On Top and Rising

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Emerging Ministries within a New Church Building

Having been working or thinking in the Emergent movement for over 4 years now, I keep coming back to a new idea to get groups into facilities and to keep struggling mainlines alive.

That idea is an ecumenical center.

An ecumenical center can exist in a big building or a small office space. The key thing is that the physical space provide several dedicated worship spaces that are technologically updated and separate space for each group to plan within. A really good space would also provide breakout rooms for meetings.

So what would it look like strategically? It would include 10-20 groups that call the space home. The community could leverage the space to seek out newcomers by offering a "mall" approach to worship.

Although each community is distinct, there is opportunity to leverage resources. For example the group could use a common youth minister or share access to common admin. Another example is rotating executive minister to represent the community at meetings that separately the group could not attend.

From a cost perspective, creating a common space reduces the need for fulltime pastors thus reducing the cost to 'plant' new ministries.

Finally, think of the dialogue or cooperation opportunities!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Being Niched

I recently read a great blog posting by Chris Taylor that challenged me to think about the niches we belong to. Particularly in the church. I have linked to the article below. Niches in large contexts are hard to form and even harder to sustain. Maybe that is why Gen X'rs can commit to any church for long periods of time but can commit to a small group for years. Why?

Well we were not brought up to commit to a group. Think about it.. we were the last generation that didn't have a schedule and the pressure to perform. Our elders and their talking heads say we don't care enough to commit. That we are the mushy middle. But are we?

I think we do care but that rather than follow the talking heads. ( Rev Falwell, Dr. Kennedy......) We have chosen to find our path ourselves.

During my seminary studies I was shocked at how few of us were there. I was one of three in my class. And we certainly were discouraged from deviating from the party line. I learned the most in ad hoc small groups. Challenging each other around a common love of theology. Occasionally the talking heads who taught us got in the way but we were able to really hammer out our baptism there.

In the emerging church, the mega church will collapse into small micro church's. Which may choose link with a denomination or ministry or not. The larger church will become event driven in that community will be found in a coffee shop study and not in a weekly worship. People will come together for well put together large events and they will choose. So say I like Dr. A.R. Banard ( I do I think he is great!), but don't want to join the church. You can wait for him to tour through or you can go to a camp meeting.

But Pastors of mega church's beware. We in the emerging church are not 'joiners', don't look for us to be in the parking ministry. No we won't partner (read tithe) to a specific ministry. BUT you have to find a way in small contexts to get to know us. You are just going to have to do this.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Can You Be Word of Faith and Emergent?

I guess I am about to find out. My family and I have been attending Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park for a month now. I eventually had to find a permanant home for my four kids. As an emergent I still seek that new and emerging ministry that reaches new people in a new way for Christ. Until then I have planted myself in a location that features one of the best children's ministries in the country.

As a former seminarian and process theologian, I get ribbed a lot.... like a lot for having gone to "Cementary". However, I wear it with pride. One thing that having an education allows me to do is to more critically engage with the congregation. (or mass or mall... I don't know?) Going to seminary was never the problem for me. It was the deconstructing and reconstructing my theology that challenged me. As sure as I know that I am saved, I am sure that God wants me to walk out my baptism unto perfection. (Ya know Wesley never got there, but hey it's a goal!)

I just needed a change of view and perspective. And LWCC is absolutely amazing at how it approaches the infrastructure of reengineering itself. Although some of the theology isn't in line with my theology, there is enough commonality to warrant hanging out. Check out the website: www.LWCC.org. It is a solid example of what the emerging movement can and should be doing to attract members. The overall infrastructure and missional statement alone should be taught in all seminary emerging practices classes.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Challenges within the Emerging Church

I recently posted the following comments on subversiveinfluence.com:
You pose the question on how the emergent church can respond independent of the denomination. It is not the denomination so much as the the members of the churches where emergent ministries are developing that worry me. I was really taken back by how aggressive conservative members in particular can be. Four members of my church did in an emergent ministry that pastored to the needs of children. The denomination put up all kinds of barriers to maintain these four members who left anyways. These barriers included being required to preach and program outside of the denominations core theology and orthopraxis in order to maintain membership. With denominations, its all about the numbers.

So is it possible to build an emerging ministry within a denomination or a larg mega church? Sadly, the answer appears to be no. Most churches are threatened by any culture or praxis that is different or contrary to them. Many will give lipservice to the churches they have 'birthed'. But when you get into the contexts they are typically repeats of the parent church with maybe updated music. Its no wonder they mostly fail. A many of you know right now the big thing is opening a new facility and broadcastings services into the facility from the parent church. While this may( no proof because we don't have numbers) bring in members who would probably join the parent church, it doesn't draw people who would never attend a 'regular service'. My most personal and hearfelt memories as a christian took place in a small community within Hennepin Avenue UMC. It was a small worship community (like 10 people) we did a simple worship and had discussion over dessert. This was accessible as we have a men, women, developmentally disabled and people of color. This group consistently meet for the years until the pastor retired. Then the group was ' mainstreamed' I left shortly thereafter for my first appointment. However, when I left that appointment I didn't go back because that ministry wasn't there. It was contrary and not 'usual' but it meet a need.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Progressive Church Planting: A request for progressive church links, news?

Progressive Church Planting: A request for progressive church links, news?

Great Resource of websites!! Remember evangelical is neither a right thing or a left thing. It is seeking the lost for the Kingdom of God!

The Free Methodist Church in Canada...our stories: How our stories change lives

The Free Methodist Church in Canada...our stories: How our stories change lives

Pastor Siebert placed an outstanding article as it relates to general church planting. It is realistic and a must read for all who feel called to this work!

Church Planting 101

So you want to start a church!! Great, however, even with the support of a large denomination getting folks to know you exist can be tough. One way of driving interest is by creating a website. I have appended an excellent example of one using the meta link. Having a website. Even a basic site like a Blogger page can help you.

Ok so you have a site up and running now what?

Well, begin by engaging in chat rooms that cater to you geographically or match you theologically.

You can append the website to invitation cards to drop on neighbors doorsteps.

And you can include the website in your voicemail as well.

You would be amazed at how few churches let alone start ups have solid web pages.

Ok what if you have no idea have to make a web page? This is where having friends helps. Tap your network of buddies to see if you can find the competency. If not there are vendors that will do this for you.

Regardless of how you get your website up it is critical that you have one online. It should be the second or third thing on your list as you move your vision to launch.

On Top and Rising will write on current trends within the Evangelical Chrisitian Communities. Look for postings soon!!