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Posts from November 2009

3 Things the Emerging Church Took From the Catholics

What did the Roman Catholics ever do for the Emerging Church? Nothing! The EC had to figure it all out by themselves. Over 2 decades of struggle and experimentation and getting laughed at and being misunderstood.

Actually, thats not quite true. A few things come to mind. And since I promised last week to mention the Catholics and the emerging church, here are 3 things the Emerging Church took from the Catholics:


1 The Catholics coined the term "emerging church"

The phrase "emerging church" as well as "emergent church" appeared in Catholic literature more frequently than in Protestant writings in the first half of the last century. It often referred to the first centuries of the Christian church but occasionally it pointed to the new "younger" expressions of church rising up on the mission field. By the 1960's writers were using it to describe new church expressions in the Western world. Some of these churches also embraced an "emergent theology" referring to the "theology from the underside of history" (Torres and Fabella).

"The mature Christian of the future will not belong primarily to a Christian denomination: he will belong to a community of people who believe in the Christian interpretation of life." from The Emerging Church, by William Kalt and Ronald Wilkins (Catholic writers), published June 5, 1968, page 230. I blogged that quote here.

Apart from a number of Catholic books on the emerging church from the 60's and 70's that sit on my shelf, by far the most prophetic book is "The Emergent Church: The Future of Christianity in a Postbourgeois World" by Catholic scholar Johann Baptist Metz (English edition, 1981). I have referred to this book a few times over the years, especially in Germany to emerging church networks there. Metz did not coin the word, despite what Wikipedia says, but he did bring it back into circulation and use it in reference to the Western world. In his book, Metz predicts a New Reformation of senses for Protestants, of grace for Catholics, and of a new kind of justice for politics. The emergent church will spring up from the grassroots, he argues, not from the middle class. Which, as I have said before, has already happened.


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2 The Catholics demonstrated church in a house

Its a revolutionary idea, well . . . unless you consider the first three hundred years of church history, but we Protestants were inspired to do house church from the Catholics. Let me play it out. The current global emerging house church movement is a less cheesy outgrowth of the house church movement of the 1970's, which was precedented by the experimental house churches of the 1950's. Donald Allen, writes in 1972, "Of all subsequent house church developments in England the most notable has been the oft-cited work of E. W. Southcott as vicar of Halton Parish in Leeds." And if you are lucky enough to find Southcott's book "The Parish Comes Alive" (1956), which, being the geek I am, managed to do just that, you will discover that the main inspiration for his network of 12 house churches were the Franciscans who were doing house church in the 1940's in Belgium and France. Chalk up another for the Catholics.

3 The Catholics inspired church in a pub

Or church in a coffee house. Or a club. Or quite a number of "third spaces", "secular" or culturally "neutral" environments. The emerging church movement has made these third spaces kosher for churches and missions of all stripes. But there were already ministries in pubs and coffee houses in the 1960's, although lacking in a robust ecclesiology. One of the earliest examples of protestant "church in a pub" was at Soho, London, in 1955, where Rev. Tony Reid took his parish to the people. Father Patrick McLaughlin gave permission for this experimental fresh expression of church after seeing the church involved in social action in Brussels in the 1930's. Another one for the Catholics. You could almost say that the emerging church sprouted out of Brussels . . . . um . . . hmmm . .

But apart from these things, what did the Roman Catholics ever do for the emerging church? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!


The Michael Knight Trust: I want to worship

It occurred to me, after reading Bob's account of the first thanksgiving, that hardship was the context in which the first thanksgiving celebration was birthed. This sheds some light on today's launch of the Michael Knight Trust. Michael was 18 when he passed forward earlier this year. He was the son of my friends Mark "Dosser" Knight and his wife Kathy. We were on the MV Logos together about 24 years ago.

The passing of their son has really impacted me. Michael was born a week earlier than our son, Samuel. The Michael Knight Trust Fund will support the training of worship musicians. Go pay a visit and leave a bid at the auction of the Gibson Les Paul Classic guitar that was donated to the Trust.


Happy Thanksgiving

The biggest Thanksgiving turkey we ever had was 33 pounds (15 kilos) which just squeezed into our double oven. We served 45 people that day, in our home in Portland, Oregon. I was the chef, of course, which means that I took all the credit for the entire meal which was, to be honest, composed of many other food items that my wife had made - sweet potato souffle with marshmellow, jello salads, pumpkin pie - but he who cooks and carves the turkey wears the crown. Just the way it is.


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We invited a lot of international students who wanted a real American thanksgiving. It didn't matter that I was a New Zealander. A number of Muslims joined us. Also a Buddhist priest that I had to pick up at his temple. We all went round in a large circle giving thanks for what God had done for us. It took a while. It was a big happy memorable day. Hope you have the same today. We are having a slow and kind Thanksgiving here in Portugal.

For those of you outside USA, who only know of Thanksgiving from old episodes of Happy Days, Bob Beltz has an informative article on the history of Thanksgiving. And thanks to CG Grant and Co for sending me a nice Thanksgiving letter and this animated GIF that I appropriated.


