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Offline Columcille

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Emerging church?
« on: April 18, 2004, 11:23:03 AM »
This makes me extremely sad.  


http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/local/states/texas/arlington/8460679.htm?1c

Sorry, I didn't have to register the first time I went in, I did the second.

Posted on Sun, Apr. 18, 2004
 
KEEPING THE FAITH

Casual churches attracting young worshippers

By Leila Fadel

Star-Telegram Staff Writer


ARLINGTON - It's Sunday and about 20 people mingle in the Coffee Haus on Mesquite Street. Some pick up a doughnut and a cup of coffee, and others leave their children in a makeshift nursery.

A hodgepodge of furniture -- couches, love seats, plastic lawn chairs -- is arrayed in front of a two-person band with an acoustic guitar and a conga. People sit, some tucking a Bible beneath their chairs, and bow their heads in prayer.

The worship service has begun at Axxess, one of hundreds of small emerging churches sprinkled throughout the United States and other Western nations. Rather than sanctuaries, many of these church communities meet in bars, coffee shops and other places frequented by young adults. Many members are in their 20s and 30s. Most are disillusioned with traditional churches.

"These congregations are a little bit different. They recognize that transformation comes from relationships," said Brad Cecil, pastor of Axxess. "We meet at a coffeehouse. It's much more casual. We have breakfast together; we sing."

These Christians are trying to recapture some of the intimacy of the early church, and members stress the importance of community and faith, said Bill Leonard, dean of the Divinity School and professor of church history at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C.

"It reflects the Friends motif for organizing the church, where the atmosphere is more like the coffeehouse on Friends than the huge auditorium of the mega-church or the colonial architecture of the traditional church," Leonard said. "The concern for intimacy and cultivation of community is a response to the mega-church movement, with its huge numbers and mass meetings."

Still, the emerging churches are often fostered by traditional churches, which see them as a means to reach people who either have never attended or can't connect with traditional churches, said the Rev. Dennis Wiles of First Baptist Church of Arlington.

"It's in response to these unreached pockets of our culture," Wiles said. "The emerging churches are growing in tandem with traditional churches. ... It reflects the diversity of this culture."

Axxess, for example, started as a young adult ministry at Pantego Bible Church in Fort Worth. Cecil was the young adult minister at the time. Axxess branched off in 2002.

"We have no desire to be the biggest," said Cecil, 45, who works as a consultant for nonprofit organizations. "We're just trying to work with the people who are falling through the cracks."

Because the churches are unstructured, it's difficult to gauge membership or how fast they are growing. Texas has at least 15 emerging churches. An Internet search found communities in Arlington, Dallas, Plano, Richardson, Fort Worth and Grand Prairie.

The online presence helps draw followers. Many members write online journals or blogs. Some discovered the movement online, where members converse about topics including spirituality, life, politics, music and God. Web sites such as www.emergentvillage.com are described as a network of friends.

"There's a lot of different expressions. The commonality of a lot of emerging churches is, they're not just rethinking the worship service, they're rethinking the church as a whole," said Dan Kimball, pastor at the Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Calif., and author of The Emerging Church and Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations.

Emerging churches often attract people under 35 who don't relate to the large, structured churches of their parents' generation, Kimball said. The atmosphere is not chainlike, or the same from church to church, and people don't get lost in the crowd, he said. Each "emerging" church paves its own path to being Christian, he said.

"I look back on the New Testament, and the church was always changing. That word 'emerging' simply means what's coming to the surface," he said.

Axxess has sponsored art nights, during which members present short films, write short stories or recite poetry. Communion is an individual act. Each week a type of bread, such as a bagel or a dinner roll, and a goblet of juice are placed on a low table. Members kneel and take Communion when they feel moved.

Other emerging worship services forge their own traditions.

At Journey in Dallas, people write their sins in sand and brush them away. A journal is always open for people to write their prayers and read the prayers of others. The group uses the liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer.

Ecclesia in Houston has a painting station set up during the worship service. People are encouraged to use a paintbrush to express their thoughts.

The Vintage Faith Church has interactive prayer stations, such as a table with a flashlight and a bowl. Members are asked to turn on the flashlight, cover it with the bowl and think about what blocks the light in their lives. It's a reflection on Matthew 5:15: "Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house."

Leonard said the churches affirm ancient Christian history and traditions through the use of classic prayers and litanies, such as the Book of Common Prayer.

"These churches want intimacy, but they also want a connection to the ancient worship traditions of the Christian churches," Leonard said.

The movement dismisses much of Christian history between the time of Jesus and the present, said Mark G. Toulouse, professor of American religious history at the Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. The churches, which use terms such as "ancient future" or "vintage faith" to describe themselves, attempt to recover what they believe are true Christian practices and adapt them to the contemporary world, Toulouse said.

