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Revolution or evolution?

Revolution or evolution?

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Revolution or evolution?

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  1. Revolution or evolution? Considering the impact of 'emerging church' conversations on the mission and ecclesiology of established churches - Dr Dion Forster http://www.dionforster.com

  2. Outcomes: By the end of this session you should be able to: Attest to a clear understanding of the continued relevance of the Gospel of Christ for contemporary society. Articulate some understanding of how and why society is moving away from traditional models of the Church. Explain what some of the implications of this shift are. To offer some insight into alternative, and fresh, expressions of the Christian faith community (and relationship). Offer a case for Churches, and individual Christians, who deliberately and strategically incarnate themselves, and the Gospel of Christ, in their context for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the world.

  3. 1. Introduction Is there still a place for the Gospel of Christ in contemporary society? Do contemporary Christians, and the contemporary Church, have the courage and critical insight to make the necessary changes to effectively engage the world with the transformative truth of the Gospel of Christ?

  4. 2. Is the Church dying or simply changing? Churches 2005 48,328 - including 18,503 Anglican, 4,585 Catholic and 6,062 Methodist Churches 2050 (projection) 27,473 - including 4,014 Anglican, 3,359 Catholic and 2,037 Methodist

  5. A decline in Church attendance Church attendance in Britain is declining so fast that the number of regular churchgoers will be fewer than those attending mosques within a generation…. Ruth Gledhill’s commentary on the Christian research report on Church attendance in the UK (2008).

  6. Reasons for decline in membership and attendance Martin Wellings A ‘Spiritual’ understanding (when the ‘heart grows cold’) A cultural understanding (related particularly to secularization) Pragmatic reasons for Church decline No new members joining Existing members leaving the Church

  7. Church attendance by age

  8. Church attendance by age (under 15)

  9. The Copenhagen Consensus, the United Nations and the ‘average’ Church Brian McLaren… What are the ‘big issues’ in No wonder the world is giving up on the Church…

  10. George Barna The major changes in spiritual practice over the past half century have been largely window dressing. Pick a trend – mega churches, seeker churches, satellite campuses, vacation Bible school, children’s church, affinity group ministries (e.g., ministries for singles, women, men young marrieds) contemporary worship music, big screen projection systems, EFT giving, cell groups, downloadable sermons, sermon outlines in bulletins, Alpha groups. Al of the above have simply been attempts to rely on marketing strategies to perform the same activities in different ways or places, or with particular segments of the aggregate population.

  11. Perceptions about the Church… "Whenever I meet a Buddhist leader, I meet a holy man. Whenever I meet a Christian leader, I meet a manager." ~ Os Guiness "the media know what the story is before you do... and their story about the church is 2 things, conflict and decline.... if those are the grids through which everything is read, it's very hard to break through it. We try…” Archbishop Rowan Williams I don’t mind Jesus, but I don’t trust his wife [bride]… (comment by a skeptical friend). 60% of all Churches in America will die out by 2050 (Peter Brierley in Gibbs & Coffey 2005:20)

  12. Jesus needs NEW PR!

  13. Engaging God’s world! Preaching the truth without love is like giving someone a good kiss when you have bad breath. No matter how good your kiss is, all the recipient will remember is your bad breath! - Ed Silvoso

  14. Back to the question… Is the Church dying… Or is it simply changing?

  15. Christian Marketshare Mainline Denominations 1911-2001

  16. % Christians in SA: 1911-2001

  17. Whites Coloureds Church membership in population groups 1911-2001

  18. Pent/Charismatic Christian Marketshare AIC, Pentecostal, Other 1911-2001

  19. What makes the AIC and American style ‘Pentecostal / Charismatic’ Churches so popular? • They are evangelical (even if their gospel is not entirely good news). • They offer hope (particularly in addressing the most serious FELT needs of people): • Prosperity doctrine offers hope in poverty • Healing miracles and ministry offer hope in sickness • Contextually African (in AIC’s) • They have a strong entrepreneurial leadership… (see the sigmoid curve) whereas we face significant pressure to maintain our ‘culture’ (e.g., uniforms, orders of service, hierarchies) • They are ‘market oriented’ (changing in accordance with needs and pressures from outside), we are internally regulated (not responding to outside pressures and needs).

