Monday, October 23, 2006

Hal Taussig's new book a good first step

"A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grass Roots" by Hal Taussig, pastor and professor, is a good first step in moving liberal Christians toward the emergent and organic and church-planting churches movement necessary for its thriving in the century ahead.

The thrust of the book is about the new momentum for churches with a progressive Christian core, and for associations connected with progressive Christianity (except for the one I am most connected with, the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, founded in 1945, a long time before many of these other progressive Christian associations, but since we hang out in covenant with non-Christian Unitarian Universalists, it seems, that or unfamiliarity with us (to our shame), we don't get mentioned. But I digress.

The book is similar in tone to Diana Bass's Christianity for the Rest Of Us (and I am still going to be blogging on it more comparing it with some other recent books), but it goes more into depth into the emergent church movement with a few of the churches profiled. It lists 1,000 progressive churches but profiles sixteen more indepth.

It goes into some analysis of why progressive Christian churches have not been growing, into the decline of the mainline church analysis, and, lo and behold, it actually has a small chapter in it devoted to planting progressive churches (we are still waiting for the whole book on that to be published, complete with ecclesiology and corresponding theology for it).

I have some qualms about what is in here, but right now wanted to say it should be on all the library shelves of those interested in progressive Christianity.

He says progressive churches shouldn't try to get started in rural areas or metro areas under 100,000 people, and that's a good point if you are trying to start "a" progressive Christian church that looks like what people think of as church in the attractional model with building, and minister, etc. No reason why in the organic model you can't start church planting communities of much smaller number just about anywhere, rural or small urban area.

He says you shouldn't try to plant where there already is a progressive Christian church. Not sure about that. I think strength will begat strength, and also help to reach out to micro-church niches of progressive Christians, many of whom don't know they are progressive Christians yet because they aren't Christian yet. They are unchurched or de-churched. Taussig's realism, which is important, is still grounded in the model of "church" as it is.

His other points:
1. focus on participatory worship---good point, part of emergent movement, helps breakaway from church default mode.
2. help people think clearly and analytically--generally not a big fan of that, since I am coming from the uber-sphere of it in Unitarianism, but I am finding out that this is a big draw in my area, helping people see the bible in understandable ways....all of course, for me, as a prelude in helping them encounter it in very poetically and perhaps irrational, mystic ways.
3. advocate for full participation of women and GLBT folks---a no-brainer, otherwise why call yourself either progressive or Christian :)
4. Christianity is not the only or best religion---well, I don't know. Progressive Christians certainly talk about God being found in other religions, and that's good, but a failure to actually state that you think it is the 'best" religion? I don't have any problems with that. I think it is the best, not only for me but for the world, though in its present incarnations it vexes me to no end. I don't have a problem stating that it is the best because I know I don't speak for God, thank God, and my humility and finitude grants me the freedom to nevertheless speak what I think is the best, and to make some judgments.
5. committment to justice and equality--again, a no brainer. but this is particularly because it is where the unchurched and dechurched are.

His don't of planting a progressive church:
1. don't worship as business as usual---excellent
2. do not defend orthodoxy---don't be an anti- negative kind of church, but positive in tone, i think is his point. Good point.
3.do not defend male or heterosexual privilege--again, no brainer.
4. he states the need to have "publcized events."--to the extent that he is referring to events such as "signature events" in a community, this is great advice. If it just turns into publicizing message because there are people out there "looking for you" not so sure it is so sound. Again, the ace in the hole is creating not just "a progressive church" but church-planting churches. Of the ones mentioned in his book, I still didn't see a focus or interest on that among them. It is about finding ways to incarnate and give yourself away, over and over, as a church.

I wish I could take Diana Bass's book which talks about recapturing and updating and owning again many of the ancient traditions of Christian faith as part of progressive Christian churches, but which leaves out except in vague passing, that church planting is one of those most ancient of Christian practices--add in Taussig's book to hers because it explores the increasing influence of the emergent church on progessive Churches in ways that, he says, are making them different from the "liberal mainline" of the 50s and 60s. And then add that final chapter or call to arms about taking the next full step and creating and incarnating church-planting church movements among us that are redefining the image people have of church itself.

3 comments:

Matt said...

This was a really interesting post - someone needs to give this book to the Unitarian leadership in Britain!

Ron said...

Thanks Matt, and for your own witness and ministry there. Of course, one of these days, I hope to come across the pond for my own swing of church meetings and talks, and hope to catch up with you there.
But in the meantime, I am curious for more comment. What did you find in particular the most interesting relative to the British Unitarian situation?

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,酒店,