Tuesday, September 23, 2008

church-NEXT

i've been reading many posts of late concerning the labels emergent and emerging when used to describe the church. because i have discussed this somewhat before, and since it is not totally germane to today's thoughts, i would suggest if you're not familiar with the terms you could go here and here and here.

for our purposes today, i would only say that with the pending death of christendom, and the final disintegration of the christian consensus as the world view of the west, the church (at least the protestant version of it) is in steep transition, some would even say decline.

but here's the question: transition to what?

emergents say the emergent church is the new church emerging, the church-next, while some would argue that the missional church movement (go here) is more to the point (my sympathies lie more with these ideas), but i say that we are a far way from home, and we have miles to go before we sleep.

said another way, we simply have no idea what the new ekklesia will look like. further, this transition will take so many years that most of us will only be part of the transition and not the final result. that is, it will not be complete in our life time.

having said that, notice just some of the profound movement in this transition:

VIEW OF GOD
sovereign & immutable ------------> open & responsive to us

VIEW OF CHURCH
solid & institutional ----------------> fluid & a movement

CHURCH GROWTH
large is better -----------------------> small is a must

VIEW OF THE BIBLE
inerrant & scientific ----------------> authoritative & non-scientific

VIEW OF ATONEMENT
substitutionary & victorious -------> representative & identification

VIEW OF EVANGELISM
programatic -------------------------> relational

and all of this in just the last few years...the times they are a changin'