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Posts Tagged ‘emergence’

I ran across a woman who went to another church in our area. She and her husband began to get uncomfortable with small group studies, and also with some of their church teachings. They thought, after their eyes were opened to the misuse of the bible in these studies and in teachings from the pulpit, that discussing it in small group would be a good idea. From what the woman said, they were not trying to cause division but were attempting to point out errors as they had great faith in their church leadership. They brought things up to the leadership, as well as continuing to share their fears with the group. They were shocked the day they were asked to leave their church.

She said that in their next church it was five years before they really could trust enough to serve. They had been shunned by many in their former church, many who had been good friends before the issues were brought up. Some later did apologize to them, and some have left over time.

We had a different experience in that we did not share our issues with many people. We did tell some things to a few friends, and we’ve known a very small number who have left. We do feel though, had we been open to our small group or to more of the leadership we would eventually have been asked to be quiet or leave.

Being shunned hurts. When a person begins to understand how leadership teaches from men’s work rather than from the bible, or uses many methods rather than relying on God’s word and the Holy Spirit, it’s a hard thing to decide what to do. Do you share with others? Will you find someone who understands what your are saying? Will you be accused of being divisive? Will you be asked to leave?

I believe it’s of utmost importance that each person who encounters poor or bad teaching pray first. Spend time thinking how to handle things. Then, don’t worry about the consequences to you so much as what will your voice in this accomplish? Is it about getting even? If it’s about you and your pride, you really have to pause. If it’s about trying to restore people to truth and good doctrine, and you are hoping to help others in the long run, then move forward in wisdom. There are times for open mouths, and times for closed mouths.

We weren’t perfect as we proceeded, but we did try very hard to do the right thing. Looking back, I can see areas we could have improved upon BUT in the long run, I believe we did the right thing overall.

I feel for this woman I met who has gone through such pain in her former church. I pray for other men and women out there just trying to point out the errors and do the right thing.

It happens to pastors too.  This article is a great resource. 

http://reformednazarene.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/nazarene-pastor-fired-for-fighting-emergent-ideology/

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In the “not NOT emergent church” we formerly attended, transformation was a BIG word and still is.  Transformation is tied to spiritual formation which is tied to work.  You must train yourself like an athelete would…to run the race and pass the baton and the whole thing.  You must be in community to transform.  Preferably, this means you are in a little clump type thing (called a life group/small group).  At any rate, you need others in order to transform.  Yes, no one changes on their own, no way.  You are to take all thoughts captive and work to become cleaner and cleaner.  Now, they don’t tie this to salvation really, it’s the process after salvation.  Studying the Bible, and memorizing scripture helps with this from what I recall.  Also, the idea was that story changed you.  Not sure how story transformed since Jesus used this all the time and many, many did NOT change.  Just listen to someone try to describe how story tranforms us and you’ll feel like you’re on the set of Oprah.

Today, in our newly found church…the pastor mentioned the word “transformation” and I gave myself a minute to listen because I wanted to hear him right.  He was speaking about the “new birth” and the discussion with Nicodemus that became a discourse.  The pastor put transformation in it’s proper context.  We are transformed when born again, by the water and the spirit (meaning we receive a new heart that is softened and not a stone AND we are cleansed spiritually internally).  The transformation comes but it is nothing of our doing.  In fact, we must believe to be saved but faith is a gift from God so even that is not our own.  So different than the concept of transformation we ever learned in our former congregation.

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I was checking out a friend’s dramatic interpretation of a woman from scripture which lead me to my former church web site and former pastor’s sermon.  I still obviously check things out there though we’ve been gone for over six months.  The pastor spent time discussing demons and Satan’s tactics both on the world and on the church.  At one point, in the online sermon he began speaking about how Satan uses division against the church.  If we hadn’t gone through what we did at this church, the comments would not have caught my attention.  I transcribed the following;

We also know that division is one of his key strategies.  Get the Christians fighting against themselves. 

“I am here to tell you as your pastor I am tired of people changing churches over trivial issues (uses music as the example).  And don’t expect me to come knocking on your door and begging you to stay…If you’ve got a trivial issue that isn’t relevant to the kingdom of darkness conflicting with the kingdom of light and you want to change churches over it have at it…people are going to hell and the church is spending all of it’s time battling over trivial stuff…reads(2 tim 2:23-26)  If you’ve got a legitimate concern and you’re hurting I’m there with you but if you’re just mad that you don’t think the church is just living up to your expectations why did God charge you not to be a part of the solution???  Why is it that when everybody looks at something that’s going on in the body they say well I need to change churches?  Why not say I see a need I see an area that’s what this Steven ministers are doing (as if this wasn’t already a plan in the church to get going…)…that’s a solution,  amen?  I want to encourage you if you see something that’s not right with the church roll up your sleeves ask Jesus how you can make it right and be in the battle don’t just transfer clubs.”

To be fair, his example had nothing to do with us.  We did not complain about music, or anything trivial.   Our fears were that our church was focused off Christ and on man’s methods, and that emergent was creeping.  This is not a trivial thing, a small disagreement.  Though it’s tempting to believe he could be speaking about us, it’s been a long time.  It’s more likely there are others commenting about issues now and maybe some have left without comment.  Still, he may be intending to speak to people just like us who are very alarmed and are thinking of leaving because they perceive the fight is going to be of no effect on the direction the church is taking.  Considering the issues I’ve heard a few have left for besides us, his comments are interesting.  He is “tired of people leaving” and “switching clubs.”  If he does have folks like us (or even us) in mind, we did not leave without some sort of fight.  We did not leave for trivial reasons.  We did try to be a part of the solution.  We are still working to be part of the solution by praying for our former church.  We also cannot watch our children be taught dangerous things while we try to rescue the church that will not listen.  We had to move on and find, not a club (as that is what small group can become) but a church and a place to hear scripture preached properly and where we can fellowship and worship.  Not a social club, not a small decision.  I can only guess whoever he is talking about and to (and this pastor has a habit of talking directly to a few people or about a few people) that they are not as petty as he makes this all sound.

 

On another note, he did not mention this outloud in his sermon but instead directed people to his notes…and the online notes contained a  high recommendation for two books both by Neil Anderson.  He told his congregation to read them because they are the “best books” he knows of on the subject of spiritual warfare.  They are Victory over Darkness and The Bondage Breaker.  Just from reading a few book reviews, it’s possible this author teaches that demons can posses Christians (they cannot) and he promotes the idea of demons over kingdoms and that people can be oppressed by “the spirit of bitterness” meaning a demon is bitterness and hangs out with a person which makes them bitter.  This is an odd ology to be sure.  What else can this pastor be into?  He already approves of seeker friendly stuff, has defended Lectio Divina and contemplative practices, claims to not be emergent as a church and yet sends his children to a camp run by emergence thinking people and allows people on that staff to be also on church staff, brushes off our concerns of New Age and emergent leaking into sermons, and now we’ve got this superstition.  Earlier, when we still attended, this pastor also referenced the Nephalim stating they were angels who mated with humans and he cited the “book of Moses.”  He’s certainly all over the place!  No wonder we could not get a clear handle on the direction of our former church. 

 

 

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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

http://blog.christianitytoday.com/outofur/

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.

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