Too Mutch

...a safe place to dance with ideas, play with theology, and re-create a life implicated by God

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

NPC Emergent Speakers

Batting 1st--Dan Kimball, Pastor of Vintage Faith Church (

Books: Emerging Church (about) and Emerging Worship (about)

Dan Kimball has been at this for awhile now. He comes to the conversation with both beautiful and hard experiences that give him a great amount of credibility to speak about the Emerging Church. I have a lot to learn from Dan and the experiences he's been through. Here are the stages he traveled through with his own community, which has now become Vintage Faith Church.

Phase I: Methodology--rethinking the worship gathering. This is slightly above "tinkering." At this phase, there can be a misguided belief that changing and tinkering with the worship service is all we need to do. "Let's just freshen things up a bit." Notice that this is phase one...and we've got several more to go!

Phase II: Realizing that it is more than an age group--many emerging changes have taken place with youth groups, college groups or young adult groups. Once again, this becomes a starting point, but if this new worship gathering is connecting to people of all ages, it no longer is able to operate as an age-specific gathering. Now, you've got the dreaded "church within a church."

Phase III: Rethinking ecclesiology. Now the road gets a little bumpier. We are getting beyond methodology (new music, candles, etc.) to rethinking spiritual formation, community, preaching, and membership. Now, the this new emerging community within the greater community comes under control/criticism/etc. the mother church, essentially saying, "You can't be rethinking these things!"

Phase IV: Rethinking theology. If you thought phase three was bumpy, then you better buckle up tight. Now this new community begins asking some simple questions. What do we believe? And WHY do we believe it? These questions will not win you many popularity contests.

Phase V: Being the Church. For Dan and for many others, the growth and transition continues until their growing, emerging community becomes a church. In the best case scenario, it will be a recognition from the mother church that it is time to do a church plant and send this community off with our blessing. That was the case, for the most part, for Dan's church. I've seen others have that pleasure as well. I'm afraid, however, that they could be exceptions to the rule.

Once upon a time, I was part of strarting a new community within a church. I will admit that we were really no where near phase V, but we were attempting to do some new things from within an existing church. At one point while we were still planning, I heard someone say, "It is easier to give birth than to raise the dead." Their advice was essentially this: you are better of starting fresh somewhere as a church plant than you are trying to start something from inside and effect some kind of change throughout the existing church. Well, we didn't take his advice now did we?

1. Do you think it is better (with whatever criterion you want to use) to start something new within an existing church OR to start something new and fresh on its own?

2. Why do you think it is so explosive to begin asking questions like "what do we believe and why"? What would happen at your church if a group of people began asking such questions?


At 6:22 PM, Anonymous ndog said...

Before I take a stab at this. Greg, Mcknight says that there is a difference between "emerging" and "emergent." Do you know what the difference is?

At 6:42 PM, Anonymous rapraptorman said...

Greg, I think it depends what you mean by, start something new within an existing church. I think that this can actually be divided up into three categories:
1) starting something new like Missio Dei within a church that has facilities and financies (Calvary)
2) Starting a new church with a new vision,etc. with most of the same people who were in the previous church and using the same facilities to do it. (Mclaren's church, which he just left).
3)A new church plant. This can even be divided into different categories because of differing levels of affiliation with existing churches.
more on this later. I have to go to the Hospital to see a guy.

At 10:53 PM, Anonymous rapraptorman said...

1) Obviously it all depends on the context. On the whole though, if the churches are mature enough not to become "rivals" I think the advantages of working within a church slightly outweigh the advantages of starting fresh.
The advantages of working within a church seem to be horizontal support (financial, prayer, etc)and accountability.
The advantages of starting fresh seem to be more freedom to experiment and perhaps greater dependence on God's providence/more of a faith test.
Ron Sider, author of Rich Christians in a hungry world, says that every church should be a part of a denomination for accountability. I think this is going a little too far, but his point is well taken. I think we need strong connection to one another as churches.
2) I think these questions are so explosive because many people have a primarily doctrine or text based faith rather than a person based faith. For instance, what if science somehow proved that there is no historical Adam or Eve, no flood, and no virgin birth. Would people lose their faith? Many would be very shaken.
If I asked these questions they might send my butt back accross the border.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Greg said...

1. Basically, "emerging" is the name given to the overall movement/conversation, whether you are in the US, Canada, UK, etc. "Emergent" is the name particularly for the the organized group from the US known as emergent village--they have a national director (Tony Jones) and authors and pastors and professors who are part of the organization or "friends of emergent."

2. I don't believe Brian has left Cedar Ridge. He is no longer the senior pastor, but I believe he is still part of the community there.

3. Here's the catch. You said, "if churches are mature." I don't know that there are many churches out there that can demonstrate the kind of maturity that it would take for a new community to form within their midst and begin reforming worship, theology, and praxis.

4. If you began asking those questions, they'd probably just send you to mars hill. But there are people who love Jesus who might be asking the question, "if adam and eve were not person 1 and person 2 in the world, would I still attach myself to this Jesus and live a life marked by his resurrection power?" More and more people are becoming comfortable with answering YES to this question. Others, who hold too tightly to doctrine, cannot handle it.

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