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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Dan Kimball has a book titled The Emerging Church. Roger Oakland has an indepth article that looks closely at this new trend. This current generation lives in a period in church history that is characterized by enthusiasm for methods and means that facilitate church growth. Large churches are commonly equated with successful pastors and successful church growth methods. Whatever it takes to reach that objective, is acceptable, we are told. Church growth has become the measuring stick for successful Christianity. Well…
While Dan Kimball and other promoters of the emerging church may be sincere in their efforts to evangelize the postmodern generation and believe they are genuinely representing the scriptures, there are some real concerns that need to be addressed. Deviating from the Word of God for extrabiblical experience can open the door to deception. While worshipping God is a very important part of the Christian faith there are problems that can occur if worship supersedes the word.
However, Dan Kimball sees a new worship generation in the making based on experience that is essential to the emerging church. In a section of his book subtitled “Truly worshipping in a worship gathering,” he writes:
We should be returning to a no-holds-barred approach to worship and teaching so that when we gather, there is no doubt we are in the presence of God. I believe that both believers and unbelievers in our emerging culture are hungry for this. It isn’t about clever apologetics or careful exegetical and expository preaching or great worship bands. … Emerging generations are hungry to experience God in worship.
Obviously, in order for this to happen, changes would have to be incorporated. Kimball has thought this through and offers a number of suggestions which he lists in a chart that shows how the “modern church” must adjust and move towards a “no-holds-barred approach” to worship. Some of these are:
- Services designed to be user-friendly and contemporary must change to services that are designed to be experiential and spiritual-mystical.
- Stained-glass that was taken out of churches and replaced with video screens should now be brought back into the church on video screens.
- Lit up and cheery sanctuaries need to be darkened because darkness is valued and displays a sense of spirituality.
- The focal point of the service that was the sermon must be changed so that the focal point of the service is a holistic experience.
- Use of modern technology that was used to communicate with a contemporary flare must change so that church attendees can experience the ancient and mystical (and use technology to do so).
While I realize we are living at a period of time where technology is the key to entertainment and visual stimulation is a necessary tool required for capturing the attention of this generation, I ask you to consider what the Bible teaches. What about less Word and more experience? Could someone quote the chapter and verse to justify that? What about the idea that visual stimulation is the formula for inducing a spiritual atmosphere that will draw seekers to Jesus? Where is that found in the Bible?
I don’t know about you, but my when I hear about the emerging-church-methodology to forsake “apologetics” and “careful exegetical and expository preaching” for the sake of a generation that is “hungry to experience God”, I have some concerns. Could this be another avenue to “dumb-down” Christianity so that we no longer know what God has said? How effective can experiential Christianity be when it comes to knowing who we are, where we are in time, and where we are headed?
[Excerpt from The Emerging Church: Revival or Return to Darkness]