Category: Emerging Church

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping God

Faith Turning Points

WikiGodPod: Our Stories Shaping GodRecently I was talking about stuff on WikiGodPod, a podcast out of the Greater Toronto Area (I live close to the GTA in Kitchener) centred around our stories and how that shapes how we understand God. I’m not somebody who speaks well without preparation, so the potential questions were sent in advance and I spent a few hours the night before and morning of planning. I figure since I already spent those hours writing notes, I may as well clean them up a bit and publish them here.

Mark’s next question for me was:

What were major turning points in terms of faith and God?

From Emerging to Redux

The observant reader will have noticed that this post is going up at a new domain. If you didn’t, don’t feel bad – I attempted to make the migration as smooth as possible. It even has the same theme. It’s basically just a new name and a new About page.

Some will ask, I’m sure, why the new name. For a while now, I’ve considered dropping the “emerging” from the site name. If somebody asks me whether I am an “emerging Christian”, I would probably say yes. That said, the label isn’t nearly as meaningful as it was a few years ago when I started this blog. Some just think it means “liberal” or “mainliner pretending to be evangelical” (yes, I have heard that one). Others have never really encountered the label at all or have but give confused looks in response to it. It isn’t for nearly as many that it means what it used to mean for those who identified with it: the postmodern conversation between Christians of all types.

My Denominational Story

Recently on the MennoNerds Facebook group, Robert was brave enough to ask for denominational history represented amongst our 199 members (as of writing this). I gave the short version there: United Church of Canada (evangelical), Canadian/Convention Baptist, non-denominational conservative evangelical, non-denominational post-conservative/”emerging”, non-denominational charismatic evangelical, United Church of Canada (liberal), Free Methodist, and (neo-)Anabaptist/Brethren in Christ. Those are the groups who I have been actively engaged in their ministry work. But I’m sure you all want to hear the long version along with some of the main things I learned in each “phase.”

2 Approaches to Protestantism

Alister McGrath’s brilliant work Christianity’s Dangerous Idea (full review coming) has this to say in its final section:

For the historian, such cycles of review and renewal seem to be an integral part of Protestant identity….

The pressure of these changes has created a furious debate within sections of Protestantism, leading to a confrontation between two very different visions – one static, the other dynamic – of Protestant identity. On the one hand are Protestant traditionalists who hold that the essence of Protestantism can only be preserved by “freezing” defining moments in the past… For such traditionalists, fidelity to the past is the touchstone of authenticity and integrity.

Millenials: We Suck and We’re Sorry

Not going to give a lot of commentary on this one, but I appreciated it and it does tie in to a lot of the stuff I talk about with how the church needs to listen to Millenials instead of dismissing us as whiney.

Movie Theatre

The Trotsky: Boredom or Apathy?

You may not have even heard of the movie The Trotsky. It is about a teenager in Montreal who believes he is the reincarnation of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. After trying to start a union at his father’s factory, he is sent to public school instead of boarding school as punishment. Not too surprisingly, he sees the crack-down style of the principal and vice-principal and decides that they need a union of students who can contribute to their own education. Humour and conflict ensues as those in power resist the idea as being ridiculous.

The defining question of the movie is this: boredom or apathy? Leon first sees this question written by another student passing notes in class and it comes out throughout the movie. The difference is explained this way:

Apathy is the state of not caring, boredom is merely a slumber from which they can be aroused.

A Letter from a Millennial

Thanks to Rachel Held Evans writing for CNN, the topic of why Millennials are leaving the church and what if anything we should do about it is back on the conversation table for a lot of Christians. Many are very thoughtfully engaging with the topic and realizing that the exodus is a symptom of the huge issues prevalent in the North American church. For those people I am immensely thankful – I probably would have little to do with institutional Christianity if it were not for you.

But I am always amazed and disappointed at how many people shrug off the younger generation as just whining or that we’ll come back once we grow up a little. So I write this post to those shrugging us off, on behalf of my generation:

Rob Bell Calling out Bullshit

I’m not one to swear often. I generally only do if I really feel like it is the best way to say what needs to be said. But I believe that Rob Bell was right about calling bullshit what it is recently on the UK talk radio show Unbelievable. It was near the end of a tour promoting his new book, he’s visibly exhausted, and the other guest as well as the host (who usually does a great job of moderating in a way that seems fair) just went after him on his position about same-sex marriage. Eventually he responds by saying that it is this kind of bullshit that scares people away from the church.

Here’s a longer clip for context:

I highly suggest not reading the comments on that YouTube video. It’s depressing and more of the exact same bullshit that Bell was pointing out.

Tips for Keeping the Young Adult Generation in Church

In the final section of You Lost Me by David Kinnaman, he brings in a variety of church leaders to offer advice on what it would need to look like to keep the young emerging generation in the church. Consequently, the section is a bit more fragmented than the rest. This post will be similarly fragmented. Here are some of my favourite ideas and a brief commentary of my own.

Three Principles

But first, Kinnaman pinpoints three overarching principles that he saw throughout his research. First and most importantly in my opinion, the emerging generation is driven primarily by relationship. In each section that Kinnaman suggested a turn from one attitude to its solution, at the root of the change was the introduction of a relational dimension. As I try to pound home a lot in this blog, relationship is at the heart of absolutely everything. In the age of shallow technological connections, we crave real, deep human connection. The church’s primary job should be to provide that and let the other things like theology flow out of that.

The Hole in the Emerging Church

This will shock many to hear, but in the early years of the emerging movement – at least its organized forms – Mark Driscoll was a key member. In a fairly sudden twist, he declared the emerging movement heretical and has consistently condemned anyone and everyone even loosely tied to the label since. In many ways, he is now known as the anti-emerging, conservative Reformed spokesperson. Most have bought into the idea that conservative evangelical and Reformed theology is inherently opposed to emerging theology and vice versa.

On the other hand, last week I had dinner with my wife’s cousin and her husband. Like me, he is a Christian and enjoys a good theological discussion. Unlike me are a lot of aspects of his theology, most of them going back to the idea of justice: the legal framework for salvation, evangelism being about keeping people out of Hell, God being bound by retributive justice, etc. No, he didn’t change my mind on anything and I doubt I changed his mind on anything, but I don’t think that was really the primary point. It was clear that much of our picture of God was radically different but at no point in the conversation did I feel like he was not my brother.