Sunday, May 16, 2004

helpful cautions against ethnocentric emerging church analysis!

I received a very helpful comment from Matthew Glock in response to my note on describing the emerging church that helpfully knocked off, for a few moments anyway, my ethnocentric glasses. Matthew, who works in France, gently reminded me that the state of conversation in the States and in the larger English-speaking world is not necessarily representative of Christian subcultures across all countries. What's "emerging" in the English-speaking world isn't necessarily "emerging" everywhere. In a telling post, Matthew comments, "your average French Christian could care less about understanding the modern/post-modern transition." Matthew asks some good transculture questions that help to diagnose exacly what emerging needs to occur in whatever context:

"Are we loving God with all that we are?
Are we loving our neighbors as ourselves?
Are we inviting people to join us in our journey?
What are we doing that is tied to cultural norms that are not relevant those who are outside our community of faith and don't find their place in the Bible?"

Matthew also turned me on to the comments of Jonathan Finley, also in France, who posted The Metissage of the Church.

Jonathan notes:

"it seems to me that the "emerging church" discussion has essentially grown out of a cleavage between sub-cultural expressions of the church within Anglo-Saxon cultures. i suspect that the usage of the word "culture", as in the "emerging culture", springs from an essentially monocultural world view and actually means "subculture". anyway, the "emergent culture" seems to be an essentially english-speaking, white boy's world (sorry girls and the rest of the planet). it seems these boys don't want their "father’s Oldsmobile" anymore (yes, girls and boys, i’m provoking you). i must agree with this much: someone has disengaged the parking brake on this shiny relic, the “modern, western church,” and has sent it coasting driverless (even purposeless ;-) toward an eminent and brutal collision with a post-modern present. I'm not claiming to even know what post-modern means (before you do, read this), but i do agree that the shift is real, radical, and sprawling. "

but then says

"However, I don’t find much in the “emergent” conversation that helps me to understand the multi-cultural suburbs of Paris...."

Jonathan and Matthew's comments both cautioned me not to look at things emergesque from such a narrow perspective and I appreciate the yellow light.


Matt said...

Ain't this blogosphere cool!

You post something, Andrew reads it, I read Andrew's post, then yours, I comment, you respond. You live in the Maryland, Andrew in the UK and I in France.

The invisible church becoming a little more visible.

Stephen said...

It's truly wonderful. Online community has its limitations but also its distinct advantages. You've highlighted one! May God help us to make our online efforts truly kingdom-optimized. Thanks Matthew!

jmf said...

seeing certain people in real life can be far less interesting. i'm sooo much coooler in cyberspace.

matt, nice tag team action... preach it bro!

Anonymous said...

I'm anonymous only because I don't know how to "belong" in this conversation! :) But, I have to echo Matt's comment and say that the "emergent" and the "post-modern" in New Zealand look very different from that in other countries. And I'm always frustrated by the North American voice claiming to have a global understanding or representative view of what is the so-called "post-modern". Reminds me of the attempts some years back to define "New Age" - something which is a little like God: indefinable, incomprehensible, not able to be put in a box!! Of course God is much more fun to try and figure out though. But back to the point: what may be described as post-modern in one nation (even a neighbourhood?) is probably not the same in another.