08 November 2005
Caution Church Ahead
Several months ago I sent this picture to Popping Culture and he put it on the blog. But I lost the picture when I spilled a Rolling Rock on my laptop (the ibook survived!). I offer this picture as the icon for the current and next generations of the Christianity.
Last year the Christian Century ran a feature on The Emerging Church and Brian MaClaren. A year later the term emerging church popped up again and I went back and reread the Xian Century article and then went to the Andover Newton library and checked out all the books I could on the subject; there I found some voices, thoughts, ideas and ventures right on track with my own.
I went to Colgate Rochester Divinity School and proudly graduated with honors and with all of the regalia of a Liberal Protestant degree. But after five years of ministry I found some cognitive dissonance (a term I learned at CRDS) between the education I received and the community I serve. My hunch is that all seminarians experience this.
What I am seeking is a way of pastoring that blends the Appalachian love of preaching, emotion, the bible and fellowship with the Northeastern love of reason, liturgy, and the spoken word. Can one properly blend Billy Sunday and Peter Gomes? I think so.
Prostestantism in North America somehow has to find a way to get beyond the liberal vs. fundamentalist fights, those fights do not interest me in the slighest - they bore and suck the life out of me. Those fight draw you to them and use all of your creative energy. Uggh!
I am seeking a Christianity that is somehow beyond that gulf and appreciates the values of both sides (minus the political wrangling). I am seeking a Protestantism that still protests an infallible human figure, a "priestly class" and non-democratic bureaucracy. However, I am seeking a Protestantism that fully embraces and draws from the creative wellsprings of contemplative prayer, spiritual disciplines, historic connectivity, and observance of the Christian year. I am seeking a Baptist path that uplifts a Christ-ocentric narrative, an unabashed emotive faith expressions, a love of terribly beautiful "banged out" hymns, radical discipleship and holds supreme the voluntary principle. However, I want to be connected to the Anglican bloodlines that run through this path. I like to wear a clerical collar, bless people, and hear confession.
All of my trains of thoughts keep hitting both centrally and tangetially to some of the aveunes of the Emergent Church. I am bit hesitant to jump on board. Why? I refuse to bleach my hair, give up business suits, and create a church that is geared more to one specific generation. I cherish the memories of sitting next to Grandma in church. I cherish the intergenerational aspect of congregational worship. I cherish the wisdom, folly and joy when there are blue haired old ladies, no haired men, thin haired babies and thick haired teenagers.
These are embryonic thoughts. I will continue to read, think and write this out. Comments will be greatly appreciated. Still be forewarned: CAUTION CHURCH AHEAD.
Posted by g. travis norvell at 8:52 AM