Andrew Jones does it again, this time with
12 13 Tension Points in the Emerging Church. In this blog post, he outlines 13 distinctives of the emerging church when contrasted with the traditional church… each of which creates its own kind of tensions between the two.
Dare I add:
14. Evangelistic/Attractional and Missional/Incarnational
The litmus test is the purpose of the regular church gathering and the perceived entry into church. Traditional attractional churches will meet Sunday mornings and expect unbelievers will attend on occasion, so will attempt to cater to this evangelistic goal. Missional churches may meet Sunday mornings, but aren’t as bound to the timeslot; it is expected that people come to belief through contact with incarnational people, so that the meeting is primarily (though not exclusively) a believers’ meeting.
and if it isn’t too obvious:
15. Modern and Postmodern worldview
The emerging church is generally fueled by the desire for a form of christianity that is specifically relevant to a postmodern context, whereas the traditional church generally sees postmodernism as a threat to the established worldview and an undermining force to the gospel.
After this, the tensions start to overlap, becoming a layered set of complex tensions. Much could be written on each of the tensions that Andrew has highlighted as well as the two I’ve added… and this may be a worthwhile pursuit. The fact I’m adding to his list is less because of omissions on his part (though I don’t think he’s trying to be exhaustive) and may simply be reflective of the fact that some of the list items are bigger issues in specific situations where others are non-issues… but in different situations the points of tension may be reversed. Andrew’s post is highly recommended for gaining an understanding of where these points of tensions lie… and if you don’t already know, what you as an emerging-church-type are doing or saying that rubs the traditional church the wrong way.
What is an incarnational person? I’ve never heard the phrase before.
I’m not sure if I strung the words together in the best way, but ‘incarnational’ refers to Jesus as the Incarnation of God, the gospel in the flesh as it were… so in the same way, an incarnational person seeks to live out the gospel before others. St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel. If necessary use words.” and this is an attempt to do just that. Of course, in this endeavour, we recognize we’re just cracked pots. And not that words are absent, but actions must lend them credibility.
Gratia vobis et pax