Joining the Redumptancy Club

eek! I wrote this post, published it and then WOPPP it was gone! Dang. Let me try to write something similar.

This morning I received a letter from my employer, Church Mission Society. There have been some massive cut-backs recently due to the financial downturn, but I have managed successfully to avoid them - not bad for the new guy on the block and for a Baptist who is unconvincingly Anglican. But the crisis has caught with me and today I received an apologetic letter saying that I have been made redundant effective February 2010.

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REDUNDANT!! . . . AHHH!!! . . WHY ME?? . . .WHY???

Actually, it was no surprise. They had informed me a while ago, in a sensitive, almost painfully apologetic way that only the English can pull off. In fact, CMS have been overwhelmingly supportive and are pursuing ways that will enable us to continue our partnership in ministry, but with us raising the support from people and not them. "Mission Partner" is the name for it. In some ways, we had already starting this a few months ago when the other half of our funding fell through - another sob story that i won't lay on you the day before Thanksgiving. Those of you who receive our email have the skinny on how to support us with more than prayer.

Anyway. Its a hard thing to receive a redundancy letter, despite how nice your employer has been about it. Its like getting dumped by a girlfriend. Its a blow to your ego. It whispers insulting challenges to your accomplishments, It highlights the 'dunce' part of 'redundancy' when you say the word too many times in the same sentence.

But on the positive side, I have coined a new word: "Redumptancy"

And not only this, but I have also empathetically joined the ranks of others in The Redumptancy Club who have, like me, become victims of this world-famous recession. We share in the same disappointment of lost security, a fresh wave of personal humility, a similar journey of faith into dependance on God and the bubbling exhilaration of anticipating the new opportunity around the corner.

God loves corners. We should not avoid them.

God speaks to people in transitions. We should not fear them.

If you ask me "What changes will you make?" I can only say that, since God provides and has provided all we have needed for the past 25 years of mission service, we will continue to seek and equip young leaders around the world to fulfill the Great Commission. Because of the financial downturn, we have already made drastic cuts in our lifestyle, have already replaced the car with bikes, have already reduced our budget to a barebones level, and now run a pretty tight ship - or in this case, a truck. The next step is not cutting back more but getting more support from more partners. I think.

Who else has become a recent member of The Redumptancy Club? Should we lift each other into the next chapter?

OK - that is pretty much what i wrote. I am sure the original was more eloquent and appreciative of CMS - who have been wonderful bedfellows these past 3.6 years - but that's it. Now you have the skinny.


Catholics and the Emerging Church

The Catholic website New Advent sent me a tidal wave of traffic this week with a link to my post "How to estimate church attendance". THANKS! And thats not all. The Catholics are making themselves felt all over the emerging church blogosphere right now:

- Patrick Keenan is running a series called In Search of the Emerging Church on the National Catholic Reporter.

- Cathlimergent introduces itself all over twitter [@Cathlimergent] as a new social network for Catholics exploring emerging church.

- This Fragile Tent generates response with this morning's post "Where are all the Emerging Catholics?" Where are they? Well, you will no doubt point to Emergent Catholics, Alan Creech, and a mountain of other Catholic bloggers and emerging church people.

Continue reading "Catholics and the Emerging Church" »


Marko on the Sale of Youth Specialties

"I still think this whole thing is, potentially, a win for everyone."

markatdesk-225x300.jpgwrites Marko from his new downsized desk in the family room, on the acquisition of Youth Specialties by Youth Works. Bloggers are chiming in around the blogosphere, esp after the new announcement at the National Youth Workers Convention this week. For the skinny on Youth Works and President Paul Bertelson, go to Tony Jones who was one of the founders.

I enjoyed meeting Yac when he ran Youth Specialites, and I enjoyed my times with Marko over the years, which almost always included smoking a cigar [Marko seems to have a bottomless stash of them]. And I do hope, Marko, whatever organization you end up in, that we will have more stogie-fellowship in the future.


A Slow and Kind Thanksgiving

turkey.jpgWe are walking over to a local farm today to pick up our turkey for tomorrow's Thanksgiving day celebrations. Once again I am happy to report that our celebration will be slow and kind, as well as compassionate, local and free. And it will be a day of good friends and thanksgiving for all God has done for us. Hope you have a great day also.

Related: Grace to Ewe: Our cruelty-free diet


Tall Skinny Widget

Special thanks to Bill Kinnon for creating the tall skinny widget on my right column to help us raise funds for our family and team. Yes, our team is now 9 people and your support will help us bring training and resources into 25 countries around Europe and North Africa over the next year.

Bill interviewed me for a video when I was in Montreal and he managed to integrate it into the widget. What a geek!! Thanks! And also thanks to those of you who responded to our appeal after our loss of funding. Because of you, we raised the first ten percent 10% [$3000) which has already helped us get back on the road. And now, the other 90% . . . . Let me know if you place the tall skinny widget on your blog so I can do something nice for you. Like ... not slam your book when it gets published.