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Feb 27, 2007


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Sam Carr

I couldn't agree more. The questions need to be deeply pondered, theology should be participatory and applied, so that's not the question. The real questions are why isn't it and how to make it so.

Sending all and sundry to seminary is hardly the answer! Whether seminary as a concept is biblical certainly has to be asked and we may no be comfortable with the answer.

Finally, comes the reality of the institutional character of 'church' and without licking that one the others may not become amanable...

Michael Kruse

"Finally, comes the reality of the institutional character of 'church' and without licking that one the others may not become amanable..."

I think any effective movement will eventually create structures to further mission. Whether or not the structures we have today are the right ones is highly debatable in my estimation. Structure should flow out of mission.

I try not to focus too much on fighting structures but rather on clarify vision. The right structures and istitutions will flow out of realigned vision. Unfortunately, bad existing structures tend to hamper apprehension of new vision so some conflict is unavoidable.

Sam Carr

Hmmm, a distinction needs to be made between structure (could be helpful or not) and institution in the sense of an organization with a constitution, membership and a desire to propagate itself - which i think is unbiblical primarily because we end up trying to serve two masters.

Dave Moody

Form follows function, in other words. Right?

In the oldline, where paradigms have been set and ossified- how does one clarify vision, caste vision- for folks who are in their later yrs, and just want things back in the old paradigm?

Is it a matter of- to take a riff from your previous blog posting on the big problems by the Danish economist at TED - prioritizing solutions, instead of problems? And for leaders in the congregation to be ruthless in implimenting that prioritizaiton?

Michael W. Kruse

Sam, I am using "insitution" in its generic sense as in Websters: "an organization, estalbishment, foundation, or society, or the like devoted to the promotion of a particular cause or program." For a movement to continue it will develop institutions.

This one area where I sense the Emerging Church is being deeply Protestant: We are protesting constitutions and membership which IMO is a very secondary concern. It is not about what we are opposing, it is about what we are for.

During the Reformation the Protestants threw all the icons and art out of the churches because of the idolatry connected with. The issues was not art and but art inappropriately used for true mission of the church. I think the Emerging Church seen errs some with its anti-institutonal "protest" instead of using a vision oriented compass.

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.

Michael Kruse

Dave, personally I think it is a matter of triage. Some churches are reasonably healthy. Some need a little assistance. Some need a lot of assistance. Some need a chaplain and hospice care. Oh for the wisdom to sort out which is which.

I know it is a bit cliche but I come back to the quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

People act on vision and seem see the vision before others. I think it begins with one-by-one discipleship that encourages discipleship of others until a critical mass evolves the sweeps change into existence. It is painful difficult long-term investment that takes years not months. I know of few churches that have radically changed successfully that didn't have these elements. Do you have some thoughts on this?

Sam Carr

Well, the EC may be anti institutional in its own ways. I personally came to the conclusion that institutions divide my loyalty and are essentially inimical to the gospel quite a bit before even hearing of such a phenomenon as 'emerging'.

"For a movement to continue it will develop institutions" again I demur. Seems that when institutions are established, it's the institutions that continue, regardless of the movement for which they were started.

Michael Kruse

"Seems that when institutions are established, it's the institutions that continue, regardless of the movement for which they were started."

And I think that is the great dilemma. We can't live with them and we can't live without them. I don't intend to minimize the perils that institutions bring. I just believe they are inescapable.

Sam Carr

One good thing about the EC (in all its manifestations) is that various types of structures and formulas are being tried out. This in some sense seems to parallel what the NT environment looks like and if it continues to be fluid and refuses to ossify into one or a few select models, yet maintaining the essential commitment to obedience to the gospel, I think we may find that variety and a formula less (tho not formless) approach can be very freeing up as far as allowing the Holy Spirit to develop maturity and discipleship without the necessity for institutionalisation.

However, that's at present only a rather dim hope, for history shows us that whatever revivals have taken place, as time goes on our tendency is to put our faith in a formula if for no other reason than that we feel vaguely uncomfortable when no one seems to be totally in charge.

Michael Kruse

"...we feel vaguely uncomfortable when no one seems to be totally in charge."

I often refer to the passage in the OT where the Israelites demand of God, "Give us king! Give us king!" That shout is heard in most congregations throughout the land as well.


Michael Kruse

Of course, I forgot to add, that once they get their king, the first order of business is to rebel.

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