I’ve been quite excited about reading this book, as Jonathan and I both loved Mustard Seed Vs McWorld when we read it back in 1999/2000. It was one of the first books we read which began our journey to where we are today.
The book is split into five conversations, so I have decided to review each conversation as I have finished reading it. I don’t have a paper copy yet, so I am taking my time to read through the PDF, as I find it hard reading books online! Once the paper copy arrives I should whiz through faster!
Conversation 1: Taking The New Conspirators Seriously
This conversation is split into Emerging, Missional, Mosaic and Monastic. These are the four major streams that Sine believes are ‘creating imaginative new expressions of life, church and mission’. This conversation is the jumping block to the rest of the book. It gives background information to each of the four streams, and introduces the reader to people who Sine sees as ‘key players’ within the streams. The emergent stream includes Jonny Baker, Kester Brewin, Ian Mosby, Graham Cray and John Drane in the UK, where the emerging movement first started off in the late 80s/early 90s and has since spread across the globe. Sine gives a brief description of the beginning of the emergent movement and shares some examples of emerging ministries and church plants. Key players from across the world include Steve Taylor, Alan Hirsch, Michael Frost, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball and, of course, Brian McLaren. Sine recognizes though, that the emergent movement isn’t cut and dry, there are many different opinions as to what is defined as being an emerging church. Also there are many who have serious reservations about the movement as a whole. One thing which Sine points out though, is that the emerging movement is ‘very present within blogoshere, like no other Christian movement has’. Personally I see this through blogging, however I think it must also be recognized that blogging has only really taken off in the past few years, so other movements may not have caught on with it yet.
The Missional stream is challenging ‘traditional churches to rediscover their calling as God’s sent people’. Sine lists a number of recent publications, including The Shaping Of Things to Come (Hirsch and Frost) and Post Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World (Murray) which have encouraged people to focus on missions in their community and the wider world. Sine notes that emerging and missional streams have crossed over somewhat in recent years, although differences still remain. Sine recognizes key contributions in the stream from the likes of Scot McKnight, Alan Roxburgh and Leonard Sweet. Missional is the new ‘buzz’ word which many churches from across the board have taken on.
The Mosaic stream is a multi-cultural/mono-cultural movement which is reaching out to a young generation. Many of these young people are part of the hip-hop culture. Sine gives examples of different church gatherings aimed at the young. This includes Lawndale Community Church in Chicago, which featured in Jim and Casper go to Church; for those of you who read it. Many of these gatherings are set in multi-cultural cities, such as Los Angeles and London. Cities which reflect the diversity in culture across the world. This culture is reflected within the different church gatherings, and everyone brings a piece of something from where their roots are.
The Monastic stream is something which Sine alludes to being more for the older person, though he acknowledges that a smaller number younger people are involved. He splits this into middle class and poor. Sine suggests that people involved within this stream from the middle class want to ‘pursue more serious spiritual practices within their middle class lives’. Orders he has highlighted include The Iona Community in Scotland and Northumbria Community in England. Monastic within the poor is a stream which is becoming very evident in countries such as Mexico, Thailand and India. Groups of people are ‘purposely working and living with the poor in their communities and taking time for serious spiritual practice’. Movements noted include InnerCHANGE and Urban Neighbors of Hope.
Sine notes that ‘these days God is working through a generation who will not be satisfied with anything less than an authentic faith that makes a real difference in the lives of others and in the care of God’s good creation’. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. There is a rising up which God is clearly at work within, and I for one am excited to see where He will lead us.
Conversation 1 is quite brief in places, however it must be noted that this is giving the background to the streams. My hope is that as the conversations go on Sine will go into a little more depth on each of these streams and the role he sees them playing in the future. I think it should be also noted that a lot of Sine’s key players are authors of books etc, however, there are many key players out there involved in these streams who are unheard of in other parts of the world, but who are making major contributions to the conversation in their area and country. What I will say about this book so far, is that it is easy to read and comprehend. The writing style has flowed and I think if I was reading from a paper copy rather than PDF I would have not stopped at the end of this conversation.