  20. Dying or changing?

  21. 3. Emergent, fresh and organic… I believe that Jesus Christ started the New Testament Church… He started it as a community of men and women with a mission, a new purpose for their lives. He gathered them, invested in them, and then commissioned them to go and live what he had lived among them. If we think of the Church as a celebration service that only happens in a building on Sundays, then Jesus doesn’t fit the model. We certainly won’t be able to call him ‘Pastor Jesus’…. If the Church is more dynamic than that; if indeed living like Jesus is how we should be and do Church, then thinking of Jesus and his band of followers as a Church community helps us have a more dynamic concept of what Church is all about. Floyd McClung in reference to his book ‘You see bones, I see an army: Changing the way we do Church’ (2008, Struik Christian publishers: Cape Town).

  22. The emerging church / conversation The emerging church favors the use of simple story and narrative, occasionally incorporating mysticism and/or charism. Members of the movement often place a high value on good works or social activism, sometimes including missional living or new monasticism. While some Evangelicals may emphasize eternal salvation, many in the emerging church emphasize the here and now. Some have noted a difference between the terms "emerging" and "Emergent." Whilst emerging is a wider, informal, church-based, global movement, Emergent refers to an official organization, the Emergent Village, associated with Brian McLaren, and has also been called the "Emergent stream.” Key themes of the emerging church are couched in the language of reform, Praxis-oriented lifestyles, Post-evangelical thought, and incorporation or acknowledgment of political and Postmodern elements. Many of the movement's participants use terminology that originates from postmodern literary theory, social network theory, narrative theology, and other related fields

  23. Trinitarian values and the impact upon community and discipleship. I suggest that perhaps the Emerging Church had found, or been led to a Trinitarian ecclesiology which had inspired a model, the values of which reflected God's desire for what the emerging church should be. This is what Volf is talking about in After our Likeness. A Church whose values reflect the Trinitarian God. This development appears not to have been a consciously mediated action, but to have emerged out of the experience and practice of those involved in the projects. Is this a God-led re-imagining of the Church? I believe that it is…

  24. 'The Mystical Communion Model of Church’ Not an institution but a fraternity. Church as interpersonal community. Church as a fellowship of persons - a fellowship of people with God and with one another in Christ. Connects strongly with the mystical 'body of Christ' as a communion of the spiritual life of faith, hope and charity. Resonates with Aquinas' notion of the Church as the principle of unity that dwells in Christ and in us, binding us together and in him. All the external means of grace, (sacraments, scripture, laws etc) are secondary and subordinate; their role is simply to dispose people for an interior union with God effected by grace.

  25. Post-Christendom and how it shapes mission and evangelism. “Let’s go to Church”, or “The Church needs a new coat of paint”. Orthodox Christian ecclesiology is clear that the Church (ekklesia – c.f. Matt 16:18) ‘Church’, as it is used in contemporary English, is an anglicised form of the Greek word kuriakē, meaning "of the Lord” (The Church is most likely a shortening of kuriakē oikia ‘house of the Lord’ which was first used in the writings of the Church Fathers). This understanding of Church denotes ‘a place’ (no longer ‘a people’) Participants in this movement assert that the incarnation of Christ informs their theology, believing that as God entered the world in human form, adherents enter (individually and communally) into the context around them, aiming to transform that culture through local involvement in it. This holistic involvement may take many forms, including social activism, hospitality, and acts of kindness

  26. Creative and rediscovered spirituality. Technology (such as Rob Bell’s nooma video series), neocharismatic contemporary worship, to more ancient liturgical practises and customs (such a labyrinths, monastic communities, Taize, and even indigenous and cultural expressions of spirituality such as Celtic, African and even secular spiritualities). Catholic, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Evangelical, and even Eastern faith communities. (Bede Griffiths, Abhishiktananda). The overarching emphasis, however, is to shift the emergent Christian from being a spiritual tourist (who is simply seeking spiritual experience) towards a reality of being a true spiritual pilgrim or deeply faithful disciple. The aim of such spiritualities is thus mission.

  27. The Kingdom of God and the Mission of the Church – evolution and revolution in the contemporary Church. • The missio dei ‘God’s mission’ (please refer to Forster 2008a:71ff. ‘What is Christian Mission?’) • ‘He sent his Son for this purpose and He sends the Church into the world… for the same purpose’ (van Sanders in Forster 2008:71) • What was Jesus’ mission? • cf. Lk 4:43, 4:18-19 - The Kingdom of God! • Is 11:6-9, Rev 21:3-5a. God’s eternal shalom a ‘peace that passes all understanding’

  28. The SAME mission in an ever CHANGING world "The gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address because the recipient is always changing his place of residence.” Graham Gray, Bishop of York

  29. Any suggestions for the way forward? We must change from: Living in the past to engaging with the present Market driven to mission-oriented Bureaucratic hierarchies to apostolic networks Schooling ‘professionals’ to mentoring servant leaders Following celebrities to encountering saints Dead orthodoxy to living faith (orthopraxy) Attracting the crowd to seeking the lost Belonging to believing Generic congregations to incarnational communities. Please read Church Next by Eddie Gibbs, and Reimagining Church by Frank Viola

  30. Revolution or evolution? • Ask yourself a few questions: • What constitutes most of the activity and preaching in your Church? • Does your Church do the same kind of things that Jesus did? • Do you find the kind of people that Jesus welcomed in your Church (i.e., people on the margins of society)? • When you listen to the people in your Church, or your minister’s sermons, do they sound like the kind of things that Jesus would say? • Is your Church actively establishing God’s Kingdom in your community?

