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Emerging Something

June 24, 2008

What’s going on in the church?  I turned 36 years old in May and have lived long enough to remember about 30 years of church experience.  Some of it is entirely ugly, much of it is eternally beautiful.  I want to give you a tiny bit of “me” background before I make attempts at formulating my gut/spirit stirrings here.  I grew up Methodist in a Charismatic family and attended a Presbyterian college only to later transfer to a Pentecostal Holiness one.  I began my adult ministry in a Pentecostal Freewill Baptist Church (no kidding) and following a church split I found myself teaching middle schoolers at an Evangelical Presbyterian Christian School while planting an Independent church with my brother.  I rolled off staff at my brother’s church after seven years and spent two years on the road doing youth ministry, primarily in Methodist Churches, only to arrive as a worship pastor in Delaware at Eagle’s Nest Fellowship.  Wheeeewww, Hine’s 57 to say the least. Maybe I’m confused, maybe it has been a real blessing of perspective.

What I know is this, SOMETHING IS GOING ON.

Some people are going to say this post is jumping into the fray a little late.  Maybe.  But it’s an observation of the present I am encountering.  I am, because of my experience, a deep lover of healthy liturgy and grounded doctrine.  All the while, I am also a lover of expressions of faith, while grounded on scriptural truth and principle, allow room for revelation, passion and service.   What I mean is, we need the current generations that are driving culture to give us perspective and to challenge us stretch.  But the current generations need “elders” and mentors to keep them grounded in the root principles exemplified by Christ revealed in Scripture.  There is in the “Emerging Church” movement a drive to herald social justice issues and to engage non-Christians in a dialogue that values them as people who have worth.  This is needed.  There is also in this movement a stronger drive of creativity and, in some instances, a reaching back to classic liturgy (candles, hymns, communal life). This is also a good thing.  There is this cry in the conservative church of foul as it pertains to some of the doctrinal softness among these post-modern movements.  I believe that some of that is definitely warranted.

I read and study the Bible (NIV, NKJV, ESV, ASB, and even the KJV).  I read C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity, God in the Dock, the Four Loves, etc.) I read Watchman Nee (Spiritual Authority, the Spiritual Man). I read many of the Classic and Modern fathers of the faith.

I also read Eldrige, Miller, Kimball and just finished Rob Bell (Velvet Elvis).  These are folks who are digging through the Christian Faith in the context of modern culture.

I have also spent some time reading the critics of all of these guys as of late.

Here’s my gut stirring.  SOMETHING IS GOING ON.  You know what I think it is?

Reformation.

The vehicle that has developed and reformed, stretched and snapped back, split and split again,  and then has done it again, is  – well – doing it again.

Traditional Churches decline, Evangelicals fight, Charismatics search for signs-wonders-and miracles, and Emergents question.  You know what?  The world is watching and waiting for us, no matter which of those categories you fall in, to not shout a message at them, but live a changed life among them and invite them to join the journey by faith in Christ.

All doctrinal lecture without a life of service in and among those in need is just noisy and empty. All service and no sharing of the truths of Scripture can be good works but still not introduce people to Jesus.

We need to hear the postmodern cry for social justice, we need to also point to the necessity of scriptural truth.

I think one of the greatest heresies is to claim Christian faith as your own, but not live it in a world that desperately needs it.

I certainly hope something is Emerging.  I hope that we are willing to take the hard task of reformation seriously, Scripturally, Spirit Lead, viewing history, and recognizing present.

What do you guys think?

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From → Faith, Thoughts

10 Comments
  1. Sarah Salter permalink

    This is really something to think about!! As a Methodist-turned-Independent-turned-Pentecostal person, I have a unique perspective on this whole topic, as well. But I find myself feeling “cloudy” about this topic… Like I can’t really see through the haze to see what’s really going on in The Church. I have a deep love for more classical-type liturgy, but I don’t want it at the expense of some of the more “modern” and “contemporary” avenues that God has allowed me to walk in. I guess my prayer is just, “Lord, teach me how to love you. Teach me how to serve you. Teach me how to worship you. Teach me how to live and breathe you.” If “reformation” is going on (and I believe it just might be) then I’m cool with that– as long as HE’S the one holding the shears and doing the pruning!! I once heard your dad talk about John 15… About how we, as abiders in the vine are to be pruned by The Master Pruner… And what is The Church except His Vineyard here on earth? Lots of food for thought here, brother! Thanks for it!

