Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Revolutionary Churches

It's a phrase floated in the comments at Andrew Jones blog entry Emerging Church Hammering 1.0 in response to his discussion of an ETS paper. See another review at the A-Team blog. Andrew likes the term Barnanian, as a concept that is bigger than "emergent" but includes "emergent." Home churchers comment. Lots of criticism of traditional church start up costs. Money seemingloy poured down the drain for a church plant in France is an example given; six missionaries, several years, a congregation that can't support itself.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Alchemist's Tale by John Granger

The Alchemist's Tale by John Granger is a good read on the symbolism behind Harry Potter. "John Granger is an Orthodox reader and the author of The Hidden Key to Harry Potter (Zossima Press). His address at the Nimbus 2003 symposium on Harry Potter, held in Orlando in July, was voted best paper by the participants."
I think his orthodox viewpoint helps understand HP. He concludes his paper thus..."The great irony in the objections that Rowling’s books undermine or violate the tenets of the Christian faith is that her books offer initiation, not into the occult, but into the symbolist worldview of revealed faiths (and sacramental religions specifically) and the dominant symbols and doctrines of traditional Christianity. Ignorance of alchemy and the larger traditions of English literature—not to mention the Christian understanding of the relations of faith and secular culture—has caused many to turn away a great help, perhaps providential, in the trouble and struggle we have to prepare our children for fully human, which is to say “spiritual,” lives."
He has many articles at his home page Hogwarts Professor.

Harry Potter Resources and Theories

La Shawn Barber’s Corner � Harry Potter Resources and Theories
I confess, I enjoyed the books and ths speculation of what happened in book 6 at this blog. Make sure you read the comments too.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Read this story today. I love stuff like this. God bless the Freegans, every one of them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

House Church - The New Testament Model?

Alot of what I'm reading at house church advocate sites make a big deal about how the 1st century church did it. I haven't seen a discussion on whether this is descriptive or prescriptive. I think its descriptive. I think there are abundant reasons to consider Simple Churches but Biblical command isn't one of them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

TallSkinnyKiwi: House Churches

I don't want Andrew Jones' title House Churches Have No *** Appeal on my blog to attract anything weird or get me categorized in some WebSpider's pornography grouping, so I censored his title.

Anyway, I'm starting to learn that my proposal for the post-emerging church doesn't look a whole lot different from a regional/monthly gathering of home/simple/organic/micro church. So I'm researching it on the web.

Places I am reading or about to read so far include
CMA not the Christian Missionary Alliance
NT Restoration Foundation
and Christian Home Church Network
There is also an Amazon book list called House Church: Essential Books for the Movement
If my readers have any feedback for me on these links and these orgs let me know. Thanks. If there are more links i should know about tell me in the comments where they are and why i should know about them and i'll move them up into a new post.

Moreland v. Franke on Non-Foundationalism

The A-Team Blog: Moreland v. Franke on Non-Foundationalism. This is stuff for big brains, but the ramifications throughout the church affects all sized brains.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church part 4

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church Part 4

Let me make a leap in this discussion regarding authenticity. Since I’m so philosophically unsophisticated, I’m not quite getting the philosophical rejection of Foundationalism and the embrace of the post-mod metanarrative contamination by the story teller blah-blah-blah. So if I want to be part of an authentic Christian community I’m not sure how far it can progress if the authenticity of God’s letter to us is in doubt. In Nehemiah 8 the Levites who assisted Ezra made the Law of God clear and gave meaning so the people could understand what was being read, v.8. A well led small group makes progress with some meandering yet doesn’t drive off the cliff theologically. The small group leader, shepherd, facilitator trusts the Holy Spirit to guide his people, and embraces the Priesthood of all believers, yet always remains on guard for wolves who come to destroy and angels of light who will bring apostasy. To rip Paul out of context, anything is allowable but everything isn’t beneficial. But in order to focus on what’s beneficial a leader needs to have foundational principles to work from.

