Just to confuse you…

This year Danelle and I will be going back to a traditional church.

No I’m not kidding. I will explain in a moment, but first a digression.

If technorati were working properly then yesterday I would have finally made it to the first page of blogs tagged with ‘Emerging Church’ and I would have been able to bask in my considerable fame… (tongue now coming out of cheek) but for some reason mine doesn’t show up on their lists any longer and I have been denied this much needed ego gratification…

Since then Jamie has clocked another two links and bumped me out anyway! (Then again if TSK didn’t hold 3 of the top 10 spots everybody would have a much fairer shot 🙂 )

Ok – enough narcissistic frivolity…

I’m pretty sure everywhere I go these days my name gets linked to the ’emerging church’ and that’s fine as far as it goes. I’m guessing it causes people who don’t know me to think of me in certain ways – like this kind hearted blogger who has been criticised by some emerging church guys and writes:

“I just love that-here you have 15-20 people”usually guys, who sit in rooms smoking cigars and drinking beer, debating theology while the world around them goes to hell”and somehow they think they’ve “got it!” In my opinion the only thing that needs to “emerge” from the emerging church is their head out of their rear ends so that they can better listen to God and fulfill the Great Commission.”

What can you say to that?…

Others would perceive us less harshly and still others who know us would see us differently again. Such is the limitations of this online medium.

So chances are when I say that Danelle and I have decided to get involved again with a tradtional church some of you might wonder what the hell is going on. Have we ‘deserted the ship?!’

So here’s the story…

Over the last year or so I have been praying each day that we will have some older Christians 60+’s come and join us at Upstream to add a different dimension to our group and I have been praying that we will know how to diversify the community we are currently creating.

But after a year of praying and seeking some people out, it hasn’t happened.

I believe diversity and variety in a Christian community is incredibly valuable and important and I would like us (Danelle and I) as well as our kids in contact with a wider range of people than we currently see regularly.

On the Sunday morning of Christmas eve we went to mum and dad’s church (Scarborough Baptist

) a smaller community about 40 minutes south of where we live – the church where I grew up and where I served as a youth pastor for 5 years. Over that morning I was deeply aware again that we were missing some of what was happening in this community. And as I sat around the morning tea table with some of the old guys and chatted about fishing I was also aware of how much we are still loved and valued by the people there – and also awae of how much we love them and value them too.

I sensed God speaking again about the need to do something in regard to placing ourselves in more diverse community and I felt like he was saying ‘why not here?’. We have several churches up this way that we could get to quicker and easier, and that also have many more programs for kids as well as the bells and whistles that are supposed to be so vital to church life, but we have made a commitment to be part of the Scarborough Baptist Community once a month for this coming year because of the sense of community we experience there.

We know we aren’t going to be wowed by funky music or extravagant programs – but the further along I go, the less I care for these things. What I do know is that we will be in a community of people where we will be loved and supported (because many still know us from the old days) and where our kids will be able to engage with a much wider range of people than at present. We have also offered to contribute what we can as we are able so that we aren’t spectators in the scheme of things.

Is it a big decision for us to head back to a ‘normal’ church?

Not really.

And I say that because despite pursuing an experimental approach to church and despite seeing the flaws in the traditional system we didn’t ever step out because of that.

It just feels like the ‘right thing’ to do at this juncture.

So on the first Sunday of each month we will make the drive down to Scarborough to join a bunch of people who are in many ways (by contemporary church standards) quite unimpressive – but amongst whom we feel a strong sense of love and connection. My hope is that as we do this we will be stretched and grown in our discipleship and we will also be able to challenge some of the people there with some of what we have been learning up here.

And Perry – if I ever do get my head out of my arse long enough I may just drop in at your church and say hello… might even put some money in your offering…

Then again…

21 thoughts on “Just to confuse you…

  1. I was given the opportunity to do a 5 minute talk about Sonshine FM at Scarborough Baptist some months back.

    It was wonderful catching up with many of the people that were around when I grew up there. It certainly had the feeling of home.

  2. ahhhhh . .. . FULL CIRCLE!!! i love it!!! its sign of maturity and completion. you are able to allow part of your church life to plug back into the old, which is great. We do the same thing wiht the local baptist church where we now live.

    we have a different mindset – our church life is still modular rather than singular in regards to expressions like this, but its still part of our life

    love it . .

    regarding technorati, ooohhhhhh gosh .. . how i have wanted Technorati to gather all my URLs under their wings like a hen gathers its chicks, but they are bloody-well unwilling!

    and as for Scarb. Baptist. I used to go there often when i was introducing my sister to that community. and to check on the babes for myself of course. . .

