Paul Fromont is published in the August edition of EmergingChurch.info where his article Away From and Toward: Emerging Hope and the Dreaming of Dreams now appears. Helpful, thoughtful stuff for those seeking to further understand this mass church exodus wherein people are leaving, and they’re taking their faith with them, thank you very much. The article:
For all sorts of reasons, people are leaving the church. Some leave their faith behind as well, a number even find a stronger, more mature faith outside the church.
Iâ€™ve chosen to explore, in practice, what New Zealand Baptist Pastor and Sociologist Alan Jamieson terms â€œa churchless faith.â€? Iâ€™ve chosen to move away from particular types and experiences of church, and toward new possibilities, new hope, and new dreams.
For me, the choice to leave the congregation I had belonged to for many years was definitely not an easy or straightforward one. It was, in my case, neither a rejection of Christianity nor a â€œgoing backâ€? on my belief that the Church, in all its forms and locations, is a vital and important part of Godâ€™s loving and redemptive purposes. Rather, my leaving in 2004 was the result of my needing to â€œsurviveâ€? a particular expression of church and come out of that experience with some hope that one-day I would again want to belong to a church in a very earthed and practical way. Over the course of my journey out of church (my â€œdrifting awayâ€? as one person baldly described it) I was propelled onwards by both growing clarity and also, paradoxically, by continuing questions, doubt, and uncertainty. So what dimensions of my church experience were significant motivators in my decision to leave?
Well, don’t quit now keep reading….
I read the whole thing and I can’t say it spoke a lot to me. He really only expresses the emotions he feels toward his former church without giving so much as a single example of any events that led him to feel those emotions.
If someone were to ask me, “In what way has his faith matured after leaving the church that couldn’t have happened while he was still in it,” I wouldn’t have an answer.
And the biggest self-contradiction I see in the emergent movement still shows up in his writing: the contradiction between professing to be “missional,” (which, btw, is one facet of the emerging church I agree with totally,) and withdrawing from co-operation with an organized body of Christ. To me, they pay lip service to missionality while burdening themselves with one albatross after another to impede that missionality.
It is difficult to understand where another person is coming from unless you have walked in their shoes. Could his faith have matured by remaining? That probably depends on his obedience to what God was telling him to do. I certainly wouldn’t want to put myself in the poition of presuming what God’s direction is for him.
Is your conclusion then that it isn’t possible to be missional apart from an organized body? If so, what would constitute an organized body of Christ? Bylaws, number of members, type of building, budget?