I just read the article, "Five Streams of the Emerging Church, Key elements of the most controversial and misunderstood movement in the church today." You can read the article here . That title made me think about some comments made about the Orthodox church. There are people who have labeled it a "cult" because they light incense and sing antiphonal chants. That's just plain ignorance. All you have to do is to look at both the Old and New Testaments to see that all of that is historically based.
That makes me think of something else I don't like. I've heard people in my church say that repetitious praying is wrong. What do they think the Lord's Prayer is? What about Psalms? It's not the words and the prayers that are wrong. It's peoples' hearts and motives. As you can see, my thoughts are kind of here and there so this may not flow as well as it could. Bear with me.
I really don't like labels because it doesn't explain what the something is. Because of that, I've been spending the last week or two reading up on the labels "emerging, emergent, postmodern, postmodernism, modernism" and some others that escape me because it feels like my brain is too full. I'm finding it difficult to sort out all of my thoughts, but I will give it a shot. The article I referenced above did a fairly good job at explaining what the "emerging church" is. Why do they have to give it a name?
I also checked wikipedia here for a good definition of postmodernism. From what I can tell, it means that modern isn't necessarily the be all and end all and that tradition and the "old" way of doing things may actually be better sometimes. From wikipedia, "of, relating to, or being any of several movements (as in art, architecture, or literature) that are reactions against the philosophy and practices of modern movements and are typically marked by revival of traditional elements and techniques."
I am hungry for a decent church that is akin to the church my dad pastored from 1972 until 1985 (86?). It was a community of believers; a SMALL community. We weren't just a place you went to on Sundays, it was a complete part of our lives. We were entwined, all of us. When I think of The Fellowship, I think of training grounds. It was a place where you were being prepared to go out into the world. The churches around here just aren't like that. They have their small groups. They have the people who see each other every Sunday. They have their elder/pastors who take the high school kids out by the bars on Wednesday nights and tell them that they have to witness to people. I don't like that. I don't believe you should force that on anyone . . . the witnessing part. I don't like them saying that such and such a group of people won't be in Heaven because of their lifestyle or whatever. (I mean, come on, how can anyone play God and say that Mormons aren't going to Heaven?) That's just not right. We don't know and we can't know anyone's heart.
And that brings me to my next thought. Who came up with all the exclusionary stuff about Heaven? Have we misinterpreted the parable about getting a camel through the eye of a needle in talking about how hard it is to get into Heaven? What about Catholics who don't pray the same way as Protestants, i.e. asking Jesus into their hearts? And Mormons? What about people who love Jesus and follow him and treat others better than themselves but they haven't prayed that prayer? You can't tell me that they won't be in Heaven. What about people who've never heard of Jesus but who follow God and love Him?
I believe that we have to have a balance in our lives and in the Church as a whole. I don't think we should ONLY focus on social issues or missions or growth or whatever to the exclusion of everything else. We need to remember that The Church is the ENTIRE body of believers. I wish that we didn't have all of the divisiveness and factions that I think we have now. This group says that group is wrong and not the TRUE church and vice versa. We need to put our collective emphasis on serving God by serving others and, in the process, letting them know about His love for them. What's that old song we used to sing in high school . . . " . . . they will know we are Christians by our love . . . "
One of the things I liked about the article from Scot McKnight was what he said about the focus of The Church. He said, "I ask my fellow emerging Christians to maintain their missional and ecclesial focus, just as I urge my fellow evangelicals to engage in the social as well." I also liked what he had to say about living out your faith, not having it just be something you believe, but something that you act on, too. He says that the "emergent church" is "Praxis-oriented." He goes on to say, " The emerging movement's connection to postmodernity may grab attention and garner criticism, but what most characterizes emerging is the stream best called praxis—how the faith is lived out. At its core, the emerging movement is an attempt to fashion a new ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). Its distinctive emphases can be seen in its worship, its concern with orthopraxy, and its missional orientation."
When I read the stuff about the emergent church, it kept coming back to me. It's not a new idea at all. It epitomizes Mother Teresa. She loved God. She obeyed HIm. She served Him. She served others. She spread His message. Her focus was social, missional and ecclesial.
This is a fraction of what's been going through my head. As more of it congeals, I'll add more. I'm definitely interested in hearing what you have to say so if you'd like to leave me a comment, please do.