era in which you were born shaped your value system more than you probably realise. Your value system is that part of you which helps you decide what is right or wrong, good or bad, normal or weird. Your value system is largely cemented in place by the time you turn ten years old, and the events and forces that shape you in those first ten years are critical in shaping your value system.
Over the past century, global events have become more and more influential on people across the planet. With increased communication, telephones, television and now the Internet, its possible for single events to influence billions of people at the same time. ‘Where were you when” type questions become increasingly familiar. Where were you when the planes crashed into the twin towers on 9/11? When Mandela was released in 1990? When the Berlin wall came down in 1989? When Neil Armstrong stood on the moon, or when JFK was shot?
Global events like these can shape the value systems of all the young people of a particular era. That means that people about your age may have a similar worldview to you. And you probably differ dramatically in outlook to those people older and younger than yourself.
Generations @ Church
There are few areas in our lives where the generation gap is greater than it is in the church. The church throughout the world is in crisis as an increasingly greying clergy is not attracting youthful priests and pastors. Youngsters don’t relate to people a generation or two older than them as role models, and the older generations boycott ‘youth services’. And so we see a vicious cycle of falling figures, both in church attendance and people prepared to don clerical robes.
Continue reading Generations @ Church
Originally Posted on 23 June 2009
I was sent an email today that contained an excellent manifesto from one of my favourite thinkers and authors, Len Sweet.
It’s titled: “A Magna Carta for Restoring the Supremacy of Jesus Christ, a.k.a. A Jesus Manifesto for the 21st Century Church”
by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola
You can read the original at their blog: http://ajesusmanifesto.wordpress.com/
It really is worth it. Thought-provoking and powerful. I like it a lot, and think we need to take our Christ-centric nature more seriously.
Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a fan of Brian McLaren. I am not sure I buy into every single thing he says (how could I?), but I do like his writings. And I have been privileged enough to get to know him personally over a number of years, and am even more impressed at his humility, his grace and his desire to learn from others. He is eminently teachable, exceptionally approachable and a remarkable Christ-follower.
Brian’s latest book has just been released. It’s called, “A New Kind of Christianity”, and chatting to him about it, he feels this book is one of his best contributions so far. I have had it on pre-order with Amazon.co.uk, and due to some technical issue between Hodder and Amazon, it has not yet been supplied to Amazon.co.uk. But you can order it through Eden.co.uk, pre-order at Amazon.co.uk or Kalahari.net (in South Africa).
Brian’s goal with this book is to deal with ten key issues that are blocking discussions and engagement both within Christianity, and those looking in at Christianity. He wants to help us to deal with these fundamental issues, so we can build a platform for further discussions on some of the details that threaten to divide our churches today. From what I can tell, he has succeeded in getting the discussions going. I have listed the ten questions below. Whether you agree with Brian’s answers and analysis or not, his questions are really good ones, and need to be dealt with.
I hope that fans and critics alike will engage with the content of his book, and not deal in personal attack and ranting rhetoric. What do you think of his questions? How would you answer them? How does that help you think more deeply about your own Christian faith?
Continue reading A New Kind of Christianity – Brian McLaren’s latest book
Originally posted on 19 April 2005
I am currently reading a very significant book, “The Present Future” by Reggie Mcneal (Buy it at Kalahari.net or Amazon.co.uk).
He argues in the book that there are six wrong questions that churches ask, and suggests six questions we should be asking in their place. In each chapter, he outlines the problem, a solution, and then gives a biblical and cultural contextual reason for his suggestion. Briefly, here are the six wrong and right questions:
||TOUGH NEW QUESTION
|How do we do church better?
||How do we deconvert from Churchianity to Christianity? (How do we redfine ourselves around ‘mission’ rather than ‘club’?)
|How do we grow this church? How do we get them to come to us?
||How do we transform our community? How do we hit the streets with the gospel?
|How do we turn members into ministers?
||How do we turn members into missionaries?
|How how do we develop church members?
||How do we develop followers of Jesus?
|How do we plan for the future?
||How do we prepare for the future?
|How do we develop leaders for church work?
||How do we develop leaders for the Christian Movement?
Here are some extracts from the introduction…
Continue reading The Present Future