EMERGING VALUES ~ ECCLESIOLOGY
The adjective ecclesial defines those things pertaining to a church or its functions, teachings, or organization. I believe the greatest change that has come, and largely through emerging trends over the last decade, is a re-awakening to “being” rather than “doing” church.
Emerging and Emergents have seen both streams move forward by going backward, in some cases all the way to the writings of the New Testament, for the biblical principles and practices of the Early Church.
Some of the most profound theological exploration taking place today is in the area of the theology of the church. There are those who are tweaking the rudiments of what constitutes worship, including styles of worship, the use of other elements, including candles, incense, lighting, multimedia, dramatic arts, painting and all such manner of expressions of the heart, mind and spirit, to express the wonder of God, creation, and redemption. In and of themselves these things have value, but to my own understanding these are merely cosmetic and are not radical enough.
Some others think there is a need to deconstruct the theology of the church, and try to find ways to convey the message of the Kingdom of God through the Church to a culture that is Postmodern, finding ways to make the Church relevant and more real in addressing the changes within the culture. I still do not think a lot of this is radical or relevant enough. Some of these streams include going back to various streams of the church, including Celtic Christianity (which are my ethnic roots, being from Northern Ireland), but going back to this period and other historical periods, such as the Monastics, simply is not radical enough.
To my own understanding, we need to recover the ways and means of being the body of Christ that we find in the blueprint and not the history books. We need to go to the New Testament Scriptures to find what it is to be the body of Christ, alive and thriving in a culture that is largely resistant, hostile, or worse, views the Gospel of Christ and the Kingdom totally irrelevant to living in a Postmodern world, therefore dismissing the Church and its views and its mission as nothing significant or important.
Tweaking how the church relates to people within our culture, or finding old historical streams and reinventing them for the Postmodern world, such as the neo-monasticism that is emerging is just not enough. We need relational redemptive missional simple communities of faith, that are in themselves small cloisters of life that connect and impact the lives of people, without the clutter of organized religion, for that very clutter brings with it the rules of men which results in the choking of life, love, truth and grace [IMHO]*.
*IMHO – aka “in my humble opinion”