Ed Stetzer suggests that we can avoid the trouble that shipwrecked the missio dei movement in part “by going back and looking at the roots of the missional movement and having a robust theological discussion that heightens our awareness of the issues at hand.”
Yesterday I posted an overview of the Didache to introduce what it is and where it came from, but essentially it’s an early Christian document from around the same time that the New Testament itself was still being written. “Didache” means “teaching”, and the document provides a compilation of (probably) oral tradition about what the apostles taught concerning community life. Today I’m blogging on Chapter 6 of Tony Jones‘ newest book, The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community. The Didache is not a long document, but it is instructive for the fact that it deals with practical community matters during a time of liminality when the church was just coming to birth. We ought to imagine that it will offer us insight for a time when the church is undergoing a rebirth.
Philotheos Bryennios was born in March of 1833 at Constantinople. He was educated at the Theological School in Chalce of the Great Church of Christ and the universities of Leipsic, Berlin, and Munich, and in 1861 became professor of ecclesiastical history, exegesis, and other studies at Chalce. He was appointed master and director at Chalce in 1863, though he soon resigned these two positions. In 1867 he was called to Constantinople to be the head of the “Great School of the Nation” in the Phanar, or Greek quarter of Constantinople. He remained there until 1875 when he was sent by the Most Holy Synod of metropolitans and patriarchs to the Old Catholic conference at Bonn, where he receved a patriarchal letter announcing his appointment as metropolitan of Serrae in Macedonia. In 1877 he was transferred to the metropolitan see of Nicodemia, and in 1880 went to Bucharest on behalf of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchal and other independent churches to participate in a commission dealing with Greek monastaries that had been plundered in Moldavia and Wallachia. In 1882, at the instance of the Holy Synod of Metropolitans in Constantinople and the patriarch Joachim Il., he wrote a reply (published by the Holy Synod) to the encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII concerning the Slavic apostles Cyrillus and Methodius. The man was no theological slouch, and despite this list of accomplishments, none of these are the thing for which he is most remembered following his death in 1914 or 1918.
I think I mentioned an event coming up here this October featuring Phyllis Tickle speaking on her book The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why. I’m one of several people who have been asked to present a workshop and sit on a discussion panel over the course of the one-day conference. At the moment, October 31st seems such a long way off, but I’ve been asked for a topic and a brief description of the workshop I will present.
This week saw the start of the summer series of Theology by the glass, now meeting at Confusion Corner Bar and Grill, just around the corner (sort of) from our most famous street sign. Our first conversation of the season began with a CBC podcast of The Age of Persuasion where Terry O’Reilly discusses church marketing and related matters.
Here’s an image for the uncertain future of evangelicalism. But we always start with humour first.
- A man goes to see his doctor. “Doc,” he says, “my arm hurts real bad. Can you check it out please?” The doctor rolls up the man’s sleeve and suddenly hears the arm talk. “Hello, Doctor,” says the arm. “Could you lend me twenty bucks? I’m desperate!” “Aha!” says the doctor, sitting back in his chair. ”I see the problem. Your arm is broke!”
Getting the kids a Wii for Christmas seemed innocuous enough. This observation, of course, is filled with foreboding. Some friends recently purchased a 47″ flat-panel television and graciously gave us their old 32″ conventional television. It’s a nice RCA which required only the purchase of a remote. Naturally, this goes well with the Wii that the kids don’t yet know about… but they’ve already been using the big TV with the $20 unit we got them a few years ago to play Ms. Pac-Man, Rally-X, Galaga, and a few other classic arcade games. The plan was to finish up the basement rec room so the kids could play on the Wii or watch movies down there, leaving the main floor free and quiet for us in the evenings now that the kids are too old to bundle off to bed at 7:00PM.
Mike Todd caught this the other day as well… Seth Godin asks, What happens when we organize? Seth opens his post with the observation that “Most power occurs because one side is better organized than the other.” This is a good description of an imbalanced power structure such as happens in the church where a divide exists between clergy and laity (Seth gives other examples). These structures are being upset in the present changing environment where Internet tools and a shift in values toward egalitarian ideals drive collaboration and spontaneous organization around a goal rather than simply falling into a rigid power or authority structure. Books such as Seth Godin’s Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Clay Shirkey’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations fill out the rest of the picture. The message is that the power structures are beginning to crumble under the realization that they really aren’t necessary, and their reaction to the changing milieu appears to be confusion — for the most part, there’s an instinctive desire to oppose this new disorganized organization, this “grassroots” movement that threatens to upset everything. Unfortunately for them, they are ill-equipped to meet this challenge; Ori Brafmann and Rod Beckstrom’s book The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations gives a good explanation of why this is so. Boiling it down to a single sentences though, one might latch onto the one which Seth Godin ended his post with, as I believe it to be highly accurate: “The system doesn’t know what to do with a movement.” They’re as ill-prepared for what’s coming at them as “Officer Opie” was.
Vineet Nayar in a Harvard Business publication says It’s Time to Invert the Management Pyramid, which Ryan Bolger follows up by saying We Must Invert the Pastor Pyramid. I’m not really very big on chasing down business strategies to apply to the church, but it’s always striking to notice how all the really good organizational ideas that the churches adopt are ones which the business realm has had a grasp on for a decade or more. With this in mind, whether one takes the result as a prescription or not, it is instructive to take note when the business realm begins to find fault with their old organizational method and begins imagining or suggesting an alternative structure. The Harvard article states,
Matt Stone did a Church & Politics Quiz that looked interesting, so I took the test as well. My score is plotted on the graph image, which looks to be about the same as Matt’s. The quiz suggests I see the role of the church as primarily a prophetic one. Since my score is pretty much along the midpoint of the vertical axis, I’m in between “Radical Reformer,” a group which would “see a strong prophetic role for the church and combine this with a robust call for political engagement to seek social and political change” and the “Quiet Critic,” representing those who “steer away from a direct role for the church in politics, instead emphasizing the church’s purity by maintaining a separation from the state. From this perspective, the church best shares the gospel by being an alternative community that models Christian love.”
Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this post, which ended up being about as long as the next bit that contained the important stuff I wanted to say, so I split it up. Feel free to start yesterday, then continue on below, which is about the whole mess of misunderstanding over networks that are not called Emergent.
Perhaps I’ve said my share already as I’ve seen the comments that others have been making about the shift — for some — away from using emerging/emergent terminology. Having had a couple of my posts picked up and linked around, I thought I’d be done, but it turns out I’m not — even if it turns out I’m saying more than my fair share. I’ve been pondering the bigger picture of it though, and late last week something clicked as I began to see the whole matter from a different angle, and I’ve decided there’s an alternate interpretation to be applied. This post, I think, is my most important observation of the discussion, and one which I hope time will prove to be accurate. And as I’ve said before, language is important to me, even if others tire of the talk of words. Eventually I do as well though, so hopefully this week will wrap up all that I feel I need to say about this battle of words. And anyway, I’ll point out that it’s not about words anyway, nor is it about people de-friend-ing one another.