Here is a post I made over two years ago. Given that there are lots of new readers to this site, that a lot has happened in the past two years, I thought I'd dust thist post off from my old site and give it an airing here. I think I will edit and revise this, but most of it still stands from my experience in the last two years. And remember it's my summary of my experience before you comment :-)
------------ Well here in no order, and remember from my limited experience, in a very small corner of the emerging church are the things I think I have learned most, and enjoyed most about the emerging church, and some experiences that make me despair the most about emerging church too.
Things I Love/Value Most
1. Theology: the freedom and company to think theologically, to find integration of my faith into a postmodern world. That church planting is no longer predicated upon getting people to pray a prayer to go to heaven when they die. The Gospel is much bigger and than that myopic premise. Finding the face of God in thinking theologically, honestly and openly, does not make you a heretic or backslider.
2. Experiment: Freedom to do church differently, to experiment, and do lots that is the same, both extremes are true and needed.
3. Connection: to people all around the world, from many countries and many church tribes.
4. Generous: realize that there is no postmodern way of doing churches, there are many ways, and we need many more, some like they currently are and some radically different, many valid and connecting in different context.
5. Team: That I don't have to be a benevolent dictator, and I don't have to be the slave of the church board, in between is the place of real team, serving, living and leading together, being accountable.
6. Rediscover: being free to rediscover the things my churchmanship had thrown away, liturgy, confession, litany, image, icons, church calendar, the ancient in our faith, and to know that it's still being used for real by many traditions...
7. Tradition: Reclaiming some traditions, holding on the traditions from my current denomination, and forming new ones.
8. Mission focused: a church that serves each other and our community, the two intertwined and inseparable. Intimacy withy God necessitates involvement with each other. Ministry to the poor and social justice are not optional for churches, they are part of mission.
9. Marathon: this is going to take a very very long time, more than my life time. Investing my life in growing a community that is able to grow other church communities, full of new christians, following christ, engaged in mission....a life's work not a couple of years gathering christians.
10. Live what we believe: my church is my family not my job, the people I do life with, share pain with, and accountably with, bring out the best and worst in me with. Being able to walk the talk, to have fears, doubts, questions, troubles and be real.
11. Relevant: to be free to use the mediums and places of our culture to communicate, without seeing them as godless.
12. Human: where doing church and being a christian is humanizing, connecting to the world and each other.
13. Love of church: I love church more than ever, doing church, being church, doing life together in all it's mess and mistakes and imperfections. I find God more and more in the church, when it seems so weak and messed up.
Things about the emerging church that make me want to quit sometimes (crude stereotypes from my limited perspective, and things I find myself falling into along with others).
1. Sociological reactions: The attitude of writing off all of church since the beginning of christendom, the attitude of we should close all churches, that all church is wrong and modern and axiomatic to modernism, and behind that the we're right you are wrong, leave all churches, follow us into new radical ways but then offer nothing, devalue tradtional churches, be full of bitterness, anger and create new private God spaces full of existential angst, and pride ourselves on being postmodern. To have a theology and ecclesiology that is thoughtless, non-biblical (and if I use that word they think I'm a foundationalist evangelical;-), and a historical drawing no lessons from church history (after all church history was mostly a mistake).
3. Axiomatics: If we only got rid of congregations, pastors, preaching/teaching...and all just hung out in authentic community, all would be well, with the result that a handful of people hang out in private spaces just as self indulgent as the ones they left, yet they are more valid as they now have the label of being postmodern and authentic.
4. Exclusion: To become as exclusive as previous forms of church. You can't be missional if you have a congregation, you can't be relevant if you are an Anglican, Baptis, Vineyard etc. We are in you are corrupted by doing church so that you are out, and Jesus would never go to your church (but he would love our middle class blog discussion night, cigars, beer and having a good moan about the church).
5. Character: So much bitterness, anger, resentment, exclusion, are these new characteristics of new forms of church, what happened to patience, peace, kindness, patience gentleness and self control?
6. Existentialism: church is now made in my image, I hate structure, I hate leaders, I hate most things about church and I cover it all with the spirtitualised veneer (nonsense) of saying, well I want to be organic, spirit led, postmodern...
7. Missional not: the one that bothers me the most, understanding yourself as needing to be missional, a missionary in a postmodern, post christian context, does not make you missional. Mission is something you do, not something you tote as a mantra, and then do nothing missional.
8. Intentionally unintentional: the craziness of saying "we want to be organic", "we have no leaders", to cover a philosophy that despises planning, strategy, models. We need to learn from real missionaries, who were very strategic, planning and intentional. If you think being intentional is a dirty word, and try not be intentional, you're being intentional about not being intentional.
9. Real Church: phrases like, we are just doing church, real church, as if the rest of church for the last 2,000 years wasn't church, and wasn't valid. If the the modern church arrogantly wanted to declare they had rediscovered real christianity, these phrases seem just the same. We're doing church right, the postmodern/ancient future/missional/communal way, and the bad nasty evangelical church, modern church, christendom church wasn't, but hey we are doing it authentically now.