Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Conference on the Ministry

Emerging Church Dialogue.

Here are five values tht Mark deHoog and I perceive to be important filters that the emerging church dialogue should be perceived through. So, in no particular order of importance and simply for a continued conversation.........

1. Allowance to ask tough questions with the possibility of not actually ever finding conclusive answers.

2. Not against existing church but for church; it may mean change and may dislike certain expressions or cultural nuances of the existing.

3. Conversation over presentation; the difference between specalists and poets. (Ask Mark about this poetic hippie crap....)

4. Value of understanding over methodology.

5. We are more concerned about the meanings of words than the collection of letters themselves.

What are the implications of these 5 filters to such things as emerging theology, emerging leadership, emerging challenges, other emerging values, etc.

What is an emerging leader in relationship to the church? What are the implications of church to emerging leadership?

Feel free to use the comment section below to add your thoughts....

PS - If you are visiting for the first or second time make sure to spend some time browsing through the archives.
Grace and Peace.


Boomer said...

It seems that things may be headed back towards a Jewish Rabbinic state as I've heard Rob Bell explain it. People followed a Rabbi because they thought that he had the most acccurate interpretation of the Torrah. It was noted that nobody assumed perfect truth, but embraced good interpretation. This seems to fit with the urking of absolute, because in fact who can gaurantee absolute truth but God. What do you think?

Jeremy Postal said...

Boomer, a couple questions:
1. Who has "good interpretation?"
2. You say that nobody can assume perfect truth; can there even be truth if it is not perfect? Partially true doesn't seem that true...Where does that leave us?

...and one thought:
If you haven't checked out you should.

Evans Family said...

That is a lot to comment on, but I would like to challenge one of the values, simply because I can :)

"3. Conversation over presentation; the difference between specalists and poets. (Ask Mark about this poetic hippie crap....)"

I think the idea of specialist needs to revisited and maybe even reinterpreted. What is a specialist? Is it one who knows everything or could it be one who has studied a particular topic or aspect of life and might have more knowledge or understanding than me? And do we really need poets, I can never understand what they are trying to say anyway :)

Boomer said...

I hear what you're saying,

1. I think the "good interpretation" is completely objective. Each person sees by whatever criteria they do. Now this does includes biases. I was reading the Moral Quest by Stanley Grenz and he talks about the "sociology of knowledge, which declares that knowledge always tends to reflect the vested interests of the knower." I think I agree. Thus we select "truth" by impartial means.

2. I assume that God alone controls truth, everyone else is attempting to grasp that. I think there are certain statements that can be claimed as truth, but the understanding unique to each God is Love. True...yes What's it mean??? Talk to 10 people you get 10 dif. answers.

With this said, would you say that people are incapable of truth?

Is partial truth, truth?

Is truth more than the words or fixed to it's "formation of letters" as you mentioned on the weekend?

Boomer said...

Thanks I'll peep

Steve said...

I really think that the whole term of 'emerging' church is unneccessary, but in my mind, rather redundant (or atleast, if the church was doing what it could be doing in different ways it would be redundant) but rather, a word that would more accurately describe what is happening would be the "developing' church. One big thing that i noticed is that all the people speaking on the emerging church come from existing churchs.... (if you may allow some good gaming/msn terms...) WTF??! (f is for frig). They have experience planting church's, they have experience in reaching out to the community-->from their buldings. Really, i think a more radical thing to do would be to get some single people and have a group of two guys, and a group of two girls living in a slum. Now, what happens is that group of 4 works together in reaching out to the people in thier own building. And from those 4, people would (or might not) come to Christ, and a bible study could begin... and that could be church. And there, in the bible study, would have a general idea of where they wanted to go, but it would be more or less just conversation and an actual study of the bible or what it says and more easily applied to those who are learning it.

Mark said...

In response to the Drews Questions about Poets and specialists. Poets are like prophets they add the wonder, awe and mystery to life. They interpret life through a different grid than most... Finding God in it all. Poets are interpreters [Boomer got what you said... good stuff there...refine it a little to clarify!] They look at truth from another angle and work to the conclusions through a different process.
In terms of specialist... what is it about the faith journey that has ever made specialists?... where in scripture can we ever develop that theological process? Are we just insecure to be faced with the fact that without our position we no longer are validated? Or do we rely on our position to give us influence? Specialists are no longer what our world needs? Here is a thought "In the Present age there is no more room for Thomas Edisons. This is the age of networking and collaboration." Building the kingdom together takes a lot more work and a lot more energy but the long term implactions are far more valuable.

Mark said...

I think it might be apoint to note is that - truth is never in question [partial or whole (whatever that means)] the key thing to look at is how does a person defines truth and how is that truth identified. Much is said in churches about relativism and how our world does not believe in absolutes. This I find to be a misread of people. People do believe - just not defined as we have done so in the past. The reference points are different... Thoughts?

