This is a thought carried over from a previous post for further contemplation and expansion: Worship, throughout most of modernity, and ages prior, has been more reflective of a conscious and deliberate construction of relationship around doctrinal (correct or otherwise) priority. Modernity’s relational construct, as a result, focused almost entirely upon correct belief; this focus was subsequently applied to the relationships shared between individuals within the community, and the relationships shared between individuals and God (individually and cumulatively as sacred community). This left virtually no room for honest exploration or discovery.
The result of Modernity’s misapplied preference for correct belief over honest exploration: “The Conservative/Liberal Bipolar Paradigm.”1
I see the Emerging-Missional Conversation, aka The Emerging-Missional Church to be a sacred solution to this very spiritual problem.
So, what does Emerging-Missional worship look like? Here are nine suggestions:
1. It is a lifestyle, first and foremost.
2. It is expressed and clear. A Christian expression lacking a clear and sturdy doctrinal foundation is nothing more than a glorified sandbar, built up by a fickle cultural current, that merely sits there, shifty and stylized in glory, but slowly sinking.
3. It is a conversation. This is where Modernity failed.
4. It is incarnational or contextual. In other words, it is dedicated to the idea that Jesus’ name cannot be taken anywhere, because it is already active everywhere. So, rather than leaving the church to “take the name of Jesus to the street,” Emerging-Missional adherents literally relocate to the street, to take up authentic residence, and look for what Jesus is already doing among the people, so they too can join in and participate in Spirit infused Gospel ministry, in context.
5. It is Multi-Sensory and Multi-Dimensional. Gen X and post X (.i.e., Gen Y, Z, Netgens, etc.)
6. It is a liturgical embrace. Liturgy, believe it or not, is also very important in Emerging-Missional worship. Contrary to popular misconception, postmoderns actually do hang onto to truth. They may revise and update it, but they do hang onto it.
7. It is narrative. It’s all about the story of God as told through His son, Jesus Christ. Sermons are more often than not delivered in narrative form and are increasingly interactive (discussions). The sermon in an Emerging-Missional setting is not an authoritative oral treatise, as it is in most Modern churches, but an invitation to join the leader in an exploratory journey of the Spirit. Preachers are simply fellow journeyers.
8. It is a blur of the sacred and secular. “Sacralization, the process of making all of life sacred, represents the interaction of kingdom and culture. Emerging churches tear down the church practices that foster a secular mind-set, namely, that there are secular spaces, times or activities. To emerging churches, all of life must be made sacred” (Gibbs 66). Aesthetics (natural and poetic beauty) are very important.
9. It is centered upon Jesus Christ as Triune Savior. Alan Hirsch, founding director of Forge Mission Training Network, and author of The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church, explains it like this: “in order to recover Apostolic Genius we must learn what it means to recalibrate, to go back to the basic ‘formula’ of the church â€“ we need to constantly go back to our Founder and reset our faith and communal life on him. It all began with Jesus, it will all end with him, and to Jesus we must constantly return if we are to re-find ourselves again. (At the very least, this is what it means to confess that he is the Alpha and Omega)” (Hirsch 98).
1. Correct belief should not be understood as detriment, as a result of Modernity’s misapplication of it. Correct belief, or solid doctrine, should instead be celebrated, but held in proper priority. Correct belief, or mature Christian doctrine should never void authentic relationships and/or real conversation with people who do not know Christ.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Baker, Jonny and Doug Gay. “Alternative Worship: Resources from and for the Emerging Church.” Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2003.
Gibbs, Eddie and Ryan K. Bolger. “Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures.” Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2005.
Hirsch, Alan. “The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church.” Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006.