Sunday, October 31, 2004

the turmoil and chaos of true diversity...

It wasn’t really very alt. but it was certainly worship!

Ghana; Nigeria; Zimbabwe; Congo; Germany; Spanish; Basque; Cornwall!; American; England; Scotland;Wales; Russia; Botswana; Guyana; Jamaica; Kenyan; Sierra Leone; Sri Lanka; Trinidad and more – all represented and all valued.

These are events that are foundational to our church – celebrating God through our diverse, varied cultures as one. Ok this was unpolished; ok pretty chaotic, a bit hectic. Ok the musicians were late by a good hour. Ok we’re not being pressed by ‘Kingsway’, ‘Marantha’ or whoever produces Christian stuff these days to record a live worship set! But the vibrancy; the enthusiasm, passion - the unequivocal joy is something really inspirational, up lifting.

I’ll let you into a secret – it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. What really is uplifting is there is recognition that sometimes as a church family you get involved and ‘enjoy’ something that isn’t totally your thing. I look at the saints of our church who as teenagers remembered what it was to worship through the blitz. What it was to continue to worship under a platform while the bombs reigned in, as windows were blown in. I look at these faces as the unrelenting pulsating African beat thrashes it’s rhythms into the church – and I see true worship. No not their thing but they are there.

What is emerging from my brief observations of the emerging church scene is something largely lacking variegation. What is emerging is something largely ‘designer’ driven. What is emerging while highly creative, imaginative and inspired suffers a lack of difference. Until this alt.emerging church thing embraces the effervescence of true diversity - it is going to remain a lot less emerged than it thinks it is. Until this alt.emerging church thing embraces the turmoil and chaos of true diversity – ‘fraid you’re still very much part of the submerged party. Mixophobia is something that is not that attractive in church – yet perhaps it is endemic within a culture of church that is largely consumer driven.

H&F comment...

Jurgen Moltmann identifies the principle that undergirds much of how we do church today as "birds of a feather flocking together." ... this principle is inherent in the attractional mode of church. When the church is seen as a distinct category, completely separate from the world, it naturally develops an us-versus-them mentality. The missional church, with its incarnational approach, on the other hand, has built into its thinking a Go-To-Them stance. It sees itself, not as a closed system, but as an infiltrating community. Therefore it cannot tolerate the birds-of-a-feather principle. " 'Birds of a feather flock together.' But why? People who are like us, who think the same thoughts, who have the same things, and who want the same things confirm us. However, people who are different from us, that is, people whose thoughts, feelings and desires are different from ours, make us feel insecure."

If the church is simply a community of like-minded people, inviting other like-minded people to join them, then it will always be severely impeded. This sort of church, then, according to Moltmann, has no ego-strength, no self-confidence. It is a form of self-justification.

Frost, M. and Hirsch, A. (2003)

The severely impeded church...self justification... hmmm?

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