Today I began listening to the recorded sessions from the Convergent Conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Let me just say that so far they are stellar. I have listened to the first three and now wish I would’ve been in attendance. J.D. Greear is soon to become one of my new favorite preachers. He gave some great examples of how to better serve your community. Ed Stetzer did a great job of reminding us of the inherent relevance of the gospel. I thought the highlight of his message came when he distinguished between changing modes and changing theology. The methods of reaching out and sharing the gospel can and inevitably will change as culture changes. However, the message of the gospel is timeless and not subject to the popular notions of the day. This is where the most extreme manifestation of the emergent church has gotten it wrong. Stetzer’s discussion naturally led itself into Mark Driscoll’s session. He gave an overview of his life and ministry and then explained the three streams of the emerging church: relevants, revisionists, and reformed.
These messages are quite possibly the best I have heard on the subject of the emerging church, cultural engagement, and differing methods. They are so good that I’m going to post them all here so you can have easy access to them. And if you are an iTunes user you can download all of the audio directly at the Southeastern podcast.
Christianity Today recently ran an article on Mark Driscoll called Pastor Provocateur. For all the flack that Driscoll receives for being brash, I found this article to be insightful and quite fair. I was touched by one man’s account of how Driscoll saved his marriage and ministry. I’ve also been challenged and encouraged by Driscoll’s humility in recognizing his shortcomings. It is always easier to see the faults in others and miss the huge plank in our own eye. I admire his transparency and ability to make God known through his weaknesses. There is a lot more I could say but go read the article for yourself. I believe it will bless you as you seek to live out the gospel daily.
I have recently been fascinated with this movement, or “discussion” as Brian McLaren calls it, called the emerging or emergent church. It seems to strike a chord with many people near my age (20’s-30’s) so naturally I wanted to check it out for myself. Myself and a friend of mine, Josh LaFave, have been meeting together each week and discussing a key book within this movement written by Brian McLaren called A Generous Orthodoxy. In the book, Brian challenges readers to take on a new way of thinking concerning Christian faith and its interaction within the world. It is this way of thinking that has shaped much of the emerging church movement. I must admit here that it seems hard to characterize the emergent church as a movement since there is such a variance within this emergent classification. I plan to reflect more specifically on Brian McLaren’s book in future posts. For now, I will simply get the ball rolling in thinking upon and discussing this topic. For some helpful thoughts concerning the emerging/emergent church, I would first direct you to check out the Emergent Village as well as some of the key leaders (Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, etc.) and their writings in order to learn more about the emergent church from those within the discussion or movement. I would then urge you to listen to D.A. Carson’s 3 part lecture series on the emergent church:
- A description of the movement with a focus on its strengths.
- The movement evaluated more critically.
- An exposition of Scripture on the relationship between experience and truth.