Paul Fromont writes - Great to have another Alan, Alan Hirsch, add his voice to the conversation around the future of the Church in the West doesn’t lie in the Emerging Church Movement. I’ve highlighted Alan’s “comment” because I don’t want it to get lost, particularly his point, “I just don't think the Christendom paradigm can pull it off...and the vast majority of contemporary churches operate squarely in this out-moded paradigm. The missional one is the future of the church.” In many ways, the original post and Alan’s comments capture the tensions around creating a new missional paradigm within existing congregations (and that may include: multi or parallel congregations both as missional congregations in their own right and agents of change), and the need for new expressions of church (a great example being the work that FORGE is involved in – I have previously commented here).
Thought I'd throw my comment in the mix. If the movement Mark is referring to is the one that is most interested in issues of spirituality and theology in the postmodern situation, I agree. Like the postmodern phenomenon of which it is a part, it is a passing cultural phase. BUT, if Mark is refering to what we (Forge) call the Emerging Missional Movement (emphasis on missional), or what David Barret calls the Neo-Apostolic Movement/s, I couldn't agree less. If we place the EMC within the broader worldwide movement/s happening (including China) then I believe we are seeing the future of the Church in the West. I just don't think the Christendom paradigm can pull it off...and the vast majority of contemporary churches operate squarely in this out-moded paradigm. The missional one is the future of the church. And it is happening!
Thanks Alan for gifting your voice and perspective.
I want to say, that in 'provoking' (too strong a word) there is no attempt (on my part) to polarize people and perspectives (many of these “people” are great friends of mine). Rather, in my blogging, there is an attempt to encourage cross-pollination; a greater focus on the Kingdom of God; a discerning of God @ work; creativity; change; and to highlight tensions (they seem to me to sharpen a focus on the important issues). I'm also about resourcing and encouraging those for whom particular posts, ideas etc connect.
Significantly (post’s like the one that Alan Hirsch refers to) are also an attempt, on my part, to publicise a conversation which others can listen in on, and in their listening discern the place to which God is calling them as his servants and also the unique ways in which God has equipped them to work in partnership with him, i.e. some are called to work within existing contexts, some within new contexts and in new ways, and some, like St. Barnabas, to bridge the gap and work in both. This is the wonderful thing about blogging; when it is done graciously and generously it gets the conversations “out there,” it stimulates conversation, and it enriches conversation. I’m the richer for having Mark Pierson, Alan Hirsch, Alan Jamieson, Steve Taylor and many many others of you sharing your stories, perspectives, learning, excitement, disappointment, and experiences. I and “we” as a community would be the poorer if we never shared, talked, disagreed, or for that matter, agreed…
Thanks to all of you who blog, who comment, who think, talk, experiment, and pray "Thy Kingdom come..."
Postscript - related post by Steve Taylor here