So I mentioned before that I’m sitting on a panel at an emerging church forum tomorrow. The other forum members and I have been emailing each other all week, and most of us still don’t know what to say… what would you tell them?
We really don’t know much about the crowd who will attend, but let’s say we have 100-150 pastors and leaders from evangelical churches who generally assume that the emerging church is a new form of seeker-sensitive style, but they are wondering what all is really going on, so they’re coming to find out the answer. They think this may have implications for their own churches, especially when they look at the youth bored in the pews, and they know it has something to do with postmodernism. I could be way off, but for the sake of discussion… what do you want to say to them?
A specific question has been posed for the panel’s consideration and again, I’m not sure how to answer. How can the established church better serve the emerging church in its mission?
You can respond here for discussion, or send me an email.
Update: I’m sitting here at the conference waiting to get to our part… we’re discussing modernism vs. postmodernism right now (by “discussing” I mean lecture…) but I’ve got Soul Pastor on my right hand and The Old Bill on my left. We’re all “winging it”, waiting to hear what’s going to come up from the floor ‚ perhaps we’ll just read them your comments…
Another Update: the morning panel session is done, as is lunch… good conversations, good questions, and no flying rotten fruit. What more could you ask? Well, for one, it looks like we’re going to give the panel a “round two” later this afternoon. It went very well in the morning but we really only scratched the surface. Next up: the whole question of “Where do we go from here?” Nothing like a vast subject for a short discussion… Stay tuned.
I would urge them to figure out why so many people are so angry at “Christianity” as its loudest voices in the media would have us believe it to be. Never say another word about homosexuals. Jesus didn’t. Don’t insist people take the Bible literally–that prerequisite will turn off huge swaths of thinking people. Give up intelligent design. Don’t insist your congregations suspend disbelief and ignore empirical science in order to have a relationship with Jesus. It’s not necessary, and it turns people away in droves before the message of love and forgiveness, i.e., the important stuff, gets through. That’s a start.
Oooh, that’s tricky: just the “predicament” I’m in every day working within a “traditional” church. Our church had a meeting about “the church that is emerging”, starting off with a “dreaming” session – what would our ideal church be? A lot of the things vocalized were somewhat “out of the box” of traditional church, though they shouldn’t be. We talked about our concerns. Then we did a little “word association” time – talking about terms such as church (building versus people) and post-modern (age group versus way of interacting and perceiving the world). Then I shared my story and how the emerging church became part of it: I had a concern for my friends (young adults) who attended youth group but no longer find church relevant/helpful/a good place to be.
I also facilitated a work shop on why young adults no longer attend church. I say facilitated because I opened it up to the attendees, and they covered most the areas that I felt needed to be discussed, which was *great* because it felt more valid and more deep coming from multiple sources rather than one experience. I asked questions: a lot of times, folks already “had” the answers – they just didn’t have the time or space to be intentional in thinking about it.
My pastor is incredibly interested in the emerging conversation, but he feels torn between emerging and his call to be part of a traditional church: it’s a hard place to be, and I have a great deal of compassion for him. Some will be defensive (emerging can feel like an attack on what they know and love); some will be hesitant (it takes time for change – old wineskins bursting and all); some will be ready and willing to ask God how they can participate in what God’s actively doing.
I look forward to hearing how it goes.
Well, the event is done — went well by all reports, seems to have been a very positive experience for most all concerned. Will post more later. Thanks everyone for the input via comments and email… we didn’t really read the stuff off, but some from the conference will undoubtedly happen by and read it here. Actually, if anyone’s doing that already, welcome here! The format was mostly responding to questions from the floor, so that drove the discussion for the most part.