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Sunday conversation

Deep Church shifts over to USA

" . . . Deep Church is back with a vengeance. Get used to the term because you are going to hear much more of it." TallSkinnyKiwi, 2007

A few years ago the UK experienced a "Deep Church" wave. There were books, blogs, lecture series,  Now the USA is taking a look at this term that C.S. Lewis preferred for his book "Mere Christianity".

Hot off the press is Jim Belcher's book called Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional". I took a quick look this morning.

Initial responses:

- Jim Belcher seems like a lovely guy with a good mind and a big heart. I think we will be meeting up at Lausanne 3 next year in South Africa. Look forward to it.

- Jim has really caught the attention of the American church with this book and it seems to promote unity and understanding. Good.

-. I am a little uncomfortable with the idea that the emerging church emerged out of protest, which Don Carson also suggested in his book. For me, and thousands of others like me, it was a strategic move towards a more sustainable, effective, contextually appropriate way of creating new church structures for a new wave of Jesus followers in a way that jived with the Scriptures AND the denomination's [I was Baptist] framework at the same time. And not having any money to buy buildings or pay pastors salaries meant we just did what we could with what we had and what we could find (coffee shops, etc) . And the traditional denominations and organizations applauded what we were doing and were quick to support it. Of course we had to do a little reminding of what pioneer ministry looks like in our world as well as how it looked like for them when they first started.

- The distance between the traditional and the emerging is not as wide as most people think. Many denominations have a two track (traditional and emerging) strategy reflected in their budget and staffing. I would say most new church starts are actually "emerging" whether planted by traditional or emerging groups. Also, many of the emerging church's key leaders have either been brought on staff on older mission organization or denominations, or they have been deeply embedded all the time and there has not been a significant controversy over doctrine or methodology. The few mavericks get all the attention. Controversy sells.

- A really good review of the book is by Kevin DeYoung, who, despite being on the opposite side of me, comes out with pretty much the same conclusions.

- The Pryos liked it. Who would have thought?

-. The conversation on "deep church" and "deep ecclesiology" happened a few years ago in the UK, and was followed closely by Jason Clark . The key book was Remembering our Future: Explorations in Deep Church by Andrew Walker and Luke Bretherton.

- The conversation in the UK pointed back to the Great Tradition, especially as outlined by DH Williams in his two excellent books: Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism; A Primer for Suspicious Protestants which I suggested in my review was a better and more edgy book that his later "Evangelicals and Tradition". Jim Belcher also points to the Great Tradition, and references DH Williams, and I hope his American audience takes note.

- There is plenty of good material online around the subject "deep ecclesiology". I taught on it many times, In fact, I think I coined the word in Europe in 2002. It was later was picked up by Brian McLaren and adopted by Emergent Village officially, and other groups more informally. I dont find Belcher referencing much of this previous conversation. But maybe he is a book person and not a blog person. All the same, Belcher points the church in a good direction and good things will no doubt come of it.

"A deep ecclesiology, from what I have seen, is still around the corner." Andrew Jones, The Ooze, 2002

- I have 200 books on the emerging church and really don't need more unless they significantly add to the conversation. But Jim Belcher's book does and deserves to be on the shelf. However, I am still not convinced that we need a third way. So I will keep on planting new churches as someone equally at home in the traditional and the emerging global mission scene.