Jeremy Postal said...

Mark - I think that is a great distinction to make; not whether there is truth or not, but rather, asking the question of what lens do people interpret truth through.

I would suggest that maybe the foundation of interpreting truth has moved from a linear evidential (and absolutist/objective) claim and has swayed all the way across the pendulum to an experiential claim. Each of these two extreme's may not be adequate in their dealings with truth, however, together they may be of greater value.

What do you mean by reference points?

*******end thought*******

New thought:
I agreee - the term emerging church does seem redundant and (maybe) unnecessary. As soon as we begin to hyphenate "church" or "christian" then it seems as though we somehow lose the significance and meaning of christian and church.

Jesse said...

Right, I like that thought Jer. To say emerging-church, or post modern-church, or whatever-church, seems to infer that's it's not really "church" but some form of it. I guess that's where we perhaps need a common definition of what "church" is.

Anonymous said...

I have a question.. you say we need a new definition of the church, in order to avoid the overuse of modern, or emerging, etc. So, where is it different to say that you attend a pentecostal church or baptist church, or catholic church?? Haven't we already lost sight of the the true definition of the church. At this point, aren't each of these denominations, living from a different perspective instead of just being the church... following the only truth we know which is the Word of God??

Jesse said...

Haven't we already lost sight of the the true definition of the church. At this point, aren't each of these denominations, living from a different perspective instead of just being the church... following the only truth we know which is the Word of God??

I think that we probably have lost sight of the true definition of the church, but I don't think it's because of the "labels" that we have attached to church. I think it's because even though we say that the church is the people, we still act like the church is a building. We GO to church, when the truth is we ARE the church who happens to gather together at such and such a place.

Steve said...

I think people become dillusioned as to what church is not so much because it is considered a building or a body of people, but rather because people don't read the scriptures and act on them.
What I mean is this:
Ask all the Christians, or those who claim to be Christian, how often they read their bible. Then ask them how often they will fill a random persons gas tank at the pump? Cut their neighbours lawn? Washed some feet? I dunno.
I think there is an element to the definition of church that is missing. The common one (In the church) is that "it is the people". Yeah, ok, but bodies usually move or do something to show a sign of life... otherwise it's just a corpse... a dead rotting corpse. I think we need a little CPR in the church. What is the CPR? Maybe a touch from God... or maybe we've already been touched but people are lazy. Just a thought.

As for denominations... I think some need to possibly work on some theological laws that they have (I mean ALL of them) but at the same time, denomination can act as different limbs reaching into different aspects of the world/community/individuals lives.

Personally, I think denomination is stupid. Many would disagree, but all I've seen come from it is arguing, theological B.S. and a lot of hurt. (haven't experienced first hand the hurt, but the others I have).

Where is it different to say you attend a pentecostal, baptist etc. church? I think it's different in that there are different beliefs in what the church needs to do (going back to those theological laws).
I don't care that I attend a pentecostal church. Really, it means jack-all to me. This summer, I'm hoping to be at an Evangelical Free church interning/learning/teaching (if God wants me to).
I don't know if any of this makes sense. I'm trying to answer.

Steve said...

Looking at my last post... when i say "I mean all of them" that was in reference to denominations and theological laws.

Steve said...

a lot of that last post actually can come out wrong.. haha.

Denomination can act as different limbs, and there HAS been some good, but there is a lot of negative that has come from it. That's what I'm trying to get at. Just thought I'd clear that up as well.

Boomer said...

Bringing it back to the specialist idea, I agree that discussion is a value of the emerging church, but I don't think that negates the specialist. Conversation over presentation seems less about the people, facilitators, and more about the vehicle through which the gospel has been presented. Presentation would say, "here is something for you to have, take it home with you." Discussion would sound more like "We are on this journey of faith, would you like to join us?" In that I think we find the value. I might suggest that there would be both specialist and poet, but niether would feel the need to be classified, but through discussion all would become specialists and or poets.

Any comments?

Dan said...

I'm with you on the specialist idea Mike. I like to listen to people who have put time into studying certain aspects of life or faith. I would call them specialists. Although now I get to engage in discussion with those specialists, which is pretty sweet. I also agree with the idea that we can become specialists and poets, but without needing the labels. That's pretty much what the disciples did by hanging out with Jesus.

Jeremy Postal said...

I am not a specialist at everything > in fact, I am rarely a specialist at anything.....but, I do believe I have a couple things here and there that I can offer to learning.

Let's jump on this thought for a moment though and see where it logically goes: There is no room for specialists in the emerging church. What are the imediate and far-reaching implications if this is true?