  2. Well, as the resident born-in-a-Lutheran-(Missouri Synod)-home, raised in a Charismatic house church, attended an Assemblies of God private elementary school, attended a Christian Church School for middle school, attended a moderate-conservative Presbyterian college that was a member of a moderate-liberal denomination (PCUSA), married in a Baptist Church, now ordained as a deacon in the 2nd largest – and conservative – Presbyterian Church (PCA), I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly.

    I adore liturgy. There’s little I want more now than to be part of a church with the candles, bells, and recitation. If it weren’t for the differences in theology, I could be very comfortable in a Roman or Eastern church.

    But there is a desperate need for relevancy, and a population that’s running forward full-steam with the notion that religion is a la carte and that any religion that isn’t completely and totally full of “love” all the time is simply a bunch of Westboro-like fundamentalist whackos. The problem is that these weak-willed, lily-livered hippies… desperately need the Gospel.

    And yes, to answer the critics, the Gospel is the key. It is non-negotiable, and no Christian should consider it anything but. It is also sufficient and complete in every way possible to meet the needs of the people who need to hear it. It is also critical for us to communicate the Gospel in a language that is relevant to the listener. You wouldn’t preach the King James version to a room full of Koreans who only spoke Korean, would you?

    All that to say, SH – Best. Post. Ever.

  3. I feel it as well. I have a heart to reach this world we live in but how do we build a relationship, without loving the world, so that they will listen to us. One common theme that i have been hearing from God through others in the past month such as John Hobbs, Ken Helser, David Jeremiah, Scott Hobbs, and my own study, is getting back to the Word. If we look at the example of Jesus He always spoke in parables and stories that were relevant to the culture and time He lived in. In addition He always pointed back to the Father and to the Law.
    I was raised in an Independent, KJV only Baptist church. I am very thankful for it. I was saved, confessed my belief in Jesus Christ so that I would not have to go to that fiery pit but I was confused b/c there were things in the Bible that I read about that I didn’t feel (a real relationship with God) or see (any type of spiritual gifts). Next phase in my life I moved to Jacksonville, NC and attended a very charismatic church that I loved dearly but I still felt that some things were over the top and still did not have that real relationship with Jesus Christ. Next move to Japan I came in contact with some great spiritual mentors and knew it was a definite “God thing”. Some influences at that time were a Presbyterian Chaplain, Southern Baptist, Four-square Gospel and some missionaries from an Evangelical Background. All those influences together in the span of four years gave me a great deal of understanding and I finally began my real relationship with Jesus Christ.
    The bottom line is get in the Word and get back to a real relationship with God. Talk to him daily. If we want to know His heart we must keep the lines of communication open.

  4. higherplace permalink

    Thanks for the replies gang. Hey 5, thanks for the compliment! The thing is for me, I often post my devotional thoughts, family events, some words from the Lord, but this particular post is really born out a real restlessness in my heart. I am concerened that we pursue the examination of how we present what we do (relevance) but stay anchored to the message (the Gospel). It is work that is of the upmost importance and requires intentional hearts.

    After I spewed my thoughts out in the post, the Rich Mullins song came to my mind:

    I believe in God the Father almighty
    Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
    And in Jesus Christ
    His only begotten Son, our Lord
    He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
    Born of the virgin Mary
    Suffered under Pilate
    He was crucified and dead and buried

    And I believe what I believe
    Is what makes me what I am
    I did not make it, no it is making me
    It is the very truth of God and not
    The invention of any man

    I believe that He who suffered
    Was crucified, buried, and dead
    He descended into hell and
    On the third day, rose again
    He ascended into Heaven where
    He sits at God’s mighty right hand
    I believe that He’s returning to
    Judge the quick and the dead
    Of the sons of men

    I believe in God the Father almighty
    Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
    And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son,
    Our Lord
    I believe in the Holy Spirit
    One Holy Church, the communion of Saints
    The forgiveness of sin
    I believe in the resurrection
    I believe in a life that never ends

  5. Sarah permalink

    a conversation that has gone on many times with us. i believe the word “reformation” is one of the only things that can describe it. i think you said that joe once looked out into camp and said something along the lines of “this isn’t revolution, it’s reformation”. its really just cool to see that this emerging generation is starting a movement of its own. miss yall

    ps. i’m reading some kimball right now and the velvet elvis is next

  6. Vicki Lynch permalink

    Hi Scott and Lisa—
    I hope you and the kids are all well!
    I was so pleasantly surprised to be directed here as I was doing a google search on Dallas Willard(whose works I love!)
    Scott–I just never knew you ever gave these things any thought. I have been doing a study on emergent and also reformed expressions of faith.
    I don’t know if you all know it but young people by the droves are being drawn to both expressions.
    Here’s my problem with them both

    I find the young reformed folks to be somewhat arrogant and intolerant- real “know it alls”

    I find the young emergents don’t admit to knowing much, and very proud of it, and very intolerant of those with a “know so faith”

    I am approaching sixty at breakneck speed and I have lived to see much happen in American Christianity.
    I just want to say that I see a selfcenterdness among American Christians that seems abhorrent to me and I think to God.

