Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Trinitarianism as the basis to Ancient Future Emergent Questing

If there is anything the church needs right now, are those who are questing or seeking to reconstruct church and the faith in our postmodern consumerist and technological culture.

I am convinced that there are a number of themes that are crucial if we are going to be successful in this quest of the emerging/ent church.

If we start with the Trinity as our model of Church, then we are open to a communitarian understanding of what is required of church in that it is loving, empowering, participative, sharing in power, committed to prayer, justice and radical hospitality. This will create Christians who are life affirming, able to cope with complexity and be loving.

A Viable & Accessible spirituality
As I have already written about extensively. We need to be living out a spirituality that works - that does really inspire us and resource us. We live in an Age of New Mysticism or of the new spiritual tourist. Our aim of helping spiritual tourists to become pilgrims must draw on the ancient practices of the church reframed into our current context. We can then explore and quest with using these resources thr0ugh podcasting, internet activities or through ipods and a host of other creative ways to encourage forms of worship that work. Our communities need to be modelling a weekly rhythm of spirituality that is viable.

Communities of the sustaining love of God
Our communities need to be what it says on the tin. They need to be functional adaptive places of the giving and sharing of love. If our communities do not have integrity - then it will call into question whether the spirituality we propose to be living are real. These communities will also need to be enabling, as so many people do not have the skills now to do community. So they need to be loving almost therapeutic communities.

Promote the creative
I think spirituality and creativity are closely related. Questing is part of discipleship, so we need to enable people to join in this positive quest. For some it may take a while to deconstruct forms of discipleship that were of a more unsustaining and negative position. This is the place for some of the dechurched. Through creativity, God the Sustainer and Companion can draw people into renewed and reimagined faith, free from the things that hold us back. So the use of alternative worship in services is important, for people to have the space to be through their senses, feeling and thinking as a form of worship. This is is after all, learning about God through experience rather than facts.

Holistic view to life with a commitment to justice
All forms of church need to be joined up in their thinking. There needs to be a commitment to discipleship as human becoming. The physical, social, psychological and emotional are all linked. Similarly there is the need to see the connection between us and the cosmos. That God is committed to social, economic and ecological justice. So it is for us. So we need to do away with dualism - the public private split, the sacred and secular, ordained and lay. We need to see all of life as precious, as God sustains all life on the planet.

A positive narrative concerning God and ourselves
Too much talk about the Christian God is shaming. Often Christians do not appear as the people of love, but the people of judgement and guilt making. This is so opposite to the way of Christ. So when we talk about the love of God, and our need of God, let's start with God's love before talking about sin and brokenness. Let us be living as people of the loving God before we point out the faults in all. Let us seek to affirm all that is good in life and seek to encourage people to see themselves as loved by God, so loved, that God died for them, before we talk about God as King and Judge! In this way - people can be invited to encounter the real God rather than the human projected myth. With this narrative of us being human becomings, of us growing into the love of God, and our need for this God. Then I think we speak of God in ways that allows the Holy Spirit to do things beyond our imagination. Then we see Christian communities as profound places of human becoming, of God leading us together transfigured into the best we can be.

Humility to see that our way is only one way amongst others
If the emerging church can live humbly, affirming all Christians to keep going in their faith, working with all, not excluding anyone, but seeking to go deeper with God, then it will be truly 'both and'. It will be mature, it will have the discipline to discern the things of God. We are not the future of the church. We are not the new reformed better way. We are a bunch of people who are seeking and passionate about contextual mission and church, but we are small, have much to learn, and continue to make mistakes. We are no better or worse than anyone doing things in the name of Christ.

If we can put these things in place, then I think we can see what the power of God can do in contextual mission....

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