Ah, one of the ongoing EC questions. Justin Baeder recently posted Church Structure in My Experience, in which he relates what they are doing in their small community, meeting from home to home and so forth. Different from “the norm” but not an unusual-sounding scenario for many ECs in the simple church / home church vein, it sounds like they’ve got some good experience in having worked out a few things along the way. Also the other day, I discovered the blog of some guy called Bob, who offers his experience of church at present, where he’s in the tension between organized church and “alternative church” (which resonates with me, of course).
Prodigal Kiwi Paul Fromont is considering (with quotes and links) what it means to be a Christian… which of course feeds the question of what it means to be the Church. Elsewhere, Adam Feldman posts about a conference on The Shaping of Things to Come (TSOTTC) with Michael Frost and Alan Hirsh, offering a quick contrast between the “Missional-Incarnational” and the “Evangelistic-Attractional” models of doing church… and by the way, grokking this difference is critical to understanding a lot of the motivation to ask this question at all. Similarly, Mike Devries posts Thoughts on Emerging Faith Communities, which is fed by the recent EC conference at Biola (good book recommendation in his post as well). Quoting from his post,
Ryan [Bolger] noted, “Emerging churches are missional communities who practice the way of Jesus in postmodern cultures.” Ryan gave us a quick tour of their learnings. Here’s what emerging faith communities have in common…
1. The life of Jesus is held up as a model way to live.
2. Seeking to transform the “secular” realm.
3. Live highly communal lives.
Because of these…
4. They welcome those who are outside.
5. They share generously.
6. They participate.
7. They create.
8. They lead without control. (They have high accountability, but are not controlling.)
9. They function together in spiritual activities. (All of life is seen as spiritual. All of life can be holy.)
Flowing from #9, it was noted the modernity gave birth to the “secular”, meaning that there was now a place where God was “not”. In other words, God was now relegated to the “spiritual” realm. Postmodernity, on the other hand, is seeking to recapture all of life as spiritual.
This is all about the pursuit of authenticity in expressions of church. On this note, consider Brad Hightower’s post on superficiality, The 20th Century Two-Step in which he discusses something that AA-ers call “Two-Steppin'” wherein members of a 12-step program try to condense it. It doesn’t work, and leads to superficiality.
One additional lesson imparted by Chris Erdman: Why A Church Mission Statement Is a Bad Idea. I’m not certain that all mission statements are bad, though I do see what he’s getting at. I thought we cooked up a pretty good mission statement once in a prior endeavour, but I do think that over-organization leads to overcooked mission statements. By this I mean that the structure and direction affects the statement rather than the other way around. The fact is, most people don’t write the mission statement until after they’ve already started organizing and moving in a direction which taints the mission statement. It’s probably not practical to write one in a vacuum, but when push comes to shove, I daresay that most churches who have a mission statement are actually not truly guided by it. Those that are guided by theirs often look to be more driven than guided… which puts me in mind of a friend’s honest misreading of a certain book title when he first saw it some years back: The Purpose of a Driven Church. Makes you wonder, don’t it?
Oh, and for those that noted a discrepancy between the post title and the image… who did you think the church was?