By Anna Dodridge, Bournemouth UK
i have spent the last couple of days reading what the web has to say about emerging church (i would have used ‘…’ but i hate those damn apostrophe things…grr). i am very glad i did, because it has made me realise i am not involved with emerging church.
i was attempting to find other communities going through the things we do here, and having picked up on the latest christian excitement term emerging church i did a search. i found so much of interest, and i am so excited that there are many people with tales to tell, and many people who are finally accepting their roles as grown up christians and allowing themselves to think for themselves. yeay.
in amongst the discussions and stories i read a lot about house/coffee bar/pub church and alt worship. this is when i realised what emerging church is about.
emerging church is a passion for people who are stuck with a congregation of people who don’t understand half of what they say. emerging church has indeed emerged from the big stone doors of the so called local church to move themselves (usually a 18-30s group) down the road to the pub. the emerging church can now express themselves in the language they use (graphics, candles, trance music, beer, whatever).
to me, that’s what it seems to be. it’s a radical redecoration, break up all the furniture and stick it back together again, take all the bits done within a church setting and make them make sense for their generation, their cultural context.
and all i can say to that is ‘good’. this is good. hooray for people expressing church in ways they understand, in ways they feel they are actually speaking truthfully to god.
but i will also say i now find myself in a muddle. a good muddle of course. i don’t identify with this. and i think there will be more people out there who don’t either, but have got a bit lost and identified in the wrong places.
i would like to tell you a bit of my tale very quickly, because it might interest some people and may help all the postpostevans, postECers, or as i like to think of myself a preapolcalypser 😉
i was a fed up and lonely soul. fed up of being fed up with christians and congregations, fed up of me and my friends being let down by people who didn’t (want to?) understand. so i gave up.
….. if you miss the presence… spend a few years with/among/the outcasts…. be baptised among the religious poor… like the Jeruslamites and temple goers – immersing themselves among the cackling and rough tones and raw emotions of those at the jordan with John-the immerser…
‘it’s you and me now god, forget those monkeys’
‘hang on, the church is my bride, it’s my gift to you…’
‘but it sucks’
‘hmmmmmmmm, look a bit harder’
so i did.
and i found other people fed up, other people who had no home, and people who had never had a home in the first place. believers with no body.
so now, we hang out together, like i do with any of my friends. we are families, kids, grown ups, wrinklies, wisdom and experience, youth and enthusiasm, intellectual and hasty, crappy and forgiven. people i never thought i would have anything much to speak about with are my family.
and that’s it. no alt services, no small group meetings. we just get on with our lives, we pray together, we give and receive prophecy, we worship god in service actions and conversation, we learn and teach the bible by our everyday conversation and circumstances, we eat together and communion as a fellowship of friends. we share, we are accountable, truthful, vulnerable.
we feel like we are crap at this because it is so hard to be a ‘good christian’ (had to use them-sorry) it is hard to be good at being church.
we have a wider context in our area and we get together with the people from around who are doing the same thing. we tell our stories, and just have thise extra connections, opinions, wisdom, gifts brought in.
it’s really all about the way we live together as christians, and that’s it. we have committed ourselves to each looking out for each other in prayer and that’s that. as long as we get together regularly and something useful towards us getting know jesus happens we’ve been church.
it is really tough, who knows if we’ve got it right, but we felt when we gave up worrying about the form/style/type of church we were/weren’t/should be/could be, we actually concentrated on doing what we should be doing.
i don’t know if that is helpful, or even interesting, but it may resonate with someone. besides it’s better than doing work, or staring out the window at the rain…
Anna Dodridge is the Advice Worker for Bournemouth University Student Union