Emerging/Emergent Trait 6: Participating as Producers - Sept 19

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Description: The goal here is a full participation with God in redemption with everyone bringing gifts they use to their service in the kingdom. The model is the participatory church of the New Testament. So all have opportunity to contribute in a meeting. "Seeing the kingdom at work through egalitarian ways of being was not simply a theory for the early church it was an observable reality." There is a rejection of the "consumerist church" of modernity with its spectator worship, its privitized spirituality, and its materialistic leanings. There the church is more a place where people receive spiritual products. It is a marketing church that treats visitors like consumers. "Relevant application and felt needs" are key. E/E prefers contributors to worship. So places are chosen where people are free to share their journey. This is why cafes are often chosen as venues or homes. Every effort is made to have all participate in some form using their gifts. People have to work out of their former experience of church to get there. Let people worship in the forms they are used to using and that reflect who they are. So there is less scripting of services and more flexibility built into the worship time. Giving testimonies, playing music, telling stories through art, praying with small groups being emphasized are among the options. Open mic meetings are sometimesused. "For the most part, we have no up-front leader, no stage, no presiding priest, no bog pastor." Service is more dialogue driven, with teaching taking place through blogs or mid-week studies. In some locales anyone can attend a service preparation meeting. In other locales, young people are encouraged to be a part. "I think we are moving rather quickly away from teaching people how to serve in the church to serving like Jesus apart from the church." There is a reaction against stage managed and celebrity dominated worship events. A DJ may run music in the background as people share. There may be periods of silence. Much of this is so new, it is stated as an ideal and a challenge to be met. Evaluation: Looking at these descriptions reminds one of many youth meetings, college meetings or small group meetings that took place regularly in the 60's or 70's and still take place today. It makes one wonder what is new here, except that the main meetings take on these qualities. The hesitation to have leaders does to particularly reflect the model of the early church that is being claimed. It is clear that leaders did function and teach in the first century. The claims about egalitarianism without qualification also seem to be a selective reading of what the biblical texts show. Yes, all have gifts and are to share in participating, but roles are distinguished, or else why have elders, deacons, or teachers? One gets a sense of rhetorical excess in the claims made here. However, the thrust of what is desired is again based on the right kinds of values. The nurturing and even promoting of full participation of the body is something all recognize as desirable. Most churches struggle to reach this goal. A variety of means to try and get more participants there is a worthy undertaking.

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