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Ryan Bolger

steve, amen.
i agree wholeheartedly -- it's like mark scandrette said -- we got the question wrong -- instead of asking what form the church should take, we should be asking what does the way of Jesus look like in this culture, at this time.

We need to hold definitions of 'Church' and 'Christian' really lightly, as these understandings have been strongly defined by peoples and cultures that are foreign to our current context. Or as Maggi Dawn said, you have to change to stay the same...

Personally, my focus has always been on ecclesiology -- but I've experienced a dramatic shift to a focus on the reign of God the last two years -- still wondering where everything will end up...


Brilliant rant.

I'm with you Steve. Destroy church.
It's shit anyway.

(Although, my motives are slightly more Freudian!)

Existential Punk

Death begets beauty.

". . .but to seek similar forms is romantic nostalgia." - INTERESTING observation!

Thank you for your thoughts!


yeh but wot about the 'seed falls to the ground and dies and then sprouts again' thing - maybe it dies but the new plant will just be a bit different and slightly modified/changed from its parent...and you can't get away from that fact cos it's only (human) nature...
not that I'm right - just pondering


Interestingly we were having the same conversation at The Garden last night Steve! As a new group we’re faced with the dilemma of how can we ensure we don’t just settle for ‘fitting the mould’ of other people’s expectations of us (either from traditional church and from aw/ec). We’re convinced there must be other ways/forms/expressions to be an ‘ecology of relationships’ (really like that phrase!) without becoming coerced into something that doesn’t feel right. But even so it is a daunting and isolating place to be with a blank page, 2,000 years of church history behind us and the radical challenges of Christ before us.

'Whose game are we playing?' is indeed a poignant question.

Keith Brenton

What if we just tried to be Kingdom people, paying extraordinary attention to Jesus' teachings about the Kingdom - with our lives - and then see what sort of ekklesia comes of it?

Nah. That's too radical.

Richard Passmore

Good post reminds me of the odd conversation we have had. I have posted on simular issues a couple of times. One was "is the church the rich young ruler" and too afraid to give up and die to itself so will go away disappointed, this is one of my fears about some of the emerging church scene that you kind or mention. Keep telling it as you feel it.
You may want to check out these http://www.sundaypapers.org.uk/?p=43


(i kind of wish we could even leave the beliefs behind... and just wait for the Spirit to start it all again.)

i'm spending a surprising amount of time at the moment in conversation with people who have left the church, or (more commonly) never been to church, who are asking me where they can go to be with God (this is not just idle conversation - some of them are ringing me up to ask!). The common link between them is that they can't walk into a church (too scary/intimidating/laden with meaning), they're not looking for worship, and they're not looking for community - they're simply looking for some kind of space (physical and emotional) where whatever it is that they're longing for will have space to emerge. Maybe that will be christian, maybe it won't.

The depth of faithfulness in their conversations is astounding. My inadequate responses and suggestions on behalf of the church are embarrassing.

I think Ryan's right. We've got the questions wrong. Forget what form the church should take... i simply want to ask where the Spirit is already playing in the world, and how we can come play too...

Mark Berry

The problem is that this whole debate is often about... what does Emerging church look like, what are it's core beliefs... Though I am fascinated by a lot of the Emergent Conversation, and love what many of them are saying - it seems when you read the Blog comments that they are beginning to be seen by those 'EmergentNO' types as a Synod... a house of Emergent Bishops etc. (BTW This is in no way a criticism of Emergent... I suppose institutions like to see everything else as an institution) Surely the whole point of Emerging Churches is that are all likely to look completely different? Ok many of the questions will be the same, many of the imaginings will be similar, but I think Kester comes closest to me in encapsulating the unkowness of it all in "The complex Christ"... And I agree completely with Ella that the bottom line is the Missio Dei!

Wes Roberts

Provocative and very necessary thoughts. Thank you! Keep 'em coming...'cause I need these questions and insights. ...glad to be on the journey with you.


I love the emerging stuff that is going on in this world
I believe it to God breathed and powerfull
but Let's not let ourselves forget that God is still working in the rest of the church

AW/EC is not he be all and end all of the work of God in the world, and in the coming landscape of the world there will be plenty of boring evangelical/traditional/charismatic churches that will still work and bless people.

how can we excpect other's to give us the freedom to do what we think is right for us to be who God intended us to be and grow the churchesGod intended for us and let us judge outselves in the way God intended us to judge ourselves if we don't then allow them the same respect and freedom.


