Today Abby and I went to the Congregations Together in Mission event in Hanover which featured Nadia Bolz Weber. She’s a Lutheran pastor in Denver, CO who is a part of the emergent church movement. If you don’t know what that is you can spend a ton of time reading about it online…or, I could give you the five cent summary. Ok, you talked me into it – here’s the cheap version… Emergent church is a post-modern church that mixes ancient with modern. Experience is authoritative and people who are a part of this movement are cynical of organizations and authority.
When I first started looking into this awhile ago, I was skeptical of the movement, which is ironic given that people who approach life from a post modern perspective are skeptical also. Anyway, I’ve learned a lot since then and have some appreciation for what it is about, but I’m still learning.
At any rate, Nadia was, well, Nadia. She was authentic to who she was. (Read one of her books, you’ll get a sense of her quickly.) Here was a few of my take aways:
1. The message of the church is still very valid, but the delivery method is outdated. I agree with this assessment. My own way of interpreting this is that people get attached to certain things and then those attachments become what is important to people. This replaces what is really important, which for Lutherans is this – God loves us. God forgives us freely. God suffers with us.
2. Know your context. This is a big one. Nadia talked about all sorts of things that her church does. They are all great things. But keep in mind, they are great for her church. What they are doing is not what she is suggesting every church does. Some people misunderstood this and were trying to understand the hows of what her church was doing. They missed the point. Know your context and your people.
3. Let go of control. You never really had it anyway. For Nadia, this means no committees (an idea I can get on board with), no pre-assigned jobs for the liturgy (whoever shows up that day fills in to do liturgy, which means the work of the people), few pre-written prayers of intercession with time for people to add their own. These are just some of the ways she let go of control in her context. I think this relates to point one – who’s in charge of the church? God is.
Overall, a great presentation. You can click on the link above to see more information about it and I think the synod will eventually have a link to the presentation on YouTube. Enjoy!