Friday, September 11, 2009

Is the Emergent Church the new Worship War?

My first exposure to the emergent church or emerging church was through a seminary student who was our youth pastor a couple years ago. She went to Kansas City for a couple weeks twice a year. When she came back the second time she told us stories of strange churches of the Nazarene and how catholic like they were in some of there ritual practices. My reaction was to pass it off and I really did not give it much thought at the time.

At the time we were pastoring a church where we did things pretty simple and easy from week to week. Our church would sing unto the Lord, pray, take up an offering, have a special song sung, testimonies, announcements, sermon and altar call to pray. That is the way the church of the Nazarene has always been for me since I got saved in 1981. Sometimes the style of music or types of instruments change at times, but basically you could walk into almost any Nazarene church in North America and find a common style or format. I have found when worshipping with Nazarene’s from Russia to Africa and the Caribbean that there is so much the same with some slight cultural differences. I have always felt at home even on the mission trips I’ve taken.

Then along came the worship wars with the introduction of contemporary music. People have stood on different sides of the fence on what they wanted for music to worship God by. That war still rages in many churches and has split many asunder too. I really wish we could just worship God in spirit and truth and lay aside what we want and just worship. But of course it is just not that simple is it?

As a pastor for the past 20 years now I have come to the conclusion that church growth ultimately is not about the music either, but rather about the relationships and the discipleship. So really in the long run worship wars are another self centered plot of the enemy to divide and conquer.

Now we have this new emergent church movement with the inability to some degree to truly even define it. So in my review of this new challenge to the church let me propose several thoughts on what this movement is and how it is best defined. The best definition I have read among several is: The Emerging or Emergent Church Movement takes its name from the idea that the culture has changed, and a new church should emerge in response. According to this is the answer to this question: "What is the emerging / emergent church movement?"

The emerging, or emergent, church movement takes its name from the idea that as culture changes, a new church should emerge in response. In this case, it is a response by various church leaders to the current era of post-modernism. Although post-modernism began in the 1950s, the church didn't really seek to conform to its tenets until the 1990s. Post-modernism can be thought of as dissolution of "cold, hard fact" in favor of "warm, fuzzy subjectivity." The emerging / emergent church movement can be thought of the same way.

So my question to the 1990 change in the church is: Why did we change in the 1990’s and not the 1950’s? My answer: Because we had gradually become less of praying and fasting church and were losing our growth momentum in America. Instead of getting back on our knees, we reverted to other secular means and therefore was birthed the Emergent movement to become more like our falling culture.

According to a paper printed and released within the Church of the Nazarene in May 2008 it defines emerging as: “Emerging catches into one term the global reshaping of how to ‘do church’ in postmodern culture. It has no central offices and it is as varied as evangelicalism itself.”

My response is that the church should always do Church according to the New Testament regardless of what the culture is or becomes. Church is the body of Christ and those who are born into it are to worship and experience the grace of God according to the scriptures. I do realize that culture shapes many aspects of how we live out the Word, yet there must be some common aspects across cultural and time lines that are biblical and spiritually based and consistent.

I believe there are indeed a lot of non biblical things being adopted into the church today through this movement that we do need to be aware of. We need to stick to the Word of God in these last days of great deception. Just as worship styles can digress away from solid biblical worship intentions so can many who emerge with a digressing culture if we are not careful.

I have heard Church bands who are actually playing secular rock songs as worship songs without any change of the lyrics in the attempt to attract non believing seekers and then give them a soft gospel message. For those “cutting edge churches” they are doing whatever to attract the lost and it has become in my opinion more entertainment than God ordained and prayer bathed biblical worship. Numbers of growth do not necessarily equate spiritual conversions and eternal fruit.

My concern for the emerging church is that we are allowing ourselves to become less than what we are called to be in Christ that we might become more in numbers than we currently are by way of the strategy of the flesh. We need to be a people who have a reliance on the power of God through the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

So Emergent’s beware of deception, digression and compromise is this fast falling culture in America. May the Church stand in Holiness regardless of the digressing emergent falling post modern culture of the Americas!

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