A few thoughts that transpired in my brain this morning while I was preparing for church...
I wonder if I got in early on the "Emerging Movement", and then proceeded to miss the connections to the larger church.
During my seminary days I also attended and worked at Dunwoody UMC in Atlanta, GA. We had a young adult group there, with about 15 regular students. When I walked in the door they were working their way through the book by Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline. What I remember of this book (I've since read it two more times) is that many of the practices that the early church took to heart: the inward disciplines, the outward disciplines, and the corporate disciplines. The class tried them, and some fell away, some shied away from the beginning, and some held on for the long haul. But we tried, and learned.
Isn't this the call the emerging church movement is making: reclaim the traditions of old to reform our faith experience? The cry of the emergent movement seems to be, "We aren't getting spiritually fed with the current church, what are the deeper practices we can experience?"
As such I was brought to a new awakening of the power of those deep practices when our youth group had a recent Wednesday night program that called for prayer stations as a part of the curriculum series we have been exploring (Combos for Youth Groups). This is the first and only time when working with the youth that we have carried something into multiple weeks, as there was not enough time for the youth to all participate that night. What's more they wanted their friends to experience the prayer path, even though they had not been there that week, and so begged to let the friend go through when they came the following weeks to youth group.
From my time at the School of Congregational Development I was also brought to awareness that maybe it is time at Del Rosa UMC to consider a second service. This is not to be a copycat of the service we have, but something new, that would bring in those from the outside. I have been considering something that would have multiple elements. I want to set a day that would be best for outreach to occur in this community. Then I want to offer a variety of entrances to the church experience - from prayer paths, to concerts, to testimonies, to traditional services, to community debates/forums. This would enable the community to connect to us in series of manners, but may not provide the ongoing depth that may be required. Now it is time for the leg-work to determine if this is the appropriate venue to approach the community.
All of this to say that the "Emergent Movement" seeks to be doing two things:
1) Re-connecting to the ancient practices of the church for personal development
2) Re-connecting to the communities in which they find themselves, as a way of bringing forth the glory of God in that place.
Time to emerge into the possibilities