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“Whither (or Wither) the Church?” Some would say: … whether the church?

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Presentation on theme: "“Whither (or Wither) the Church?” Some would say: … whether the church?"— Presentation transcript:


2 “Whither (or Wither) the Church?” Some would say: … whether the church?



5 Who is the New Audience? 1. Gen-Xers 2. Millennials 3. The hyphenateds 4. The SBNR’s 5. The Nones

6 Generation XMillennials Born 1965-1976 51 million Born 1977 – 1998 75 million Gen-Xers and Millennials

7 Paul Knitter on “double belonging” “…more and more people are finding that they can be genuinely nourished by more than one religious tradition, by more than their home tradition or their native tradition.” -- from Knitter, Without Buddha I could not be a Christian


9 “In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).” — Pew Report, October 2012

10 JOHN COBB TO THE UCC ANNUAL CONFERENCE: “The more progressive denominations on the whole have been losing members and resources. There are many reasons. But I think the deepest one may be that what we do and say does not seem to be terribly important. This is true with regard to our children whom we bring up in the church. They may have a positive attitude toward it, but they do not see any reason to give much, if any, of their time and energy to its support.”




14 ReIMAGINE is a center for life integration. Fueled by the life and teachings of Christ we aspire to revolutionize how people live their lives and empower leaders who will revolutionize their communities.

15 Shane Claiborne “How can you worship a homeless Man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” “To refer to the Church as a building is to call people 2 x 4's.” – Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution “Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” “Christianity is at its best when it is peculiar, marginalized, suffering, and it is at its worst when it is popular, credible, triumphal, and powerful.” – Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President


17 Faith in a postmodern world… Post-foundational means that we are free to tell a narrative about ourselves and God, without having to first ground the language about God. Postmodern means that the “modern” beliefs in (and valuing of) individualism, rationalism, and unlimited progress no longer hold. Post-Christendom means that Christianity no longer seeks to dominate over other religions. The distinctive features of one’s belief and practice do not negate or supersede other paths. We are stronger, not weaker, through religious difference and diversity.

18 Emerging Leadership in Emerging Communities is… 1.Scouts who go out and find those who are hungry for community 2.Hosts in the emergence of new communities 3.Discerners: they see, state, and honor the spirituality within those they meet – both inside and outside the church. 4.“Cultural creatives”: those who hear and understand the pulse of our age 5.Bridgers of conversations and groups and identities 6.Lovers of what the church has been and Welcomers of what she is becoming

19 Pastor as Host. The host… makes guests comfortable anticipates their needs matches folks up and gets conversations started establishes a tone or ethos leads by example at her best, transforms the lives of those she hosts

20 A new set of spiritual disciplines: The spiritual discipline of coming alongside (cf. Parclete, the Holy Spirit, in John 14) The spiritual discipline of listening The spiritual discipline of sitting with the questions The spiritual discipline of “living in the grey” (cf. Tillich on faith and doubt) The spiritual discipline of Hermes: translating the language that nurtured us into the language of those around us – including, most definitely, those outside the church!

21 Religion in an interreligious age… (1) It’s about a faith that you can wrap your life around (2) It’s about being part of a community on the Way (3) It’s not a zero-sum game (with other persons or religions, or with our culture as a whole); it’s not “you win, I lose” (4) It’s as simple as “understanding and acceptance,” and as complex as the emerging universe (5) It’s about living!

22 Our experience (and action) at Claremont… Phase 1: A traditional Christian seminary Phase 2: Becoming the Christian member in an interreligious consortium Phase 3: Rethinking and re-imagining: where are authentic and growing Christian communities? Who attends them? How can we train leaders for effective ministries both within congregational structures and outside of them?

23 Web generations Web 1.0 – static content. Circa 1990 Web 2.0 – user-generated content. The present Web 3.0 – “the semantic web.” Learning systems. Reading and comprehending natural language. Automated thought. Not here yet…



26 Church 2.0 – Emerging Communities Open-ended Participants constitute the service and its content Pastor as host ‘The congregation knows more than the pastor’ (Mark Glaser) Blend tradition and the present Most young people are already here.


28 Faith 1.0 Propositions “The truth once given…” Those who go back to Faith 1.0 are the most vocal. Think of Mark Driscoll: “Scripture commands us to ‘contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints’ (Jude 3). Therefore, the truths of Christianity are constant, unchanging, and meant for all people, times, and places.”