"It's rather ahistorical, even an anti-historical movement," he said. "It's this interesting mix in some respects of dismissal of the important traditions of Christianity but of affirmation of ancient house churches and contemporary popular culture."

Larger churches offer their support because they recognize that some people feel disconnected from the modern mega-church or the traditional church, Kimball said.

Only three of 10 people in their 20s and four of 10 in their 30s attend church in a typical week, compared with nearly half of those 40 and older, according to a 2003 study by the Barna Research Group, a California-based marketing research company that studies cultural trends and the Christian church.

"Most larger churches are recognizing that teen-agers are disappearing from their churches as soon as they get to their college years because they are not connecting to that form of church," Kimball said.

Will Canon, 25, joined Axxess when he returned to Arlington after graduating from New York University. Canon, who was raised Baptist, said he has always questioned mainline religious institutions.

"They're not really interested in asking questions," he said of traditional churches. "They're more interested in telling you what to think."

Canon, an Axxess church elder, said he knew he was in the right place when he heard Cecil say, "I want this church to be a freeing expression."

"That's one of the reasons I'm here: You won't be ostracized, you won't be alienated if you believe something different," Canon said.

Andrew and Bonny Godwin, both 25, were married by Cecil, and Axxess is their first church as a couple.

"This is so stripped down; it has an acoustic feel," said Andrew Godwin, a guitar player. "For us, it's easier to focus on what's going on on the inside. It's easier to focus on what we're really doing here."

Dan Hughes, 31, a software developer and writer, spent much of his childhood abroad because his parents were diplomats. When he returned to the United States and went to Dallas Christian College, he found the American form of church too consumer-based.

It was "Christianity Inc.," focused on large constituencies and big money in the donation box, he said.

"There was a vitality and an honesty that was absent," Hughes said. "I had seen Christianity in 10,000 different ways in so many different colors. I felt I was a part of that marginalized group that they were talking against from the pulpit."

Hughes attended the first church leadership meeting at Cecil's home, where fried eggs were served and cigars were available to the 14 attendees.

Hughes said Cecil threw a copy of the Apostles' Creed, a prayer of faith, on the table and asked, "So what are we going to do about this?" A three-hour conversation on the meaning and interpretation ensued.

"There was no presumption in this meeting or ever; it was about being as honestly human and as faithfully Christian as we could be," Hughes said. "The emerging movement wasn't just cool, it was really compelling because it was honest."

A new way to worship

The emerging churches are Christian communities that attempt to recapture the intimacy and traditions of the early church. They often worship in nontraditional places such as coffeehouses, bars and homes.

On the Web

GÇó www.emergentvillage.com

GÇó www.ginkworld.net

GÇó www.emergingchurch.org

GÇó www.theooze.com

On the bookshelf

GÇó The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball

GÇó Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations by Dan Kimball

GÇó A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey by Brian D. McLaren

GÇó The Church on the Other Side by Brian D. McLaren

In the area

GÇó Axxess meets at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday at the Coffee Haus, 210 S. Mesquite St. in central Arlington. On the Web: www.axxess.org

GÇó Mosaic meets at 6 p.m. Sundays at The Church in Cityview, 6610 Southwest Blvd. in Fort Worth. On the Web: www.mosaicfw.org

GÇó Axis Coffee House meets at 6 p.m. Sundays at The Oaks Baptist Church, 801 E. Interstate 20 in Grand Prairie. On the Web: www.axiscoffeehouse.org


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leila Fadel, (817) 548-5411 lfadel@star-telegram.com  

   
 
« Last Edit: April 18, 2004, 01:36:52 PM by Columcille »
"The way of God is a daily cross.  No one has ascended into heaven through an easy life."  St. Isaac of Syria

Offline David

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2004, 12:21:56 PM »
I personally don't care to sign up for a paper that I will most likely only read once.  Can you copy and paste the relevant information?
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Offline sinjinsmythe

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2004, 02:24:28 PM »
Quote
"We're just trying to work with the people who are falling through the cracks."

I can understand why people want to join such churches. The mega-churches and traditional churches do a poor job of integrating people. Too often, traditional churches tend to over focus on the elderly and married couples leaving out those who happen to not fit into those two cliques.  Traditional churches at times do a lousy job of welcoming newcomers. I think the megachurches and traditional churches deserve a lot of blame for this. Let me ask you all, when was the last time you went up to someone new and asked then their name and introduced yourself? I think many people are looking for a place to belong in this world gone to hell of ours.  And this is what happens when the church decides to be derelict in its mission.
Life is just one disappointment after another.

