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June 24, 2005


Tim Jeffries

These are great comments Ryan. I am currently in the process of trying to leave well (trying to actually be sent out) from an established church to go and do a mission-shaped church plant. I feel that it is crucial that the emerging church work with the established church if we are to be true to God's calling on his people. We can't just leave the established church behind and say we don't need them. What happened to the body being made up of many parts? And all those parts being required for it to work properly? 1 Corinthians 12?

I'm interested in thinking about what the established church can bring to a partnership with the emerging church (http://afootinbothplaces.blogspot.com/2005/06/what-can-established-church-contribute.html). Any thoughts?


There are also those who are comfortable in both environments. Contrary to some folks' thoughts, it is possible.

Another issue is that of accountability. Like it or not, there is a strong Biblical foundation that modernism can provide. I get uncomfortable with its implementation, however. I want to keep the foundation, but build a new house. The accountability of being within the established church, but one that is willing to allow that new house to be built is an awesome thing.

Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that Jesus didn't shun the synagogues. They were a primary place of worship for Him. Paul went to the synagogues first. The house churches that grew out of Paul's God-led efforts were because of a rejection FROM the synagogue, not a rejection OF the synagogue.


Ryan, great post and thoughts. A few musings I had after reading this that may contribute some to the conversation. Tim, I think it's important to remember that those that are participants in the modern/institutional etc. "church" see things through the only lens they know. So it's disturbing and incomprehensible to them to change and have alterations to that viewpoint. (I think Brian addressed this in Generous Orthodoxy?) It's all they know. In my opinion the emerging church does not encapsulate thee GOD sent ecclesiological way, any more than postmodern thought is thee epistomological way. What I am trying to convey is that even though I hate to utter this "the modern/institutional church still benefits GOD's kingdom, and reaches people" Personally,I would not be so concerned with transforming the past, but engaging the future and those that resonate with the emerging theologies and philosophies (or to them the socio-cultural shifts). I resonate with emergent and it's core values and paradigm shifts but it seems that everyone is not at the same place. However, I do think that there are values of the emerging church that all should embody (missional/holistic/global etc focuses), but not all will or have. Ryan I agree that all things can be redeemed but I wonder what are they redeemed to? The emerging understandings? Still working this out in my mind. Sometimes I ponder if they may need to play thier cards, lose, and wait for the next hand.

+ Alan

Thanks for bustin' me out here Ryan. ha! I realize, as I said, I'm on the edge of opinions in this discussion. One of the things I'd like to point out, as it has been brought up, is that to leave the institution is not to leave the Body of Christ. We seem to have a hard time and get these two things confused. I mean that those who leave a certain church, a certain organization or legal entity, are often accused of being sectarian and leaving behind (and even not loving) the Body of people who are a part of Our Lord. That, to me, is an argument made from misunderstanding, so it really shouldn't even be made.

I see the heart of those who want change within the "old" structures, and I appreciate it. I'm sure there are many who stay for those reasons. I would simply have to say that, again, I wonder about what kind of change we're talking about. Perhaps it's not the same kind of change. And it's not fair to say they stay in order to change the Body of Christ (refer to first paragraph). The Body of Christ can be renewed without keeping a failed institution alive. My main thought there is, though, that the kind of change that can be made from within such a structure, is, as I have seen it, not the kind of change which is necessary. There are deeply inherent roadblocks that will eventually stop you in your tracks. Unless the change eventually unravles the entire underpinning philosophy of the thing.

A while back I wrote some things on the 3 different streams in the so-called "emerging church" and tried to explain that everything that is emerging is not the same. There is no real "emerging ecclesiology" - not one homogeneous one anyway. I can only speak from my own theological understanding. From the middle of this stream, deeper change is needed than I can see being possible within the structures in place - and it's really about deep theological ideas about what church is and how it functions - what our relationship to God is, etc.

Anyway, good to talk about these things. I have to get ready for my son's baseball game. Peace to all in this house.

