Here’s a quick list of a few things that stood out to me from the first day of class. Before you read, know this: I can’t include everything, so you’re getting a limited context. Read the books!
Also, Alan is great at helping a group understand a problem so they see the need for a solution. If the first day seems negative, it’s because we have to see what’s wrong first. We’ll soon move to what the positive alternatives are.
Finally, Alan articulates something better than most people I’ve heard. He’s not against one expression of church and for another. The type of church we’ll talk about will look different than a mega church, primarily because in many areas, studies have shown that type of church really only attracts about 15% of the people. The problem is, more than 90% of churches are seeking to be that style. Not all of them can pull it off. And even if they could, we’d only be connecting with a small section of the population (15% is the number in Australia, it’s very likely higher here, but probably no higher than 40%). We need to think creatively and theologically about how we can join God where he is and go be the church.
- We’ve never been in a post-Christian environment before. We’ve never been in aspace where we stand in an inoculated culture before. Like we can be inoculated for diseases, much of our culture has been inoculated to Christianity. They’ve gotten a little of some false form of it, and it’s shut them off from having any part of it when the real thing comes around.
- Emerging is different from missional. In a missional church (or as he terms, emerging missional church, mission is the organizing principle. The mission of God determines how the church organizes itself.
- God is everywhere, wooing people to himself. We need to be willing to go to dangerous places (places Christians wouldn’t normally go), listen to the stories people tell, affirm those stories, and while showing how God is working within their stories, point to that alternate ending.
- We need to give that process time and learn the arts of conversation and friendship.
- Constantine is still the emperor of our imaginations. He introduced us to the institution of the church. His using Christianity to unify his empire could have been the worst thing that happened to us.
- Americans are highly mobile. That mobility can lead to an incapacity to relate over the long term. He saw this in the church he worked with in Australia. Young 20-something singles would get a two-year itch where they had exhausted their relational skills and said God was moving them on. He and other leaders pushed back and said no – we’re going to learn to keep relating.
This is just one small piece of our discussion yesterday. I’ll add more thoughts later.