Emerging Church

I am attending Youth Ministry 2008 sponsored by the LCMS Office of Youth Ministry.  The speaker is Dan Kimball, author of Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations and They Like Jesus But Not the Church.   Kimball contends that the Christian sub-culture has created a “bubble” that prevents interaction with the surrounding culture.  Kimball is right on target in many respects and is in agreement with many authors from the past ten years who have said the same thing a bit differently.

Kimball raises the excellent point that the culture around us has formed images of the church (many images well deserved) that prevent interaction and causes the unchurched to want to avoid the church.  Research indicates that the popular perception is that Christians are judgmental, homophobic, narrow minded and closed to those aroung them.  One would find it very hard to argue with this research.  It isn’t just young adults leaving the church for the very same reasons.  The Church is in crisis and the question is does the Church know it?  If the Church does know it, what is the church doing to respond.

Tomorrow Kimball plans to offer insights as to how the Church might respond to the situation.  I do like the fact that he has already said that there are no easy answers that apply to every setting.  He does not appear to be simplistic in his approach.

Personally, I am convinced that we are seeing once again that “hospitality” is the main response to be offered.  The Rule of St. Benedict (Chpt 53) states, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”  In practice this means that all whom we encounter are to be viewed as Christ.  We are called to view each person as Christ and treat each person as if s(h)e is Christ.  When we view each person as Christ it is very difficult to treat them with judgment and fear.  A Church that practices the hospitality of Benedict will be known as a welcoming Church.

Outreach does not require special programs.  Outreach does not require deep theological knowledge.  Outreach is a matter of hospitality.  Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”


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