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A Mobile Church for E.P.I.C. Times
Many Christian groups and individuals are working to harness the powers of the internet in the cause of the Gospel. I suspect that among the most effective is that legion of “emerging church” writers, whose ideas – constantly flying through cyberspace - on doing church in a post-modern world are having a big impact.
One of these writers is Fred Peatross, whose excellent blog, Grace Awakening, was a continuing source of new thoughts.
Fred has now written a book (another book, I should say). Titled A Mobile Church for E.P.I.C. Times (E.P.I.C. = experiential, participative, image-based, connected), and subtitled “Moving Across Faith Community Borders”, it is a timely and provocative call to reconnect the church with the community. I commend it highly.
Fans of his website will know that Fred writes in crystal-clear prose that is never less than compelling. His book is the same. In a series of short, sharp chapters he tells stories and jokes, preaches, teaches and inspires.
Here he is on the internet:
Oh, how times have changed! Today the…internet is, at its core, an invitation to talk back. It has encouraged and fostered the voice and opinion of every person, however much that voice may contradict the status quo. This interactive forum has given post-modern culture the freedom and right to reflect upon the stories they’ve been told and then create their own version of the story, which becomes their sacred truth. The very nature of the on-line community has loosened up any and all narratives. Today everyone has been given the right to have his or her own “small story” to the exclusion of anyone’s “big story.”
He urges us to get our ministries out of our church buildings and into the culture. Sadly, he says, most churches lack the vision narrative to do this.
Yet, mobile ministries that move beyond the confines of a “one building” or “one campus” church are, first, concerned with the missing ones and attempting to minister to people all over their city. People with vision live with a sense of expectancy!
Precisely. And that’s why this book will resonate with so many who are frustrated that their church leaders “don’t get it”.
A highlight is a series of interviews with prominent Christians, including some leaders of the emerging church movement. Here, from these interviews, are a couple of soundbites.
Firstly from pastor and author Brian McLaren :
Fred: What do church leaders do with the long-standing members who have found security in familiarity (and often confuse it with Gospel) and refuse to move forward?
Brian: This is such an important, and tough, question. I don’t think we can treat anyone harshly. These people have simply believed what they have been told: that the church exists largely for the benefit of its members. For us to help people believe and act on the belief that the church exists largely for the benefit of its non-members - this will be a major shift, and it will require humility, patience, clear teaching, apologies, prayer, and did I say patience? I don’t think we should expect a majority of the comfortable to get it. We should seek to bless and care for these people, and at the same time, focus more pro-active efforts on those who “get it”. And we should especially hope to “disciple” new believers in a better way of seeing, thinking, etc.
And from the interview with counsellor and writer Larry Crabb:
Intimacy with God, the way we often define it, is a myth, and it will remain a myth till heaven. The enjoyment of God is a bit like sexual pleasure - it comes in short bursts; the rest of the time is spent in disciplined relating with incredible emotional ups and downs. Intimacy defined as two parts hope, two parts trust, and one part thrill is available now, but only when our hearts are detached from everything else, or at least are in process in that direction. That’s painful. In a good marriage, subtle preferences for something or someone other than one’s spouse are not as easily detected by the other. God always knows - and He keeps working till we see our idolatry and surrender our first place affection to Him. That’s a life-long project.
February 5th, 2003