Offline Tikhon29605

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2004, 03:11:50 PM »
"It reflects the Friends motif for organizing the church, where the atmosphere is more like the coffeehouse on Friends than the huge auditorium of the mega-church or the colonial architecture of the traditional church,"

IMHO this shows indeed how secularized American evangelical Christianity has become.  They'll reject 2,000 years of Holy Tradition but model their "churches" on Friends!  Sad indeed!  However, could it be that the "connection" they are seeking comes from the fact that their "churches" don't have a real Eucharist, and they sense something missing in their spiritual lives because of that? Just a thought

Offline Columcille

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2004, 03:33:40 PM »
"Communion is an individual act. Each week a type of bread, such as a bagel or a dinner roll, and a goblet of juice are placed on a low table. Members kneel and take Communion when they feel moved."

This is what disturbed me the most, I think.  Holy Communion is not an 'individual act'.  I think the whole article reflected the 'rugged individualism' of American Protestantism as a virtue.

Also, I think these folks truly have a holy discontent with Protestantism that can only be fulfilled by entering the Holy Orthodox Church.  I fear that as long as they continue to reject Church/Christian history they will continue to wallow in their discontent.
"The way of God is a daily cross.  No one has ascended into heaven through an easy life."  St. Isaac of Syria

Offline Brigid of Kildare

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2004, 03:45:51 PM »
Columcille, you're right this is very sad indeed. The one thing that always amuses me about this type of trendy movement is that it criticizes the traditional language of the church as unintelligible or irrelevant, yet has no problem with creating a jargon all its own.

Canon, an Axxess church elder, said he knew he was in the right place when he heard Cecil say, "I want this church to be a freeing expression."

The church as a 'freeing expression' - what exactly does that mean?
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Offline Anastasios

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2004, 03:46:04 PM »
I can understand why people want to join such churches. The mega-churches and traditional churches do a poor job of integrating people. Too often, traditional churches tend to over focus on the elderly and married couples leaving out those who happen to not fit into those two cliques.  Traditional churches at times do a lousy job of welcoming newcomers. I think the megachurches and traditional churches deserve a lot of blame for this. Let me ask you all, when was the last time you went up to someone new and asked then their name and introduced yourself? I think many people are looking for a place to belong in this world gone to hell of ours.  And this is what happens when the church decides to be derelict in its mission.

I couldn't agree with you more.  I didn't meet my wife in Church, that's for sure.  I try to be the guy who says hello to every person new.  But everyone should be doing that.

anastasios

PS Noticed you changed your sig.  That's encouraging.  I am praying for you.
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Offline ambrosemzv

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #7 on: April 18, 2004, 06:08:52 PM »
Let me ask you all, when was the last time you went up to someone new and asked then their name and introduced yourself?

This morning.  And, I wasn't the only one to do it in our parish.  And, it was not an unusual event.  And no, we don't have people officially designated to do this sort of thing.  It occurs spontaneously; our members actually care about our visitors and want them to feel welcome.
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2004, 06:25:14 PM »
This morning.  And, I wasn't the only one to do it in our parish.  And, it was not an unusual event.  And no, we don't have people officially designated to do this sort of thing.  It occurs spontaneously; our members actually care about our visitors and want them to feel welcome.

I could not word a more accurate response than the above for my parish. ( And "this morning" as well for my greeting efforts).

Demetri
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Offline TomS

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2004, 08:06:27 PM »
I would rather these types of "churches" exist for those who feel disenfranchised or negelcted than none at all.

The WORD is good no matter where you initially hear it.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2004, 08:07:24 PM by Tom+ú »

Offline countrymouse

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2004, 08:31:07 PM »
Quote
Let me ask you all, when was the last time you went up to someone new and asked then their name and introduced yourself?

In the parish I attend we don't have any official greeters.  The first couple I met on the first Sunday I attended went out of their way to help me to know what to do, and what was going on.  They introduced me to other people after Divine Liturgy, including the priest, and even gave me their phone number and address in case I had any questions they could answer.  It's a small church mainly made up of converts, which perhaps makes a difference, but there's definitely a core of members who are concerned to make visitors feel welcome (but without being pushy).  The really nice thing was going back the next week and people remembered my name.  That makes an impression!

Offline Brendan03

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2004, 09:33:04 AM »
There are friendly parishes and their are less friendly parishes.  I agree it would be best if more parishes were friendlier, but each parish has its own personality, I have found.
B

Offline Linus7

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Re:Emerging church?
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2004, 09:34:58 AM »
Quote
The movement dismisses much of Christian history between the time of Jesus and the present, said Mark G. Toulouse, professor of American religious history at the Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. The churches, which use terms such as "ancient future" or "vintage faith" to describe themselves, attempt to recover what they believe are true Christian practices and adapt them to the contemporary world, Toulouse said.

"It's rather ahistorical, even an anti-historical movement," he said. "It's this interesting mix in some respects of dismissal of the important traditions of Christianity but of affirmation of ancient house churches and contemporary popular culture."

Ah, well.

We can pray that God will use this *fluff* to lead those who are honestly seeking Him.

It could not possibly be good to stay in this sort of thing for long, however.
The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
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