Abductive Columns

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Differences between Traditional Church and the Emerging Church

I could wax all day long but for sake of brevity--


The traditional church relies upon a pastor system and lecture.
Dependent upon the traditional bible class established over a century ago as an evangelistic tool while teaching english to America's illerate.
The emergent desires a facilitator and talking points.

Modernity=rationality.
Modernity=scientific
Modernity=apologetic

Emergent=acknowledges mystery
Emergent=lives within mystery
Emergent= EPIC

Modernity=linear, rows and lines. (Hence pews all lined-up in neat rows)
Emergent=circles, loops, and unending lines (prefer seats 'even pews' strategically arranged so everyone is facing someone).


Modernity=learn then do
Emergent=learn while doing

Modernity=budgets
Emergent=strategic giving

Modernity=attractional evangelism (come-to-church; modernism’s seeker movement)
Emergent= (come-to-Jesus) crosses border and engages the pre-Christian on their turf allowing them to live by their code of conduct. More non-Christian friends than Christian friends. Recreates the court of the Gentiles.

Modernity=Purpose driven
Emergent=Values driven

Modernity= looks for a resume
Emergent= looks for vision and excellence

Modernity=wants to follow proven trails
Emergent=can live without clear maps; prefer becoming a cultural cartographer

Modernity=They call it evangelism (responsibility to take God to the people)
Emergent=Incarnational: Spiritual explorer, sometimes guide. Realize that God intersects the life of an unbeliever before we arrived. Emergents know they can't take God to the people (borders on arrogrance!), instead they walk along side the people they know as a fellow explorer allowing them into the reality of their story; at some point, they invite us into their story. Only then do emergents become spiritual guides; given permission to help connect the dots of how God might be working in their life.

Modernity=Continues to use theological words and phrase that carry tons of freight.
Emergent=currently re-lexiconing the Christian language.

10 Comments:

At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emergent=can live without clear maps; prefer becoming a cultural cartographer.

Given the nature of this post that is perhaps the funniest thing I've ever seen seriously written.

 
At 2:31 AM, Blogger Bill Arnold said...

That was a good list. I'm curious about your last point, though. How is emergent "currently re-lexiconing the Christian language?"

 
At 6:05 AM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I'll take a shot at the question, bill:

By trying to use more user-friendly terms. Like "people Jesus misses" rather than the judgmental-sounding "lost." Or like "worship center" rather than "sanctuary," implying that it is the only holy place around.

 
At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of the "new" names we have for different views of "church" are really getting old. Why can't we all be Christians that are seeking the truth at different levels of understanding. Those who are genuinely searching for the truth of Christ will find it. Those who are not will remain in this quagmire of names and labels.

 
At 11:05 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Well, Anonymous, we have to be able to agree on some terms so we'll know what we're talking about when we talk to each other. I hope the names don't become labels used pejoratively, but concepts need names. And some names and words just lose their meaning over time.

There will be folks who insist on using Bible names for Bible things ... and some who will insist on using a King James Bible. But it will be tougher for them to reach the unreached, the unsaved, the lost, the people whom Jesus misses - whatever you wish to call them.

Because they'll have to define all their terms for the people of this century.

 
At 2:57 PM, Blogger Ken said...

These are good observations. As we move into this new mysterious world, how much of this stuff will necessitate a re-working of doctrinal constructs? Do you consider any present constructs to be borne of modernity? If so, how would we go about making shifts? One construct you challenge here is ecclesiology. What is next? what is necessary?

 
At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There will be folks who insist on using Bible names for Bible things... But it will be tougher for them to reach the unreached...Because they'll have to define all their terms for the people of this century."

Hi Keith,
I think you exaggerate how much of a hurdle there is here. People expect to become acquainted with new terms in new situations. When I started a new job, I learned their way of referring to things; they did not pander to me.

There are many worse things that could happen than having to define some terms as we go - like, for instance, failing to communicate the truth of the word because we were trying to be too clever by half. Is it possible that "people that Jesus misses" fails to communicate the relevant concept? I wonder if "lost" sounded any less judgmental then than now? And what is wrong with the "pattern of sound words" (2 Tim 1)?

Casey

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Keith Brenton said...

Well, Casey, I don't want it to sound like it's just a matter of words here!

There are also new concepts - which Fred could address better than I can - that absolutely require new terms.

The word "missional" won't be found dictionaries of ten years ago, but it is an important concept. Maybe it was called "mission-driven" or something else before, but a new word can help give an old and valuable concept new life. Same with "incarnational" and lots of similar terms.

I've resolved not to be afraid of learning these, just as you point out learning new terms in new situations, like a job. Some of the old ways worked for a time, but don't now. (Tracts and door-knocking come to mind.) In the same way, some older terms have accumulated baggage that renders them less useful.

Plus, it just helps with some folks we want to reach that we not sound like we just "emerged" from the 19th century.

 
At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Keith,
"There are also new concepts - which Fred could address better than I can - that absolutely require new terms."

I guess I'm a bit skeptical of concepts that are newer than the book of Revelation. They might just be a matter of "teaching as doctrines the [concepts] of men". But maybe by "new concepts" you mean "new for our movement"? I would be grateful if you or Fred could provide some examples, or some links, at least. I've read a little about the "emerging church", but is there some website that serves as a thorough introduction?

'The word "missional" won't be found dictionaries of ten years ago, but it is an important concept. Maybe it was called "mission-driven" or something else before, but a new word can help give an old and valuable concept new life. Same with "incarnational" and lots of similar terms.'

You said before that "...it will be tougher for them to reach the unreached...Because they'll have to define all their terms for the people of this century". But I don't see how "incarnational" and "missional" are in need of any less explanation than other terms of less recent vintage, nor how they facilitate a better outreach.

'In the same way, some older terms have accumulated baggage that renders them less useful.'

This is true in some cases, I suppose. In any case, I think calling Bible things by Bible names remains a good general policy (though not one that can be carried out with complete consistency). It keeps us anchored to the concepts in the text - instead of to concepts of our own invention - and to the actual passages in the Bible. As an example, our evangelical friends err on baptism in part because, when discussing it, they do do not stick to the verses about baptism and to the vocabularly in those verses. They speak of an "outward sign", a "demonstration of devotion", a "public testimony of faith", etc., instead of "remission of sins", "saves", "newness of life", and other biblical terms. Thus they create a doctrine entirely foreign to the text. This is the same kind of thing that I fear will take place with the proposed "re-lexiconing" of the Christian language.

Casey

 
At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know is that I love Jesus and want to know him. Whether it's the traditional, missional, emerging, catholic, protestant church that helps me do that doesn't matter to me. God is big enough to work through all kinds of people, churches, circumstances, etc. Sometimes I think we make things way too complicated. I have enough on my plate now. I don't want to worry about missional, emerging, traditional, etc. If you ask me (and you didn't ;), there are more important things (i.e., people) to focus on.

 

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