Evans Family said...

"In the Present age there is no more room for Thomas Edisons. This is the age of networking and collaboration." - Mark DeHoog

I would have to disagree here (respectfully of course) and argue that there will always be specialists like Edison (who probably wouldn't have considered himself a specialist since it took him so many tries to get it right), but there is no room for the know-it-all maverick specialist. I like what Boomer and Dan have to say about being able to converse with and become specialist "but without needing the labels." There will always be some people who know more or have studied more. This does not mean that what they say is "objective truth" and should not be questioned; that day is over. Like Boomer, I agree that we need both poets (as deHoog explained them) and specialists because they bring a balance to the equation.

Jer: I wonder what we mean by specialist? Is it someone who knows everything about a topic? I don't know, but my view is that a specialist is someone who specializes in a certain area (i.e. a PhD in Sociology). A specialist is not someone who just happens to be good at something (I am mechanically inclined but definitely not a specialist) but someone who has studied that something and knows why and how (not totally of course) it works. (My brother is also mechanically inclined but he has studied plumbing and excels at it and I would consider him a specialist). The emerging church needs specialists in sociology, theology, culturology (if that's a word), etc.

Evans Family said...

sorry about all the () in the last post; how annoying.


Mark said...

Let me throw this out here at this point for the sake of discussion. I think where we were trying to go with this was to question some of our thoughts towards specialist=leadership and our spiritual paradigms of leadership. It is very clear that many pastors and leaders [although all we vehemently say NO! not I] hold to a 'specialist' paradigm ... the man of the hour... God's man or however you want to define it. In many cases the 'spritual authority' card is pulled out and put on teh table. What woudl it be like if all 'Xians' were aggrssively studying culture and aiming to be relevant and gracious to the world we live in. Agressive in being students and learners of the the faith? Would The specialist mentality would be obselete?
Another thing to note is that it is easy to create a cultureof dependance on 'us specialists' rather than working ourselves out of a job. If we helped people self goven and self lead maybe there would be no need for our present leadership/specialist model. If we were really wanting to wrestle this whole concept of church through ...we need to have the guts to realize that maybe our jobs are not necessary as ministers [as we know the term 'ministers']. But its comfy and feels good to have this sense of importance.

So some Questions.....Do we have to be specialists to be leaders or people of influence? Was mother Theresa a Specialist? Or was she somebody who lived and obeyed what God asked her to do? Does that make us specialists or just obedient?
Some thoughts... to consider.

Mark said...

Postal says
'Let's jump on this thought for a moment though and see where it logically goes: There is no room for specialists in the emerging church. What are the imediate and far-reaching implications if this is true? '

I think its important to think this through... Weather or not we are in a day where the 'Spritual' Giants or Specialists are aging and dying... Bill Bright/ Billy Graham etc etc etc. This men are clearly movers and shskers but there seems to be a vacuum of those following in these mens shoes. Some would say its sad and that there is a need of some more superstars in the kingdom. But if there were none ...what woudl happen... if we understand the world we live in today we understand that the individual has more power/influence than he thinks. (IE soem high school student in teh phillipines brings several massive corporate networks to their knees with a little computer virus. Costing 300 Million Dollars) Hmmm thats power and influence and does anybody know who the name of that person is? Are they a specialist?
The implications of a the absense of specilists is that a dependance on them will cease and people will begin to own the cause for themselves. Are we aware that people in our faith communities see us as specialists in winning people to Christ and it is the ministers job to bring people into the kindgom. 'Come on Pastor thats what we pay you for'

Does it take a specialist to fulfill the mandate of Eph 4? To build up the Saints and equip them for the work of the ministry [which is not preaching and leading worship by the way].

Without specialists would there be a mass movement towards each believer understanding their purpose and reason to live and becoming resourceful enough to figure out how to do it themselves? And possibly in doing so help others do the same?

Evans Family said...

leadership does not equal specialist. But there will always be specialist, not necessarily in the pattern of what I hear Mark describing, and there will always be leaders. If you disagree, show me why? I think this is an important discussion for the church.

Mark said...

I agree certainly with certain elements but I guess I would have to restate my question again from an earlier post...Where do we find a theology of specialists in scripture? Is there a biblical precedent in which we can support that mind map.

Evans Family said...

I think I see what you are saying. I don't know if this is where you are going but maybe pastors are not supposed to specialists. If we look at the medical field as an example, there are the general practitioners who have general knowledge about a lot of areas and then there are the specialists who are experts in one field. Maybe pastors need to be general practitioners and when they are confronted with problems which are over their heads they can refer to an expert in that particular area (i.e. dead sea scrolls, new testament translation, etc.) I don't know if this is what you are talking about. The question I would ask is IF there is not a theology of specialists in scripture does that mean they are not warranted or necessary in the church?