Mojo Turbo

Ryan -

Well said article, good points

Nice site, I'll be back.



Good post. Very provocative. I just have to comment as one of the 'advocates of change' to which you referred.

Through your classes, you are familiar with my church and my desire to see it become missional in our context. I'll admit that at times its a little depressing because of how hard this task is. So why am I still here? My biggest reason is pastoral: I am called to this role and I care about the people that I lead. We have a relationship in which we are investing in one another. They invest prayer, time, relational energy, and (yes) some money to make me their pastor. I invest in them by working to bring their attention to the Gospel and God's activity in everything and every way --- even when they resist, act disinterested, etc. I was doing this kind of 'investing' before I started thinking missionally, and I continue to do this now that I am thinking missionally. The church and I have journeyed together in the past, why should I quit journeying with them now when this stuff is so important?

This is not meant as rebuttal. Again, I am just trying to provide first-hand perspective on why some of us who believe in the missional vision of church (and the emerging church subset of this) stay in the churches that we are in.

C. Wess Daniels

just a quick thought - i think that as Christian leaders our first move should always be to heal and restore, rather than break apart or desert. If we minster under the assumption that the Holy Spirit is dynamic and alive in the people who are his own - that means even the really old dusty people in the pews who refuse change, and their old structures. We need to ask the kinds of questions that bring out stories of when those people and structures were empowered by and effective in the spirit and in so doing we may begin to find a positive way to move forward - building on the gifts, narrative and movings of the Spirit within that people. simply put, the Spirit seems to be more willing to stick with a people than we are and we should take our cues from that point.


Woah... There seems to be a missing of ecclesiology piece here. Churches are not just organisations like McDonalds that we walk away from for the /next big thing'. If that is the case then the consumerism in all of us will take us no where. So... I agree about the 'both/and' comment but we need to be cary careful about speaking inot a culture of death. Even doctors take an oah to work for life... how about Chriatians? And besides, it is God who breathes life- not some young person who doesn;t like certain historic forms and structures.



Our Ref: TOB/AT LAW/1717/2002


Attention : Rev. David Silversides

REF: Notification of Bequest.

With gratitude to God to a life well spent and on behalf of my Late Client,Engr.Willy Bubenik, I write to notify you that my late client made you a beneficiary to the bequest sum of Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars (USD 750,000.00) in the Last Codicil to his last WILL and Testament of the year 2000. Late Engr.Willy Bubenik died in a Fatal plane crash in kano, northern Nigeria, on the 4th of may 2002. The following websites could be referenced:


Until his death, Late Engr.Willy Bubenik was a Regional Director in Nigeria with United Nations Refugees and humanitarian commission.A renowned PHILANTHROPIST, who has widely travelled and very good Christian of the Christian fellowship of Nigeria. A non denominational society.

According to him, he is giving you this amount because of your active involvement in the upliftment of Christian activities with your ministries and making better the world situation for the acceptance of Christian religion in Christ Jesus as the son of God.

We the executors and trustees of this WILL,i wish to inform you that the WILL was read at the Owerri High Court probate Division on the 5th June 2002 as the law provides in section (52) sub-section 3&4 of the Nigeria constitution and is now ready for execution.

You are therefore required by this notification to confirm your ownership to this legacy by forwarding to us immediately via e-mail, your current telephone, e-mail and fax number (private) for easy communication and prompt payment without delay. Your contact address (private) is also required for verification and authentication of the WILL as the law stipulated. A photocopy of your international passport if available shall be required from you on the day of your payment.This is to avoid paying to a wrong beneficiary.

We shall detail you on the procedure involved in executing this will upon the receipt of your prompt e-mail response.

We are sorry for not notifying you by posted mail due to the urgency required in this matter and also your e-mail contact was given to us by the wife of my late client.

Thanks and God bless.

E-mail;william([email protected] )

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thanks. it is really helpful to understand the difference and similarity between missional church and emerging church.
as i am a pastor in Japan, i think ideas of emerging churches fit better than, so called, church growth how-to-techniques.

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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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