Monday, May 23, 2005

The "Emerging" Church

Had a phone conversation with a pastoral colleague who is wrestling with his congregation over life and death issues. No, they're not arguing over the color of the carpet, whether they sing hymns or praise choruses. They are having a drag out, hair pulling struggle over whether the people in that church want to live or die. This is a common theme of many of my conversations these days. There are countless pastors who are lured to serve churches with the promised desire to change, grow, and reach unchurched people, only to discover after they get there nothing could be further from the truth.

Churches in decline want to grow for sure, but never at the risk of change. Churches in decline want new people to come fill in the holes in the sanctuary of those who have died or moved to Florida as long as their view of the beautiful stained glass isn't obstructed. Churches in decline want a new pastor to come in and "shake things up" and the moment people get a little cranky, they resort back to their cultural values that insists that happy church members are more important than effective church members.

We read alot these days about the so-called "emerging church". Candles. Post-modern worldview. Authentic spirituality. Based on the largest segment of the church population, I don't think this is the "emerging church" at all. The Emerging Church is comprised of churches like the one my friend serves. Emerging Churches are churches who recognize that they can no longer do business as usual, but they are afraid to do anything different. Emerging Churches don't burn candles and pray ancient prayers, they fight about worship style until the tranditionalists drive out the non-traditionalist or become too tired to keep fighting. Emerging churches aren't interested in authentic spirituality, they are interested in a "wash n wear" spirituality that you can throw in the wash the moment it gets a little soiled.

With apologies to all those young pastors who think meeting in warehouses, sitting on couches in worship, and looking at images on screens constitutes the emerging church. The real "emerging church" in America is in the midst of the fight of its life. There will be a number of casualties along the way. Many churches will go out of business when those who win the battle discover that they still lost the war. If we are not willing to serve this kind of "emerging" church, who will?


At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally know of an individual on some search committee who actually stooped so low as to 'entice' a Sr. Pastor to come to their church by telling them that their church wanted to reach out beyond the four walls in persuit of the unchurched.

As it turns out, this individual was misguided by some church surveys (which were completed by mostly non-traditionalists in the church). However, the call to this paticular pastor was clearly ordained of God and will have a profound lasting impact on the church to the good of the Kingdom.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger BJBergfalk said...

Sometimes God uses human folly and ignorance when we're not looking...


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