Saturday, August 14, 2004

spencer burke ( in la times

jordon alerts us to the fact that the Los Angeles Times today had an article on spencer burke and his "emerging church" (free registration required).

I read somewhere once that when a newspaper article is written on something you really know a lot about, it's amazing how many inaccuracies you see. I'd love to hear Spencer's take on this article but here's a couple of observations.

The article says,

"The 1-year-old church in Orange County has no name, no building and no set time to meet"

and then later comments

"They're part of a new phenomenon — "emerging churches" — growing out of evangelical Christianity."

The implication that Spencer's church is a typical "emerging church".

No slam at all on Spencer or his new spiritual community, but I'm sure it's not a typical "emerging church". Most "emerging churches" do have names and do have set times to meet. Some have buildings. Moreover, the article goes on to quote Dan Kimball, author of The Emerging Church, whose Vintage Faith Church definitely has a name, set times to meet and meets in its mother church's Worship Center.

That being said, that's not to say at all that the typical emerging church - and readers of this blog - don't have something to learn from Spencer and his friends' ecclesial adventures.


Steve K. said...

Is it possible that Spencer's church is "emerging" and so is Dan Kimball's? It's not as if having a set name, location, and meeting time (or not having the aforementioned) is what defines an "emerging church." Heck, it's not as if there's just one model that defines something as an "emerging church." The article states that most emerging churches have 50 people or less. But it seems to me that many are larger than that. Obviously the part which states, "the movement aims to bring churches closer to people, with small communities of prayer and learning" is probably true across the board, no matter what the total number of people may be. I liked the statement from Eddie Gibbs where he said Spencer has "flipped a little too far to the left" but that Gibbs recently invited him to lecture at Fuller anyway. That's pretty cool. I'm sure Gibbs' book on emerging churches will be interesting also. Anyway, it sounds like Spencer's new "church" is a little more radical of an attempt at redefining church -- one which deconstructs church pretty far. And it may work for them, for awhile, maybe a long time. It just seems that most churches have names and places and specified times for a good reason -- people feel *more* connected that way, not less.

Stephen said...

thanks, steve - fair comments all.

spencer said...

great thoughts and comments...

it is difficult when someone is trying to describe what we are doing as a church, especially when they are looking from the outside in. connie did a great job of listening and researching, but what we are doing is very different from other communities i am aware of. that is not a "good or bad" statement, just we have started from different premises.

as a community we decide to start with only those things that helped us "be" the church in our context. when i have planted other churches we started with those things that helped us "do" church - 501c3, the sunday event, budgets, staffing, mission or purpose statements...

i am not against these things. as steve points out we will probably "need" at some point to "do" those things as we journey together. but my thought is, we probably can do with out much of the "cooperation" of church and only add them to our "overhead" when they help us...

a little like the question jesus posed - is sabbath made for humans or are humans made to serve the sabbath.

EBM said...

Here is a practical question concerning the issues you are discussing: How do emerging/ emergent/ mega-emerging faith communities welcome the stranger from a foreign land? My husband and I are here from the UK on business. I have spent a couple of hours on the web sitting in an Orange County Hotel trying to find an invite to some sort of emerging faith gathering this weekend and haven't found any; they may be there, but they're not found easily. Some have said that core characteristics of the emerging faith communities, whatever else may distinguish them, is hospitality and relationality. It seems as if these traits apply mainly if one already is plugged into the 'right' networks. What about the mobile global body of Christ? Thanks, EBM