Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Notes from the Emergent Church Workshop

Hi all. Back from vacation and church camp where I facilitated a workshop on the emergent church. Had a great time and great conversation. Was new to almost all the folks in the group. Here are notes from my handouts. I also supplemented with some of the good charts from Dan Kimball's book The Emergent Church and will post some of those in the future.

The basic arc of the workshop was to introduce the cultural changes that give rise to transformational and emergent church mission (that was done by focusing on Easum and Bandy and Schaller's works) and then move into the new thinking (Sweet, Slaughter, Morganthaler) and then applications in new ways focusing on evangelism in the emergent context (McLaren, Kimball, Cole).

Hope we can generate conversation here and questions and keep it going. Thanks to all who participated in the workshop who might be coming here to the blog for the first time.

SWUUSI Workshop: The New Evangelists of the Emergent Church

Introductions and Overview
Focus on Transformational Church Evangelists (Easum/Bandy and Lyle Schaller)
Question: What happened to Evangelism, and How can we make church better, healthier?

Focus on E.P.I.C. Evangelists (Leonard Sweet, Michael Slaughter, Sally Morganthaler)
Question: How can the church open up to culture to transform the church so it can transform the culture?

Focus on Evangelists of the Emergent Church (Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball)
Question: What is transient and permanent in Christianity, and how do our lives and churches reflect that?

Focus on Experimental Evangelists of the “Kin(g)dom” (Neil Cole, et al)
Question: What constitutes church anyway, and what does it have to do with what God calls us to do?


Welcome and Overview and Introductions

---What are the characteristics of the old school of Evangelism?
Model from Christianity Rediscovered by Vincent Donovan
“We” are different from “Them”. We have the Truth and God and they don’t. We go to where they are to take our Truth to them. We present it to them, the same way we present it to anyone. We take our culture and worship and language and publications to them. We sell it to them. We focus on numbers converted. We provide programs and services to them.
Think about the characteristics of Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and their contemporary heirs on television.
Think about ways our own UU efforts at evangelism mirror in our small way the characteristics of the old school Evangelism.

Definitions of Evangelical.

---A sampler of the many new evangelists. The small e in evangelist. They are growing more popular but still seen as the leaven within Evangelicalism.

What has been our exposure to them?

---Why care about the new evangelists?
Theodore Parker’s lens. (from his transient and permanent in christianity, about the necessity of the church changing as centuries bring new worlds)
They are helping us to see the new cultural environment.
As the new evangelist are presenting a more liberal, generous, welcoming, humble, practical, relational method so their approach to the core message is often changing, sometimes not, but becoming more open to what liberal theology has long trumpeted, and so their message is becoming more integrated with their method and this I believe is helping them to grow. Those who are entering the new American religious landscape from a more theologically liberal message perspective often seem bound by our methods (organization, worship, sense of mission) rooted in the 1500-1950 era.

I. Transformational Church Evangelists. Bill Easum/Tom Bandy and Lyle Schaller. Charting the map for the new evangelists.

Church to Unchurched Culture of Competition
Denominational to Independent Landscape
Print to Web Language
Modern to Postmodern Society
Controlling to Permission-Giving Response

Tuesday: Applying Lessons of Culture so Church Can Transform Culture.
Sweet, Slaughter, Morganthaler

Leonard Sweet: Postmodern Pilgrims

Immigrants and Natives
E for Experiential
P for Participative
I for Image-Driven
C for Community Connecting Consciousness

Michael Slaughter: UnLearning Church

Going beyond labels and models. Both conservative and liberal, etc. Paradox
God’s Kingdom is not best represented by franchises of McChurch. Transformational leaders demonstrate the Kingdom of God in unique ways in each different community.
The call to be highly personal. You have to think smaller to grow bigger.
Move from broadcasting to narrowcasting.
A Radical Christianity---shared life in Jesus more than issue-centered theology.
Safe Space to Ask Hard Questions
Radical Prayer is about Listening
A theology of sweat---outreach goes way beyond bringing somebody to church. Unlearners engage in human need. They do all they can, give all they can, and serve all they can until everyone gets to the table of God.
Unlearning Church Examples

Sally Morganthaler: Worship Evangelism To True Conversation

Seeing Worship as the Primary Priority of Being Church, and including Evangelism or reaching out to unchurched/unbelievers/seekers as integral to worship. Not a difference between two poles. Making the worship event the evangelical event. Megachurches not really growing number of Christians, just reflecting the movement of Christians from smaller to larger church. Problem is that seekers come into church through worship and encounter God’s transforming spirit there, but then stay there in worship-mode as consumer of that encounter. How to move past superficiality, spectator status, in worship as church. “We can’t give away what we don’t have.” Worship evangelism focuses on showing through witness the real relationships people have with God.

