Today was at an event organised by the Church of Scotland called ‘Emerging Church – Centre Meets the Fringe’ in a new church development in Gilmerton, Edinburgh (domain of the inimitable Paul Beautyman). We’re hearing about ‘emerging church’ from people who are ‘on the edges’.
In some ways the day so far has been inspiring and in others ways frustrating.
Firstly, it’s a Church of Scotland event and despite the large minority of people here from out with the CofS it’s a bit Church of Scotland centric. That said, the issues that they face are the same as every other denomination.
The tension between denominational church and the expressions of faith out there in the wild was very evident as is the thought that ‘emerging church’ is just for children and young people, that 11am is a rubbish time for a service and that power is both a problem and an opportunity.
But what is also evident is that there are people around who are thinking deeply about what the church is, how we express faith and how the ‘church’ of the future might look and be.
I’ll try and get some proper thoughts together later but for now I’m inspired by Paul Thomson’s vision of Christians in the wild, being followers of Christ where they are. Groups of people who share a dream coming together to make that dream a reality. Grasping that thought that the Good News is for the poor, that people outside the institution still have faith and are managing to resource their spiritual journey just fine thank you very much.
What’s my role in all of that? I work for a denomination. I try my best to support, challenge and encourage it. To help it’s congregations to develop and wrestle with how to be church here and now.
But part of me has disengaged. Part of me wonders what the Sunday morning thing is all about (you might have detected some of this in yesterday’s sermon). My questions are similar to the ones voiced here by Paul and by Doug Gay. What is the church? How can we reclaim some of that rich heritage of the word church? Where does liturgy fit and how can it resource a richer experience? How do we understand heracy and orthodoxy?
Questions, questions. I like the questions.