Was involved in an interesting discussion about emerging church today. Hope other participants won't mind me rehearsing some of that here in an attempt to provoke more discussion and comment, advice or suggestion.
Most of us were slightly uncomfortable with the label "emerging" church - what we're doing is responding to needs in our communities and taking "church" out there. Has anyone really defined or differentiated emerging church, fresh expressions or alternative worship?
We saw what we were doing not necessarily as a means to an end - getting folk ready for "traditional" church, but recognised that it was probably very temporary, partly because it addresses what's needed in a particular time and place and partly because there is still in many folks' minds an image of traditional church to which they aspire to belong after having walked the alternative path for a time - almost using the "new thing" as a rite of passage. While doing church differently is energising for us as leaders, we were concerned that it comes down to a particular leaders gifting and energy. That too gives a temporary feel.
Thanks to Mike Peatman for posting a link to some of the Deep Church Discussion. That was useful as are some of his links to fellow bloggers who struggle with these issues in a "specialist" capacity.
Having shared all this however, I also have to share how re-energising I find the whole concept of "doing church differently". As well as the paradox of loving traditional church most of the time too. Both have so much to offer. As leaders, we are blessed to be able to mix and match, to be moulded and to conform as well as to have the freedom to be creative and revolutionary. We're not just launching the life boat, we're taking the steamer and cruising waters rich with tradition - and innovation. Isn't that a gift?