Monday, July 20, 2009

make a new one

i found this intro here and it just spoke to me about something that i've been thinking for some time now.

from: 'Dying Church - Living God', by Chuck Meyers pg. 37-39

Sometime in the early 1970s, the president of AT&T called all his managers into a large room for an emergency meeting. Attendance was mandatory. Speculation ran high as to what announcement would be made. Perhaps a breakthrough in technology. Perhaps a downsizing. Perhaps ...... They could tell by the grim look on his face that something extremely serious was about to be revealed. When all were seated, the president went to the podium and said, "The telephone as you know it no longer exists." Muffled giggles rippled through the room. What game was this? They all knew he was wrong. They had used phones that morning. He continued: "Anyone who does not believe that state-ment can leave this room right now and pick up your final paycheck on the way out of the building." Sober silence prevailed. No one left. They all just stared. "Your job today is to invent one."

He broke the group up into small teams and they spent the rest of the time coming up with a new phone. Some people wanted one with no cord...... in the car, or to carry around.... to know when another call was coming be able to forward calls to another number, to see the person on the other end, to send other kinds of messages on it. About 60 items that distinguished the telephone they invented. Many are now the features that we take for granted, from call-waiting to individual digital phones, and the list has not yet completed.

In the same manner, at the beginning of the third mil-lennium, we come to church one morning for the Sunday service and, much to our shocked dismay, we find a vacant lot with a little note tacked on a piece of tattered plaster out front. It is written in Hebrew and it is the same note left on every vacant lot of every former church building in the world, from cathedral to clapboard. Translated, it says, "The church you have always known no longer exists; it is gone - walls, pews, altar, and assumptions." The tomb is empty. "How can this be?" we ask in abject puzzlement. In the background, we hear God's laughter saying, "Given the world the way it is, given the devastating problems and the incredible possibilities opening up for the first time in history, given what you now know to be true in the world, the real question is, 'How can it NOT be?' " Then God looks us right in the eye and says, "Make a new one."

my community is emergent. we don't use the term in our circle but we are. i may have the discussion ALL wrong but emergent churches are simply trying to do church differently than it has been done and yet i hear many in the conversation talking about blowing it wide open and making it "denominational" big. the problem here is that emergent is small, emergent is community based, and it is individual centered. how do you make the conversation that is intended to be all about relationship of the individual with God and turn it into how does the group relate as a whole to God? doesn't that drive you head-on into another hierarchical power hungry system that you're trying to escape in the first place? if denominationalism is cold and impersonal (and i truly believe that it is) then why would emergent want to be big?

the purpose is to do church differently than it has been done over the centuries. emergent is trying to latch onto the idea of the priesthood of all believers and they're trying to "make a new one", at least that's what i think they're doing.

maybe i'm wrong but i sure hope i'm not. this whole post-modernist attachment to the ancient is a desire to be simpler too, isn't it? make a new one. do it differently and don't end up heading down a path that's well worn over the centuries. then again, maybe the house church idea is the well worn one, who's to say?

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