The Emergent Church movement is taking the organized church by storm. Largely led by evangelical pastors of mega-churches, the Emergent Church movement reminds me of a middle-aged crisis for evangelical Christians. “So, we’ve built a big church, have big screens and cool sound systems, have cast off the robes for jeans, and now—go figure–we wake and mortality knocks. Even though we’re really big and have a multi-million dollar TV ministry, it seems that we have to contend with this figure named Jesus who was a first century mystic and prophet who could care less about the “bigger is better” myth. And surprise to us all, he seems to focus his ministry not on conversions, self-actualizing messages, or churches as shopping malls, but on social justice, compassion, and caring for the poor. He lives on the margins himself and is executed for political insurrectionism with only a few followers willing to go to the mat for him–and they are mostly his family members. What’s up with that?” (Sid’s analysis of the Emergent Church movement).
What I find compelling about the movement is that the mega-church mortality crisis is getting good press and right now it happens to be asking the pressing questions of what “Church” really means. Interesting. So, I am doing a five week series on Brady Boyd’s (a mega-church, Emergent Church movement pastor) Five Predictions for the Future of the Local Church (Huffington Post, 05/25/11). Boyd writes:
“In the past 10 years, I have witnessed remarkable changes in the local church and the coming decade will usher in even more transformations. While the ancient sacraments will remain, everything else is up for debate. How we worship, when we gather, what is said, who is leading and where the gatherings happen will all undergo scrutiny and debate.”
Here are his five predictions. I have written in italics what I think this represents:
- The places where we gather will become smaller: (For Church to have meaning, it must ultimately be in the business of Intimacy and Community).
- The church will be launched into real mission: (For the Church to have meaning, it must focus less on building up it’s own programs and live on margins with Jesus where people are hurting).
- The church will return to its ancient roots: (For the Church to have meaning, it must acknowledge what worked in the early church—prayer, love of neighbor, welcoming the stranger, providing a counter-culture world view—rather than buy into modern culture’s infatuation with “stuff” and the myth that consumerism buys you immortality).
- The church will talk more about really important issues: (The church has avoided the issues of money and sexuality with a passion but those issues are eating the church away from within through avoidance. Money and sex are integral to society and spirituality and must be approached head-on if the church is going to have any relevancy in people’s lives).
- The church will return to wonder and awe: (The progressive movement has left a spiritual hole in its effort to avoid the superstitious focus on miracles, healings, and unscientific teachings endemic of pre-Enlightenment Christianity and contemporary fundamentalism. Yet, all of Creation is filled with wonder and awe and, while scientific in nature, can be experienced as an essential component of our spiritual journey. The Church must recover that mystic sense of connection and beauty if it is going to have meaning today).
So, here are my sermon topics for June and the first of July—
- June 5th: Emergent Church: The Return to Intimacy and Community
- June 12th: Emergent Church: The Return to Living on the Margins
- June 19th: Emergent Church: The Return to What Wasn’t Broken to Begin With
- June 26th: Emergent Church: The Return to Sex and Money as Liberating Faith
- July 3rd: Emergent Church: The Return to Wonder and Awe
See you in Church,