Hybrid Church Can Learn from Latin American Catholics

November 25, 2007

Wendy and I are currently in Cuenca, Ecuador. We were able to schedule five weeks (in no small part because we currently are not actively involved in running a church) to come down to study Spanish. The first Sunday we were in Cuenca, we just happened to be visiting in the main cathedral in town (Nueva Catedral), very much in tourist mode, when the mass began. We attended mass there every chance we got afterwards.

 

What I saw at Nueva Catedral flies in the face of much of how I think American Protestants stereotype Catholics and there seemed to be many things the Hybrid Church can learn here. Don’t jump ahead of me too much. I know we (Evangelicals/Protestants) have some pretty major theological issues with Rome. I’m not endorsing a shift in theology or compromise of principles. However, in this age where we are seeing and embracing more of the commonality of our theologies (their essentials are largely our essentials), I think we can also look for positive practices from which we can learn. The Catholic Church has thrived in Latin America for almost 500 years. There is something we can take away from this. Read the rest of this entry »


The First Five Minutes – Visiting a New Church

August 28, 2007

My wife and I are looking for a church. Having recently come out of serving in a church plant for 18 years, we approach the problem with a bit more “backstage” experience and also a critical eye (not always helpful in the process) to seeing strengths and weaknesses in churches quickly.

We look forward to visiting new churches but also feel some trepidation as we know it is difficult to find and work into a new church body.  One thing that has become painfully clear to me is that the first five minutes plays a huge role in how comfortable visitors will be at your church. Here is a blow-by-blow assessment of getting from our car to our seats in the worship service:

Driving into the parking lot: I think it is great that many churches have parking spots designated for visitors. I’m sure that one day someone will use them. The last thing I’m going to do when I visit a church is park in the “We’re the visitors!” spot.  Typically, we park in a normal spot, maybe even a bit away from the rest,  and then wait until about 3 – 5 minutes before the service starts to begin walking in. Along the same line, we’ve never once raised our hands so the usher could hand us a “special visitor info pack” though apparently some folks do. Read the rest of this entry »


Review: They Like Jesus But Not the Church

July 15, 2007

They Like Jesus but Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations

They Like Jesus But Not the Church

By Dan Kimball, Zondervan, 2007 

In this book, Dan Kimball documents conversations and relationships with a variety of “unchurched” individuals and provides a good framework to present why many in the emerging generation like Jesus (or at least what they think they know of Him), but dislike the church culture or organized religion.

I will go on record as saying I am a fan of Dan’s and if I lived in Santa Cruz I would probably attend his church. I recently attended Emergence 2007 (Seattle) and found Dan’s presentation and answers to questions to be the most “real” and, perhaps oddly, the most orthodox of any of the speakers on the panel. This book definitely wins the “best Christian book title of 2007” award. Just the title is enough to get attention and, really, to deliver the message that is intended here – Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Jim & Casper Go to Church

July 15, 2007

Jim & Casper Go to Church: Frank Conversation About Faith, Churches, and Well-meaning Christians

By Jim Henderson & Matt Casper, Tyndale House Publishers, 2007 

“Jim and Casper Go to Church” chronicles the visits of Jim (a former pastor and director of Off the Map) and Casper (a marketing copyrighter and atheist) to various well-known and perhaps iconic churches around America. The point of the book is to capture Casper’s impressions as the pair experience a worship service at each church. 

This is a great concept that has merit and great potential. It is really hard for those of us who have grown up in the church (little C) to see what the uninitiated see when they enter “our” space. The concept goes well beyond “think like a visitor” or “think like a seeker” to “think like someone who doesn’t even have a theistic worldview” (and probably doesn’t want one). Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches (Part 7)

May 13, 2007

Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – Five Perspectives
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, copyright 2007, Robert Webber, gen. ed.
Contributors: Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward

Robert Webber – Assessing the Emerging Theology
Editor’s Conclusion

The fact that this chapter is needed at the end of the book is telling. The movement has “porous borders” (D.A. Carson) and it hard to pin down. Some have referred to the theology of the movement as just a “conversation” at this point.

“The truth is that these writers, except for Mark Driscoll, have not really addressed the theological issues in a way that many evangelicals are used to. The language of the writers does not have the clarity most desire.” (pg 195)

“Rather than deal with an individual writer, I seek to create a conglomerate picture. However, I ask you to keep in mind that the emerging church is too young to have produced a full-orbed theology.” (pg 195)

Webber produces a summary of what he contends the authors are telling us: Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches (Part 6)

May 12, 2007

Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – Five Perspectives
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, copyright 2007, Robert Webber, gen. ed.
Contributors: Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward

Karen Ward — Church of the Apostles (COTA), Seattle
The Emerging Church and Communal Theology

I admit I found this the most difficult chapter to process, in part because of the “kitchen” metaphor that seemed taken a few courses too far. I actually thought she was talking about cooking something at one point…

I liked Karen’s comments about “little theologies” and this fits well with the Hybrid Church viewpoint. This is another take on contextualization within the mission culture. I also thought Karen presented a very gentle and friendly gospel.

Karen also speaks the language of the artist, which is fine, but strikes me very much as a “local dialect” (appropriate for Seattle’s funky Fremont neighborhood). Frankly, I’m not sure it works across town in Redmond for the software engineers. Also, one interesting aspect of this chapter is that it was the one of five that seemed to me to contain the most “Christian-ese” jargon. This strikes me as interesting for a church trying so hard to break from the modern church culture.

Read the rest of this entry »


Review: Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Churches (Part 5)

May 11, 2007

Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches – Five Perspectives
Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, copyright 2007, Robert Webber, gen. ed.
Contributors: Mark Driscoll, John Burke, Dan Kimball, Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward 

Doug Pagitt – Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis
The Emerging Church and Embodied Theology

Doug starts with a discussion of what “theology” means to him, with a strong emphasis on theology being dependent on one’s own life and community experience. He also holds the position that theology is ever changing, just as real life is ever changing, acting as an adaptor or translator, connecting our life and God. We are to be imagining theology in our present lives, not just reciting the old ideas.

“Theology is the living understanding of the story of God in play with the story of our lives.”(pg 121)

He also quotes extensively from Reconstruction in Theology (King, 1899) with the key quote being: “That a generation should be content to say over again precisely as its predecessors any form of truth would mean that that truth was not a living one for them; they did not care to translate it into living thought and language.” (pg 122)

Another key point is that there is no “golden age of theology” or perfect theology that we should return to, rather, we are in as good a position to create a theology as any. This is interesting in that so many emergents seem to want to get back to the first or third century.

Read the rest of this entry »


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