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Thursday, April 26, 2007


Rupert Ward

Brodie - what a fascinating overview of emerging church in Scotland. Thanks. I know you are not claiming to know all that is going on in this land, but you have captured a huge amount of what is and isn't happening here.

There is so much that could be said ... where to start? I think i see a difference between some in the emerging church camp who are very deconstructionist, and others who are more reforming. Personally (and i would say this as a leader of what might look at first glance an institutional church in edinburgh!) am more interested in the latter.

And is this, i am wondering, the other side of what you are presenting? There maybe aren't many good working models of emerging church that have deconstructed, into alternative worship etc, of which we could point to a number in the rest of the UK or the US. But my impression is that there are some independent charismatic / evangelical churches in Scotland that are emerging, but look very different from these (generally much smaller) deconstructed communities.

I am not against deconstruction per se, but have witnessed in places that if there is no vision for reconstruction that pretty soon nothing exists.

Using the Gibbs / Bolger definition (which i think is pretty helpful) i think there are churches that in Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Dundee and Glasgow (and probably elsewhere) that would fit that definition or are moving towards that. I just think that if you have group of 20 people or 200 people leadership (for example) is going to look different - but may still be leadership that is not controlling, is permission giving, empowering, and decentralised. We call it a leadership team, but in reality we are seeking to see people emerge with their vision, to help them and serve them, so they can do the real work of the Kingdom apart from the 2 hours we meet together on a sunday.

If we see emerging churches as missional communities, i think there are some institutional churches that maybe are emerging, and maybe the scene is not quite as submerged as you are suggesting?

As for factors that are hindering emerging church, i think you make some really good observations. I wonder if can add one? I would love to see conversations going on here in Scotland around the emerging church theme, which i don't think have really happened much. I know Brian Mclaren is coming here next year, but there hasn't been much talking together, dreaming, and discovering what a contextualised emerging church could look like here. I would be very up for some of those conversations, and know there are others who would be keen on that kind of learning.

Thanks for a great overview, and look forward to some ongoing conversation, now that i have discovered you blog!

Rupert Ward

Sorry - just realised that was a very long comment!


Rupert - thanks for leaving the comment. No need to apologise for it being long!

Simon Thompson

Hi Brodie - You mentioned small voices, so I think that I should give you some more information on that. There is no small voices group at the moment and I guess we are waiting for a time when we all feel like it is something we want to run. If it was running, I am not sure that it would qualify as emerging, though emerging church is something that I am commited to, I would go along with the Liquid Church concept, so my goal would be to produce meetings with a product that can resource the church rather that seeing small voices as yet another defined group of Christians.

I thought your paper was very interesting and it is good to see people thinking about this. I strongly agreed with your point about institutionalism. I also found your point about sectarianism interesting. I would hope that the idea of Celtic Christianity might be useful there as it harks back to a joint heritage.

What is happening in Edinburgh seems to me to be a distinctively Scottish phenomena (I am not in a good position to judge, as I only know about it from a distance and am not scottish) and much closer to the Liquid Church concept. What is emerging there is not a Church structure, but rather a network of projects.

It may be that Scotland is actually doing well, but we are not able to recognise what we are seeing.

That Hideous Man

Brodie - another interesting post. What concerns me then is what can be done to facilitate communication between the older church expressions and the emerging ones. I feel that at present there is a lot of misunderstanding between the two strands. Disagreement is OK, but disengagement is damaging - communication is therefore essential.

Let me give you an example from my own experience of what I mean. One of my friends, let's call him Barry, has thoroughly embraced the emergent movement. He used to lead worship and youth in the church, and was really involved with many people's lives.

Today he is not involved with us, but is, with a circle of friends in the pub "deconstructing church".

So - his old church friends feel massively criticised and blamed and accuse him of desertion and abandoning the ongoing work of the church in real situations; while he despairs at us hopelessly flogging the dead horse of solid-church.

Me? Well sometimes I'd rather be with him in the pub - but today I feel called to continue with my community, my church and my tradition.


Simon - thanks for leaving a comment and saying where things are at with small voices. Chris from Dunoon had mentioned this, but I thought I should let the paper stand as it was written.


That Hideous Man - what I've found encouraging in many of the discussions I've been part of it that people are willing to see sort comings on all sides and that both emerging expressions of church and more traditional expressions are needed.

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