This week we continue our discussion of Becky Garrison's Rising from the Ashes. Given the nature of the book as being interviews from a wide variety of people, it is full of various and sometimes contradictory perspectives. But one theme that I found repeated from interview to interview was that of the need for accountability for the church. There seemed to be concern that new expressions of church (like emerging churches) might be prone to dangers because of a lack of structural accountability. Here are a few quotes that address this issue - Phyllis Tickle
- "One of the things emergent has to do, and do soon, is provide some kind of seminary education, instead of simply having people lay hands on someone and say, "You're now a pastor," or having someone set up a blog with a green leaf logo and decide to regard themselves a pastor. Another question has to do with accountability. Some of the gatherings have pastors who may or may not be a tentmaker, that is, who may be making their living elsewhere. If people only have accountability within their own group of thirty or so folk, there's the potential for going off into idiosyncratic theology and/or into a cult of personality." (p. 4)Martha Grace Reese
- "Any time there's some rapidly growing ministry, there are all sorts of contentions, struggles, distractions, confusions, crashes, and burnouts. We all need accountability." (p.14)- Do you see this same danger/need for emerging churches?
- How do you see such a structure of accountability logistically working?
- Do you think this concern might be greater for those from a high church background as compared to those more familiar with low church structures?
- what sort of accountability do you see existing already in new and emerging churches?
One suggestion that seemed to be a common theme as well was to retain accountability but avoid hierarchy. Many of the voices called for stronger lay leadership and flattened authority - Isaac Everett
- "I love the Episcopal Church and it's been very formative for me over the years, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the hierarchical structures of authority and the way those power dynamics affect the church's culture. Liturgy tends to be very clergy-centric, and the laity are mostly passive during worship. A lot of people out there have become so distrustful of institutions that they have no desire to sit quietly in a pew and listen to an elite authority figure define truth for them. we don't trust the government, we don't trust corporations - why should we trust the church?" (p. 68)Brian McLaren
- "What I think will happen in this emerging church phenomenon is that we'll find a blurring of boundaries so that old hierarchies and institutions are actually part of emerging networks - they're networked in. As a result, everybody has the capacity to learn from, influence, and enrich everybody." (p. 86)- How do you react to the idea of flattened or horizontal leadership in churches?
- Do you think such a leadership structure would solve problems or cause more problems?
- How do you see such a structure aiding accountability?
Labels: Book Discussions, Emerging Church, Rising from the Ashes