Saturday, January 28, 2006

On Change and the Emerging Church

People generally frown on 'change for change's sake.' Honestly, I'm a bit of a fan.

It might be the influence of our consumer culture that causes it. You know, the whole 'If you get too bored, throw it out/go somewhere else because my product/company/church is bigger/faster/more hip' thing. I don't buy into it entirely, but I know that at some level I'm influenced by it.

Likewise, there's my own background. The record for my calling any one house my home is five years. I've called one place my hometown for twelve years, but when you break it down, I lived on one side of a duplex, then the other, and then in an actual house, and then four of those were spent at college and three at seminary. So the record for longest stay in a house is five years. I've come to just accept that a place is home only for a little while. This is why I've been saying that if I spent my entire life in a place like Florida or Southern California or some other place that is to others a 'dream location,' I'd be bored beyond tears.

I don't know how much of this is environmental and how much of it might just be mental. My psych degree-carrying wife thinks I have Adult ADHD, but it's not like she has a degree in...fine. So maybe it's a little nature AND nurture. The bottom line is, after a while I tend to get bored with the way things are. I have an unhealthy attachment to my watch and calendar. I wonder too much about the next thing. When will the current thing be done so that the next thing can start? I have to work on my 'in the moment' skills.

What I truly love, though, is when change goes beyond change's sake. When change serves a greater purpose, that's a huge bonus. When I look out on Sundays and see people's spirits crying out for this dirge of a hymn to be over, I wonder about change in worship, or perhaps just the hymnal. When I consider how a different day off might help serve the church better, change seems fairly easy. Changing from manuscript preaching to out-of-pulpit preaching was one of the most exciting things I did my first year of ministry, because it felt so natural and real; like connection with the congregation would be made that much easier.

I think that this is why I'm so intrigued by the emerging church. They're talking about something new. They're talking about changes, but not change for change's sake. They're wondering how a younger generation might be served. Much to the disappointment of many, they propose some massive changes. I still can't quite wrap my brain around what they're about, but that's supposed to be an emerging church hallmark. Some strands seem to be Evangelicalism in a goatee, others seem much more 'liberal.' I've said before that they seem to be doing what the UCC professes to do (big tent of diversity), only better (i.e., not having all national spokespeople from a particular theo-politcal bent). I still don't know nearly enough about them, but this is what I've gathered from reading.

At any rate, I like their consideration of what needs to change. I pray that change for change's sake in this case is kept to a minimum.

And now I'm going to go re-arrange something.