Tuesday, December 06, 2005

December Gathering plus Experiential worship tonight

EMERGENT WEST MICHIGAN– 14 DECMEBER 2005 GATHERING
To: Emergent West Michigan
Re: December 'gathering' at the Bite
Fr: Steve Argue

Hello EWM journeyer. We’re looking forward to connecting at the gathering on Wednesday (12/14, 10:30 a.m. @ the Bite, downtown).

Over the past few months we have felt a desire to explore the Emergent Order and talk though the four values outlined on the Emergent Village website. We felt that this would be a good springboard for discussion, help us wrestle with core values that emergent declares, and to begin the address the fair challenge made by some who want to know what we’re “for” rather than what we’re “against.”

This month we’re taking a look at the third value. I think our conversation will be enhanced if we give some think time to this value. Below, I’ve tried to quote or summarize this value, raise some issues, and ask a few questions.

This merely serve to get us ramped up to our gathering, and I hope it will inspire more questions and comments. Hopefully it will help us begin to answer the question, “What is emergent for?”
Rock on-
Steve

EMERGENT– BELONG: ORDER
Members of emergent hold in common four values and practices that flow from them. In the language of a religious order, we call these four values our order and rule:??
1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus
2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms
3. Commitment to God’s World
4. Commitment to One Another


EWM Focus on Value 3: Commitment to God’s World

We practice our faith missionally – that is, we do not isolate ourselves from this world, but rather, we follow Christ into the world. We seek to fulfill the mission of God in our generations, and then to pass the baton faithfully to the next generations as well. We believe the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; we seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else. We see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so we join God in seeking its good, its healing, and its blessing.

PRACTICES:
· To build relationships with neighbors and to seek the good of our neighborhoods and cities.
· To seek reconciliation with enemies and make peace.
· To encourage and cherish younger people and to honor and learn from older people.
· To honor creation and to cherish and heal it.
· To build friendships across racial, ethnic, economic and other boundaries.
· To be involved at all times in at least one issue or cause of peace and justice.


A few Questions for us…

· Emergent folk use “mission/missional/missionally” a lot. How would you define this or explain it to someone? Is this really any different from being seeker-driven or committed to evangelism explosion? How do we keep this from simply following culture, as many critics have challenged?

· In what way are we tying our beliefs to historical Christianity, in what ways are we pushing underdeveloped elements of the gospel forward (I believe these to be complimentary, not mutually exclusive), and what are we completely missing?

· What does “commitment to God’s world” look like in West Michigan? What steps can we take? I’m curious to hear from you some of the things ministries are attempting. If you choose to share, I think it would be most helpful for it to be explained in a way (this might be a good conversation at the EWM Gathering or online here)...
~ That is framed in a theological/missional understanding (The “why”);
~ That shows tangible how it embraces a cause for peace, justice, and extension of the gospel.
~ That the potential to include other ministries for a combined (co-op) commitment.


Additional Reading…

The following steam of conversation has been floating around. I urge you to look, especially at:

· John Hammett’s Article An Ecclesiological Assessment of the Emerging Church Movement. Hammett’s critique is fair and respectful. http://ateam.blogware.com/blog/_archives/2005/11/23/1418941.html

· Tall Skinny Kiwi on Emergent http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/ (6 parts) Andrew Jones responds to Hammett’s critique.

· Jason Clark gives a good summary of his take from Hammett’s paper. http://www.jasonclark.ws/jasonclark/2005/11/assessment_of_t.html


A final Comment…

Our hope has we look at this order is to stretch a fair critique of all, younger, emerging (I use this word in the broadest sense) leaders and ministries. There is a time to define who we are by what we are not but there’s also a time to define who we are by what we express (which encompasses what we believe and do).

The last thing we need to do is defend an icon called “Emergent” or run to the defense of Emergent Village. If we are emerging out of our historical past and are commissioned by the Sprit and the church (for this is what discipleship is) to express the gospel to younger generations. This calls for listening to the questions even if we are accused of entertaining ones that some deem irrelevant (postmodern or otherwise), responding to the needs that show up on our radar screen even if we are accused of being driven by our culture (as if our predecessors are not), and inspiring others to do the same (which we hold loosely because it may not look the same as we’ve done it in the future).

