Where the heck is Leighton?


Where the heck is Leighton?
Yes I haven’t been blogging much lately.  Some of my local friends are starting to ask why.  It takes a certain amount of emotional stamina for me to blog.  Emotional stamina I haven’t had of late.  It is coming back slowly. 

One of the reasons has to be that I don’t have that much to say.  I’ve hit a point of uncertainty.  I’m questioning myself and my direction.  Is the emerging church much of an improvement over the “modern” church in the areas where it really counts?  Now don’t get me wrong, I much prefer the house church over any other kind of church I’ve been a part of.  It is very nice to be part of a relational low overhead church.  Something tells me that we have just begun to explore what it means to authentically follow Christ as a group. 

I also believe that sections of the emerging church are making the same mistakes the church did in the last few hundred years.  The church modernized the gospel to make it more relevant but in the end modernity fractured the church and neutered the gospel.   It’s particularly disturbing when I see people puting postmodern clothes on the modernized gospel.  I don’t think that is going to get us anywhere.

  1. #1 by Darryl on November 28, 2003 - 9:12 am

    Good post. I sometimes have these same fears.

    “It’s particularly disturbing when I see people puting postmodern clothes on the modernized gospel.”

    Can you give us an example?

  2. #2 by LT on November 28, 2003 - 9:38 am

    When I say “modernized gospel” I’m talking about things like the ’4 Spiritual Laws’. I am deeply concerned about how “accepting Jesus in to your heart” through prayer is our most common mark of conversion. Somehow following Christ has been redefined to accept Christ in to your heart and go to church. It is a very different message that we see preached in the Gospels, Acts and by Paul.

    The emerging church has done a pretty good job rennovating church structures and exploring expressions of worship that are more authentic. These structures are what I would call the “clothes”. Unfortunately if we stop at the clothes we won’t be much further ahead. 1Cor tells us that there is spiritual power in the gospel. If our message has little power then how can we be so sure that what we are preaching is the gospel? If we need to change our structures and practice so that people are more attracted to our churches aren’t we just Willow Creek Part II?

    I think we need to consider that A) the goal can never be to get people in to our church B) true conversion and authentic ministry is empowered and driven by the Holy Spirit not our cultural relevance.

  3. #3 by "Felix" on November 28, 2003 - 9:52 am

    Couldn’t agree more, brother!

    It really disturbs me when I see people treating the “emerging Church” like the real thing, the solution to all our problems, the new and improved Modern Church (if you liked the prequel, this one will really knock your socks off!).

    Mind you, just as scary is when people latch onto the idea of House Church because it’s like a new and improved Cell Church (which was a new and improved Charismatic-House-Group System).

    Obviously, the real answer is for us all to become Eastern Orthodox! ;o) I think that what we need to be doing is reflecting a lot more and asking a lot more profound questions, e.g. What does it actually mean to be Church, just what is the gospel? etc.

  4. #4 by LT on November 28, 2003 - 11:10 am

    In some ways we are all trying to dig down through the layers of deception to find the gospel and church. The first and easiest layer to work through is our structures and models. Next might be our theology about certain things. Even deeper than that we need to look at our own pride, sin and ignorance. Sometimes the most profound answers are very simple. They just require a willingness to submit ourselves to God and truly die to things of this world.

  5. #5 by robbymac on November 28, 2003 - 11:39 am

    I agree with LT’s comment just above this one. However, I’d like to suggest that we reverse the order.

    1) Deal with our own pride, sin & ignorance, which would make us more prepared to:

    2) Re-examine our theology on certain things, which would form the basis for:

    3) The shape and flavour that our expression of “the Body” will take.

    Looking at the structures first is easiest, I agree, but it’s like criticizing the car when it’s the driver who’s at fault in an accident.

    As Bob Girard wrote in “Brethren, Hang Loose”: ‘Renewal starts with number one (me).’

    Looking forward to reading more from you, LT!

  6. #6 by Justin Baeder on November 28, 2003 - 3:08 pm

    Good thoughts, everyone. I feel many of the same frustrations, LT, especially regarding the amount of transformation we expect the Gospel to bring about in people’s lives.

    What keeps me going is the real possibility of exercising leadership in the emergent church. There are less than a dozen church of Christ bloggers out there, and web publishing does have a significant impact on the thinking of groups of people. The same is probably true for anabaptists, LT – there aren’t many out there in the blogosphere, but the anabaptist heritage has much to offer the emerging church. We can’t let those we disagree with derail a movement we believe in by discouraging us from contributing to it. We all have something to offer, and none of us is completely right.

    I suppose I’ve been giving way too much unsolicited advice in my comments lately, but I’m very hopeful about this thing of ours, and I pray that you will find your place in all of it.

    Grace and peace,

    Justin

  7. #7 by hamo on November 30, 2003 - 8:03 am

    Sounds like par for the course LT – if there is no doubt then we are probably aren’t genuinely on the edge.

    Most of what I see over here in Oz actually encourages me because it seems people have really ‘got’ that its not just a coat of paint on modernity practices and philosophies… or maybe those are just the folk I hang with!

    We really need decent critical thinkers to move us beyond same old same old – keep going mate!

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