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Posts from January 2008

5 Models of Emerging Church from 1999

DJ Chuang is collecting various models of emerging churches that are often quoted and referred to. That includes models given by Ed Stetzer, Scot McKnight, Justin Taylor, Mark Driscoll, and more recently from C. Wess Daniels and Darren Patrick and others.

No one has ever quoted mine because no one has ever read it, at least not in the last 8 years. It was never published online, only in a Leadership Network magazine called Next Generation. I post it here, introducing it to the internet audience as a blast from the past and also as way for Creatives to understand the various models of emerging church without resorting to reductionist labels or alliterated cheese. I have added some images but left the text intact, despite the choppy writing and embarrassingly sarcastic flavor.

Disclaimer: Back in 1999 when this was written, I had just traveled for two years in a Winnebago with my family around the USA. We had left our home in San Francisco in 1998 to hit the road and I shifted my employment from the California Baptist Association to becoming a Consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. They let us travel as missionaries to the emerging culture and some of that time was hosting conferences with a group called Young Leaders (which later became Emergent, after we had left for Europe). But in the two years of travel around USA, we went to every state (except North and South Dakota) to identify and support new church movements among the emerging postmodern subculture. Not just Baptist churches, but all stripes and colors. In 2000 we shifted our base of operation to Europe. So these models are from our American experience. I would NOT use them to describe the European emerging church scene.

"Postmodern" was the word we were using back then and obviously, I would not choose this word in 2008. Nor would I be so annoyingly ironic. I think over the past 8 years, and through many toils and snares, I have matured from a sarcastic smart-alec punk to a much more refined smart-alec punk. So please give me a break when you read this. Also, Jason from Young Leaders asked me to write a particularly provocative article for the magazine Next Generation. Thus, my overview of the American scene with some very sharp rib-pokes towards "posers" and a deconstruction of the deconstruction we were suggesting.

Anyway, its tongue in cheek and not to be taken too seriously. What I find interesting, however, is how similar other models from today's emerging church measure up to these five categories. And without further ado, dear bloggers and emerging church critics, I give you a blast from the past.


Postmodern Church Time Capsule,
by Andrew Jones. Dec 31, 1999. San Francisco


Is your church postmodern? This was The Question evangelical churches were asking themselves as the 1990s came to a close. Included in this time capsule is my brief snapshot of 5 models of churches going under the postmodern label at the turn of the new Century. I have likened them to gardens because . . . well, it's fun.

1. Big like a Miracle-Gro Garden


Letteri-3ntimidation through size is a great deterrent to criticism. Yet there are some steroid-ridden youth churches whose mandate is "Xtreme growth" and a head count that matches the Midian army, even at the expense of other churches.

Emergingmodelsstarts-5a highly-strung, well-financed youth group becomes a stage production that becomes their fathers' church.

Are they Emergingchurchmodelspostmod-4
Not really. More like hypermodern with candles. They are unwilling to topple the pillars of modernity lest the whole building collapse on their head, as it did with Samson.

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Emerging Church Amsterdam

Heres are the highlights of my one day in Amsterdam.

I had a fantastic dinner at the home of Phil and Laina Graf in their classic Amsterdam home. Their house even has a cellar in the basement which was used for hiding Jews during the war. Which might be quite normal for the Dutch but I found it interesting. The food was incredible - wild mushroom soup with truffle oil was the best. Laina gave us her food business to come with her husband to help start new churches in Europe with a Netherlands based mission called Christian Associates - a mission group which received some good press in Prague the same day of the meeting for the new emerging church there [HT: Sasa Flek who there (preaching) has more info on their first gathering]


A great group of people came for our "meeting". You can read about them all on Ro's blog OurJourney which is where i stole this picture. Not mentioned in Ro's account was Gerard Almighty Kelly, whose early book on emerging church (RetoFuture) is a classic. Gerard left UK to give leadership to Crossroads Church in Amsterdam.

Ro Bos is a Dutch web designer and the guy that started - which, we decided that evening, was the original, and longest lasting Emerging Church on-line magazine in the world. Charlie Wear had the idea for it originally and still leads it today with Bob Hyatt, but it was started by a Dutchman. In fact, Next-Wave is having its tenth anniversary right now and the January issue is a big one. I was asked to write a quick ten year history but have not been able to get it finished in time. He is now working with a Dutch Reformed Church.

