What’s Emerging?

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.

4 thoughts on “What’s Emerging?”

  1. Dear Stewart,happened on your blog about three hours ago. Currently in a frenetic time pressure but have enjoyed and agreed with what I’ve read so far. Got to rush but I’ll be back –  as the Good Austrian says!

  2. Sounds interesting Stewart…I have been thinking a bit recently about this centre/fringe thing… I think we need both- but I am very glad no longer to be part of the centre (most of the time!) large organisations just gather too much baggage to be able to move anywhere easily. The COS seems to me as an outsider at least, to be like a grand dad trying to break dance! The result may well be a dance, but it will look very different to the stuff that happens on the street.Not that I can break dance (although I can break things dancing!)But as per earlier conversations, people on the fringe are very vulnerable… and it is so easy to get lost in the mess of this wonderful world that we are called to live within.Look forward to hearing more.BlessingsChris

  3. I’ve had recent experience of coming out of my Pentecostal Pastor role into a free-fall, simple house church expression which has allowed my wife and I to hang out with other denominations where I have ministerial colleagues. One such church has been the CoS. We also dropped in on the Church Without Walls conference at Ingliston earlier this year. My observation would be that some practitioners within the CoS speak in a very radical way, in terms of engaging with commnuity beyond the building and to a certain extent have done so with a variety of expressions ranging from homework clubs to full-on community services. However, that is all still done in the context of big machine doing something whilst hanging on to it’s structure.It remains [ albeit disguised ] a ‘Come To’ rather than a ‘Go To’ model. What is needed [ imho ] is for the legacy or institutional churches to liberate their freer members and thinkers to BE amongst communities in such a way that the loving relational dynamic between individuals who love Jesus for all their worth are given the opportunity to simply touch lives with no agenda at all, no projects or declarations, simply a going out amongst friends and families and neighbours. That way any whiff of power/control or politics will not be in evidence and hopefully people will be reached by love. I have found that many non-churched people are very wary of “The Church”, and yet have many questiosn and issues which they are keen to explore, but only with real people. While ever the churches are percieved as flawed machinery interested only in money and control, we are not only alienating large sections of the public but also denying our own people the joy of participation and fulfillment in following the Great Commission.The denominations have much still to do, have done many great things till now, but there needs to be a depth, breadth and efficiency in these days which can only come by trusting the soldiers and freeing them up to be Jesus every day, every where, every way they can be inspired to do so.Sorry if that’s a bit garbled…as usual, time is limited.YzDave

Comments are closed.