Mark said...

Well put Drew... Boiling it down I would prefer to think that the 'specialist' vs poets statement in the values is actaully a counter to the dysfunctions in our current paradigm. This value I am sure would morph to be expressed in another way.
There is much to be said about this and Drew you are right these are very important questions for the development of the church and its moving forward into the future.

Jeremy Postal said...

Ok, here is the original:

"3. Conversation over presentation; the difference between specalists and poets. (Ask Mark about this poetic hippie crap....)"

Could we change it to:
"3. Conversation and presentation; specialists and poets sharing the bed sheets."

Mark, I do think that there might be an argument for the specialist in the life and story of the disciples, possibly in the OT prophets, the judges, and characters like Paul. Of course these were all in leadership AS WELL....but, when does a specialist not become a leader in some regard? Maybe it is more of a specialist, leadership, poet threesome sharing the bed?

Boomer said...

How about this:

"Presentation through Conversation; specialists and poets"

I feel that there is an anti-establishment, or better yet anti-machine to the emerging that values relationship above any fancy yet cold show, but if authenticity of relationship is found, the presentation doesn't loose it's credibility.

What do you think?

Mark said...

I would say there are several tensions in stating the value as converstaion and presentation.
1) Right now the value is still in its reactionary stages to the cold, calcluated smooth talking salesman approaches of the presentation of the current. SO I would think that in the current formation of the values the 'emerging' church does not value both.
2) The emerging creative is so much more powerful and expressive ... so there is a tension that the presentation is actually very valuable to the 'emerging' church but not in its current expression. I personally prefer the emerging values but I spend 70% of my week developing and creating presentation.

To summarize... the statements of co-existence are accurate evolution of the value but I think the actual formation of this has not yet morphed to that value expression. It is still in its reactionary stage.


Jesse said...

I think that as long as we're addressing groups of 20 or more people, there will be an element of presentation. I also believe that stemming from that can be a conversation element as well. I think we saw a glimpse of that at Mark and Jeremy's talk at Conference on the Ministry. Presentation which led into conversation.

Ultimatly, the best conversation happens in smaller groups, and in smaller settings IMO.

Boomer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Boomer said...

Mark I think I agree with what you're saying. Values should not decided as a reaction to circumstance, but applied to circumstances which will produce varied results.
Therefore value 3:

Discussion over Presentation.
Not sure about the specialists or poets.

Steve said...

It seems to me that there is an essential element that the specialist can help in, and that would be what he/she specializes in.
Straight up, there are times we need to be confronted about something, and sometimes there's just no real room for conversation. Granted, not everyone will recieve it well, but at the same time, not everyone is in this 'post-modern' culture mindset. So, presentation does still have an effect.

On the side of conversation- it is more relational, and depending how deep the conversation gets, it can be such an intimate experience that neither people can leave unscathed by what has happened.

I look at poets as people who can do a fancy job at throwing some words together, and then they get over analyzed by people and people pull meanings out of what they say that was never EVER inteded.

I heard a story about a guy who (actually a friends friend) was in art school and just to see what would happen (no other element to it than simple amusement) took a sledge hammer to a urninal and set it up as an art display. The interpretations were quite amazing, when really the 'art' was simply amusement.

Therefore, this leads to the idea of specialists- they state what they have as fact, and that is that. There is no way around it, where if things are all pretty and nicely worded, it can lead to a lot of mumbo-jumbo. I may be off the mark on saying this, but I think I'm not completely off.

Poets add something too though, an atmosphere of freedom and creativity- a specialist cannot allow this due to rules/laws that are put in place by his/her profession.
Make sense? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

wow, comments everywhere,

If I may- do we need poets? Yup

I need to be motivated. I think a 'poet' can say things that sound good, make me get out of bed and brush my teeth. It is then up to me to try to discern what they are saying and then try to line my ducks up in a row.

This seems to have been a model that works in churches for a while- A man who is a good public speaker talks to everyone once a week, then the people go and discuss what was said either in small groups, or in comment sections on the web... You can bring a horse to water. The Bible also explain false prophets.

Thusfore and so forth we need a smooth presentation to goad us into conversation. Unless I missed a point somewhere in that long comment list above...

Chad said...

Mark says: "What woudl it be like if all 'Xians' were aggrssively studying culture and aiming to be relevant and gracious to the world we live in. Agressive in being students and learners of the the faith? Would The specialist mentality would be obselete?"

Mark - are you saying in essence that every Christian should be aspiring to be a "specialist" (rendering the word meaningless)at being a Christian? That all should be walking in the prophethood/priesthood/"poet"hood of believers spoken of in Scripture?

I think what would happen is church.

Mark said...

Woot there it is!