Saturday, December 10, 2005

Emerging Churches

I've been reading Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger's book "Emerging Churches." It's a great read. After 5 years of research primarily in the U.S. and U.K. they identified nine practices that are common with emerging churches, though not all nine are common to each emerging church. Each emerging church, however, does possess three core practices. The other six practices according to Gibbs and Bolger "are derivative of these three core practices."

The three core practices are:

1. Identifying with the life of Jesus - they say, "modern readings of Jeus are prone to dismiss his life and focus on his death and resurrection," while emerging churches focus on "the way of Jesus - his life and his engagement with culture, as embodied in community and given verbal expression in the Sermon on the Mount." They say that N.T. Wright, John Yoder, David Bosch, Dallas Willard and Lesslie Newbigin are some of the scholars that the movement relies on.

Right on, I love them all! They have all contributed greatly to my understanding and their works are something we should all be familar with.


2. Transforming secular space - emerging churches also "pursue the kingdom in all spheres of reality, overcoming the secular/sacred divisions."

I definitely jive with this, after all, God came to redeem not just human beings, (as great as that is,) but the entire world. For God created all things "good". The problem is not creation. The problem is sin. Therefore the solution is not "going into a bodilessness existence in heaven" but rather bringing heaven to earth. No wonder we are told in Revelation 20 that God will make "all things new", not make all new things. Paul says, "all of creation groans to be released from the curse." And sure enough, someday the redemption of the world will be realized, and all will be as it was supposed to be.


3. Living as community - emerging churches "do not function as affinity groups but more like extended families. In Christendom, the Sunday meeting was the center of corporate spiritual expression for the community. In post-Christendom context, a church-meeting focus ceases to be indigenious to the culture or necessary to be faithful to the gospel. Instead, the practice of community formation itself is more central than the church meeting."

So true.

Summing it up, they say, "An emerging church community seeks the kingdom in all realms as it serves as a way of life for its people."

The other six practices of the emerging church cited by Gibbs and Bolger that flow from these core three are:

4. Welcoming the Stranger
5. Serving with Generosity
6. Participating as Producers
7. Creating as Created Beings
8. Leading as Body
9. Merging Ancient and Contemporary Spiritualities

With the way that Gibbs and Bolger define the emerging church, I would glady identify with the emerging church, though I personally don't like labels, especially when they are as undefined, complex and new (when it comes to the history of the church) as "the emerging church." For at this time so many people are defining what is called the "emerging church". But when you put core concepts, core theologians and other practices that flow from them together like Gibbs and Bolger did, I think I identify more with that, and have more confidence to say that these things do in fact express the heart of kairos los angeles, and many of the things we are about here in Hollywood, Westwood and Downtown.

5 Comments:

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous zachariah said...

hi how are you my name is Zachariah and I am a junior missionary for my grandfather's church. His name is Pastor Benny Arkwright and he is a biblical scholar who is leading the people of god away from the false church that have taken control of our land. We are all very concerned about this "emerging church" which is leading kids away from orthodox christianity and is tearing families apart - by putting OUR CHOICE in front of GOD'S VOICE. When you look at the "emerging church or any of the other new churches like Great Commission Ministries and the megachurches you see they are all being directed from Rome and paid for by the United Nation which if you aks me means they have some pretty sinister motives. I am motivated by Christ's love and i want you and your other friends in the emerging church to come away from those destructive temples and enter a house of true christian teachings. We have been trying to alert many of your friends to the falsehoods of GCM and now this "kairos" which my uncle is looking into and we are very concerned for your salvations. We will be praying in God's name for you to come out of this false church planted by Satan to confuse the people of God and deny the sacrifice of Jesus. Please let me pray for you, i don't want to see one more person go to hell because of these tricks the devil plays on us.

 
At 3:19 PM, Blogger J.R. Woodward said...

Zachariah,

From what you are saying, my guess is that you are looking for a good laugh. Without being able to trace your name back to anything, I have to think that you are a friend of mine playing a funny joke, because your words have no foundation or substance. So will the real Zachariah please reveal himself.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger m@77#&w 13. said...

good to see you haven't lost your sense of humour JR...i wish i would have thought of playing a joke like that...it wasn't me though...and HEY! if this isn't a joke than i'm wondering where my piece of the united nations money is...come on rome let's have it...anyway...peace and love

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger Jason Hesiak said...

Zachariah - My name is Jason Hesiak. I am a founding member of "this 'kairos'", and I have a question for you. Have you EVER met ANYONE face to face from GCM (the leadership)OR kairos, these organizations that you condemn (which you at once say that you are "looking into" but then also ask us if you can pray for us because you don't want to see us go to hell (after we die))? I have my issues with GCM and my church, but the way you are speaking to me sounds as if you are demonstrating ignorance of scripture and of Christ. Is N.T. Wright also going to hell since he's trying to bring Christ's kingdom to the NOW ("thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (NOW))? If this was a mathematical equasion - is "God's voice" equal to an old white man in a black robe with a colorful sash thingy that changes with the seasons like my Mom's house decorations being in a pulpit? What if it was a 12 yr. old African believer in a baptist pulpit, wearing his rags and looking sick and bloated about to die of aids? Is "our choice" that "opposes" "God's voice" equal to a regular sinful man just like you and me wearing jeans and a holy T-shirt trying his trained best to shepheard a congregation toward God?

 
At 9:17 AM, Blogger Tim said...

Zachariah's comment is remarkably similar to the one left by "Maureen" on this blog:

http://talkwisdom.blogspot.com/2006/01/prove-christ-exists-judge-orders.html

Things that make you say "hmmmmm"...

BTW, JR, good to see you doing so well. I really enjoyed your work with the DC LT conferences in the late 80s.

 

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