  3. That is really great Hamo.

    At one point Scarborough was doing some really good things at their evening service.

    What to say about Perry?? At least you know where he stands. But I reckon we have to be really careful about our criticism of fellow Christians.

    I may be wrong, but I can’t find a way to respond to his comments.

  4. Hey, Hamo – this is great 🙂

    I am convinced that we need rhythm in our lives as discipleship, that there are rhythms that God has for us, at daily, weekly, monthly, and for longer seasonal intervals. That there is a time to go out and pioneer, and a time to retreat and rest. I think it is great that you have an existing community who know and love you, and I’m sure that building being with them into your monthly rhythm, at least for this next season, will result in real blessing flowing to your family and through your family to others.

    And, of course, by the end of this year, if you are still in Brighton, there WILL be a 60+ in Upstream 😉

    with love to you and your child-bride Danelle,


  5. I know I beat the same drum sometimes, on my own blog and others, maybe not here yet, but I think some of the issue of being concerned of what your readers will think is that we box things so much. I.E. ‘Traditional Church’ ‘Emerging Church’. We have this tendancy to have to label so much so that we feel more comfortable about what group we do or don’t represent.

    All this does, I believe, is cause friction between people who are doing their best to follow Jesus. The ‘traditionalists’ slam the ’emergents’ and vice versa.

    Could it be that God is inspiring and challenging his people to move and change and that we don’t need to be apart of label to do it? Could it be that we are simply God’s children trying to be obedient in whatever setting we find ourselves in? So Hamo, as my current lecturer says, (not biblical / theology training) ‘I don’t give a toss’ where you do mission as long as it’s obedient to Jesus, that you hear His voice and follow His mission to people on this earth and I think the only people who would ‘give a toss’ are those who love their label more than Christ.

  6. This is where as an atheist I have a singular advantage in terms of commentary – It is expected that I might say nasty things about Christians sp when I do it I am only meeting people’s expectations.

    I went and visited Perry’s Blog, and while I know that his inclusion in Hamo’s post was fairly minor, from the perspective of an unbeliever it is Perry and his ilk that give Christianity a bad name – outrageously hypocritical from my perspective and quite obviously a tosser. I was just surprised he didn’t end the post with a quote from Forrest Gump.

    If ever I have seen a model of ‘church’ that speaks to me of ‘commitment to god’ through commitment to others – it is the model that Hamo is using in Brighton.

    If god existed I be signed up in a jiffy! (doesn’t mean I can’t participate in other ways though I reckon).

    I do understand Hamo’s desire for that traditional style church experience – it is like being in the embrace of lots friends and sometimes quantity has a quality all of its own.

  7. Ah Grendel…

    But he does exists 🙂

    And he’s after you!…

    ALways great to have a resident atheist working with us in whatever ways are possible too

  8. He does exists? plural? either your trinitarian beliefs are showing through or you are speaking in terms of temporal continuitism (at anyone point a past-present-future state).

  9. You’re head is way too big to ever fit up your bum Hamo…(grin).

    I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no such thing as the emerging church. Or the traditional church for that matter. There’s just church – you’re either part of it or your not.

    For the past twelve months I’ve withdrawn from the emc scene a little as I was beginning to find it unhelpful on a personal level and on a missional level too. Lot’s of talk and criticism and not a lot of love. I reckon that’s probably some of the frustration Perry feels too – though I think he is far more articulate than me!

    I hope that we are now moving into an era where the church (all of it) can now pool what we’ve learnt from each other and move on together.

    What do you reckon?

  10. What do io reckon?…

    I reckon you’re spot on Matt – my head is defintely too big!

    I have never felt any different on those other issues either.

  11. Ahhh Glenno – I think attempting to classify me as ‘everyday’ might run against all those who like to classify me as odd!

  12. Oh Man! My bad, I apologise if that came across like that. I wasn’t classifying you as an everyday person though, i was just saying that if an everyday person, (which is pretty unusual isn’t it? As we all live everyday and if you didn’t you’d be dead and wouldn’t even speak)said the word church or christian to you (not any classification) what would be your image of those words?

    If the moment’s lost though then let it pass.

  13. My tongue was firly in cheek Glenno – no emoticon for that one though it seems!

    My view is too tainted by many previous years as a ‘christian’ so my response is going to be unlike that of most people.

    To be honest there is no one image for me – I understand the diversity that makes up christianity and I have a reasonably good grasp of the histories and doctrines of most of the major ‘brands’.

    I suspect for most ‘church’ conjures up images of structures rather than communities of faith and again for most a ‘christian’ would be a person walking in or out of a ‘church’.

    My understanding goes a little further than that I hope.

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