I’ve also been checking out a conversation with my emergent kiwi mate titled,’Praise God from whom all economies of scale flow ‘ and added my tid-bit too. Here it is cut & pasted for your convenience.
I think that in the past, modern Christendom was so much part of the cultural tapestry of our societies ( NZ, Aus, Canada, USA, Europe etc. ), church was a natural part of that landscape. That religious fabric is being worn away as our societies are moving from a modern to some kind of post- modern fashion. Another way of saying it is that once Christendom was like a sea that covered our societies landscapes and now it’s been reduced to pools, which are getting smaller, and there is a kind of amalgamation occurring – formation of mega churches. Among other things, Mega churches are reflective of our consumeristic culture where we can shop for all our spiritual goods and services in one place – a spirituality of entitlement. It also serves as a ‘ watering hole ‘ in the midst of a perceived dry , barren and dangerous landscape. What we might be seeing is the last ‘ Hurrah ‘ of modern Christianity before the pool dries up. Meanwhile, our societies are becoming more distant.
Our context is changing and the Church along with the Gospel must be contextualized as we engage new societal fashions or landscapes that are forming.
This is where the ‘ Emergent ‘ expressions of Church have a place. In short, I believe that we must emphasize a local – ‘ indigenous ‘ , wholistic, visible presence of Church. The local church must be recovered but perhaps more reflective of the neighbourhood that it finds itself in. By indigenous I mean we must study that context and seek to ‘ translate ‘ church and the gospel to it’s surroundings – not synchronize but contextualize, there’s a difference. I say wholistic because we need to dismantle our compartmentalized approach to faith – what we eat, where we shop, justice for the poor, environmental issues, to name a few, are growing concerns in our transforming culture – do we have a counter cultural voice here ? I say visible because we are supposed to be a shining light. for example, I personally am not in favour of house churches. I’ve been a part of one and I found it to be quite insular, self absorbed and at times elitist… Not to mention, void of eclesiology. And for the most part, invisible…. Steve I like the fact that you belong to ‘ Opawa ‘ Baptist church. It speaks of locality and it has a visible presence. It’s ongoing challenge will be to contextualize, become a indigenous expression of Church there. Steve, if your church was to close down tomorrow, would the rest of the community of Opawa miss you ?… Or even notice ?
Who will lead the revolution ?… I’m not sure if its a revolution, maybe more of a re-definition. It will be guys( or Women ) like you Steve, visionaries and leaders who will boldly go where no modern Christian leader has gone before. I also think it won’t so WASP’y( White Anglo Saxon Protestant dominated ) and I’d also say that grass roots initiatives will become more the norm.
Those enmeshed in Consumerism will be happy with mega church and probably stay there. Some will become disillusioned and leave, others will embark on the journey, adventure, and mystery with you.
My initial thoughts,