Friday, February 03, 2006

New kind of huddle?

Over the last couple of days I've thought about some things Ryan Bolger has talked about in his blog. He teaches a class on the emerging church. Some people are giving serious full-time thought to what church looks like in a post-Christendom world. His assessment:

Emerging Churches are those who take the life of Jesus as a model way to live (one), who transform the secular realm (two), as they live highly communal lives (three). Because of these three activities, they welcome those who are outside (four), they share generously (five), they participate (six), create (seven), they lead without control (eight), and function together in spiritual activities (nine).

How this is done, to me, is the key factor in how radically different the expression and experience of church could be from more traditional forms and formats--even from those which are into culture and relevance. Does he have his finger on the pulse of the new movement (which actually began about 20 years ago with GenX services?) Other voices in the U.S. and even more abroad are speaking and writing much about emerging church and missional thinking. We live in an exciting time of transition. I look forward to changes that foster more communal and creative living.

What do some of us have to unlearn? I don't want to be reacting to the dysfunction I've seen and been affected by. I do want to learn from everything I've been through in my faith journey of 35 years. I want to be a help to others to keep them from going down a painful, fruitless, or destructive path. It's essential that I am open to letting go of tradition that does not serve what God is doing and building right now. I hope unlearning will be joyful.

Bolger goes on to describe Greg Russinger of Bridge Communities in Ventura, CA, a visiting speaker to his class:
Greg is one of the few, but the number is growing, leaders of emerging churches who did not need to unlearn many practices of church in the process of creating their faith community. More typical are emerging churches that begin with leaders who have seriously begun to question what it is church is about. It might take a few years, but there is a period of disillusionment with church-as-it-is before the creation of a community that is no longer reacting, but creating something fresh and new. With Greg, he intuits emerging church. Hospitality pervades all they do -- it is urban, it is artistic, it is communal, it is prayerful, it is everyday, and it is in the world. Greg and his community do not expend energy on how to do things in a way that is different than they knew before -- this is their primary understanding of 'church'.

Let us hope for a successful re-entry into this type of atmosphere--as God leads! I believe those of us who have been around for a while can have a significant role in the new thing. God has invested a lot in us and the challenge is to give out and release it in a way that profits others--and to keep learning.


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