One of these café churches I pointed to yesterday refers to ministry leaders as “Waiters.” It’s intriguing and lacks religious baggage yet loses something that the Church added to the concept of deacons. Servant leaders in church are not waiters in the sense that the wish of the people is their command. Instead they are more like Nutritionists. Servant leaders provide what is healthy and needed and do not provide what is unhealthy. Deacons/servant leaders/nutritionists/facilitators/shepherds study the manual/love letter/field guide and interact with God and evaluate their subjective interaction by the objective, foundational document and model all of that. That is my single sentence summary of the letters to Timothy and Titus which are prescriptive forms of the descriptive life of Jesus.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church Part 3

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church part 3

So how does this tie into the emerging church? I think this model addresses the legitimate concerns without letting go of “that which we have received” (1 Cor. 15:3) nor calling into question the “elementary truths of God’s word all over again.” (Heb. 5:12)

What issues are legitimate?

Community: Hopefully, this is obvious in the Nehemiah 8 model. But as I’ve complained in very early blog posts, I’m concerned with the health of a church that is mono-generational. It’s ironic that a group can point fingers at a mono-cultural church yet not notice their narrow age range. So cultural elitism needs to be avoided both ethnically as well as generationally. Multiculturalism isn’t realistically achievable in every location,  but multi-generational is in any location. I found this church in Australia…
There is CHAOS CHURCH “(kid friendly church) sunday mornings @ 11:00-ish glen and ruth's place” which I want to believe includes the kids in the service. Although, presenting a church as chaotic seems to be defiant of 1 Cor 14:33.

I get many hits when I search on Café church but these pretty much seem like hippie Jesus coffee houses repackaged. I think part of the reasons these have a short season is the monogenerational default. Although they may provide an evangelistic entry point for pre-Christians, they can’t provide for children nor provide elders who have a lot of wisdom to impart. Background ambient music and ambient art and bean bag chairs are mostly for teens and twenties. Here are some recycled coffeehouse fellowships…

'Cafechurch is about a group of christians who want to enjoy church and each other through the challenge of community. We meet weekly in a cafe where we share our faith in a forum that is informal and interactive.” They’ve learned two important lessons.

Lots of how to stuff here and here

The Lantern Arts Centre is another weakened form I’m not enthused by. It supports the Cottage Beck Café church whose list of values I can agree with half of.

Another value of the emerging church is authenticity. I’m just not sure how that plays out in large emerging churches where people in their 20s can slip in, be entertained and taught, and they slip out. I’m not sure how it works in a small church over 20 people. Is 12 the limit for authentic relational gatherings?

I’ll stop here for today...
to be continued

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church part 2

Thanks to Anonymous for telling me about his or her church. It sounds really cool. I’m more than welcome to hear all the bad things about this idea. Please feel free to anonymously post. I hope Anonymous returns with a website for their church. One concern I see with that church is its size limit.

An appealing aspect to me about the “retreat format church” is its scalability. This can “feel” the same with 10 people or a thousand, which was at least the crowd size Ezra was dealing with. No matter how big the crowd, its still you, a dozen others, including a trained table facilitator and the Pastor. Hopefully, new facilitators are being trained to prevent burnout of the others and to provide for growth. I think the expectations on facilitators could be high. Would they be able to care for people at their table in the following week by prayer, calls and visitation? Can a mid-week meeting between Sr. Pastor and facilitators/elders/deacons provide sufficient interaction and encouragement and dialogue? What would be the practical limit on the size of the fellowship? Maybe this is community dependent. Here in New England, megachurches do not flourish. But I’m hoping that this model is easily reproducible and could birth daughter churches easily.

One of the secrets of Chuck Smith’s Calvary Chapels, after the blessing of the Holy Spirit, is the verse by verse expository preaching. Former drug addicts can teach with the Bible’s table of contents as their lectionary. Three point sermons and concise outlines are not the hall mark of the Calvary Chapel pastor.

Another thing that appeals to me about a “seminar format church” is the safety of the practice of the gifts of the Spirit. I am a charismatic. I do speak in tongues. In a table format, people can risk their gift and get feedback from their table.

