Free e-book on Emerging Church by Mark Driscoll

Preaching and the Emerging Church by Mark Driscoll

[HT: Dan Kimball]

A Couple Notes of Interest

  1. Jay Guin has a fabulous post on CENI with some great followup comments by Edward Fudge and John Mark Hicks. If you know what CENI is then you probably want to read it. If you don’t have a clue what CENI means then move on to the next link.
  2. Imonk, Michael Spenser, has highlighted Church of Christ minister Kirk Cowell as one of his seven “Evangelical Untouchables.” The topic of the post was how different evangelical church leaders view what membership is. I didn’t particularly agree with Kirk on his take on church membership as it was a little further than I would personally take things, it really surprised me to see Spenser highlight someone from the Church of Christ. I was also unfamiliar with Kirk and his blog, which is very well done and very insightful.
  3. Dan Kimball has a post about haircuts that is far more interesting that just talking about haircuts. See that post here.

Addressing Changing Ways Young Adults Envision a Biblical Model of Church

I think this quote from Dan Kimball’s Emerging Worship says it well,

More and more emerging generations who were raised in the church are saying that there must be something more to “church” than what they have experienced. The systems we use to teach them how to be disciples of Jesus are not connected with them like they did for generations past. Emerging generations say it just doesn’t “feel right” or “fit right” anymore. They want to be a disciple of Jesus, but how we approach disciple-making needs to shift right alongside their shifting values.

Emerging generations wonder if what they have been taught about “community” – and what they’ve seen promoted in their churches – is really biblical community at all.

They wonder if what they were taught about evangelism is really the right way to think about, and practice, sharing the gospel of Jesus. They are wondering if being a Christian and being “saved” is more than just saying a prayer to get to heaven. They are asking why the church doesn’t talk more often about the Kingdom of God and why most Christians don’t take interest in social justice.

They wonder why preaching has turned the beautiful and mysterious story of God and man into self-help guru Tony Robbins-like teaching with some Bible verses added. They wonder why their hunger to discover and wrestle with the deeper depths of Scripture is fed with neatly packaged versions of how-to messages and pat Bible answers…(Emerging Worship, xii)

I am refreshed to see this play out in real life as I have come to know many young adults who want to get more serious about their faith than being spoon fed the gospel in weekly doses. Many churches are going to run into serious cultural and generational backlash if they aren’t prepared to flex with younger generations in areas that can be flexed in all the while remaining firm in the areas that we must remain firm in. The problems arise in who decides what is flexible and what is firm. My prayer is that elders and ministers around the country will deal with young adults prayerfully and considerately as these young people grow into their own faith that may have many of the same core beliefs as their predecessors but may express itself in very different ways than previous generations.

Parable of the Sea

Dan Kimball mentioned this video this past week on his blog Vintage Faith. It is called the Parable of the Sea and I think it is an excellent and eye opening video about church and what we can unwittingly turn church into. Lately, the word “institution” has been big in online circles in reference to how church has been tamed, subdued or watered down into a form the early Christians may never have even thought of. Check it out and see what you think. I would love to hear your thoughts. Here is the video’s link.

Restoration Repackaged With Vintage Language

One of the things I really like about reading Dan Kimball is his plea for things to be “Vintage”. He sees value in looking to scripture for ideals in how we live, worship, and develop our theology. Sound familiar? Sounds a little like the roots of the church of Christ. We have been asking for restoration to a first century ideal for quite some time and it is refreshing that others are seeing that while culture changes the Gospel does not.

Another person who is talking a lot about “vintage” Christianity right now is Mark Driscoll. I don’t know an awful lot about Driscoll but I have seen his book Vintage Jesus. Anyone have experience with him or his material? I have noticed he has been addressing the issue of pornography lately with free resources for dealing with this issue in Christian circles. Here is the link to that material.

Dan Kimball Reflects on Emerging Church

Dan Kimball is taking a few posts to reflect on Emerging Church and what has changed in his perspective over the last 5 to 7 years. What he has to say is really interesting and I thought many of you might be interested in reading his thoughts and what he thinks is down the pipe.

Women’s Roles in the Church – Scot McKnight, Dan Kimball & N.T. Wright Weigh In

Looks like Scot McKnight is weighing in on this subject. I intend to talk about it more here in the coming week after we have our second discussion this Sunday in our 20s & 30s class. Here is the link to Jesus Creed. Here is also a link mentioned in the discussion there to something N.T. Wright wrote on the matter from the NT Wright Page.

Dan Kimball posted something today about Sarah Palin and a complementarian view. He is the one who initially sparked the discussion in our 20s and 30s group and the posts here on the blog over the last week or so. I am going to do at least two more posts here on this issue. You can read more of Scot’s views in the comments of Dan Kimball’s post. Enough explaining. Following the links and see what you think.

Rob Bell’s Nooma Complete Now What?

This Sunday we are doing the last of the Nooma videos in our 20s and 30s class. Those things have been tremendous. If you haven’t seen them yet and work with this age group please do. So what’s next? I had a conversation with Mike, our devo coordinator, last week and he brought up about meeting people lately who really do love Jesus but have a bad impression of the church. I had already been considering working through Dan Kimball’s They Like Jesus But Not the Church material. I think that is the route we are going to take. It is so important to understand where people are coming from and how to change their perceptions of what Christianity/Christians are really supposed to be like.

