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seven questions 


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dan kimball

vintage faith




1) What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the emerging church?


I think the biggest overall and subtle challenge right now that comes to my mind is consumerism. For those who have grown up in the church, we really have taught them to view church like they would if they were on the panel of "American Idol". The expectation of performance, the mindset of "what does this church have to offer me?" the way they judge church by how good is the preacher, how good is the music etc. I think we would admit that this is the mentality of most Christians in evangelical churches if we were honest.


I don't blame them, because since they were children we taught them to view church as the place to have "fun" with hyper-kids games and videos, and for youth to view church as the place to get emotionally charged and hyped from songs and energetic rallies and camps which teach Jesus etc. We have brought them to the Christian concerts, fed them into the consumerism of Christian commercialism of T-Shirts, CD's etc. and in many ways have based their Christian experience primarily around these things, with an occasional missions trip to Mexico thrown in. I hyper-exaggerate here, but I have a sinking suspicion if we really think about this, we leaders may be the very ones who had a lot to do with what we are now fighting in our churches in regards to consumerism.


That is why so many churches who even start these age-specific "young adult" services, many times only fuel this more. We teach them also that style of worship is what makes a community. Now they have yet another worship service which caters to their musical taste and personal preferences we now have another generation of Christian consumers. So, I think the great challenge is to be forming new communities of those who understand that the Christian life is really about being a worshipper on a mission, not someone who "goes to church" to have their needs and personal preferences of musical style met. I know that when challenged and when this is discussed among Christians, I see so many who rise to this. But, it takes the leaders of churches or leaders of new churches being formed to cast this vision of a missional community. That to me is the biggest challenge, even greater than the mission itself! I have great optimism about the spiritual openness today among non-Christians. It is the already Christians I think whom are the biggest challenge in a mission like this.


 2 What would you say are the key elements to an emerging church (what makes a church "emerging?"), and why?


To me, an emerging church is a church who is redefining the church and our ecclesiology in this emerging post-Christian culture. Praying and thinking through the ramifications of what it means to be the church today. There are a lot of churches just starting now, but so many are still focusing on "the worship service" as the starting point and not thinking through what the church is holistically or even historically. So much of our current church methodology in evangelical churches really only comes from the past 20-50 years. I think we better go way beyond that, and beyond the Reformation too. The Reformation shook things up in a great way, but also set methodological values in place that we still live with today that I think need to change for the emerging church. That is a key element for sure of what I would call an "emerging church" - to be rethinking our ecclesiology for today's culture


Being missional is also an absolute key factor for the emerging church. By being missional, I mean that the core fabric of the church is that we are about being a community of worshippers on a mission. but the mission is not getting people to "got to church", as you cannot go to church. we are the church. The mission is being the church in all we do and all we are, wherever we are and from this we bring kingdom influence to those around us. We should be inviting others to be joining us as followers of Jesus, not inviting them to events where they raise their hands at an altar call. We should be evaluating our success not by numbers, but by what kind of missional disciples we see being shaped by being in our communities of faith.


3 As worship seems to be redefining itself, how do you incorporate the five senses into a worship service at vintage faith church?


I think as we plan for our worship gatherings, we don't necessarily have a list of the five senses and then make a check list of what we are doing to hit them all. It just sort of becomes more a natural outgrowth of planning the worship gatherings through a community rather than one or two leaders. We have about ten people who help design and shape what happens. Each of them brings various perspectives and things they pay attention to. Since we all see worship as being more than just singing, it sort of naturally develops into incorporating the different senses. Some are more in tune with expressing the visual. some musical, some interactive etc. Probably the one sense that is harder to incorporate is the sense of smell. We use candles, we use incense on occasion, but we don't ask each week "what smell can we include?". I think we need to be careful not to be multi-sensory to simply "be multi-sensory". We should be worshipping holistically, and be thinking about that.


4 What do you see as the evolution, (or "de-evolution"), of evangelism in the emerging church?


I think another key element as I just said in the first question, is that emerging churches need to have an urgent sense of mission, and that doesn't mean inviting people to an event with Christian bands where they hear a 20 minute message about sin and going to heaven. I think a key element is redefining the church as a people of God on a mission of bringing others into Kingdom living. If we continue down the road of the "build it and they will come" mentality with all the focus on the weekend worship services as the foundation or an event to invite people to, we are in trouble longer term. A key element is that the leadership understands this and bleeds it, not just staff, but all of the leadership community of the church itself. Being missional is a key element. Teaching that the church is not a place you go to, but something you are is so foundational. If we really grasp that and the people in our church communities grasp that, I think it will radically change how we view evangelism.


5 If you had to - and I know we who are pomo thinkers hate to - what would be the top 3 shifts from a modern church to an emerging church?


hhhmmmm....i am not too good with "top 3" lists....but I would say one critical shift is in leadership. I say this first, because in our church structures there is a blockage for change to occur unless leadership changes. it is the leaders of our churches who will need to move from the one-man hero warrior conqueror CEO to being more of a thinker-architect-shepherd. We desperately need out leaders to be leaders, but do it with more a community attitude. Too long have we seen leadership portrayed as one man, with the charismatic personality, rallying the troops to his vision, leading the way, conquering the mountain. This has been so destructive really when we look back on the aftermath of most of what has occurred with this type of leadership. it is interesting that even with Jim Collins "good to great" thinking in a corporate world, that this type of leader is now being understood as not a good leader. the leadership in the emerging church must take a different approach. the leadership in modern churches who have the money, control and power need to recognize this and allow emerging leaders to grow and experiment and flourish for the emerging church. they need to not hold onto their control and be threatened by change.


that is one. another is what the definition of "church" is. That needs to shift. I already explained this, but the shift of thinking the church is the meeting, and the building to the church is the people on a mission. Some emerging church leaders sadly say these words but are focusing all their time on the "meeting" still. What will this communicate to the people in their churches if we say "the church is the people on a mission" but the leaders spend all their time getting ready for the "meeting"?


a third top one would be a shift from self-dependency to holy spirit dependency. in the modern contemporary church we saw so much figured out with good felt-need programs, preaching, parking lot design etc. that we can almost credit human sociology and psychology for why so many megachurches developed. I know that sounds horrific, but I just wonder...... I think a major shift we need to be thinking about is how we can only be explaining what happens in our churches through the Holy Spirit and that means our dependency in prayer and being on our knees a lot.


6 How important is "image" (meaning pics and art) in the emerging culture?


I think it is pretty recognized that art and the usage of visual is becoming increasingly important in how we learn, how we emotionally are moved, and can be very instrumental in worship. I think we need be very careful we do not neglect the power of Scriptures and the power of spoken word either, but I think if someone is ignoring the way image is influencing our culture and a tool of communication then they are missing an extremely vital part of understanding who emerging generations are.


7 What cores do you believe need to be at the DNA level of an emerging leader?


To be a listener. To be a learner. To be part of a leadership community and not a solo leader. And i think the bottom line is John 15:5...recognizing that apart from Him we can do nothing and Micah 6:8, that we should walk humbly, act justly and love mercy.


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