This safety in the table also allows more specific prayer for each other. I don’t know how confession would work, because of the inclusion of children at the table. I would expect confessional exhibitionism or tabloid testimonies wouldn’t be a threat. And while familiarity may also bring safety, I’d also want to encourage people to change their tablemates after a month to avoid cliques and ghettoes.

I’m already used to a weekly Communion option in my church. I think it would be good to have the elements at each table for a time of communion.

I hope to post next about its tie in with emerging po-mo people.

Thank You Veterans

This is a short history of Veterans Day. President Wilson started it in 1919, a year after the Treaty of Versailles finally concluded WWI. I'm currently reading The First World War by John Keegan. I've read alot on the US Civil War and WWII and I figured I needed to close the gap. I was shocked at how similar WWI tactics and weapons were to the Civil War. Then again it's shocking how far they advanced in 4 years.
Thank you Veterans.

An Old Model for the Post-Emerging Church part 1

I am just hoping that I'm the first to coin the phrase "post-emerging church."

The model that many churches employ is a lecturer/class format. This is the format often seen in the Gospels and Acts by Jesus, Sermon on the Mount, and Peter, post-Holy Spirit fall, and Paul, when that poor boy fell asleep and fell out the window. However there were other formats that they employed. Jesus and Paul were recognized as teachers, we don't know how, and were invited by the synogogue rulers to give a reading and share with the congregation. Always they received immediate and sometimes violent feedback from those locations. Dialogue seems to have been normal rather than monologue. No doubt conversation between teacher and students occurs in Pedagogical churches today but I'm sure is inversely proportional to the teacher/student ratio. All of us have been in classrooms with more than 30 students and less than 10 and have appreciated the difference. Sometimes we want the anonymity in a big class and sometimes we need the intimacy.

I've been reflecting on Nehemiah 8.

1By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that GOD had commanded for Israel.

2So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women--everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. 3He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened--they were all ears--to the Book of The Revelation.

4The scholar Ezra stood on a wooden platform constructed for the occasion. He was flanked on the right by Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, and on the left by Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam.

5Ezra opened the book. Every eye was on him (he was standing on the raised platform) and as he opened the book everyone stood. 6Then Ezra praised GOD, the great God, and all the people responded, "Oh Yes! Yes!" with hands raised high. And then they fell to their knees in worship of GOD, their faces to the ground.

7Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, and Pelaiah, all Levites, explained The Revelation while people stood, listening respectfully. 8They translated the Book of The Revelation of God so the people could understand it and then explained the reading.

9Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, "This day is holy to GOD, your God. Don't weep and carry on." They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.

10He continued, "Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don't have anything: This day is holy to God. Don't feel bad. The joy of GOD is your strength!"

11The Levites calmed the people, "Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don't be upset."

12So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.

The Message

It’s a meeting for all who are able to understand (v.2). The Word is read aloud (v.3). They worship God together (v.6). A bunch of teachers were among the people explaining the Word to the people (v.8). The people responded to the Word of God emotionally (v.9) and practically (v.12).

I’ve experienced this in church retreats and Intervarsity retreats and small group home Bible studies. But I don’t know if any church does this on a Sunday morning. I’m envisioning a Sunday morning in a school cafeteria with benches or a dozen chairs around tables. Every table has a trained facilitator welcoming any and all who come to sit with them, preferably not all of the same people sit at the same table every week. The tables have songsheets for those songs for the day. Instruments are simple and not necessarily amplified. Perhaps people are encouraged to bring their instruments so they can play along from their tables. Worship in song lasts about 40 minutes. Then an inductive Bible study ensues at every table prompted by the Lead Facilitator. The Lead Facilitator is equivalent to a Sr. Pastor, Chief Elder, Presbyter in responsibility except for the responsibility to monologue for the next 40 minutes. Instead this person develops a study that progresses through the Bible, teaching the whole Counsel of God, that was tried out earlier in the week on the Table Facilitators. Table Facilitators are equivalent to elders and deacons and small group Bible study leaders. They know how to keep a group on task without quenching the Holy Spirit without dominating the conversation or letting anyone else dominate.