Read Acts 27.

* Everything is going well - you think you can make it.
* A huge storm comes up.
* Get rid of anything that weighs you down. Get rid of anything that prevents you from creating the future.
* They started throwing stuff off the boat that they originally thought they needed.
* We're going to crash, but you'll accomplish your mission.
* What is ahead is not smooth sailing. There is a crash impending. If you are going to advance the Kingdom of God, there is conflict, battle, and pain waiting. Retreat is not an option. Cut the anchors - blaze ahead.

Fernando Gros

whilst I think the paper plate is disolving fast (which is not something we should mourn), there is an element I find missing in a lot of blog discussions. there are still a lot of forward thinkers who for one reason or another have not left the church. stepping away from those structures are not easy and sometimes blogs make it seem like moving to EC is as easy as trading your old car for a new one. well actually, it is harder that ditching cars all together for public transport!

whilst the ec/aw move needs to press forward, it might also help to remember there are a lot of folks who are deeply ambivalent about the existing church options, but not yet willing to towel it.

steve collins

my unease expressed here is not so much about specific things or people, as an underlying drift which i'm reacting badly to atm.

at what point does engagement with tradition become determination by the paradigms of tradition? at what point does engagement with the academy become determination by the paradigms of the academy?

maybe it could all be summed up as, watch out children, you're turning into your parents! :)

steve collins

incidentally, i wonder how the old testament would have sounded if the prophets had said things like,

"of course we understand that many people find the temple system helpful and the sacrifices deeply meaningful, and we affirm all that god is doing in that system while offering a helpful critique of its shortcomings. since the temple will continue for the foreseeable future [in fact there may always be a temple in some form] we hope to work with its leaders to develop new resources that re-engage the margins and reach out to the pagans."


Well, you (like I do) can stop playing "games" to appease the old church-conceptors, and stop modifying your behaviour to bring the new (as you see it) to gain "approval" of the old. Both ways are dead meat. Or rather, the circle will never be broken those ways. The circle is held in place by various spiritual powers of religion which can function in our heavenly places in us and which put followers of Christ in this dilemma which you describe. Get 'em out by seeing how Christ in you leads the Way beyond all this repetitive inadequate "traditional" regurgitated religious-human ways of failing. You don't need to prove anything to anyone. Just hang out with Jesus and organize nothing. Try it! The ferllowship, the organizing, the accomplishing is His there. No need for any organization. This is the new...not repeating the old in any smidgen. Why will it be different? Because it's the time for it, that's why.
Ryan (above) wrote "...we should be asking what does the way of Jesus look like in this culture, at this time". Yes, we should, as far as I am concerned. Maybe you might like to see "Basic how to live", a writing at http://boltono.typepad.com Cheers!


You can't reform or fix the church. Any church history book will tell you that. Either decide you can live with it the way it is, and throw yourself wholeheartedly into it. Or get out, decide whatever else it is you should be doing, and do it! As for me, I'm in the latter camp!

nic paton

is this party being resurrected? i hope so.

in my wrestling with this stuff i have become aware of (some might say crazy) need to reconcile rather than simply confront.

although i like to completely redefine and don't mind the idea of dissolution, i found myself reaching equally towards the existing (in my case the charismatic) on one hand and and the emergent on the other.

something inside me says, the culture from which i come is not bad, it can be highly creative, its gods extemporisations for non-artists so bring it on through to the new world. i used the cross motif - arms outstretched to reconcile - to explain this urge to myself.

one thing churchies don't like about me is the freedom i have by being "away" from their structures for over a decade. sabaticals like this, might we say desert experiences, have great potential for re-envisioning.

i'm happy to count myself as having been really "in" to the thing i now want to be out of. this will be a factor in terms of cross-world cred, if you want that. it just seems appropriate to a g-d of pardon who goes out of the way to find sheep.



I've been suffering from an almost leathal bout of missionary burnout and have been sitting on the fringes of local church feeling squeemish about jumping back in. In my head I'm hoping that all I knew about God and church will disolve to nothing so I can discover the truth without preconception.

I liked your analogy about the plate. I feel like my faith/view of church is built on sand. and kind of needs destroying before someting new can be built.

p.s. can you recommend a good place in the UK for me and my husband to settle?

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