I’ve just been listening to a great talk by Jason Clarke on the Emerging Church (not to be confused with the emergent church’s Jason Clark). Unfortunately you have to pay to get the CD of the talk, you can’t download it.
There’s lots to say in criticism of the emergent church, namely that it’s mostly rebadged 19th century liberalism, but there are some things it can teach us. If we don’t follow the emergent church by throwing the orthodox baby out with the bath water we can learn three things.
- Rationalism. Conservative evangelicals tend to rely too much on reason. There’s almost the belief that reason is the answer to everything. We tend to look for propositional truthes everywhere even in the narrative patrs of the Bible (which is a lot) and think that if only we have an intellectual understanding of the Bible all will be well with our world. The trouble is, this just isn’t true. The gospel is rational, but it’s not only rational. What goes into our heads must transform our hearts at a deep level. We must be careful not to jetison reason, but be wary of making it the silver bullet for the church’s problems.
- Retreat. Christians have become experts in creating counter cultures. Maybe this hasn’t made so much of an impact in the UK, but in the US you can find a Christian version of just about everything. Christian exercise videos, Christian TV channels, Christian nightclubs. The list goes on. In an attempt to avoid worldliness the church has just become more worldly. As Jason Clarke says, “the church has suceeded in being of the world but not in it“. A damning indictment indeed. In order to have any impact on our culture at all we must avoid retreating into our safe little worlds and live in the real world. And we need to be less frightened of being worldly and trust in the God who said: “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit“.
- Reductionism. Late 20th and early 21st century Christianity has tended to reduce the gospel to an individualistic message. We talk about having a ‘personal relationship with Jesus’ (not biblical language at all), and see the gospel as merely a ticket into heaven when we die. While the gospel message is not less than that, it’s so much more. The emergent church have re-introduced the kingdom of God and the corporate nature of Christianity back into the church and that’s a good thing. We need to avoid going to the emergent extreme and over emphasising the kingdom at the expense of the individual nature of the gospel but we must strive for balance.
Popularity: 55% [?]
I’ve been meaning to write a blog for ages but I’ve been crazy busy building a new website for the church plant we’re involved in, starting in autumn this year. The church is going to be called Christ Church Derby and it’s going to be located (God willing) in the Friar Gate area of Derby. The website is available here. I’d love to know what you think of it. Any constructive criticism? Anything that should be on there that we’ve not put on? We even have a logo too, although we may fine tune it over the next few months. In the logo we’re trying to convey the message that we want to see a traditional church started in the city that’s very contextually minded. That is we want to make sure that we don’t compromise the truth, but at the same time, we want to make sure we understand the culture and explain the truth of God’s Word in a way that people will understand.
To help get our vision across about what Christ Church Derby is seeking to be, we also made a short video.
We’re hoping that the website will evolve as the church goes from being an idea to a fully functioning church in October 2010. At the moment it’s aimed at getting people to pray and hopefully come, but when the church starts we’ll be adding more church stuff, like a diary and a podcasts section. I have some exciting plans for the podcasts actually. More on that to come. At the moment, we’re trying to attract three types of people through the site:
- People who can pray. We realise that without God this will be nothing more than just a Bible based social club. We realise that God gives good gifts to his children and asking for a new church is a good thing. So please pray with us as we plan and pray for Christ Church.
- People who can come. We’re not trying to poach people from other churches but if anyone is at a natural cross roads in their Christian service, in Derby or elsewhere we’d love to hear from you. Starting new churches always costs existing churches good people and that is a massive sacrifice for churches to make. But we believe that it’s a worthy sacrifice for churches to make to see the kingdom of God advance.
- People who know people who might want to come. Do you know anyone coming to Derby to study? Do you know anyone coming to Derby to work who would benefit from being involved in Christ Church? Do you know someone in Derby not going to a church at the moment who might want to come? We’d love to hear from you.
Popularity: 47% [?]