Friday, July 21, 2006


On Tuesday I went to the ‘Blah!’ tour at Birmingham Cathedral hosted by the Church Missionary Society that was looking into a new grassroots movement that is emerging that calls itself the Emerging Church. Not that I am thinking of defecting at all, I hasten to add! I feel that we as charismatics with apostolic links are in an extremely good place with God. Yet I do think it is good to look at what is happening around the body of Christ to see what we can learn from it to bring back to our own churches.

Ryan Bolger co-author of the book Emerging Churches outlined the findings from his research about how many churches are revising their practices in attempts to be more relevant to their culture. The churches that he looked at the US & UK are investigating their own culture and getting everyone involved in designing new ways of outworking the New Testament in today’s world. I felt that there is much that they are doing resonated with our own values as a church: the emphasis on following Jesus not just as saviour but as a role model, hospitality, community, kingdom, etc.

I feel that an emphasis that is relatively new to us that we can learn from this movement is the importance of creativity reflecting God as a creator. For instance, this was illustrated in the worship sessions by the use of spoken mediations over ambient background music with some enthralling video images. Anxieties about dodgy theology were alleviated by the assurance from those presenting stories from their churches that they are expressing the historic faith just in different ways. One leader Karen Ward explained how her church is using both ancient traditions and contemporary styles in their worship but only as far as they felt that these were consistent with Christ.

I think, used sensitively and with discernment, creative elements such as these could be a way forward.

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Anonymous said...

Well Dave, im all with you on this idea that we should be aware of, and even looking for input from, other movements within the kingdom. The trouble with the emerging church is that in its early stages it has become an unbrella term for a number of different things.

The things you have mentioned are clearly worthy of note but you should be aware that for alot of its commentators the emerging church takes an anti-established church position. A dislike of the authority, the structure, the formality and the disclipine that is found in our churches. Now i think that as charasmatics we should be ensuring we dont return to the hymn sandwich type church of old but we must ensure that we do not leave the biblical ideas of apostolic/pastoral authority, discipleship and the centrality of scripture in life, in evangelism and in meetings. The word of God, not powerpoint or flashy music is Gods power unto salvation.

Cheers, Paul.

David Derbyshire said...

I’m sure, as in any movement, there are excesses of which we need to be wary. But the groups that we looked at all had accountability to their own denominations. And I felt that the multimedia that they used did communicate the word of God. I think we need to be careful not to let our reservations about some of its elements stop us learning from what God is doing in this movement.

Nettes said...

"An anti-established church position. A dislike of the authority, the structure, the formality and the discipline found in our churches." Hmm - sounds to me like the early house-church movement. The "dislike" of the old structure was not because there was anything inherently wrong with it, but because it was stifling what God was trying to do at the time, and not giving God space to move in a new way.

I started to worry a little when a friend in an "emerging" sort of church said they didn't have a leader and weren't linked to any group of churches. But on investigation it turned out that the group's founder has a close friendship with a very solid & well known bible teacher, and I am sure that he will be keeping an eye on what they are doing. It may be, at least for some, that the dislike of authority is more about its structure than about relational accountability.