This post was originally on June 10, 2004 on the EmergentCHBC forum
I'm so eager to begin writing regularly about my experiences, observations, concerns, and hopes related to the church in our culture and around the world. Note that I didn't say "emerging church!" Over the last fifteen years (significantly due to the amazing experience I've had in these years at the Chapel Hill Bible Church), my passion has become the church — the whole church, not just portions of the church.
It wasn't always so — my early experiences in church life were routinely less than positive. As a kid of parents who were lay leaders and deeply committed to the local church — I was privy to some of the disputes, the petty jealousies, and hypocracy found in every church. Born in the 60's living in the rural South, I grew up in a church that was adamantly on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. We routinely encountered a fear for new ideas and practices, prejudice, and defensiveness as staples of church life. (Despite these faults, there was also a great spirit of community and joined lives in my childhood experiences in the church).
I went to seminary after college with the strong desire to serve God but not the church. So much of the last twenty years have been a journey home. Even the negative experiences have been redemptive for me. I dream of a church that follows the path of Jesus in embracing cultural diversity, not fearing change, being passionate about shared lives, and thinking missionally about the future while also being deeply respectful of its heritage and past journey of faith. These passions have have been forged in both the positive and negative experiences of church life for me. I find these passions deeply represented in the so called, "emerging church movement."
My love for the emerging church movement has grown over the past ten years as i have recognized a variety of factors in this movement —
•Its love the for the history of the church and its Scriptures
•Its creative thought about culture, gospel, and the future
•Its movement from critique and deconstruction of the traditional chruch to a positive desire to build the church for the present and future
•It's strong call to return to spiritual wholism (seeing the whole person as recipient of God's Spirit) and the call to serve Christ and Christ's kingdom with all of our person
•Its sharp critique of individualism and consumerism and its positive call to form communities that are formed around the gospel and the building of God's kingdom
•Its love for all of God's created world and its attentiveness hearing the voice of God in culture and community.
There's more — but, most of all — I have so often sensed God's Spirit in this movement and see it as one of the ways that God is rebuilding, reforming, and reshaping the church.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts (and hearing yours!) and my paths (and sharing your paths) with you for the purpose of laboring together to build Christ's kingdom, the greater church, and our fellowship. I'm amazed and feel truly privileged to be leading an emerging church initiative in our fellowship. It's remarkable that our church with its 30 years of effective ministry in our community is open to dialogue about future possibilities.
My Prayer for this initiative —
May our paths together be filled with many surprise "intrusions" of God's Spirit and lead us to unexpected places — places that transcend our expectations, hopes, and dreams. May our selfish desires and ambitions be quashed by the presence of God's Spirit in our lives, the example of Christ, and the growing presence of God's kingdom in our world. May we see our community and culture with the vision of God. May we build what God desires.
Peace - Tim
God's Peace —TC