Posts Tagged “christian”

If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run. – John Bingham

Bingham was a passionate advocate of getting people out running.  He was fed up with the snobbery that said you were only a runner if you could run fast.  He wanted people to run.  And he wanted them to know that they were runners.

I wonder if we feel the same about being Christian?

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Substance

In his comment on part 1 of this little series of posts John grasps on of the key criticisms of both Emerging Church and of Youth Work… lack of substance.

I often hear that both are prone to style over content.  Both suffer from a tendancy towards the flash and attractive.  I’ve seen it and can hold my hand up and say that I’ve also done it.

But I’m not sure that lack of substance is a fair criticism of either Emerging Church or Youth Work done well.

At the heart of both seems to be a desire for relationship.

Youth work has struggled to get past the attractional model where we put on some big fancy event that lots of young people will come to and hope that for some strange reason that will be enough to get them to stay for the rather naff games and poor attempts at bible study where we tell them what the Bible should mean to them.

Emerging Church is informed by a similar process where big church for grown ups had a go at being all interesting and attractive.  It was called ‘Alternative Worship’.  Churches discovered that presentation mattered and that people wanted to be involved but many of the ‘Alternative Worship’ experiments were little more than a reformatted version of the standard church service.  People saw through it and discovered that, like attractional youth work, all that glitters is not gold.

Substance is the goal for both.  Depth of relationship, participation, learning, sharing and growing together seem to be the key factors in youth work… and in emerging church.

The cycle has been the same.  Attractional followed by a move to deeper more substantial communities.

I wonder if that is because those who now inhabit leadership positions in the church and experienced the attractional youth work model are now being joined by a younger generation of leaders who have grown up on incarnational youth work and who experienced youth groups where they were loved and valued and experienced opportunities to know God?

It seems to me that both areas are rediscovering something that has been lost.  Both youth work and emerging church are pursuing models where stillness, spiritual practices, relationship building and learning in a collaborative manner are all valued.

These seem to me to be the practices that grow from the values of community work I outlined in part 2.

It also grows from a sense of disconnection.  I heard Mark Lau Branson talk about how he has abandoned the lectionary because the people in his church don’t understand the context of these weekly fragments of scripture as they jump around the highlights of the Christian story.  That seems to bear out my own experience and those of many worship leaders I meet.

I think that’s partly the fault of the attractional youth work model which focused on highlights, particularly from the Gospel because that was the most important bit and the rest didn’t matter much.

Church has been the same.  Scotland has never been big on Bible Study for adults.  The 15 minute sermon on a Sunday morning has been the main teaching for the majority of adults.  In any other context 15 minutes a week would be laughable.  Can you imagine trying to learn a language, to play an instrument or to build a relationship by spending 15 minutes a week on it?

Youth work is about building community.  Church should be too.  Emerging Church seems to be up for going deeper… but still needs to guard against the ‘cool for the sake of it’ phenomena which happens when any group of creative people get together… apparently.emerging

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Tomorrow afternoon I’ve been invited to be part of a panel at International Christian College to discuss what the Emerging Church is, what can be learned from it (by the evangelical church I guess) and what the downsides of emerging church are.

Along with me there will be people on the panel who know actual stuff, so any help, ideas, thoughts or general prayers or good last minute excuses would be welcome so I don’t look like a complete idiot (again).

Thanks. (off to look up what hermeneutics are/is/were/taste like!)

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Here’s a plea for all those people who are dots on the clustr map around the world.

We’re working on a project for Pentecost to collect lots of languages reading Acts 2:1-6. So, if you speak anything other than English and could record yourself reading this short passage and email it to me as an MP3 please let me know using the box below and I’ll get back to you with an email address to send it to. The link takes you to Bible Gateway where you can find the passage in loads of languages. Thanks!

[contact-form]

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Easter Blessings to all.  I’m off to Drumchapel to share in Easter worship and I’ve chosen Mark’s version of the story:

‘When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ ”

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.’

God is on the loose!

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