1. Focus on responding to God. 2. Don’t sacrifice authenticity for relevance. 3. Add worship don’t subtract. 4. Tap into wide repertoire of worship traditions. 5. Customize for the community you are in.

Wednesday: The Emergent Church/Conversation
Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball

Brian McLaren: A Generous Orthodoxy

Why I Am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-yet-hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian.

“A generous orthodoxy of the kind explored in this book, while never pitching its tent in the valley of relativism, nevertheless seeks to see members of other religions and non-religions not as enemies but as beloved neighbors, and whenever possible, as dialogue partners and even collaborators. It seeks to remove splinters from the eyes of other religions only after removing its own planks, a process that will take a lot of time and energy, postponing intense critical examination of other eyes perhaps beyond this week or even next.”

Would Jesus Be a Christian?...Missional Christian faith asserts that Jesus did not come to make some people saved and others condemned. Jesus did not come to help some people be right while leaving everyone else to be wrong. Jesus did not come to create another exclusive religion…Missional faith asserts that Jesus came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God to everyone, especially the poor. He came to seek and save the lost. He came on behalf of the sick. He came to save the world. His gospel, and therefore the Christian message, is Good News for the whole world.

(e)vangelism’s strength is passion leading to action; (E)vangelicals weakness is judgmentalism, a betrayal of evangelical faith.

Emergent—(based on ecological principles) embracing what has come before into something bigger. [God resembles the God of Process-Relational Theology, but with Jesus Christ central]

In The Secret Message of Jesus, McLaren challenges more directly the message of older Evangelicalism. Concentrates on Jesus’ radical kingdom message and calls the “church” to be “plotters of goodness.” Evangelism becomes 1. gathering for conversation. 2. Launching experiments. 3. Plotting Goodness.

Dan Kimball: Post Seeker-Sensitive or Vintage Christianity

Taking the criticisms of Christianity and Churchianity seriously. Redesigning Christian experiences.
The church is the people of God who gather with a sense of mission. Not a place where but a people who. “People come to church to have their needs met by others, volunteering only if they have any time to spare. As we create a culture in which people come to church, people generally are content to remain spectators.”

Thursday: Beyond Church Evangelism
Neil Cole: Organic Church: Growing Faith Where Life Happens

There is no split between sacred and secular space (Emerging Churches, Gibbs and Bolger)
Organic Church, Micro-Church, Multi-Site Church, House Church, Bar Church, Beach Church, Work Church, etc.

“A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith.” …Transformation, though, not attendance is the barometer. Making unchurched churched is not the objective

Making Relationships
Moving from starting a church to creating church planting churches
You shouldn’t have to leave life to go to church. Not building a regional church but making Jesus available to a whole region.

“In our first year, we began ten new churches. In our second year, Church Multiplication Associates started 18 new churches. The next year we added 52 new starts. The momentum was beyond our expectations. In 2002, we averaged two churches a week being started and had 106 starts. The following year we saw around 200 starts in a singe year. We estimate that close to 400 churches were started in 2004 but counting the churches has become a daunting task. At the time of this writing, there have been close to 800 churches started in 32 states and 23 nations around the world in only six years.” (average 16 people each; simple format reproduces easily). Lower the bar of how church is done and raise bar of what it means to be a disciple. Organic church is simple so it is informal, relational, mobile.
Smallest group in the organic church is the Life Transformation Group, two or three people (non-coed) who meet weekly to challenge one another to live an authentic spiritual life.

Church Is…Living Organism (learn from farmers not CEOs). Not in buildings or mindset of buildings. More than one-hour service one day a week. Meant to be decentralized. Meant to be in and through everyone.

Where to go to form relationships? Middle class wealthy educated suburbs? Cole says you will have a hard time planting organic churches there. Good soil often found in the “fear factor zone” where you are afraid to go and be….Starting not in your own home but in the home of another

Multiplication doesn’t mean splitting up groups intentionally. It is natural byproduct of intimacy. Multiply healthy disciples, then leaders, then churches, and finally movements. Scripture instructs to make disciples who make disciples not to make churches.

DNA = (D)ivine Truth [RR: Jesus reflects God’s loving freedom]. (N)urturing relationships [RR: Go deep together]. (A)postolic mission. [RR: Go out in teams]

Become Epidemic [Leaven in Jesus’ parable].

Thanks for perservering through the long post. I will be picking up on bits and pieces from above and posting more specifically on them later, and hope you will do the same.