29 “If relativity is a stormy sea of uncertainties, faith does not magically make the waters recede so that we can march through them on a dry path. What it does do is give us the courage to set sail on our little boat, with the hope that, by God's grace, we will reach the other shore without drowning.”


31 WHAT IS THE EMERGING CHURCH? Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures “The emerging church is diverse and decentralized, averse to static structures and fixed ideas. Many participants would resist my calling it a movement, instead describing it as an ongoing conversation about church and mission. It certainly is a conversation, which is occurring in local communities, at conferences, and in a multitude of blogs… Brian McLaren stated the agenda succinctly: "If you have a new world, you need a new church. You have a new world." -- Hal Knight

32 THE EMERGING CHURCH: Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy A generous orthodoxy “is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. It is rather to be in a loving…community of people who are seeking the truth…on the road of mission…and who have been launched on the quest by Jesus, who, with us, guides us still.” It is to follow Christ in “a wild, inspiring, high-risk pursuit…”

33 JOHN WESLEY AND THE EMERGING CHURCH, by Hal Knight The Emerging Church Discussion (1) “Emerging churches are not responding to a passing fad but to deep, permanent, and pervasive cultural change. Subsequent generations will be shaped to an even greater extent by postmodern culture… Emerging churches exult in traditional spiritual practices and imagery, but seamlessly interweave it with contemporary language, art, and technology…”

34 JOHN WESLEY AND THE EMERGING CHURCH, by Hal Knight The Emerging Church Discussion (2) “Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures” -- Gibbs and Bolger Younger Americans are finding interesting new ways to mine what this means … new ways of thinking and being “church”…

35 JOHN WESLEY AND THE EMERGING CHURCH, by Hal Knight The Emerging Church Discussion (3) “Emerging churches are radically incarnational— they see all of life as potentially sacred, all of culture subject to transformation and renewal by the kingdom of God. They reject the dualisms of sacred/secular, public/private, mind/body, faith/reason that are so central to Enlightenment thought. As Gibbs and Bolger put it, ‘For emerging churches, there are no longer any bad places, bad people, or bad times. All can be made holy. All can be given to God in worship. All modern dualisms can be overcome.’”

36 JOHN WESLEY AND THE EMERGING CHURCH, by Hal Knight The Emerging Church Discussion (4) “Emerging churches are often frequently networks of small groups, and for some mutual accountability is a central practice. They also seek to discover what it means to be a genuine community, a people together in relationship, rather than a gathering of individuals…


38 “ What we celebrate today is our willingness to graduate from the platitudes of interfaith dialogue and engagement for short term goals, all of which are crucial, to an experiment that seeks to transform the teaching of religion and faith as a precondition for any religious ambition to transform and improve the world.”

39 “Recognizing the Divine in each other is the lost skill of humankind. How do we speak to the divine in the other before we speak to his race or nationality? How do we greet the divine in the other before we judge her language, colour or hair type? …

40 “…How do we live interdependently with each other before assigning each other gender, age and culturally specific roles? How do we relate to the divine in each other before we get agitated by the myriad different ways we believe, worship, pray and chant? How do we see the spiritual in each other before claiming exclusivity and uniqueness for our particular doctrine, theology or ideology?”


42 Jill Jacob: Tikkun olam “We come to a definition of tikkun olam as the process of fixing large societal problems, while maintaining a belief that our actions can have a positive effect on the greater human and divine world. When I think about my own tikkun olam commitments, I ask myself whether the work I am doing makes our society as a whole function in a more positive way; whether the work allows even the most vulnerable members of society to live fully realized lives; and whether the work contributes to establishing a world in which the divine presence is more readily apparent. If we each ask these questions of ourselves, we can help to ensure that our work is worthy of being deemed tikkun olam.”

43 H. Richard Niebuhr and “Radical Wesleyanism” “ There is no time or place in human history, there is no moment in the church’s past, nor is there any set of doctrines, any philosophy or theology of which we might say, ‘Here the knowledge possible through revelation and the knowledge of revelation is fully set forth.’ Revelation is not only progressive but it requires of those to whom it has come that they begin the never-ending pilgrim’s progress of the reasoning Christian heart…”


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