June 15, 2005

Thoughts on the emerging church hui

Some brief thoughts from the Emerging Church Hui, Wellington May 23-26.

I have two main reflections as a result of the Emerging Church Hui in Wellington. The first is an increasing commitment to multicongregationalism as a way forward in mission and ministry. The second is the conviction that churches need to be both incarnational and connective.

The multicongregational approach
It was hugely encouraging hearing the stories of hope, particularly from around New Zealand, of people and groups who are meeting people where they are at, forming or being church for them, and growing together. It was also encouraging to hear from people who were desperately keen for the people with whom they work to become involved in churches, in the gathered Body of Christ, whilst recognising that for a variety of reasons, they do not fit within the existing church.

I became even more committed to the idea of a multi-congregational approach being an ideal model for missional involvement, where the church itself and the senior pastor and leadership are generous and robust enough to allow and encourage different expressions of church, including some that may not connect for them.

There is a downside to being a sodality. How much simpler life and ministry COULD be with the support of a local church, offering prayerful, practical and moral support. Of course, this again requires much generosity, trust and understanding on the part of the local church and leadership.

It would be exciting to see local churches being “home” to a variety of missional expressions of church. Many of the costs of the new congregations could be absorbed by the church as a whole, for example hall hire, multimedia equipment. Further congregations and congregational leaders can benefit from the wisdom, generosity, and resourcing of the wider church family.

Attractional vs incarnational? No! Attractive/connective AND incarnational!
It is essential that new congregations / mission groups have an incarnational component, as well as being attractive to potential comers. Frost and Hirsh can be understood to dismiss the attractional church as they advocate for an incarnational model of ministry. However (and I think Frost and Hirsh would agree), there is still a need for churches/congregations to be connective for attenders, allowing them to connect with God and each other in meaningful ways.

The reminder of the need to be incarnational is a timely one, and churches must make the sea change that allows individuals to meet other individuals where they are at, in their everyday. Too often the tendency is to fill our lives with so much church-related, Christian-linked stuff that we are unable to be involved in our local communities and networks meeting and engaging with people.

However we also need to be shaping congregations that are going to be accessible for people, not setting unnecessary barriers in people’s journeys towards God. So churches should be connective and accessible for people with different expressions of church for different people.

Posted by Lynne Taylor at 12:03 PM

at last! i have been waiting to hear a detailed and respectable report! thanks Lynne. Sounds like exciting times.

Posted by: tash at June 15, 2005 1:13 pm

Thanks Tash
Be aware tho, that it is my reflections, from where I sit, following on from other thinking and reflecting.
Other attenders could (and probably would) write completely different reports!


Posted by: lynne at June 15, 2005 1:23 pm

Cheers Lynne; I appreciate you sharing some thoughts from what sounds like a great gathering…

Posted by: Paul Fromont at June 19, 2005 11:32 am

Yeah I totally agree on the difference between being attractive and attractional-a big difference.

Posted by: Digger at June 19, 2005 12:07 pm

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