  31. Some suggested reading Forster, DA, 2007 An uncommon spiritual path. The quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity. AcadSA publishers. Kempton Park. Forster, DA & Bentley, W (eds) 2008a Methodism in Southern Africa. A celebration of Welsyan mission. AcadSA publishers. Kempton Park. Forster, DA & Bentley, W (eds) 2008b What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society by Southern African Methodists. Gibbs, E & Coffey, I 2005. Church next: Quantum changes in Christian ministry. Inter Varsity Press. Leicester, UK. Barna, G, & Viola, F. 2008 Pagan Christianity? Exploring the roots of our Church practices. New York. Tyndale Publishers. and Revolution (2008). Viola, F 2008 Reimagining Church: Pursuing the dream of organic Christianity. David Cook Publishers. Colorado Brian Mclaren’s book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007). Rob Bell ‘Velvet Elvis’, ‘Sex God’, ‘Jesus save the Christians’ Floyd McClung in reference to his book You see bones, I see an army: Changing the way we do Church. 2008 Cape Town. Struik Christian publishers.

  32. Some suggested reading Forster, DA, 2007 An uncommon spiritual path. The quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity. AcadSA publishers. Kempton Park. Forster, DA & Bentley, W (eds) 2008a Methodism in Southern Africa. A celebration of Welsyan mission. AcadSA publishers. Kempton Park. Forster, DA & Bentley, W (eds) 2008b What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society by Southern African Methodists. Gibbs, E & Coffey, I 2005. Church next: Quantum changes in Christian ministry. Inter Varsity Press. Leicester, UK. Barna, G, & Viola, F. 2008 Pagan Christianity? Exploring the roots of our Church practices. New York. Tyndale Publishers. and Revolution (2008). Viola, F 2008 Reimagining Church: Pursuing the dream of organic Christianity. David Cook Publishers. Colorado Brian Mclaren’s book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson, 2007). Rob Bell ‘Velvet Elvis’, ‘Sex God’, Jesus save the Christians Floyd McClung in reference to his book You see bones, I see an army: Changing the way we do Church. 2008 Cape Town. Struik Christian publishers.

  33. The life cycle of an institution (sigmoid curve).

  34. The life cycle of an institution (sigmoid curve).

  35. So, how do we turn this around? Face the facts! Denial will not serve the cause of God’s mission. Do our best to understand God’s mission for OUR context. Gain insights and expertise to help us in retooling the DNA of the Church for the churches. Have the COURAGE to make some changes (for the sake of the Gospel!)

  36. The emergent conversation • Strengths • Radically incarnational • Fresh expressions • Recaptured a balance between creative non-propositional evangelism and tangible social action • Diverse (not a ‘Mediclinic’ (lots of niche specialities), but rather a ‘home visit’ (bring the gospel to you, to meet your needs)). • Weaknesses • Pragmatism can come at the cost of both orthodoxy and orthopraxy e.g., Loss of our roots (theology, liturgy, success stories and models) • Loss of Christian identity • Imprisoned in a ‘Cell’ and ‘emerging’ into the status quo (stagnation and stuck of success…) • A Church without a Mission / a Mission without a Church • The sympton masquerading as ‘the cause’ (conferences, constant change, schism, contentious issues etc.) • Examples of emergent Christian movements • Marketplace ministries • Special interest groups (prayer, outreach, age groups, social needs, sports etc.) • Home Church

  37. Questions, input and discussion Please share one thing that has challenged you, perhaps something you’ve learned today, a new insight, or something you’ve resolved to do. Please affirm one thing that our Church is doing well! Please highlight one thing that you would like to help change in our Church during your ministry. Any other inputs?

  38. Questions, input and discussion Please share one thing that has challenged you, perhaps something you’ve learned today, a new insight, or something you’ve resolved to do. Please affirm one thing that our Church is doing well! Please highlight one thing that you would like to help change in our Church during your ministry. Any other inputs?

  39. Some differences between established and emergent Church movements