Hat tip to Father Bob for this cartoon.
What is emerging church? Is it always missional? Or is it something else? Is involvement in alternative worship a defining mark? Or not? Or is it all of the above?
What does emerging church encompas? What does it mean?
Fernando Gros has helpfully summarised some of the recent buzz and I recommend you also check out (e)mergent Voyageur's reflections on Redemptive Taxonomy In The Emerging/Missional Divide.
Here are some comments I made in an email conversation the other day to someone who discribes himself as an interested observer of the Emerging Church. This was all off the cuff but is fairly representative of my thoughts on the taxonomy issues:
To tell you the truth I see the ‘emerging church’ label as more of a conversation starter than a last word. I’m yet to hear a definition everyone agrees on. At times it means little more than, hey we’re trying to follow Christ in ways that don’t fit the conventional definitions. But all that does is tell people what EC isn’t, not what EC is. It’s an apophatic ecclesiology in a way.
See, why I say this is that most of what I do is outside the church too, at least in terms of how church is conventionally understood. I have a loose network of mission-minded companions who I share the journey with as well as a loose relationship to a more conventional, if somewhat informal, church. We don’t worship together often at all but they’re a lifeline in terms of companionship and support. Most of all I see us somewhat in the mode of William Carey’s to the west, mission-minded Christians incarnating into the new globalised subcultures so that the people within them might know the love of Christ in their own terms. Being a companion on a quest doesn’t require us to live in each others pockets, it just requires us to share a commitment to a cause and one another. Think ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ with how the companions scattered and came together at different stages in the quest.
Sure, some ECer’s get really into close knit alternate worship services, but to be honest I don’t think they are not always the most missional experiments around as I see them attracting burnt out Christans a lot more than non-Christians. So don’t think that just because you’re not connected with an alt. worship group that you can’t be involved. Not all of us are either! Then again, not all would call themselves ECers either. Some would prefer to be called church exiles, some just missional Christians. We don’t care.
Oh, I should just add that I'm off to Black Stump tomorrow, so if any of you are going and are interested in catching up at any stage please leave an email tonight and we can swap mobile numbers.
For the uninitiated, Black Stump is Christian art and music festival held south of Sydney every October long weekend. For the Brits I imagine it's a bit like your Greenbelt festival.
The theme for Black Stump 2006 is "iGod: portable faith in a portable culture."
I see Darren Wright of Planet Telex is running an elective and hanging out in Sacred Space so I expect I'll be dropping in there at some stage. Hmmm, lets' see if I can remember the camera for a spot of video blogging!
I have been venturing into www.youtube.com territory.
My pocket digital camera has short span video capability so if I can master the medium this could open up some interesting possibilities. Video blogging is an idea I have been toying with a little but even more interesting is the possibility of publishing footage from alternate spirituality festivals and community events.
A couple of years back I took some footage of pagan drummers at the winter magic festival and I am thinking it may also be interesting to film some interfaith conversations or a tarot gospel presentation.
I am not expecting short segments will allow for great depth but I take to heart Hugh Mackey’s comments in ‘Why Don’t People Listen’ that a new message in combination with a new experience is more powerful than a new message alone. I would like to give people a more multi-media taste of what we get ourselves into.
As a test though, this is just some footage of my younger son, Aaron.