This is my personal blog. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the congregations I serve.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Response to Beau Weston's article

Weston's original article may be read at http://www.pcusa.org/re-formingministry/papers/rebuilding.pdf .

While he suggests we have a ready-made establishment-in-waiting in our "tall-steeple pastors," I do not share his confidence that this is the group best equipped to lead the church into the future. Weston counts it a positive that these folks have worked their way up through the "market" system, demonstrating certain loyalties and competencies. In a former age it might have been a benefit to have the "insiders" rule. Maybe they were integrated into the larger "insider" group in society, and were thus able to exert substantial influence by means of these connections.

Those days are gone, however. The mainline church has become disestablished, marginalized, and increasingly considered "outsiders" in American culture. The ones we need lift up as leaders are those who are cognizant of this reality and who have demonatrated effectiveness in witnessing to the gospel in this new context. Those who know how to function as a minority, even exilic, community, who can embrace being on the edge, who are not totally invested in culturally dominant economic values and views of success... these are the ones we need to set the agenda now. Call them the anti-establishment.

I am thinking redevelopment & New Church Development pastors and other leaders, where we find creative worship, spreading of spiritual practices, increases in hands-on service activities, new ways to be organized and govern the church, and other examples of serious and faithful witness. A church that is now called to be counter-cultural must be led by those who have the proven experise in being counter-cultural.

Kester Brewin's categories identifying the emerging church come to mind: organic, networked, decentralized, bottom-up, communal, flexible, and always evolving. I humbly suggest that it is not likely that we will find leaders who relate to these categories who are "tall-steeple pastors."

Paul+

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