Friday, November 04, 2005

New Kind of Christian

In response to Martin's question:

I'm just about three quarters through. We're reading it in staff meeting and have covenanted not to read faster than each other.

It is quite enjoyable. Brian Mclaren is having a Big Blogger conversation. However if the truth be told his conversation is between ultra-conservative evangelicalism and modern evangelicalism. It doesn't move much beyond that into post-modernism.

Interesting about other faiths, evangelism as conversation not conversion and interpreting the Bible through our own cultural grid.

Essentially I think the church is going to change dramatically in the next 25 years. In the meantime the best versions (franchises) of the old way of doing church will thrive. One story from the book is about transport:

If you were going to buy the best possible mode of transport in 1910 what would you buy? Many would say that the age of the car was just beginning and they would buy a car. They'd be wrong. As the age of the car was just beginning, cars were incredibly unreliable and dangerous - you sat behind plate glass. If you wanted reliability you'd buy a buggy. Buggy technology had reached a pinnacle and only the very best buggy manufacturers remained in business. Horses were reliable.

As churches die out all over the place they are like buggy manufacturers going out of business. Anyone wanting a church will go to a surviving one. The remaining ones will get bigger and better. Few will buy a car until they become knowingly useful and reliable.

I've seen the car coming and I don't think many others have. Meanwhile buggy manufacturing churches will fall away because of:

Buildings being in the wrong place
Treatment of women in leadership
Failing to attract younger members
Treatment of the gay and lesbian community
Better and bigger churches being more attractive
Insistence on newcomers eventually ticking boxes to do with minor bits of doctrine
Failure to ditch the 'Bible as history' model and embrace science

And then the car will come...

I'm sure the buggy preservation society exists and has an enthusiastic and active membership who get together, show off their polished buggies and talk about the old days.


Caroline said...

I've just been given permission to step down from leading a Cell group at church so that I can experiment with 'new' ways of doing church.

I really don't know what I mean by that ..

.. but, like you, I'm pretty certain that the 'car' is coming ..

I think that the first experiment will be with a few friends using NetMeeting to join together saying Celtic Morning Prayer each day.

after that? Dunno, I've blogged about it over at my place, but somehow we have to find ways of doing community, of supporting each other become new creations without depending upon meeting up with each other at a set time each week.

Martin said...

hhhhhhhmmmmmmmm, I'm a bit suspicious about some of the talk of new ways of doing church. In fact I think we need to remind ourselves of a bit about the really old ways of doing church, as described in, for instance Acts 2.

Yes, technology has changed - we have computers, warm houses and various other things. Yes, music has changed - we have our electric guitars, decks and synthesizers. But the core is the same.

In fact, I think in many ways, rather than think of new ways of doing church, we may need to think about how we've already come up with too many new ways of doing church over the last 1960-odd years, which have become traditions attached to the church which get in the way of our core beliefs and message. Luckilly, I see hope here, as every so often there is a clear out of this extra "old, new" baggage.

So what do I think the best future for the church is - why the following, already mentioned quote.

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

Still some way to go I think.

St said...

So the principles might be:
Teaching taking place
Sharing food (Including symbolically)
Enjoying the favour of others

I can live with that. I am happy to be a new kind of Christian in a biblical way of doing church. I am even happy that the new kind of Christian might have been blindingly obvious all along but we missed it.

Martin said...

I don't think "Enjoying the favour of others" is one of the principles, I think that this happened to be the case, perhaps (or perhaps not - not sure) as a result of the others in the list, which I would agree as principles. I'm still not happy with the term "new" though, unless in the context of replacing non-effective sacrifices with the memory of the one truly effective sacrifice (ie. recognising the cross, and not needing the jewish cermonies any more). Then again, arguing about one word is pretty silly, so I think really I should get over the term, and be happy to agree with you.

The question now becomes, how good are we at doing this? I think (as St. Paul's) we do teaching, food (including remembering the cross), prayer and meeting. I'm not sure about the generosity - that is pretty chalenging (and important) - maybe we do, maybe we don't. Also, I don't think the lord is adding to our number daily those who are being saved - why not, what is wrong, or maybe there isn't, I don't know. I also wonder about unity - How unified is the church in leamington? - but am I reading unity into this passage - maybe, but then again I think there are other passages which talk of unity, so I think it is important.

This is why I finish with still a long way to go. I'd echo this in my own life too. Still more to learn, and still more to put into practise. Anyway, thanks for commenting on the comments. Sorry if I ramble on too much.

Caroline said...


the idea of an Acts 2 church is hugely attractive and I don't move away from it likely

but more important things have changed since then than the invention of guitars!

also, I suspect that what we do in church now has more to do with the 1950s than the 0050s.

Then was a world of static communities .. now we are more mobile

Then (1950s) was a world of stability and rhythm - people could be relied upon to have the time to meet up on Sundays.

Because people tended to be more fixed within their communities, so church as a physical community made sense - much has changed and so we need to change church to bring Acts 2 type activity within a realm that can be recognised by those around us.

I do not like all the changes that are shaping our world and I sometimes wonder which are the ones we need to stand prophetically against, and which do we need to acknowledge and respond to.

St said...

Happy to ditch 'enjoying the favour of others' as a principle (I'm an easy win in negotiations)as long as we note that it was a sign that the other stuff was working. If everyone hates (I mean outside a persecution environment) we're probably doing it wrong.

But my big point is that we might expect a St Paul's, Leamington to do well.

I read a quote this morning that if we had had computers in 1910 they would probably have predicted that the world would be over-run by buggies by now and we would be ten feet deep in horse manure all round the world. You never know when the car is going to come along.

Martin said...


Ok, see your point

pretty glad that imaginary prediction didn't come true