I actually had time today to do some of the things that I have been wanting to do. The reason for that was that I was suppose to be studying for my Hebrew Final on Monday Night. So instead I chose to do things that would help me avoid them. On that note I ran across the Presbyterian Outlook that was on my desk. It is a almost weekly magazine that is pretty well balance. With that I mean that it takes neither the progressive or conservative points of view. It does well staying neutral, at least as best as one can. Anywho… I ran across an article that stirred me. It was on the Church Unbound Conference that was held in July.Brian Blount, President of Union Theological Seminary was quoted in the article when he spoke as saying:“Well, what does an unbound church look like?” • The unbound church isn’t tethered to its safe space sanctuaries, but operates behind the enemy lines of poverty and social injustice.• The unbound church isn’t tethered to tradition, but builds upon tradition to create new traditions as it engages the world in new ways.• The unbound church isn’t tethered to just doing mission trips but has begun a journey that will recreate itself fully as a missional reality.• The unbound church isn’t tethered to the idea that church members ought all to look alike and think alike, but drags people of every physical hue and theological complexion into its spiritual and missional endeavors.• The unbound church doesn’t sit on the sidelines while politicians and lawyers and activists decide our social fate; it lives and operates as powerfully on a social and political battlefield as it does in a spiritual bubble.• The unbound church doesn’t just fight for issues that affect people in its neighborhoods or congregations, but is willing to exhaust itself and its resources on behalf of people it does not know, may never see, and will certainly never join.• The unbound church doesn’t fear fights that may cost it dearly, because the unbound church is free from fear and ready to follow Christ’s call into any and every draconian situation that is devouring God’s people.• The unbound church doesn’t do its high wire ministry act with a safety net, because it doesn’t fear falling before the dragon. It believes that no matter what happens, God will raise it up again.“Live unleashed. That is our calling.”All I can say is… wow. I wish I was there.
Jenn and I took several sessions in martial counseling several years ago. It was in a time when I was transitioning out of a church into a seminary. We were worried that the stress could put problems into our marriage and open up conflict. With that knowledge we decided to go to marital counseling on order to strengthen our communication within our marriage among other issues. The times that we went were alright, besides the rather lame exercises we were told to do. But something arose out of it. MY COMPETITIVE NATURE. Your thinking that counseling is not a win or lose exercises, apparently you are not in my head. I often joked who would win or lose in the session. Did I look better than her or was she the better one in that session. I even joked that if I began to lose, I would use the scorched earth policy, which means that I would foul the waters so bad, no one would look good. “If I was going down, so was everyone else”. Needless to say this idea did not sit well with my wife.As I was thinking of this tonight, I was thinking of the church. That we often look at many philosophies, ideas, or ministries as win or lose. And if we start to lose, everyone is going down with me. As I reflect on the previous couple of weeks it saddens me as individual churches and organizations square off against one another in attempt to get their point of view across. We do not need to live in a win or lose world on issues within our denomination, but most of all we do not need to create an atmosphere that is uninhabitable for everyone. Often we forget some of our theology, that has been in my head lately. The Kingdom of God is here but the full realization of it has yet to come. We, the church are the current embodiment the Kingdom, until Christ comes in full glory. Please do not destroy it.
I mentioned in a previous that I had not gotten to an article in the most recent Presbyterian Outlook that looks into the myths of Postmodernism. Myths of postmodernity and the Emergent Church. This article by a pastor that is in the thick of it is a nice layman approach to exploring the emerging church. It is written by a pastor that works in New Church Development in San Francisco. It brings to light issues/ myths that many traditional ministries see about the emerging church. That we are a flash in the pan or some right wing group. Rather we are leaders that are trying to approach church in a way that takes today’s culture mind. We are more than freaks and geeks, but look to help the church embrace culture while keeping Jesus at the center.
There is a weekly newsletter within the Presbyterian Church. Its is the Presbyterian Outlook. Presbyterian Outlook Article. There are more articles at this site including one from Bruce Reyes-Chow (www.reyes-chow.com) who has a great blog to check out. Sorry Bruce I haven’t got to your article yet. Occasionally I read through it to see what is going on in the denomination in the nation and the world. Overall it is a pretty good read. This week the theme is about the Emerging Church. I am surprised for several reasons. The first is that the Emerging Church is actually being recognized by the denomination. And secondly not in a negative light. That is until the letters tot he editor comes later this week.The emerging church comes in many different shapes, sizes, theology, and political beliefs. Not two are the same. There are the ones that meet in bars or community based. One can find the liberals that think the church as an institution should be abandoned and those that look much like a mainline church but act in a very different way. One thing binds them though. That being seeking Jesus as a community in a very different but real way.“And the appeal of Emergent thinking isn’t limited to young adults. “It’s for everyone who hates church,” one Presbyterian pastor said matter-of-factly. What she meant is: It’s for people who want an authentic encounter with God, and too often aren’t finding it in traditional congregations.”A key cornerstone in emerging thinking is that of authenticity and not blind faith. It creates in many way a multi-sensory approach combined with community to bring about a real sense of faith.It’s the force that has to be acknowledged. While some mainline congregations are open to innovation and change, others are not. “I long for that kind of community,” one Presbyterian pastor said over coffee. But in her congregation, “we really don’t want to be relational. We want to be nice to each other. But when it comes down to sharing our guts, our deepest thoughts, we’re not sure we want to do that.”Many think that one needs to either be mainline or emerging. That is untrue. The Presbyterian form of government (Book of Order) does not tell us that we need to be the frozen chosen. Rather it is “through Christ that the Church is called into being, giving it all that is necessary for its mission TO the world, for its building up, and for its service to God”. (G-1.0100b) It is our own polity that tells us that we should be everything necessary to serve the world and the church. It says nothing about being static and frozen. Many use the PCUSA catch-line without really understanding it. “To be reformed and always reforming”. We are not to be static but always changing with Christ at the center of it all.