Category Archives: emerging church
A really well crafted piece of writing from the excellent Pete Rollins this morning explores the concepts of irony and fetishism as strategies to avoid change – to avoid confronting the real issues of our lives.
I sometimes agree with the stuff that Rollins writes, sometimes disagree, sometimes just get confused, but whichever way it goes, his writing is always stimulating and challenging.
This particular article immediately makes me consider how much our fellowship gatherings are fetishes, ways of avoiding dealing with or confronting the lifestyle changes we need to take on. We can use these church meetings (to use an uncharacteristicly electrical metaphor) as insulation against change rather than the conductor of it.
The article is well worth a read and meditation – and along the way provides one of the clearest explanations of irony I’ve seen, which Alanis Morisette could have done with reading.
An interesting discussion has been taking place about the question of race in the context of New Monasticism, over at God’s politics, the Sojourners hangout. While I dont personally feel the effects of that in particular, I definitely recognise the difficulties faced by one particular blogger, who talks about the enormous decision of ‘relocating to the abandoned places of empire‘ when children are involved.
We’ve just taken the decision to put our kids into a school which is in a disadvantaged area, this is not the sort of school that others of our class/background/educational attainment would normally choose to put their children in.
Have I done right by my kids in putting them in this school? I have lots of reasons why I think I have, but the proof will be in the pudding, what if this negatively affects their life chances? What if they are badly bullied? What if their educational outcomes are lower because they went to this school?
Am I irresponsible in doing this? Some people think so. I hope I am not, I hope I am actually doing the best thing for my children and others – but it does concern me. Fortunately Kel and I are clued up enough to be able to deal with any educational issues that crop up, and in fact having been to the school and talked to the head, I’m pretty confident that there wont be a problem. Similarly bullying can take place in any school and I have no reason to think it will happen here. But this all goes against the conventional wisdom, and what if the conventional wisdom is right?
I dont want to give the impression that I’m overly worried about this, as I say I’m confident we can deal with any potential problems anyhow, but this is something that anyone who is in this position has to take seriously and deal with if they have children – regardless of race.
Mark Berry, whose blog is a constant source of information, inpiration and encouragement blogs about his own frustration with Christian events which cost a fortune, and serve to ‘keep the customer satisfied’, as Simon and Garfunkel would have said.
I really think there is milage in this guys, lets be honest the prices of conferences such as Spring Harvest and the many Christian festivals that litter the summer are verging on scandalous. We can do better.
These three words are key to a lot of what we do, and what we intend to to do here in Grimsby.
It’s difficult for many people to understand why we moved here – for some even more difficult to comprehend why we actively want to live on an estate which is known in this already deprived area, for being particularly deprived.
But the truth is, we want to see God made flesh in this place, we want to see the people and places downtrodden and abandoned by the world, labelled as useless and hopeless by society, redeemed. We want to see community developed in a fractured society.
We aren’t thick enough to think we are the answer to all the problems, we aren’t arrogant enough to consider ourselves better than others at bringing about change, we aren’t naive enough to think that no community exists here already.
What we are is ready to lay down what the world has to offer, to serve others and do as St David suggested ‘the small things’ which can make the world a better place for those enduring their own private hells. And we can introduce to those who havent heard the good news, something that can change every part of their lives.
So if you’re up for it, please pray that we can get a house on the Nunsthorpe estate, if that is not where God wants us, then we arent so stubborn that we will try and force it. We’re just following what we believe him to be saying, and that’s all.
I’m currently trying to talk someone into letting us have a vandalised flat rent free if we do it up for them – you never know – ‘sounds crazy but it might just work…’
I went to see the local school with the girls today, it seemed great. There’s a new head teacher, eager to make his mark I’m sure, by improving the school and raising the standards – the girls both loved it, and begged me to let them go there – it’s not down to me though, we’re waiting on the LEA to decide.
If we do move on to the estate, it will be the first step in what we think will be a new episode for us, one characterised by some of the marks of new monasticism, and built around many of the principles of cross cultural mission which we’ve been schooled in over the last few years.
And there will be a lot of gardening to do when I get my allotment going!
|What’s your theological worldview?
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|You scored as Emergent/Postmodern
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.
I took this entertaining quiz, what is your theological worldview?
Pretty funny stuff, as probably the two spheres I operate most in are the charismatic/pentecostal and the reformed evangelical… ho hum.
Not being part of either of these networks, but interested in both, we went along without much of an idea of what the event would be like. We found it both encouraging and inspiring.
The morning sessions included a time of worship led by the Northumbrians who took us through their morning office. Then Pete Askew of the community introduced Stuart Murray Williams of the Anabaptist network, and Roy Searle of the Northumbria Community. Roy plays cricket with my old P.E. teacher!
