Having been reading Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith, I’ve begun formulating a few thoughts on what some have called the ’emergent church’.
Because I work with the internet, I tend to see things from an ‘online’ perspective. When I see a presentation, I ask why it doesn’t link to resources and I tend to Google answers and keep many tabs open with on-the-fly further reading on a subject. One of the most wide-spread of all internet buzzwords is “Web 2.0”. The ideas behind it have been summed up (indeed, coined) by the O’Reilly network. To me, many of these have a strong resonance with the ‘newly painted church’ of Mars Hill. For example, there is an emphasis in Web 2.0 on participation and “The long tail” which I see reflected in “every member ministry” and discussions instead of sermons. Teaching has taken on a very interactive flavour, and theology is less about rules.
While the tag ‘Church 2.0’ is wildly inaccurate on one score (e.g. there have been many renditions of the church), the notion of a renaissance is definitely present and many of the tenets of Web 2.0 can be helpfully used as metaphor in the church.
Participation vs. Preaching:
With links to various incarnations of the ‘Cell’ movement, the idea of discussion supplementing or even replacing pulpit-sermons is certainly not new. The practice of church services on Sunday mornings, however, tends to keep its principle of being taught from the front. I think this is changing, however, and I think we will see a decline in traditional sermons with points backed by scripture. My old church in the States believed in an ‘expository’ teaching style. The idea being that the Bible would be taught through, verse-by-verse instead of shaping its truth to a pre-fabricated set of points. I believe the next step is working out the meaning of the Bible together with a collaborative teaching in which people ask and answer their own questions. While I have yet to completely read Mars Hill’s ‘Narrative Theology‘ I can see reflections there.
A wise friend of mine recently told me: “The truth’s in the dialogue.”
Where does the pitfall lie in this new direction?
The Body and the Long Tail:
There will be more…