It can be done with questions already developed such as found in Zondervan’s Serendipity Study Bible, which comes from Serendipity House, or a little more in depth like a Kay Arthur Precept study, but not as simplistic as a spoon fed fill in the blanks for the next 45 minutes. Not that fill in the blanks should be excluded since you need to keep the 6 year olds participating. They can understand. They should sit with their parents. They probably should have worksheets to help them. I don’t think toddlers should be excluded either. Perhaps there could be a table in the room for the ones whose parents can’t handle them, but they wouldn’t be out of sight or sound. Maybe a craft table. I expect this to be a noisy church service with all tables engaged in discussion of the day’s passage. Multiple Bible versions should be available at the tables. All would benefit from tea and coffee and orange juice at their tables and maybe some fruit and pastry. In effect, the room becomes a large gathering of small groups. This works in retreats and I wonder if anyone does this now for their Sunday service.

I think this offers little culture shock for the curious Western Hemisphere unchurched person. Many people are familiar with a seminar format. The Head Pastor keeps the study moving along and provides extra information that enables a better study such as maps or graphs or definitions. Every study opens with introductory questions that enable strangers to learn about each other. Every person can make observations of the text. And all can make a personal application. Sometimes the Pastor might teach the entire time by way of introduction to a new book or to read an entire Epistle....

OK, enough for today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

57 channels of church and nuthin's on

Certainly, the emerging church crowd brings legitimate issues to the table. The issues however aren't necessarily new, but the solutions haven't been necessarily satisfactory for those seeking new ways to do church. Unfortunately, as any reader of this blog will know, some of the proposed solutions, in my opinion, not only are lacking but can be downright spiritually dangerous. But who is doing it well? If people are producing eternal fruit under different formats then many are doing it well. I have no problem with all the different channels or flavors of church.
My blend starts with the one I grew up in the
Plymouth Brethren continues into my college exerience at UConn, where I grew spiritually under the influence of Intervarsity ) and the one I chose after graduation, a Vineyard which is charismatic and is now a Calvary Chapel where I am an elder and enjoy sitting under a verse by verse exposition through the entire Bible. I teach classes there and am currently facilitating a home hosted mid-week Bible study.
The desire for community isn't unique to the emerging church, Jesus hippies were doing it and still are in cell churches like Xenos and Dove with whom my neighbor is affiliated. A wiki article differentiates between
home churches and cell based churches. I'm also a father of 3 children and am very interested in a movement seen in Baptist circles lately called an intergenerational church with no age-segregated Sunday school. They are also known as Family Integrated Churches, read some more here. I also have been influenced by Bill Hybels story of wanting to bring his friends to church but watching them paralyze in such a foreign environment then desiring to carry over the successful methods of youth ministry into adult ministry. The emerging church has similar history and its leadership has common bonds in Youth Specialties. I'm endeared to the priesthood of all believers and enabling the development of leaders without arm twisting. I like minimal organizational structure, but do not think the PoMo, "fluid, task-specific, matrix leadership" concept is Biblical. I've been translating the Pastoral Epistles of late and you can't get around the edict for ordained leadership. The olders in the faith need to be guiding the youngers, which comes back around to the Intergenerational Thing.
Something from the emerging church that resonates with me is the objection to the high cost hurdle of a new church plant. How does a church get planted? My friend Eric thinks about that too.
Since I'm totally white trash with a "low-church" life, I have little concern about ancient future stuff or candles or high church liturgy. It's never been part of my life with God so I don't see the need for it. I would fear bringing my unsaved co-workers to something that involved such huge culture shock.

So if I were to plant a church what would it look like? What would I model it after? Is there something that can accomodate all these influences? Do either of my 2 readers know of a church that does this already? Is there another flavor? I will tell you my idea in the next post, unless something real exciting happens between then and now or the Lord returns r something like that.