There followed two talks – one about Anabaptism, which I went to, and one about the Northumbrian community which Kel went to. I found the explanation of the history of Anabaptism very interesting, and was able to corner Murray Williams at lunch time to quiz him on whether Anabaptists, with their adherence to non violence and peace making, can take an active part in politics outside of anarchism. His answer boiled down to: “there are a number of different opinions about that!”
I also bumped into Mark Berry, the emerging church leader from Telford, who I recognised from his dodgy hair do. It was nice to have a chat, after having commented on his blog occasionally and read a lot about what he’s doing over there.
Other emerging church types knocking about included Ian Mobsby from Moot in London, and Ian Adams from Maybe in Oxford among others.
Brother Samuel from the Aglican order of Franciscans added a touch of gravitas and extra dollops of wisdom. Although he’s not a ‘new monastic’ it is fair to say that his order is less than ancient itself! I really agreed with his remark that one of the key things for a committed ‘monastic’ type community is that they work together manually. His comment ‘there is some very deep spiritual wisdom in making bread’ is so true.
After lunch there was a choice of workshops – I went to a discussion between Ian Mobsby and Brother Samuel – conparing and contrasting the old monastics and the new. Just how monastic are the new monastics? Good question. One of the main themes coming out, and well made by Mobsby and others, was that its more about being frianrs than being monks.
The distinction being that Monks tended to seclude themselves, while friars went out into the community to live out their faith. This is true to a degree, but of course only really applies to certain streams of monkism. Anyhow, I liked the concpet of ‘re-friaring’ the church, but it’s easier to say re-monking!
This session allowed more of a discourse between those in the meeting and the speakers than the first session had – which was very valuable.
More conversations and question and answer sessions followed, with a final session of worship in an Anabaptist style, which included a lovely way of singing the Shema Yisrael among other things.
In all, Kel and I were both really encouraged by what we saw, and the people we met. There were a lot of different types of people there, from the rather posh, to the decidedly not posh – from the emerging church smoothies to the Jesus Army. I’d have liked to have seen some more of the missionary community there, and perhaps some of the 24/7 folk, but that would have just been more icing on an already rich cake.
Well done to all the organisers, I thought it provided a good platform for those who are interested in finding out what others are doing in this area, but arent perhaps able to make all of the connections themselves! Looking forward to more.
there’s a really good interview with Pete Rollins, of the Belfast based Ikon, on the Wittenburg door at the moment. It’s well worth a read, as it is fair to say he’s ‘quite clever’.
For example, when askedabout his ‘belief that the truth in Christianity is not described but experiential?’ he responds: “In a sense I would not even want to say that the truth of Christianity is experiential in so much as the truth of Christianity is life and life is not experienced.”
hmmm. yup, good point.
Or when asked what it means to be a Christian: “It means entering into a journey of becoming one. It does not mean accepting a world view but rather entering into a healing journey of life. To be a Christian also means that one is committed to exploring this life through the Judeo-Christian tradition, wrestling with it, learning from it and being transformed by it. Being a Christian means learning how to be the opening of life into the world.”
I first heard about this on Jonny Baker’s blog, but since then I’ve seen it mentioned elsewhere too. Well worth a read.
Steve Hayes, writer of ‘Notes from Underground’ has been around the block a few times. Occasionally he writes lengthy and fascinating reminisinces of life in Southern Africa, and today he has provided one such, which gives a really valuable insight into the heritage of ‘new’ monasticism.
With vivid detail he recounts stories of past experiments with community living of different kinds, and the ways that some of these have ended (in most cases not well!) Perhaps one of the most fascinating accounts he gives is of early encounters with the ‘Children of God’, which took place before the move into flirty fishing, and so on.
But I think the most valuable part of this particular post, is just the depth it gives to some of what we talk about today, as if it were a new thing. It’s almost as if between the ancient and the present, nothing existed with any life, but this post reminds us of the ways in which folk have experimented and tried out different things, all of which is enormously valuable in terms of learning how to live in intentional community.
I strongly encourage keeping a watching eye on Steve’s blog, there is some real good stuff there.
The Anabaptists have got a great looking conference coming up in May, in the hope that there are still plenty of places, I’ll give it a plug here, they are running it in conjunction with the Northumbria community, and it’s called: ‘New Habits for a New Era? Exploring New Monasticsim.’
I’ve just printed off the booking form and providing we can make the necessary logistical arrangements, Kel and I will head up to Coventry in May, to hear what is said.
I thoroughly reccomend you investigate it…
in 1978, when I was just one year old, a hairy young groovester by the name of Brian McLaren was making records… I think after all the names he’s been called by people over the last few years, he’s extraordinarily brave publicising the fact that one of his old albums has recently been put up for a free download here, let’s just say that despite it’s vintage… well it aint quite punk.
Groovy! Nice jumper Brian.