Monroe (the senior pastor)
to read Benjy
how would you define the postmodern/emerging
yet transformative. I see a both-and reality
here. In using the word, inexperienced, I'm
referring to a number of things. First of all,
it's difficult to find thought-leaders who are fully
trustworthy concerning things postmodern
since the paradigm is still unfolding. Secondly,
the emerging conversation is riddled with zealous
pioneers who lack experience and maturity. This
often leads to a kind of "throwing out the
baby with the bathwater" -- an untempered desire
to not only get rid of all things "modern
church-related," but to get rid of the modern
church itself. I am certainly not the first to
observe a subtle arrogance that's often part of the
postmodern perspective. Despite this, the
postmodern/emerging conversation has continued to
be refreshingly transformative. By transformative,
I mean to say that the conversation is forcing
believers and leaders to reject outdated, faulty, and
even injurious ways of "doing church" and
instead, reconnect in a fresh way with what it
means to truly be a follower of Christ. The
conversation is helping us to strip away the
"church stuff" we've created, so we can get down
to the "God stuff" we long for.
what do you see as the major differences between the
"modern and emerging churches?
such a distinction is a bit of an over-generalization,
I certainly see some differences. "Modern"
churches -- those birthed and still
operating in ways consistent with modernity (e.g.
out-of-balanced focus on "the individual",
pursuit of truth as empirical and discernable) are just
beginning to acknowledge the realities of our
post-Christian, post-modern culture.
However, their responses to this vary
significantly. Some see the paradigm of
postmodernism as a new enemy of the faith, and have
taken up an aggressively defensive posture.
Other church leaders, while aware of the cultural
changes, have chosen to adopt a
"wait-and-see" approach, not wanting to
overreact to what might only be a short-lived
"fad." Still other groups and
denominations have not only accepted that
postmodernism is here to stay, but have been
encouraging their congregations to start
strategizing the birthing of new expressions of
"church," recognizing that unless this is
done, entire generations may end up being lost to
Christ. I consider myself blessed to be part of
this latter group of "modern" churches,
although it must be said that churches continuing to
operate under modernity will remain vitally
important in sharing Christ (some statisticians
insist that 70% of Boomers, 30% of Gen-X'rs, and
perhaps 20% of Millennials will remain
"modern" in their perceptions and
"Emerging" Church, on the other hand, is
free from many of the trappings that have prevented
much of the modern church from becoming truly missional
so as to effectively engage the present culture.
Truth is seen not only has propositional and knowable,
but as mysterious and experiential. Relevancy is
important, but the slick consumeristic methods of
their predecessors are definitely out. And
although emerging churches continue to struggle with
the curse of individualism (something that was
"supposed" to die under postmodernity), they
remain committed to rediscovering and practicing a community-focused
Christianity. In part, it is this commitment to
community that is changing the orientation of their
worship gatherings -- no longer following the Bibliocentric
model (e.g. sermon is central) that was common in
the modern church, but rather moving back to a
previous (and historically more prevalent) Christocentric
model, where the community of faith gathers around the
Eucharist and pursues an experience of Jesus together.
This is also a reflection of the ancient-future "feel"
of many emerging churches, where hi-tech multi-media
technology and art are frequently blended
with the use of ancient common prayers, creeds, and
as a senior pastor, what do you see as the greatest
tension with a "church [with]in
the tension that revolves around the common use of the
facilities. Emerging church work is often
"messy" -- messy not only in terms of
reaching messy people (i.e. irreverent and
problem-laden), but literally being messy (e.g. wax
and soda stains, broken and damaged equipment and
furniture, facilities not restored to
over time, would you support a move to allow paradox to
"go it on it's own?"
But as its own community of faith, it would first need
to grow holistically to a place of health that
could facilitate such a move. This would
certainly include additional leadership development
and greater financial stability.
why paradox? (not the name, but the concept)
postmodern thinking often resonates with a both-and
way of perceiving truth. This, combined with the
fact that the Christian faith consists of many tensions
and is by nature paradoxical, led us to quickly
consider the name, Paradox, a perfect fit for
who we wanted to be and what we wanted to be about.
do you see tension between the "older" members
and those seeking God in new and different way?
and could you explain?
no -- and for a couple of reasons. First of all,
our older members are genuinely thrilled that Paradox
is able to lead people into a relationship with Christ
-- people who would otherwise nothing to do with
"church." And because secondly, although
at a slower pace, I have been introducing similar
components into the corporate worship times of
the sponsoring congregation -- components that have
been amazingly well received (e.g. use of ancient
common prayers, creeds, art, and multi-sensory
what do you see as the future for paradox?
see Paradox as a trailblazing congregation.
Although they will continue making mistakes, the
lessons learned from these mistakes (along with the
many successes) will increasingly become a
valuable resource for other emerging churches.
At the same time, more and more of residents
within our city who have stayed away from traditional
churches will come to trust Paradox and will be drawn
into its community. And finally, I believe that
in less than five years, Paradox will likely give
birth to a new emerging church itself.