I cam across this wonderful, yet disturbing story a few years back via an online ezine. As I was fossicking in some old files I found it again today.
If you want an inspirational story of how the Spirit of God works in spite of any of us then read this. If you want a challenge to consider how we can interact with what God is doing then this oughta spark some questons!
“The ‘E’ at the heart of emerging”
About 40 of us in late 70’s (all teens) found Christ IN our housing estate in Aberdeen, Scotland – we grew up in – this was completely outside known perameters of ‘mission’ at the time… BEFORE we ever came near a CHURCH.
No one ever told us about this incredible strange figure in that strange big book… WE stumbled on to him- it was OUR delicious secret – like finding ET in your kitchen, at the backside of the world -the estate was a terrifying place – many of us were beaten every week – day in day out by bullies at school or came through kids homes. Some of our chums – both boys and girls -were currently being abused by dads uncles. We were too young and scared to speak out (Aberdeen -70’s nuff said!) as we know now! no one would have listened to us – or believed us – anyway.
What did it look like … (church?) We would get together every day – we’d pack out our ma’s place – when she was at ‘yoga’ – 40 of us – some on ‘glue’ – bringing ghetto-blasters, biscuits, pocket money – to put in bowls to share we’d fill every room – kitchen, bedrooms, sitting room , hallway – outside in the back yard… when one of us said – they’re startin tae speak te God in the sitting room… everybody would squeeze in or join in thru the hatch (opens from kitchen)… sitting round – spikkin tae Goad … min… the heat in that room – I can still feel it (as well as the smell of glue and kids prefume and biscuits… the smell of God. I remeber that it gave us ‘guys’ permission to talk – really talk to each other… we even had a game – we would give each other all our wages – part time jobs – at the end of the week – or lay hands on our dog to see what would happen.
The words we used – our conversation with God – shocking even here among more refined – ’emerging church and mission’ sensibilities – (I count myself in here too now – so I’m not joshin you’all) the word ‘christian‘ – i don’t think – we…used or understood the word – yet – or church… NO ONE knew we even existed.. at this point – this is difficult to imagine, perhaps, but ‘I’ even wondered if any other of these ‘disciple’ types we read about to each other – in the gospels…existed in aberdeen??? until eventually I found a christian bookshop – I stammered – words to the guy behind the counter – ‘are yooz like in the bible… ‘ (I don’t think I even knew of the word: christian at this point – wasn’t in the gospels)
Now here is the really freaky bit.. I suddenly began to become ‘aware’ of ‘church buildings’ – It’s wierd but It was odd to me how I never noticed before.. their ‘existence’…. I’ve explained this to many people before – its like they were there – you kicked a ball against the wall of the thing – it made bell noises every sunday… but it WASN’T HERE…. it was an alien patch of ground from another place… where people had cars and came every week – (I was usually in my bed so I never saw them) and inside lived a mannie… with a funny soft voice… It’s odd but I had the distinct impression… that he looked so fragile – like he would break…something.. a sad soft posh person… I didn’t like him much… but thats all I remember. .
One day a man heard about us.. visited us and was blown away – he started using words like ‘revival’ etc… he was awfully happy … we were too… finally we made contact with the ‘outside’ and a real adult too to boot… he advised us to start ‘going to ‘church’ – very soon though… it died! They didn’t mean for it to… it just did. I now understand that – whatever lived in that soil or environment – was too fragile to be moved into an alien landscape – I remember watching it… the uprooted crew ….at church… slowly they got quieter less animated… less free and – ‘themselves’ … our language made people wince… our route into Christ completely alien… I was treated like a hero… they had me preach every 2 weeks – and got to ‘lead worship’ – with our own written stuff… that we had composed in the estate… It was all wrong – I felt it – but I was too young and scared – and we were all wowed by these al these bright talkative kind posh people with big faces, who knew better about church and God and a that! Now after being thru the – wimber alt worship/NOS to clubchurch now.. to the possibility of a wide luscious multicoloured valley – of tribes… linking out to the edges and beyond of the alternative and even – the anglosphere… altogether (O God i hope so)…. we come to Emerging church…. (with Big J nothing is lost and the best comes with us – NOS too).
without the E…. however, there is no E-merging anything … just good ol’ MERGING…. so here is my 2p (or whatever your currency is) worth …
E in E merging stands for (in the Uk anyway…) stands for ESTATES……
this time – for the first time, perhaps in 1500 years… i our aristocratic obsessed Country …the poor might just get back in…. from the cold…. the experience of the ‘absence of Christ’ – remarked by many in Europe since the before the world wars… is for a purpose… it induces the song of solomon phenomena – the search for him… in the wackiest places… but its, if you notice a story about the ‘king/prince’ choosing to hang out with the poorest… (dark)
….. if you miss the presence… spend a few years with/among/the outcasts…. be baptised among the religious poor… like the Jeruslamites and temple goers – immersing themselves among the cackling and rough tones and raw emotions of those at the jordan with John-the immerser…
if you are poor – for goodness sake don’t be ashamed of it – help the middle classes … let go.. their obsessive need to help you… and ‘communicate chunkily’ – with each other and God… from their heart… they’re so nervous of losing their ‘cool’ … of catching ‘ poverty’ and ‘neediness’ … oof protecting their masks… they are in great pain because of it.. help them let go a bit… aybe they can then go from letting God move their heart – to letting God move their butts! and dance…. something the poorest have always done….
can you imagine ‘NEDS’ leading … the emerging church… into her future …and heritage and promised land… why not? the benjaminites… (the smallest tribe) were asked to lead Israel across the jordan… I bet they were surprised….that must have been a sight…
or rough Galileans cluelessly leading the church into her future in Europe and Africa Century 1
ending up as stories from Egyptian traders among the tatoo’ed unwashed natives of Scotland and Ireland…
put ESTATES at the heart of the emrging church in the UK and enjoy the presence of Christ ….sup to yooz (ooh I’m gettin ma voice back min)
Good stuff – I see the point. But my experience in this church (deception bay baptist) is one that, though established in a building, is more of a ‘church in the market place’. That idea that we are very visible (across the road from the shopping centre and centerlink) and though other places of worship may not be known, everyone you talk to knows where the Baptist Church is. And many will go on to tell stories of how when they were in need that’s where they went, and they found help. For a 50 year old church with a very aged congregation there is a sense of emergent about it.
wow – I thought that post was lost in internet Gehenna (;-) – I think I wrote it in first few months of the emergingchurch.info website (not going anymore I think) Jeepers, I use a lot a hyphens in my posts, don’t I. The end (or ongoing) saga of the above story is – after years in sheffield (NOS) then edinburgh (club church/seedbed) I eventually returned tae Aberdeen, bumping into many of those above and we’ve kind of come together again – I think it’s def God’s doing though… they all have loads of kids in same tough spots that we were in- so we have plenty tae do! and we won’t be asking em tae go tae church… we’ll do it ourselves this time! – we are big enough and bubbly enough tae DIY it- we have the blistering words Of Yeshua, some warm baked grub, chunky raw prayer, wild bible trekkin, DIY organising, grassrootsy economising and whatever else our hearts and hands can handle and prepare for… in these days about to sledgehammer our nation ahead!
Good to hear from you. I first found the story way back when .info was running but it’s one of my faves for many reasons!