First, thanks for all of you who have shared here so far. I want you to know and hope you feel that you are not out there alone, that you have real live support here in Nashville, and that, as you keep talking with one another, you are part of a larger family within the United Methodist Church that will be there for you as well-- both to listen, and to support and challenge you along the way.
The "connection" we United Methodists talk about isn't just about bureaucracies and structures. The structures are really infrastructure to help the real connections happen reliably over time. That real connection itself is our own investment of personal energy and attention we make in each other-- sometimes through the structures, and sometimes "offroad."
This blog is another structure for connection... but the connection itself is always ours to make.
With that in mind, I want to lift up some of the questions I've seen emerging from among the posts and comments that have been made so far and put them here in one place in a way that might help us continue to build connections with each other.
Carl asked: Have any of you had success or experience bringing the emerging church out into the public square?
I asked: 1) How are you addressing issues of integrating "younger emerging" folks and systems with the fuller church (both in terms of age and in terms of getting to know folks and organizing for mission and ministry). 2) How are you facilitating the full participation of the worshippers in song? and 3) My question is about what has gotten you interested in exploring "emerging worship"-- is it PRIMARILY about worship, or evangelism, or mission, or spiritual formation?
Beth asked: What have you found to be effective in making change in congregational worship from traditional to more multi-sensory modes-- talking about it and trying to change the system, or introducing changes into the larger existing system? And how did the process of change work (by either pathway) where you are?
Dave asked: Why is it that our church members feel such a sense of entitlement, with so little interest in evangelism? And behind that I think I'm hearing, How are you finding ways to help move people from "getting what THEY want" (me-focused toward "us toward God" focused) AND toward becoming evangelistic in their outlook and practice. (I use and here because I think these are really two different issues, though related).
Randy asked three things, really: 1) How do people best experience God's presence
in a world filled with visual stimulation and the need of many to
experience by "doing"? 2) How can the church help in that journey? AND 3)how many on this e-mail list will be attending the National Pastor's Conference in California later in February (especially the track on emergent worship) and for those attending, could we organize a chance to connect and talk?
Jonathan asked: Has anyone in this discussion started an "emergent
congregation" (for lack of a better term) within your existing traditional
or contemporary church? If so, what lessons can you pass along to us as we
try to avoid pitfalls, clashes, power struggles, etc.?
Winston shared these realities of a former ministry: Our church support just wasn't there attendance wise, though the church was behind us in other ways. We didn't have any clergy members working on the service, so it was just a core group of 3 of us running the show. We ended up discontinuing it due to the principals all having increased demands on us from work involving a lot of travel time, etc. Behind this I hear questions like: What are some models for getting effective support for the church to get an "emerging"ministry model not only started, but to make it sustainable? And if it's clear it's becoming difficult to sustain, what models are out there for either ending it in a healthy way or finding new support to give it new or better life? And do you have any leads for work along these lines in the Memphis TN area?
Let's keep connecting!
Peace in Christ,
Director of Worship Resources
General Board of Discipleship