Following on from my rather negative piece, reflecting on my reaction to Rollins’ book, I have been doing some more thinking about the process of change…
Deconstructing the institution of Church (particularly evangelical church) has been perhaps the primary preoccupation of the debate that has been described as ’emerging church’. For me, this was absolutely necessary- and part of the inevitable process of change. However, it may be necessary, but it can never be sufficient for the formation of a movement- let along a movement of the living, recreating God…
What has been nagging at me (and many others) is this simple question- what next?
- This is a theological question- the need to examine again what assumptions and core values drive (or sometimes OBSCURE) the mission of the church.
- It is also and organisational question- what is church- what does it look like? How is it resourced/led/networked/held accountable?
- It is a personal question– in terms of the call to be transformed by our encounter with Jesus, but it is also a collective question, in the sense that we (the church) are the collective agents of the New Kingdom. We ought then to be the best hope for our communities, our towns, our planet. How will we seek to become this?
McLaren describes institutions (see clip below) as ‘preservers of the advances made by previous generations.’ in seeking to CHALLENGE and deconstruct, we have to accept that we are also PART of this institution- to a lesser or greater degree. There is still so much to celebrate, so much to preserve. For many, the issue is not the need to destroy (although I confess that I have longed for a few well lit fires in my time!) but rather then need to find new EMPHASIS.
Just in case this sounds too tame, too conformist for you- I should make clear that my small ‘church’ community is right outside any formal institution of church- and could be (perhaps is) regarded as dangerous and heretical by some of my more reformed colleagues. However, when we reflect on what we are, and what we do- our preoccupations, our core values, our practices- they are not new.
So what will our (perhaps pivotal) generation pass on to our successors? What values will they need to either protect, or deconstruct and reform?
What is the mission of God for this our time- the personal one, the local one, and the global one? These are the voices I look for now- the Apostolic ones…
I think this was what was behind my disapointment with Rollins’ book. It was clever, well written, well developed, full of lovely little parables, but despite this, did not connect me with a hope for the future- what might be being built, not just broken down.
I watched the following clip this morning- not because McLaren is always right, but I genuinely think that this man has an Apostolic voice. Listen friends, and let hope rise to action!