It’s been an odd 8 months. We didn’t know anything about contemplative prayer, and the concerted effort by a diverse group of people to shift American (and possibly world) churches toward disciplines, missional focus, and contemplative/lectio divina and other forms of prayer. Now that we know more, we still have more to learn. People want to make distinctions between emerging, emergent, emergence etc. Just read Christianity Today’s blog, and saw a video by Doug Paggitt talking about these words. The blogger said this:
“In this video, Doug Pagitt explains the relationships between the terms emerging, Emergent, and “emergence.” It strikes me as trying to decide which layer of the Incredible Gobstopper is the actual Gobstopper. But you should decide for yourself.”
Link to the youtube…and blog here… (scroll down as the titles aren’t clickable…) It’ s the Sept.22 2008 entry
I really like the gobstopper picture of it all. Our church was maybe into layer three of the gobstopper. The center is the focus on shift/missional (mission of god as defined by some team somewhere). If your church has been shifting, then they are a part of this gobstopper. I think it’s better to be in a church with Christ and the gospel as the center…with the focus on the Solas. The layers are all part of it. I don’ t know though if Christianity should be described as a layered thing, because it’s not like some secret society where you get higher and higher levels and deeper and deeper secret knowledge. I think with Christianity either you are or you aren’t, either you believe or you don’t. Anything beyond that is maturity. But, for this emerge (merge with something out there) phemomenon, it’s a multilayered thing. Your church may just be on the very outside, and can probably detatch pretty easily. The closer to the center, the harder it is not to have been changed (have missional in you…be a part of it). It’s harder to get out of the whole thing when you have been wrapped in layer upon layer of beliefs and requirements.
As a person once on the inside of this, then on the outside, it’s an education to see what each layer is abou, and see the connectedness between them. The outside layer appears to be the inspirational/feel good side. You can read it and not really get hooked. The next may be the seeker friendly movement. Your church may do the 40 days of purpose, but not really change the whole church based upon it. Small groups pop up, but really they are Bible studies and not just small groups. Deeper in, your church really means 40 Days and you have small groups, Bible focus is shifted. No Paggitt (who is he?) no Bell (what) and you still have pews or seats. Next is the artsy thing, church is more into creativity and more and more pastors mention authors you’ve never heard of. You have gone from popular/Christianity lite to a deeper “spirituality” with people talking about going on a journey or their story in God’s story, or God’s dream. This is really where my church was. We’d have preaching with Bible passages, but beyond that, the pastors used many theories of men to push a mindset about church, our mission (which someone defined for us out there), and what was valuable. I think the youth in our church were actually on a different level. At least one pastor was into Rob Bell and that stuff. Youth were sent to a camp where they taught outright contemplative prayer, praying on a prayer rope, the Jesus prayer, and the like. The leader of these camps has photos of kids in a pose where they are flat on their backs with feet and arms relaxed…eyes closed. Supposed to have been a great moment of great closeness to God. Okay. We weren’t at that layer in our church, but our teens would have been exposed to it. I believe the pastors deny our involvement with emergent or whatever it’s called, but our youth were involved. Because it was an outside source, we weren’t a part of it. Yeah, right.