"That's exactly what we are trying to create!" I replied. "You have no idea how good that makes me feel!"
Jacob's Well is a church here in Kansas City that is in the forefront of the emergent church movement, which, in my opinion, is the future of the church. When I gaze into my crystal ball, I see a few things happening in upcoming years.
1) Fundamentalism and right-wing evangelicalism will begin to fade into irrelevance.
2) We will finally realize that the mega-church model is actully harmful to the health of the body of Christ rather than helpful.
3) Eventually everybody will understand that the labels "traditional" and "contemporary" are void of meaning when applied to the church.
As these trends happen, what is now known as the emergent movement will become the paradigm for doing church. From the Emergent Village website:
We must imagine and pursue the development of new ways of being followers of Jesus … new ways of doing theology and living biblically, new understandings of mission, new ways of expressing compassion and seeking justice, new kinds of faith communities, new approaches to worship and service, new integrations and conversations and convergences and dreams.
When I asked my sister what exactly she meant when she made her comparison, she said, "It seems so ... open. It is very free and natural. Growing up, I always thought church was so, I don't know, rigid. Your church is definitely not rigid."
Not rigid - That's me! Of all of the words used to describe me (some of which have been kind, some not so much), rigid has never been one of them. It strikes me that rigidity is another way to think about the Pharisaic legalism against which Jesus struggled. Rigidity is one of the primary traits of right-wing Christianity, in particular when it comes to the creation and enforcement of the so-called "moral code" that is to dictate personal behavior. Rigidity is what passes for "strength" or "security" for some people, but in reality is an artificial construct used to oppress people, and patently out of line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rigidity is neither morality nor strength, it is just rigidity.
My remarkable congregation may not know much about the emergent movement, but they know that the church they love is a spiritual home, a place to encounter the living divine creator of the cosmos, to be grasped by the grace of Christ Jesus our savior, to be pulled ever closer into communion with the mystic presence of God's miraculous spirit. And it is people just like my sister, people who do not attend church because of the rigidity they perceive there, with whom the church needs to speak today.
Going with the flow, Andy B.