Yesterday Paul wrote an excellent post called The People Known As Christians, it is very honest and true, and I appreciated reading it. Prior to Paul’s post I had been thinking quite a bit during the day as I felt very convicted after I read a comment on my blog from Paul (yes the same one – he’s got a great heart!). His words made me realize that emerging/missional Christians seem to be constantly criticising institutional church (IC). I would like to apologise to anyone who I have offended with my words – I am not meaning to bad mouth IC at all. I have some wonderful friends who are part of IC, and who will probably always be part of it. IC has blessed me and my family in many ways over the years through friendships, Christian community, prayer, and indeed financially. If it was not for IC, then most of us would not have become Christians. There are some very beautiful things which have come from institutional church – it is part of our heritage and history and we should embrace it. I donâ€™t want new forms of church – emerging/missional – to be about constantly knocking down IC. The IC is part of the Bride of Christ, and He will continue to work through it. We need to recognise what we have gained from our walk in the IC, but embrace the fact that to reach the next generations (and maybe for our own sanity!) we have to do something new. IC hasn’t got it right, and we probably won’t either, but we are all One Body.
This morning as I checked my daily reader I saw that John Smulo had written an excellent post on similar things to what I was thinking about yesterday. After reading John’s post I thought, either God is doing something here through some people to encourage emerging/missional folk to focus on their tasks and not criticize the past, or He is just trying to talk to me! The reason many of us have moved away from IC is because we are frustrated with the system, we are pained because, as Eddie Gibbs recently wrote, The Great Commission has almost become The Great Omission in most IC’s. The ways in which people have moved out from IC and have been church – when I write church here, I mean the Body of Christ, can look quite different. Some communities still have a weekly service – though nothing like a “traditional service”, they have a church building etc but they are engaging with their community, the culture around them and are being church (the Body of Christ) within their local area. Other communities are really engaging within their communities/cultures, being church (the Body of Christ), and they meet up as a community as and when – 2 – 3 times one week, maybe not at all the following – there is no set day or time, it just happens, like relationships do.
Wolfgang Simson wrote in his book Houses That Change The World, “instead of bringing more people to the church, we should be bringing church to the people.” As Christians within the emerging/missional community we need to focus on our relationships within our church community – being real, open and honest, sharing the journey. As well as this we need to get out there in our communities and really be, really serve, whatever the cost. Jamie Arpin-Ricci has a great post on this today.Â Whilst people are detoxing from IC they will experience and be vocal about different emotions, hurts etc. As John wrote though, there needs to come a time for closure, so that we can productively move ahead.Â (sorry, long post!)