24 March 2009

Dancing in the light

Since I don't seem to be blogging here much lately, I figured I might as well mention that I posted something on my church's shared Lenten blog (and, in the process, point you toward the good stuff on that blog from sundry Common Table folk).

For context: we decided to "give up church as we know it" this Lent (through Easter, and who knows what happens after that?) and spend the season with another church community with whom we're becoming friends, New Hope Fellowship. (New Hope is a community made up mostly of folks who are homeless and recently homeless.) We're trying to be alert for ways in which we can serve and help out at New Hope, but mostly we're just hoping to be present, listen, and make friends.

In many core ways, New Hope is a lot like us; for example, in the ways they think about, talk about, and practice community, leadership, worship design, shared responsibility and action, etc. (It's crystal clear to me that they are an emerging church by any useful definition of the term, though I guarantee that almost nobody there has ever cracked a book by Brian McLaren, Pete Rollins, or Tony Jones.) In other ways, though, there are differences: they're much more charismatic or pentecostal in their worship and language, for instance, and much more comfortable with language that sounds like certainty with regard to God's will for us. Since many Commoners are what you might call "post-"charismatic, and even more of us like to think we're "post-certainty", sometimes this language can make us uncomfortable. So we started this shared blog, in part, to help up work through those feelings so they don't get in the way of our friendships. More on the shared blog can be found on the first post, here.

But anyway, yesterday I posted about my experience worshiping at New Hope Sunday morning. It was full of images of light, and relationship, and dance. So, it you want, check it out (and stay to check out the other posts too).

image "Light Dancing" by diveofficer (rights)


Ken Tennyson said...

I am not as sure on the whole "emerging church" movement being applied to New Hope. I understand your observations (I think), but I would point out that most evangelical churches have had a similar feel for me (in a previous life), so the openness and less formal leadership may be a "low church thing" more than an emerging church thing.

That said, I think the opportunity to engage is very good and a challenge.

Mike Croghan said...

What makes them "emerging", for me, is that it seems like whatever they do, they do because it emerges from the gifts and needs of the people in their community - not because it's imposed upon them by any other authority - be it an institutional hierarchy, institutional rule set, internal leadership hierarchy, rigid doctrinal statements, or even dogmatic attachment to a particular view of Scripture. For example:

Q: Who is a part of the family?
A: Who shows up?
NOT: Who conforms to doctrinal norms or institutional requirements?

Q: Who gets to lead?
A: Who is gifted and passionate?
NOT: Who has the proper ordination, education, higher-up approval, or position?

Q: What shall we do together?
A: What are our gifts and needs as a body?
NOT: What is expected of us according to our institution, tradition, or One True Interpretation of Scripture?

These are the things that, to me, make New Hope an emerging church - not necessarily "part of the movement", but a church where community identity and action "emerge" as opposed to being imposed - and which differentiate it from almost all evangelical (and liberal mainline) churches I've encountered.

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