Saturday, February 25, 2006

NPC after-thoughts

My first National Pastors' Conference is over. Great thoughts and observations will need to distill and settle over the next weeks and months. But there were some great quotes I'd like to share with you.
Ryan Bolger from Fuller Seminary "A person should not have to cross cultures to find God." "Some beleivers find the church toxic to spirituality." "Our task (as pastors) is to give people nothing to consume."
Doug Pagitt from Solomon's Porch "We are moving into an era of non-church-centric understanding of the kingdom of God, where the church (local organization) is not the sole proprietor of God's good things."
LeRon Shults from Bethel Seminary quoted G. K. Chesterton: "Why should I fear anything that cannot take God away from me? Why do I desire anything that cannot give me God?"
Scot McKnight from north Park University "20 million Christians are outside the church in North America now. By 2025 that number could be 70 million Christians outside the church. Young Christians find no central value in the local church. One key reason is the natural result of distributed spiritual formation. We have out-sourced spiritual formation to professionals, the para-church, camps, retreats, and the ever-growing media." "Evangelicals have no robust ecclesiology. The question those outside the church ask is: waht can you give me as a church member that I can't get as an attender? Why join?" "We don't believe in the church, but in the individual's salvation and voluntary association with other saved individuals."
Jesus came for me as an individual, to die for me, to forgive me, remove my personal guilt so I can go to heaven. It's not about "us" it's about "me."
These are just a few of the great thoughts/quotes I gathered. The overwhelming sense I picked up was a tsunami warning that the tides are changing. The response of pastors and churches is not a retrenched defense, but offensive theology on the integral importance of incarnational body life. Much of the criticisms I heard leveled at the local church i wholeheartedly agre with: irrelevance, self-centeredness, materialism, consumerism, racism, entertainment driven, blind and deaf to the crying needs of the world. It's time! It's time to embrace the criticisms and make structural changes and redirect our energies in kingdom ventures.
The gaping question of the whole gathering was the silence and absence of denominational leaders. I'd love to see denominational leaders present, observing, reflecting. The emerging church is hear. What is the role and response of denominations? Do they acknowledge, help, hinder or irgnore the emerging church? Hmmm.


At 7:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi again, Donn, Dan Boyce here again. Did you see Scot McKnight's post of 'emergent' fashion? It's a hoot.

The current conversation about the 'emergent' movement is so similar to the issues our generation raised 30 years ago. I take it as nothing less then the Holy Spirit at work in the church fomenting and fermenting every new generation of believers and keeping us older gen believers on our toes.

Don't know if you will continue reflecting on these issues here but I'll add your blog to my list and drop by for a bit of dialogue.

At 2:09 PM , Anonymous kent said...

I am not sure those who are anxious and defensive can think new thoughts or get out of old paths. Without question the local, regional and national church has problem, but it has always had problems. It had problems when Paul dealt with it, when Brother Lawerance dealth with it, when Luther, Wesley, Graham dealth with it. Long after McLaren and Sweet, and Pagitt are gone it will still have probelms, and probably not new ones.

I do not excuse our shortcomings, it is just that they are nothing new. We did not discover greed in this day, nor is this the first time the message has been altered to accomodate a group or a special interest. But we are the church, there is no other option given to us. No matther how you box it up or rearrange the chairs, we are the church. We will always have the seek forgiveness and ask for the wisdom, strength and presence of God to finish the task given to us.


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