Saturday, August 21, 2004

A Year of Blogging

The same day that I watched the moving truck disappear down our tree-lined street, filled with all of our worldly possessions, was my one-year blogging birthday.

Of course, since my computer was on that truck, I knew blogging would be put on temporary hold, as would any attempts at being reflective on a year in the blogosphere.

In retrospect, I'm glad I labelled this blog a "journey", because it's certainly turned out to be one. Len Hjalmarsson (NextReformation) should take a lot of credit (or blame) for strongly encouraging me to start a blog of my own, and Charlie Wear (Next-Wave e-zine) could be held similarly culpable for repeatedly publishing every article that I sent him.

There's been a flurry of blogs in recent weeks attempting to take the pulse of the emerging church, or postmodern mission, or "pomergent" as my buddy Mitch Tulloch labelled it. Since many of them have already said many things I would have said, although far more eloquently, I'll just add a couple of things from my own grey cells.
  • There's been a lot of talk about "quitting church so we can just BE the Church", which kinda scares me. The whole "we have no leaders but God" and the "level playing field where everyone's contribution is equal" sounds great on paper, but the only way this could be truly accomplished is by making our groups (a) small, (b) full of people just like us, and (c) off-limits to people who aren't just like us. In other words, an elitist clique.

    Don't get me wrong; I'm all for the Plymouth Brethren ideal of "every member a minister", but reality is more complex than that (chaos theory on a ecclesial level, perhaps?). Unless our groups are "invitation-only", we can expect to encounter broken, needy, time-consuming people who don't get healed in a week or two. If our goal is to have homogenous groups where we can all simply hang out and bask in our friendships/community, these needy people (the ones Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time with) will "wreck" everything.

    Which connects with my second observation...
  • Being "missional" is a lot more than creating a theological and philosophical justification for leaving a church -- it means that we've deliberately, intentionally, chosen to focus our community on a greater goal than simply being a tight little gathering of like-minded individuals.

    I'm concerned that not a lot of emerging groups are doing this -- they often seem to be little more than postmodern bless-me clubs, with Guinness and cigars.

    In order to create communities that are intentionally missional, and not merely bless-me clubs of postmodern snobs, people will have to rise to the occasion and provide (brace yourselves) leadership. A different model of leadership than many (perhaps most) churches have evolved into, but leadership nonetheless.
In the very first article I wrote on Postmodern Ministry, my first concern was that what has since become labelled the "emerging church" would become a fad -- marketed & exploited, complete with its own set of gurus and boundaries for deciding who was "in" or "out" -- and my impressions over this past year is that we are still in danger of that very trap.

Society is changing quickly around us, and the last thing we need is a pomergent sub-sub-category of Christendom that only further insulates us from the real (postmodern) world.

Such are my thoughts, after a year of blogging. Stay tuned...