“Before Roberta Green and her family joined Redeemer Presbyterian Church, she had one final question. … “Is Redeemer ecumenical or sectarian?” she asked. “Because I grew up deep in the fundamentalist world where every kind of church or believer who was not in our denomination was a heretic and needed to be shunned and I don’t want to be part of a church like that again.” – story from Jim Belcher in Deep Church
…and my personal favorite (please note intended sarcasm)
I have a strong desire for a better church in my city. Will it happen? I sure hope so. But in the churches I have attended in Little Rock I have found with my theology and my beliefs it’s like I’m stuck somewhere in the middle on the traditional/emergent pendulum. My theology is too liberal for some and too conservative for others. I don’t fall in line with the “traditional evangelical” church (please forgive that label, it is awfully generic) but I also don’t line up with the “emergent” church (also very generic label). I’m somewhere in between. I’m in limbo. I live in a state of dissonance, and as such I’m without a church that strikes that final note to make it a harmonic chord with my beliefs. I’m not looking for a perfect fit, or perfect church, because as long as churches are organized and attended by men and women it will always have a little bit of discord and dissonance. And I think a little bit of dissonance can be a healthy tuning instrument. At the same time I believe there are others here in Little Rock who might feel the same way I do – they find themselves falling somewhere in between and with no church to call home.
Now, I know by saying I desire a better church, it might seem arrogant, and I can understand why it may seem that way. Why should I think my vision for what a church should look like is THE way for a church? It comes across as arrogant, but I promise that is not my intention. I believe there are good churches in Little Rock who have done alot for their attenders and for this city, but I also believe there is always room for improvement. If you believe your church is perfect, well, as I’ve learned in the south when you want to call someone a moron but use different words you say “bless your heart”, so…bless your heart.
I am a voracious reader and most of the time I am reading anywhere from 6-8 books at a time. I’ve read books from both sides of the traditional/ermergent aisle – so to speak – and I can appreciate the different leanings and interpretations from both, but what I don’t get is why there’s the constant bickering and denigrating of the other’s perspectives and beliefs between the two camps. If you’re on twitter you probably know what I’m talking about. There are shots across the bow almost every day from people about different figureheads of both sides. Are we not worshipping the same God?! Some would say no, I say yes! (more on that in the next post)
But for now, I’ve started to read a book by Jim Belcher called Deep Church.
It details a conversation between John Piper and Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt and well, it just didn’t end well. Basically both sides told each other they were unfit to be a pastor.
~~~~ can we get a group hug~~~~
After almost a decade the two sides now are at loggerheads, and it seems the rift will not be healed anytime soon. – Deep Church
Yet the two sides can’t get along. They are hostile to each other, using their writings and conferences to denounce the other side. – Deep Church
…hmmm, maybe not.
So if we can’t get a group hug between the two sides…I want to find a way for myself to live more peaceably and more graciously within my traditional church (for the time being…more on that later) while I’m stuck dangling in the middle between the two.
I’m about 50 pages into the book and so far it’s been a great read. It outlines the traditional church and the emergent church and talks about why they seem diametrically opposed in matters of faith and completely unable to work together or even hold a civil conversation.
Again…are we not worshipping the same God?! Good grief people!
Over the next couple of posts I’m going to outline some of the concerns I have with the traditional church and emergent church and also offer suggestions that can make our theology more in line with how we live our lives meaningfully on earth…which is our future heaven. Wait a second…you don’t think God is going to destroy the earth we’re on now? Nope sure don’t. We need to be aware that our theology and how we interact with our culture and what we think about heaven and earth impacts how we live our lives today.
If you’re like me and find yourself stuck in the middle between the traditional and emergent churches and you’re wondering what to do about it I highly recommend checking out Deep Church by Jim Belcher. It (so far) is giving a fresh perspective of finding a balance and a deeper meaning to my faith than what is currently presented in the church I attend.
Maybe it’s time for a new church in Little Rock…a, shall we say, Deep Church. (a bit of foreshadowing perhaps?