    I know that there is a restlessness among young believers for something more real and authentic than they see on the American horizon. Just a small dose of christian Tv can bring on soul sickness.

    What we are all really longing for is God himself! True soul satisfaction is Jesus alone. As John Piper says “GOD is the Gospel”

    To the dear young believers who visit Scott’s site: Never let anyone convince you that God is unknowable and words are useless in understanding Him. He gave us a Book full of anointed words so that we could be sure of the most important things we need to know.

    Don’t let anyone ever convince you that Jesus died as anything but a payment for our sins. It is called Penal substitution, and without it there is no forgiveness of our sins. And really, sin is our problem isn’t it?

    In reading some of the emergent authors mentioned above you will come across some of these teachings–these are wrong and they are weaknesses of the emergent church.
    Be careful in your search for truth–The Holy Spirit is in you and He will not lead you astray.

    I long to see your generation(Scott and Lisa) used by God to help revive true Christianity in America–that is probably this country’s only hope

    God bless you as you labor for Him,
    Vicki Lynch

  7. higherplace permalink

    Hi Vicki,
    It’s great to hear from ya! The kids are awesome! On the blog here there is a post with a picture of our new one! Olivia Sinclaire Hobbs!

    Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for my generation and those coming after ours. I agree with you very much. In listing in some of the stuff that I read and have read, I was trying to make a point of surveying what is taking place in the body of Christ and understanding people’s hunger. I was not trying to defend all of the doctrines listed in those books. However, those of use who are shepherding and mentoring others in the faith need to be aware of what is going on in the body (hence reading these guys) and study of Scripture through guidance of the Holy Spirit to seek out what the Lord is doing today. I suppose I’m saying we need to pay attention.

    Those that are flocking into the broad emerging movement (which really is a term that has come to apply to many different things, some more conservative some definitely not) are hungry for something that they have not found in other movements within the church. We need to understand what is the real drive. Those that are flocking into the more extreme ends of charismaticism are also hungry for something they are not finding in other movements in the church. We need to understand what that is as well.

    The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the paramount issue. How that is communicated and lived out needs to be examined and (with fear and trembling) worked out.

    We need to pay more attention to the needs of those outside of our churches (as emergents cry out for) than all of the fighting with each other inside the church over “how” we conduct our services. We need to also take a look at the fact that the church needs the powerful presence of God (which charismatics are crying out for) in our lives.

    But all of this has to be rooted in grounded in scripture. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” “No man comes to the Father except through (Christ)” “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” and so on.

    We should never be soft on truth (Nature of God, Nature of Sin, Penal Substitution, and Nature of Man), but we in turn should make sure that our lives are given to Loving God and Loving people (Luke 10:27) We can have the tendency at times to scream our doctrines and not feed the hungry. Our doctrine will be made known by living the changed life of being saved by grace through faith. The scripture says, “they will know we are christians by our love”. Love being an active (not a feeling) thing of sharing and living Truth.

    I really do feel we are looking at a reforming of the Church for the time to come. Our job in it is to seek God, survey the land, seek God, and act accordingly. We need to take stands, question some things, even change our methods or presentation, BUT NOT CHANGE THE MESSAGE.

    Blessings!

  8. Vicki Lynch permalink

    Scott Hobbs”I really do feel we are looking at a reforming of the Church for the time to come. Our job in it is to seek God, survey the land, seek God, and act accordingly. We need to take stands, question some things, even change our methods or presentation, BUT NOT CHANGE THE MESSAGE.”

    Go with God young man —and do it!
    much love in Jesus, Vicki

  9. Douglas Lukens permalink

    Amen! Maybe we’re on the crest of a great wave of reformation, renewal and awakening in the sleeping church. Could it be that the prayer that Jesus spoke in John 17, that just as He and the Father are one, we are becoming one with Him and the Father? After all, we are the body of Christ, made up of many members, diverse in our character, yet all part of the body.

    Just a few ideas to meditate and cogitate upon. Scott, blessings to you and the entire Hobbs clan. Look forward to worshiping with you again real soon.

    Doug

  10. Sarah permalink

    Mike and I went to go see Shane Claiborne in Raleigh and it was really good

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