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Friday, November 24, 2006



see this article here on public sector workforce in Scotland http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=958922006

Mike Kurtyka

Excellent comments Brodie. As someone who thinks he is part of an emerging church, there are many times I have wondered if our expression as a faith community is unique, off the mark, or not needed. I look around and see new/recently new churches that follow forms that are more like my home turf (America) and attract a lot of people. In my pride I get discouraged because we as a community believe God is calling us to express ourselves differently and yet after 6+ years of existence, only recently do we feel the Spirit's momentum. I pray that we are submerged only because we are charting unfamiliar territory here in Scotland and that this is a normal process for churches seeking to express themselves anew. Your comments are helpful to me as we struggle to be a faithful community of disciples during this season. Perhaps by the time we emerge, God will be calling us to submerge and be renewed again?


Kosuke Koyama reminds us that God walks at 3 miles an hour, or to put it another way God does not seem to ne in a hurry with much! Yet we are always in a rush, always wanting "results" now. I pray you guys continue to know the God who walks at 3 miles an hour walking with you.



How significant do you think cultural memory is? In other words for most people they have a cultural expectation of "church", that includes a building (among other things this is just an easy example.) This expectation is not just an individual thing but is actually woven into the very fabric of what it means to be Scottish.

If I am right emerging churches may never really emerge in Scotland until we overcome those cultural memory barriers.

Anyway, excellent post.


Glen - great points. I think the whole cultural memory thing is big here, although will differ across Scotland. So when in the post I refer to a "cultural religious residue" I guess what I mean is "cultural memory".

Guacamole Girl

Good point about public/private sector workforces. I have been musing on my experience of both (NHS/retail giant) & I have found more creativity & boundary-pushing in the NHS than the company I used to work for (their unofficial motto was "policy is policy" or "PIP" for short!)
However, whether that affects people's expectations of church is another matter. I think religious culture is a much bigger factor than working culture, since people here seem to compartmentalise life to a high degree. Interesting.....


Guacamole Girl - thanks for your comments and your thinking about religious culture being a bigger factor.

Colin Adams

Brodie, your old chum from ICC here. Since the emerging church conversation has such a wide spectrum, I'm wondering what you understand by it. What would put forward as the main tenents of your brand of the emerging church? Also, who of the Emerging pundits would you be most sympathetic to?


Colin - Good to hear from you.

Johnny Baker in Gibbs & Bolger's book "Emerging Churches" states, "the term emerging church is nothing more than a way of expressing that we need new forms of church that relate to the emerging culture". For sure there is a danger that emerging church may be seen as a "brand", but I hope that does not happen. So I’d prefer to talk about what I would see as the main tenants of the expression of emerging church I dream of rather than brand.

Gibbs & Bolger's book is well accepted by many emerging church practitioners as doing a good job in defining what emerging church is and what it is not. They identify 3 core practices with a further 6 that flow from this. Too much to try and cram into a comment so I'll do a post on it soon.

David. A.

Great post Brodie! I think your last point is crucial. Trying to work out what is important in your context is essential. I am in surburban London trying to work how to engage with people who have it all materially, work frantic hours, want nothing to do with religion, but are still 'spirtual' people. I have been along to Grace and a few other 'expressions', but realise that 'alternative worship' is not the only answer in my context. How do we witness and journey with them? What I do think is important is the emphasis on the Kingdom of God. In my context that is finding ways of engaging people and saying 'you can accept the mundane in life or you can reach for the hyper-real (Kingdom) beyond the real(Caputo's On Religion).

It does not matter what brand you are part of. The point is doing something that is community building, missional, creative and encouraging deeper spirtual formation that means living the gospel. If that means alt. worship or a new monstic community then great.


Hi Brodie

I am glad that this blog has stimulated so many comments and find a lot of it really helpful and provocative. It is a really good blog and helping keep the idea afloat.

Some thoughts:

Whether there is more or less of a cultural religous milieu in Scotland than in metropolitan areas of England I don't know -but I do think that there is a specific and different one (or ones) related to our particular history, land, weather. You are right - it needs to be worked out here.

You mention Shuggy fae Barrhead (should that be Barrheid?) maybe not getting the emerging thing. Is this simply a Scottish thing or a failure of the Emerging thing to connect with non-middle class people. I know that this is an old critique of it but maybe a fair one.

David A in his helpful comments talks about the Kingdom thing in terms of - community building, missional, creative and encouraging deeper spiritual formation. I can relate to this - but more and more I find that it is only as you unpack and make big ideas concrete - e.g. what is actually meant by community building in practice - that you get to grips with what is at stake, and what people really believe, the theology that is at work etc. For some people community building IS tea and chat after a service - but this is certainly not what is meant by it in those churches that can be understood to be emerging and indeed is in part what they are emerging away from.

Think we will need to see some more working Scottish models born out of adventure, faith, failure and risk taking to see where this will all go.


David & Stuart - Thanks for your comments.

David - I think the focus on the Kingdom of God that there is in most emerging groups is one aspect I find attractive about the whole emerging approach. The "rubber hits the road" challenge - and this has always been the case in church history - is in contextualising the gospel, in coming alongside those in our community, how much do we capitulate to the dominant culture and how do we allow the kingdom to critique it? How do we let the kingdom critique what is negative or destructive in our culture without being perceived as all the things we don't want to be perceived as, e.g. judgemental, religious? My hunch is that in walking out these questions (yes I mean walking, not working) there will be many ups and downs. That the pace may be slow and the fellow travellers few. Yet I believe this "slow burn" approach is worth pursuing.

Stuart - yes your right it should be Barrheid. That the emerging church struggles to connect with the less well educated, the disadvantaged is a well rehearsed argument. It can be overplayed, but there is I think some truth in it. That said if you include Urban Expressions as part of the emerging church thing, then there is a model of doing church a different way in poor inner city areas.

David. A.

I agree Brodie. For me what people want today is a community that shows authenticity. I struggle to see how that can happen when we are in our pews. It is in getting out of the church buildings, being 'incarnational' and actually living the gospel in community that people will find authenticity. That is a slow burner as we experiment. The whole culturally relevant and yet counter-cultural aspect is very important. I really believe we have not got to shy away from critiquing culture - but it seems more judgemental when it is done from a position of not engaging with it, or being unable to speak a narrative it understands.

I see more than ever we need church planting and experimentation. Denominationalism more often than not wants to clone, but it really needs to give permission and resources for new expressions. The Anglican church is the main supporter down in England of 'fresh expressions'. Can the denominational church that is rapidly dying understand the need to loosen the reigns and embrace change?

Having spent most of my life in Aberdeen, I more often than not saw people who see church like they experience the oil business. Put in plans and programs to build the church! Make your presentations slicker and clearer! - That works for a few - but real change is needed and like Stuart says that will take people being preprared to fail and take risks. Increasingly though I am coming across people in Scotland who are being convicted of this.

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