Toward a Hopeful Future, pt. 5
The third and final section of Toward a Hopeful Future is a beautiful description of Phil and Emily’s feelings about the Christian practice of communal worship. Being young and sometimes-pseudo-(self)-described as one of the “emergents” about which they right, I felt myself rooting for the kind of worship that the authors advocate to become real in mainline congregations. Having worked in a mainline denomination, I desperately wanted to send these last two chapters to every pastor I had worked with. Emily and Phil describe the similarities between the emergent and progressive concerns for deep theologies to be expressed in every aspect of a church’s weekly gathering. The authors describe the beauty of worship that seeks to offer a place of belonging that is not only communicated through words but through the very arrangement of space. What progressives need to realize about emerging worship is that has very little to do with what you say and everything to do with what you don’t “say.” Relying on some wicked-awesome postmodern theological thought, they suggest that one of the main gifts emergents can offer progressive mainliners is a gentle reminder;
When worship is relegated to cognitive ideas—indeed, when progressives worship at the altar of the modern God of Reason—they mistakenly assume that rational comprehension of the Divine is primarily responsible for transformation. In contrast, however, emergent approaches remind progressives that the way out of this trap is not in the ability to rationally comprehend the event of God—nor to manufacture the event of God—but rather to be transformed by the event of God (p. 156).
Emergents, according to Emily and Phil prefer (buzzword alert!) authentic, organic expressions of worship over “contemporary” services and Sunday morning rock concerts.
…[S]uch an approach trivializes the deeper theological hunger emergents and progressives bring to the table by turning worship into a game of smoke and mirrors that has more do to with superficial preferences than deeply seated convictions (p. 141).
So, if you work in a progressive mainline denomination (or a conservative evangelical tradition), and you’re tired of worship being more about the gimmicks than the Christian tradition, buy this book. You can even pre-order it! If you are one of the many emergents a-wandering (I watched A Mighty Wind last night), burnt by churches and unsure if you still have faith in the church, try to find a welcoming space in a progressive denomination. Heck, if you’re in Springfield, come to the Awakening. I’ll sign your copy of Toward a Hopeful Future.