Phyllis Tickle, The Great Emergence -- A Reflection Aide for Moorings Members and Friends
As you read this book, remember that the author is attempting to be descriptive of the trends that have been encountered by the church, and that have caused the church to evolve in its forms and expressions of faith in Jesus Christ throughout history, including the modern and post-modern eras.
If it is helpful to you, jot down the various “garage sales” experienced by the church (from the most recent to the most distant in time) and note a few words to characterize the issues, events, timeframe, and outcomes:
1. The Great E______________________
2.The Great Re_________________________
3. The Great S______________________
4. G_____________ the G___________, and the M________________ Movement
5. The birth of J_____________ and the C________________.
Part 2 of the book (which you may find yourself wanting to skim…), and especially ch. 4 & 5, summarizes a vast body of influential literature, seismic changes in American society and culture that are in many ways related to that literature, and various ways the church has expressed its identity in Christ and communicated foundational truths vis-à-vis broader society in different eras.
The author lands on this concluding set of observations in ch. 6 as she winds her way to her closing chapter:
The established church has not been able to contain the new “gathering center.” New churches are springing up there. Assessments that they reflect only a new generation have been erroneous. Such an assessment “failed to take into account the rummage sale factor. It failed to understand that we had slipped our moorings, at least temporarily. As a whole culture, as a social unit, we had at last become truly post-modern… post-almost everything else that only a century before we had been… And these emergent, whose numbers increasingly included the white-haired as well as the young, could now use the term inherited church to name the goods being placed on the rummage sale table. Inherited church was that from which they had come and to which they, literally, now had to means of returning, let alone any desire at all to do so.” (pp. 134-136)
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
According to Tickle, what will be the result if the church keeps on doing what it does the way it does it into the future?
What does this mean for the church at large? for Moorings in particular?
How do you respond to your own answer to these questions - intellectually? emotionally? spiritually?
Tickle suggests that robust churches in the emergent era will be led by those who “[wait] upon the Spirit and [rest] in the interlacing lives of Bible-listening, Bible-honoring believers.” If this is true, what are the foundations for such leadership and thus important focal points for the church? What might this look like at Moorings? Does this resonate with you? Scare you? Offend you?
Please spend some time (spanning a week or two) praying through your answers to these questions. Then, as you feel led, please share your thoughts with us. You may do so anonymously if you like.