What is the future of the church? Denominations? Christian leadership? How is technology and cultural shifts impacting the church and shaping its future? These and many other questions are being asked and answered through the Emerging Church conversation.
The Emergent conversation is something that I am aware of for many years but have never been an active participant in. However, in many ways I am living its message. Today I spent much of the day exploring various blogs related to the emerging church discerning how I can position my book within this conversation.
Most of what I found on my journey into the world of countless blogs on the topic was theory and deconstructionist conversations around what should change in the church with only limited examples of what will emerge. This is where I think Embrace Dreams: A Journey Beyond the Pew could add value to the conversation since we have seen something completely unique grow out of Embrace Richmond.
The one article that caught my attention was “Theology After Google” by Philip Clayton. While the article was written to promote an event (which sadly I discovered too late), it contained some great insights:
“The new Christian leader is a host, not an authority who dispenses true teaching, wise words, and the sole path to salvation. Today, the leaders who influence our faith and action are those who convene (or moderate or enable) the conversations that change our life — or the activities that transform our understanding of ourselves, our world, and our God. It could be an older Christian who convenes discussions at a church, a house, or a pub. It could be Shane Claiborne leading an activity at The Simple Way on Potter Street in Philadelphia, say a time of gardening in the communal garden that gives you a sense of community that you’ve rarely had but always longed for. It could be a website or a blogger that you frequently go to, where you read others’ responses and add your own thoughts. Christian leadership is about enabling significant community around the name of Jesus, wherever two or more are gathered in His name.”
I would add “It could be a bunch of crazy Richmonders who gather in public housing complexes and join hands with formerly homeless individuals to be a blessing to their community.”
While so many are writing about the emergent church, I am blessed to be witnessing its birth through the work we are doing at Embrace Richmond. I doubt many would see what we are doing as “church” but the emergent conversation is helping those trapped in old paradigms for defining church to discover new lenses and to see God at work in new ways and unexpected places.
Take a look at Clayton’s full article and let me know what you think. It was an interesting read. What do you think the church will look like in the future? Do you agree with Clayton’s assessment? For those of you in the missional communities birthed through Embrace, do you see your role as “host”? I would love to know your thoughts on the topic.