Dan Kimball on the Importance of Dialogue in Reaching Post-Christians

I really thought this quote from Dan Kimball hit the nail on the head,

“We must cultivate a culture that allows dialogue. Evangelicals have been criticized–many times rightly so–for being dogmatic and closed-minded. For too long we have been doing all the talking, without any dialogue. We are now serving new generations that have serious trust issues, and trust is not earned by takling just one-way. We must disarm this criticism and regain trust. We need to encourage, not discourage, people to think, to question, to discover. Why are we so afraid of encouraging people to think for themselves?…At the very least, we need to constantly encourage our listeners to check out our teaching for themselves, measuring them against Scripture. We must avoid, at all costs, giving the impression that we have all the answers and they don’t. We may indeed have answers, but if we appear to be arrogant about it, we’ll lose our voice. We need to encourage people to think. We need to encourage dialogue, even encourage people to challenge what we say. This can disarm people and prompt them to study more to see if what we are saying is true…We must be creative and have dialogue as a core value for how we communicate to and teach emerging generations. This is a huge necessity for being a missional leader in the emerging culture.”
Emerging Church, 192-193

There is a guy who gets it. I have decided to buy this book for each member of our 20s & 30s leadership team. What really makes this book great is his willingness to challenge things while keeping close to scripture and a respect for the church.

Churches of Christ and the Emerging Culture

As I read Dan Kimball’s book on the Emerging Church a few things stand out to me that I thought I would mention here:

1 – There is a cultural shift that is taking place and more people are unchurched in America. We are one of the largest mission fields in the world. Missionaries will tell you that if you are going to reach people in another culture you have to contextualize yourself to that culture. You cannot expect to take our models of ministry and map them onto other cultures. So what do we do when the models for ministry and worship we have are based on a modern culture while the culture in America that is rapidly growing all around us is post-modern? Wouldn’t it make sense that our ministry models would reflect the growing culture around us? You see this lack of understanding of cultural transitions and the opportunities they open up when predominantly white churches are located in a neighborhood that is undergoing what some people have termed “white flight.” Those churches that turn themselves into a fortress and protect against their neighborhoods die while those who make the transition and continue to reach out to the changing culture around them can thrive. We have to taking the surrounding culture seriously in how we reach out to them. It is a lot more obvious when it is black/white/asian, etc but a lot more subtle when people of our own race live with a dramatically different worldview and culture that we do. This is clear on the mission field but is often unclear in our safe haven worship environments where we have tended to do things the same way for a couple hundred years.

2 – People want authenticity. Many Christians have mistakenly thought that the world needs to see faultless Christians. Because that is impossible and presenting yourself that way a fraud, people have labeled Christians hypocrites. People don’t need to see flawless Christians. People need to see that we mess up in a lot of the same ways they do but the important thing is how we feel about that (remorse) and how we let God deal with it through repentance and forgiveness. This allows us to be genuine about our sin and about a God who is able to deal with sin and forgive us. This shows people God can forgive them too. This also breaks down the old stereotype that Christians think they are better than everyone else and are “holier than thou.” At the same time, preachers who seem to flaunt their sin to show they are like everyone else just won’t cut it either.

3 – Churches of Christ have a lot going for them in reaching the emerging post-modern culture. Kimball makes the point that seekers don’t want seeker sensitive services (removing religious imagery, taking down the crosses, etc). They want an authentic and ancient forms to bring in an experience with God. They want something with roots that go back to the beginning. They want people who take Jesus and his teachings seriously. They want people who are kind and compassionate. The Church of Christ has been like that for years. I think we have a lot going for us in reaching the lost. Kimball writes, “How ironic that returning to a raw and ancient form of worship is now seen as new and even cutting edge. We are simply going back to a vintage form of worship which has been around for as long as the church has been in existence.” (Emerging Church, 169). He says earlier in the book that “post-seeker sensitive” worship and ministry will be more of a back to the basics and earlier forms…”This approach is really nothing new at all; in fact, it is simply going back to more of a raw and basic form of ‘vintage Christianity.'” (26).

4 – Churches of Christ have a transition to make in order to reach emerging generations that relates to point one. We have to realize that worship as we currently has components that are a product of the modern culture that the church of Christ came about. Singing is still singing and praying is still praying and preaching is still preaching, etc. Those things will always and should always be. But the linear format of 2 songs and a prayer does not speak the language of the culture we are immersed in. The order of worship (2 songs and a prayer, 2 songs and a scripture, Lord’s supper, 2 songs, a sermon, invitation, closing song, and closing prayer) is a product of our modern culture and also a product of needing order in the assembly. When the tradition becomes law we have a problem and turn ourselves into Pharisees if we are not careful. We have done this for so long that some people think it is the only way to do it. Some people get upset if the invitation isn’t offered even though the vast majority of people who are reached don’t happen at the invitation time.

This leaves us with a couple of questions:

1) How do we get people to understand which parts of our worship are scriptural and which are based on tradition?

2) What would missionaries coming to America from another culture do to contextualize themselves to our culture? How would they combine that information with biblical forms of worship to reach people in America today? What would keep us from doing the same thing?

3) How important is the worshiper or the seeker’s opinion of the worship? If God said we had to worship standing on our heads and humming would we do it or would we say that is just silly…we want to do it sitting in pews?

4) What ancient forms of worship are still appropriate for today? What would make an ancient practice no longer appropriate for worship today?