Thanks to Andrew Perriman of Open Source Theology for organizing the meeting. We discussed his excellent new book in the car. Its called Re:Mission - Biblical Mission for a Post-Biblical Church and I am half way through it. I like the way Andrew thinks and how he approaches the Scriptures, looking at them with a missional framework and asking the right questions.

Marc Van der Woude the Flying Dutchman and a leader in Connect Europe came with my good friend Eno, a church planter from Switzerland.

Digression: My first visit to Amsterdam was in 2000, the same week as Billy Graham's Amsterdam 2000 event, a massive affair in which I heard a number of famous speakers, none of whom realized I had snuck into the event without an invitation. The security people on their hi-tech scooters, however, noticing that I had no identifying bracelet, despite my attempts to cover my naked wrist whenever they looked, were polite and gracious in showing me the back door. Derek Chapman was also there and he lasted a few hours longer than I before they threw him out. Obviously his kung-fu was stronger. Gatecrashing Christian conferences is an art-form and requires years of practise. They don't teach you these skills in seminary, you know.

Our whole family flew in to Amsterdam with backpacks and sleeping bags and we set up our tent in a campground beside the city. The bread and the chocolate was wonderful. This photo was taken of myself and my son Samuel, taking a public whizz on the streets of Amsterdam.

Ahhhh. They don't call it a PUBLIC toilet for nothing. Would any other bloggers care to show their public urination photos. Hello? Al Mohler?

But back to the emerging church meeting. My biggest regret for the evening, apart from not getting a third helping of that mushroom soup, is that the legendary Curtis Sergeant had to leave early (Curtis, Lee Behar and I came over from our meeting earlier) and could not tell us some stories about the incredible movements that have been happening in China.

Very humbling to be around Curtis. And quite intimidating to submit my report for a funding grant to him and Lee Behar (they both work for a foundation that supports mission) knowing that Curtis has been involved with a movement that started a MILLION churches in Asia (probably a low estimate) and things in Europe move so slowly and are often very unimpressive.

Picture 3-2

niko-dirkReally enjoyed meeting two young guys [Hetnetwork] starting an emerging church and Nico-Dirk [Post-gereformed] (pictured on left) who has been reading up on a lot of theology. I asked him for a list of the Dutch thinkers who have impacted him and he reeled off a lenghty list and I wasn't sure if these were Dutch theologians or if he was just clearing his throat. I recognized Kuyper and a few others but there is a lot more out there - not all translated into English. Great to see people reading the writings of old Dutchmen to gain perspective on whats happening now in their own context.

And lots of other great people that i caught up with (Gea Gort, Martijn, etc). Ohh . . and Andrew Last, son of missionaries Scott and Terri Last [Scott was part of the original Calvary Chapel in the early 70's when it was a tiny chapel] Anyway, great to be in Netherlands again. I love that country. The EC scene has really changed since I came here in 2003 at the request of Roland Van der Molen and the Assemblies of God to do a creative training event for 50 young church planters. The emerging church scene in 2008 seems a lot more stronger, confident, and diverse.

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A Theology of Profanity, by Adam Mellem

Fuller student Adam Mellem just told me I can upload his paper on A Theology of Profanity [PDF], a paper drawing on many sources including my little blog post called Offensive language: I think my mother taught me.

Related: Al Mohler's Stand on Emergent Profanity by Mark Van Steenvyk, currently circling the blogosphere, is SATIRE. Adam did not quote it, obviously, but if you quote it in an academic paper then you will get points deducted. Especially if you attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. But Fuller's Barry Taylor will probably give you top marks. Hi Barry!

Next-Wave Starts its Tenth Year

Next-Wave starts its tenth year this month. Its weird because way back in 1999, Rogier Bos, or "Ro" (as he likes to be called) interviewed Doug Pagitt and I for a Next Wave article when we were in Southern California. And here I am, in Amsterdam, asking Ro about Next Wave.

NewheaderNext-Wave is older than The Ooze and has more informative articles on and by the emerging church than any internet publication I know. It was the brainchild of Charlie Wear but it took a Dutchman with some web-savvy to give it life. Ro ran Next-Wave in the early days but was called back to the Netherlands where he ended up with Christian Associates, a Netherlands based Christian mission that starts churches in emerging culture.

