Last night our college ministry partnered with our Middle School, High School and Young Adult Departments in hosting a night with Shane Claiborne called, “Have Less, Live More.” It was the culmination of six months of collaborative study and teaching on the Minor Prophets between our departments and we brought Shane out to embody some of the messages we see in the Minor Prophets regarding poverty, wealth, social justice, community, truth, love, et cetera. I thought Shane was amazing and we were quite spoiled by having him speak at our morning staff chapel, enjoying lunch with him and then seeing him speak last night. I have a lot of things going through my head and I’m trying to process all of them. But the one message that resonated with me was:

  • How can I be a different kind of (fill in the blank)? Doctor, lawyer, teacher, pastor, counselor, engineer, parent, et cetera.

As Shane shared stories of people who have chosen to be different kinds of doctors, lawyers and engineers I was thinking to myself how can I be a different kind of college pastor/a different kind of marriage and family therapist? It seems like a simple question, and it is. But the reality is, is that we are often so busy and too consumed with ourselves that we rarely take time to think differently. He told the story of a robotics engineer who instead of just pursuing that work to it’s own end and making lots of money, he has chosen to build robots to disassemble land mines in foreign countries that often take the lives of children. He talked about a Harvard lawyer who decided to move to the South and represent those on death row who are often without money or the right resources. He talked about a massage therapist who decided that instead of just having a practice where she charges $100 to give people with money massages, she goes into the inner city, washes the feet of the poor and gives them foot massages. That is being a different kind of (fill in the blank).

I also have been thinking a lot about Shane and where he fits into Evangelicalism, Christianity, et cetera, mainly because he attracts a wide variety of people from various denominations as well as various strains of Christianity, both Catholicism and Protestantism. His message has really resonated with me and my students this last year as well. So that’s why I was intrigued this week to read the post Four Models of Emerging Churches by Wess Daniels. Wess describes the four models (emerging churches and their thinkers/practitioners) as:

  • Deconstructionist Model (Peter Rollins, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, etc)
  • Pre-modern/Augustinian Model (John Milbank, James K. Smith, etc)
  • Emerging Peace Church Model or/Open Anabaptism (Shane Claiborne, Rob Bell, etc)
  • Foundationalist Model (Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, etc)

If you know me, or read this blog, you know that I talk a lot about the emerging church, and that I’m very drawn to many, many aspects of it. But I was intrigued by Wess’ critique because I never thought myself as placed in the “Emerging Peace Church Model”, though the people Wess characterizes as a part of that model I am very drawn to. This last March we hosted Rob Bell on his Sex God Tour, last night was Shane Claiborne as you know and two years ago we hosted, a night with Donald Miller. Though Wess doesn’t characterize Don as falling into one of the models, I wonder where he does fit. I think he might fit into the “Emerging Peace Church Model” as well, and I don’t think it’s a surprise that Miller recently preached at Bell’s church.

So to bring it all back together I’m asking myself the questions:

  • Is there a connection between my attraction to the emergent church, and the ability to be a “different” kind of pastor/counselor/father/husband/friend, et cetera?
  • Is the emerging church the one strain of Christianity (at least right now) that allows for some rethinking, that allows others to see things with fresh eyes?
  • Does mainstream evangelicalism or mainline denominationalism prohibit or restrict those within it from seeing things anew because of the inability to break free from certain traditions, rules, polity, etc?

Just thinking out loud…..

If you are drawn to the emerging church, what do you think of the four models and where do you see yourself?