The “now what?” challenges us as it does any idea or movement. If we are committed to our world because we believe it is God’s world and that he’s bringing healing to every part of it. We do not have the option to be casual spectators but active participants.

I hope our gathering on Wednesday springboards more conversations that steer us this way. I am hungry for it. See you Wednesday. Peace.

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"God is Where the Pain Is"
An experiential worship gathering hosted by His House Christian Fellowship at GVSU (Allendale).


The gathering will open around 7:00pm on Tuesday, December 6 in the Grand River Room (Upstairs) in the Kirkhof Center on GVSU's Allendale Campus.

The event is open to all. The focus of the 10 stations is oriented around the idea that Christmas shows us that God did not abandon the world to pain, but entered into the pain of the world.

“The gospel of Jesus the Messiah was born, then, in a land and at a time of trouble, tension, violence, and fear. Banish all thoughts of peaceful Christmas scenes. Before the Prince of Peace had learned to walk and talk, he was a homeless refugee with a price on his head. At the same time, in this passage and several others Matthew insists that we see in Jesus, even when things are at their darkest, the fulfillment of scripture. This is how Israel’s redeemer was to appear; this is how God would set about liberating his people, and bringing justice to the whole world. No point in arriving in comfort, when the world is in misery; no point in having an easy life, when the world suffers violence and injustice! If he is to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, he must be with us where the pain is.”

-Tom Wright, “Matthew for Everyone” pp.14-15

3 Comments:

Blogger Christian & Jodi Baron said...

I think these are really good questions to think about and try to answer together. Just incase I can't make it to the Bite I'd like to try and explore some of my thoughts/feelings on this topic. I don't think I'll be able to comment on all three points/questions but I want to start the the words mission/missional/missionally. This is very interesting because I just described a church in the area as being all about mission/or being very missional in their core. It got me thinking... reading this, that I'm not sure if I knew what I was saying when I said it...I was using one of those annoying "Chistianese" words that only schollarly folk can pick apart. But then I began to reflect and think about what makes that ministry Missional. I think it's muli-facited. First, they have a refugee adoption ministry where members sign on to take care of a family fleeing from some sort of oppression in a different country. That seems to me to be missional because they are sacrificing so much to make someone else's life a little better...they're taking care with no regards to what they'll get out of it. Second, they are intentional in building community within their body by encouraging home church groups to meet throughout the week. Being a larger church (300-500) they want to make sure accountability, growth, and exploration are happening. Third, they hold classes on healing racism for their staff to take manditory, and members are strongly encouraged to take. This not only covers waging peace in our communities but also communicates that they don't have it "all-together." Sometimes, it seems to me, bigger churches often come off as having all the answers to life's questions/problems,etc. Addmitting that there is a problem among the races in our neighborhoods is a big thing to swallow. I am encouraged that so many of their members are taking the class and becoming committed to bridging the gap between ethnicities and skin colors. It's sad to think that in the 2000's we still have to discuss it but the fact is that we all hold racial feelings that need to be healed.
So being missional i think is beign intentional and authentic. Missionaries have nothing to hide, they are totally volnurable to the community they are trying to reach. They are "naked" in their exploration, ministry, and healing. Their motives are clear. Seeker-driven's motives are clear to ME but..."trickery" to the un-churched. EE is just plain force-fed-partial-gospel delivery (in my opinion). It's boxed up nice and neat with all the answers to any possible question that could come at you from the "heathen" you are "evangelising". Missional just "is" with it's people.

4:57 PM  
Blogger steve said...

Jodi...
Thanks for your comments and honesty. What you said was really good... refreshing.

I think the question you chose to answer is he crux of the issue– do we understand what it means to be "missional" or has it just turned into another trendy term?

Wish you could be there on Wed. Would love to hear more.

Peace to you-
steve

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