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Pagan Christianity? (book)

PaganIts a great read and my copy has already been STOLEN by my neighbor who is probably just as fascinated in its contents as I was. Its called Pagan Christianity? by house church guru Frank Viola (not the baseball player) and researcher/author George Barna who have teamed up to give us the most thorough treatment yet of the pagan origins of many of our most cherished Sunday church traditions. Actually, Jim Rutz nailed a few of these in his book Open Church but Viola and Barna have gone far beyond Rutz, or anyone I know, in exposing more elements of Protestant church traditions to the scrutiny of historical research.

Like dressing up for church. Pulpits and 3 point sermons. Clerical dog collars. Church steeples and seminary training.

Pagan Christianity? lets George Barna unpack his argument why the new Revolutionaries mentioned in his previous book are not rebelling against God by setting up organic house communities. And it gives Frank Viola the chance to put forward his best thinking yet in a series that has already assisted thousands of people in dealing biblically and historically with accusations of "lack of covering" or "neglecting church" or more recently, of adopting "pagan" practices in starting emerging churches. Ha! Watch as Franky and Georgy turn the tables!


Yes . . . DUH! . . and the backlash has already started. Frank has responded to some of the objections here. I had one difficulty with the book that I emailed Frank about:

TSK: My main difficulty with it [Pagan Christianity?] is that it does not deal with the pagan/christian culture clash that accompanies all advances of the Kingdom into new areas. Much of what we adopt and have inherited has pagan roots but our response is not always to pull away but rather to redeem.

FRANK VIOLA: Right. I don't disagree; I could have said more about that I suppose. I didn't address a lot of the Constantinian influences on the political outlook of the church, for instance, (a la, church wedding the state) and all the problems we inherited from that simply because other people (McLaren, the radical orthodox folks, Stuart Murray, etc.) have addressed it adequately. I do try to make the point that just because a practice is pagan in origin doesn't make it wrong. We use the example of pile carpets and chairs as well as our calendar. It's the practices that hinder the headship of Christ, suppress the functioning of his body, and violate the church's DNA that we take dead aim at and expose.
As for redeeming *certain* practices, I'm all for it. In fact, if you go to you'll see why I don't go after Christmas and Easter in the book, but instead, argue that those pagan holidays, as it were, have been redeemed by Christians.

Thanks, Frank, for your response. Anyway, the book is a great read. And you can start with this free Bonus chapter (PDF). Of course you will have to figure out for yourself how to handle this information. And dont forget to hear Frank this week on the Nic and Josh Podcast. Also, my mate Alan Hirsch gives a positive review and Steve Eastman interviews Frank about some of the book's content, including the pagan origin of the sermon, known by the Greek sophists as the"homily". Ohhhhh . . . . got you hooked . . . haven't I?

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Hannah's birthday

Our little Hannah the Banana turns 10 today. She had a special birthday crepe breakfast and is really excited about entering the double digits. We will have a party next week, when we all get back from our travels.

Off to London now.

Debbie and Abi off to Prague

debbie and abigailI am at the Orkney airport, dropping off Debbie (my multi-colored wife) and daughter Abigail. They fly to Prague for the week to help shoot a commercial. Abigail's face will be coming to a TV near you . . . if you live in the USA. They will be hanging out with Uncle Eric Cosper, my wife's brother from New York who is Vice President for Publicis, the ad agency that is doing this commerical pro bono for the Education Department. The commercial will encourage urban kids to stay in school longer and get an education. I have mentioned Eric's highly creative adverts before here.

And what about me? Playing Suzie Homemaker in my apron with the other kids?
I have a few appointments that I have to keep so . . .we have managed to farm out the kids to other families and friends for a few days while I have meetings with CMS in Oxford (Monday and Tuesday) and missionaries in Amsterdam (Wednesday). Back home Thursday to pick up the kids and put on my apron.

'Missional' : First occurrence of the word

Sorry about all the edits below - we had a false call on the earliest date. Details below.

The Skinny: The earliest known usage of the word "missional" occurs in 1883 on page 191 of the book published in the UK called 'The Heros of African Discovery and Adventure, from the death of Livingstone to the year 1882', by C.E. Bourne, in which this sentence occurs;

"Bishop Tozer is called the "Missional Bishop of Central Africa and by some the " fighting parson,"

I have left the blog post intact below but have struck through the sentences that are no longer relevant or accurate.

Related: What I mean by Emerging-Missional Church

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Emergent Church Difficulties and Differences

The phrase "emergent church difficulties and differences", although it sounds like a new book title, is actually found in a document from 1662 known as the Propositions of the Synod of the churches of New England, which convened in Boston that year. This document was part of the affirmation of the Halfway Covenant of 1662.

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