Oliver (the "pomo/emerging" pastor)
to read Chris Monroe's responses
how would you define the postmodern/emerging conversation?
Personally, I see a new paradigm shift happening in both the
world at large and in the body of Christ. Call it
postmodern, emerging, second reformation, alt. worship or
whatever. Labels are not as important as what is actually
happening. Its a shift away from a purely rational, linear,
logical, scientific approach to life and spirituality.
There's a new focus on experience, emotion, art and mystery.
I think its probably God's way
of letting the current way we know of church existing to
die, so that something much better can be resurrected. Its
implications are philosophical, theological and social.
There's a much more holistic approach to living our lives
and trying to really live out, grasp and wrestle with what
it means to be a follower of Christ, wherever we are.
2. What do
you see as the most productive way of reaching an emerging
To be honest, I don't like the
word reach. I think connecting is a much better way of
describing evangelism. When we speak of reaching, we think
of ourselves in one place, and the goal is to bring others
to where we are at. And that's why so many people are turned
off by churches in America.
The gospel that Christ came with
is that people can connect with God, no matter who they are
or where they are at. So we aren't trying to be successful
or productive. We are simply trying to connect with people
we come in contact with. Its an incarnational, relational
and interactive approach to ministry.
"paradox?" (not the name, but the concept.)
The concept of tensions, of
seeming contradictions, really appeals to us (and to
postmodern people). There are so many aspects of our faith
that don't make sense from a purely rational view. So
instead of trying to explain away or avoid tensions, we
embrace them by faith. Besides, we are living in a world
where reality seems to be both/and, instead of just
either/or. We have come to discover that questions are often
just as important as answers.
4. What makes
paradox different from a modern church?
The better question would
probably be in which ways are we the same! There are many
differences. We have 2 founders and co pastors, instead of
one. There is no pulpit or sermon during our times of
worship. We use lunchboxes to collect offerings. Instead of
a sermon or lecture, we have an interactive learning
environment, where people ask questions, comment, and even
disagree with us. We place as much importance on the
atmosphere and environment as we do on the topic being
presented. Each week looks and feels different.
We try to invoke all 5 senses
through multisensory, experimental worship stations. The
schedule is not the same each week. There is always
something happening on the big screen and around the room,
whether powerpoint, video or art. Our worship gatherings
also take different forms. We may have a night of all music,
or make sandwiches to go hand out to the poor. We may all
get together for a meal.
5. how do you
build community at paradox?
I think this is one area many
postmodern communities of faith are struggling with. People
in our society today crave authentic relationships yet
aren't willing to do what it takes to have them. And many
churches don't know what to do either.
What has worked best for us is
spending time together. Whenever we have a group of guys or
girls hanging out for a guys day or girls day, when we spend
time with each other before and after our weekly worship
gatherings and during the week, that's when it happens. Its
a process and takes time.
Our small groups have also
helped tremendously. Also serving and volunteering together.
6. how does
paradox put to action "the great commission?"
Our vision statement is summed
up in 3 words: explore, engage and emerge. We have
intentionally created an environment where people are loved
and accepted, unconditionally. We have Mormons and others
who are a part of our community of faith. The guy that has
the most piercings in our town is a regular part of
everything we do. Its in our spiritual DNA. We just try and
connect with people where they are at. paradox is about
people having time, space and freedom to test out
We also get out in our
community. We work with the poor and homeless and give to
those in need. Each year, our community has a Mardi Gras
parade. We entered a float this past year, our first ever.
Our theme was monks and punks. We had people dressed like
punks and monks and they were carrying a cross. We also had
cool lights, decorations and a live DJ spinning records. 3
or 4 floats after us, was a church that was screaming and
telling everyone they were going to hell. 2 very distinct
methods of evangelism were in effect that night.
what does the future hold for paradox?
Only God knows, right? We just
celebrated our first birthday (Jan. 2004). We will most
likely become a church plant in the next year. If we outgrow
our current building, we will have to offer more than one
worship gathering per week, until we find another facility
to meet in.
Our website has recently been
redesigned and we look forward to inspiring others online
like we were inspired. We live in a community of about
60,000. And Barstow does not have the best reputation in
California. But if we can do this here, God can use people
anywhere! When we first started, our vision was our
community. God is now starting to pull our hearts to connect
with those on their way to and from Las Vegas each weekend.