Chris Francis asked about the process of our search for a place to call home, and I would rather answer him through another post rather than a comment.
For the past nine months or so, our family has found ourselves at a crossroads. At various points, we would take steps in a certain direction only to return to the crossroads. We desperately long to be a part of a community of faith, but at the same time, we want to make sure that we are part of the right body of faith for us. So many things are weighed as we consider where God wants us to invest in others as well as have others pour into our lives.
First of all, let me make it clear that we are not merely approaching this as mere consumers. We are not looking for a church in the same way that someone might be looking for a new place to shop for groceries. We are looking for a place where we can give completely of ourselves, but at the same time, my family has needs. As the spiritual leader of my family, I must make sure that we are in a place where those needs are going to be met.
So what all have we considered? In no particular order, we have considered the following:
Doctrine. I am a mutt of sorts, I suppose. I was reared in a Southern Baptist home by Southern Baptist parents. In high school, I became part of a Methodist youth group, and in college, I was part of a Presbyterian collegiate ministry. I was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister, and I have served numerous Baptist churches. My most recent church was non-denominational, but it is heavily influenced by the Assemblies of God.
I share all of this so that you will know that I know what I believe, and I know why I believe it. There are certain places where I know that I am not a good fit; my DNA doesn’t match that of the church. There are many wonderful churches in the metro Montgomery area, but because of my personal belief system, they are not a good match for me.
Church Structure. There are many contemporary churches in this area, and even more churches who are trying to be contemporary. The problem is, I think many of them are Church 2.0, and I am looking for Church 3.0. I am borrowing from Mark Driscoll, so let me explain the terms as he uses them.
Church 1.0 would be the church of my childhood. This would be a church born of a different era, more modern than post-modern. The choir wore their robes, and we all sang along from our hymnals as Miss Hilda played the organ. The pastors were viewed as as servants and teachers. This church expected a privileged place in society as a whole. The concept of missions was that we would send Americans and American dollars overseas through major denominations and associations. According to Mark Driscoll, approximately 40% of all church worshippers attended this type of model in 1906, but by the turn of the millenium, less than 16% did. Why? Because a transition had occurred.
At some point, we began a transition towards Church 2.0. (We could argue over when this began, but really… what’s the point?) This church model proclaims itself as contemporary and seeker-sensitive. The cultural context is somewhat different than Church 1.0… it is neither modern nor post-modern. Instead, it is in the valley between the crests of those two waves.
A cultural war is being waged to attempt to reclaim the lost power, prestige, and influence. Pastors are viewed as CEOs, and the church services recycle 80′s and 90′s pop culture through music and drama in an attempt to reach out to seekers. The concept of missions also changed, and instead of funding overseas work through denominations and associations, missions is now handled by a department within the church that organizes trips.
In this area, there are plenty of Church 1.0 models and even some Church 2.0 models. The problem is, my heart is crying out for something more… I am longing for Church 3.0. So how is it different, you might ask.
Well, for starters, it is emerging and missional. By emerging, I mean that it is not yet… but it is coming to be. As I understand it, missional means that the church has an incredible, passionate love for Christ, a relentless love for the faith family, and is in tune with the culture which surrounds it. It realizes that its cultural context is post-modern and pluralistic. It realizes that its place in culture has been marginalized. Pastors view themselves as local missionaries, and they are viewed that way by the church as a whole. Missions are both local and global. (Mark uses the term “glocal” to describe this… I like it!)
My frustration? I am not sure that a church like this exists in this area. I know they exist… I know of many, throughout the nation. The problem is, none are within driving distance of Millbrook.
Enough now… more later.