Ecclesiological Crisis

Last week I spoke at Simpson University in Redding California and this week at Winebrenner Seminary in Findlay Ohio. Each is preparing students for ministry in local churches. My theme was “Finding Deep, Culturally Enriching Faith in a Superficial Age,” a topic of great interest to these aspiring pastors eager to serve among people pursuing God as a company of friends (often known as churches).

In both places students expressed concern with both the Boomer-style “seeker” sensitive church AND with aspects of the emergent church; each is seen as overly obsessed with relevance and not properly concerned with depth of spirituality and rooted-ness. Everybody agrees denominationalism is on thin ice and nobody sees the current status quo as sustainable.

I see the suspicion with perceived “trendy-ness” as a very healthy sign, particularly when it is placed in the context of confidence in Christ’s promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against this church and that it is the bride of Christ for whom he died.

Among the recurring issues?
¢â‚¬¢ A belief that bigger is not better
¢â‚¬¢ A hunger for authenticity and a rejection of “playing church”
¢â‚¬¢ A rock-solid commitment to learning to go deeper in community.
¢â‚¬¢ An interest in learning “Christian formation, “ learning the spiritual disciplines and for quietness and meditation over performance in worship.
¢â‚¬¢ A distaste for business and marketing tactics and language as used in the church context.
¢â‚¬¢ A perception of church as organism more than organization.
¢â‚¬¢ A hunger to encounter and experience God.

Most of this checklist is born out of disappointment with the churches these people have experienced and I find myself appreciative that I’ve enjoyed a few genuinely “functional” churches places where people love God, spend a lot of time with and love each other, enjoy good teaching, authentic worship, deep prayer, a call to service, an emphasis on relationships over programs and intergenerational fellowship. Such churches have been led by mature pastors, grounded in the Word and disinterested in the latest trends.

I believe the church is at the heart of the renewal of faith and culture, that getting back to basics is essential for the renewal of the church and that the renewal of churches starts with healthy pastors pray for those in place and the new ones on the way. Good things are happening and this next generation gives me reason to hope.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in November 16, 2004 by | No Comments »

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