Dion's random ramblings

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Emerging Church / conversation... Is the Church dying or just changing?

I had the incredible honour of being invited to deliver the Hugh Price Hughes lecture in England earlier this month. You can read more about the remarkable Hugh Price Hughes here.

It was an incredible event! I was blessed and treated with such care and grace by my British friends!

The subject of my lecture was the effect that emergent conversations (and communities or Churches) are having on the mission and ecclesiology of mainline Churches across the world.

Click here to download the HPH lecture - it is an MS Word document (it does contain some images of the graphs and statistics I refer to).

In this lecture you will find a whole lot of statistics about Church decline in South Africa and the United Kingdom. I offer some insights into why this is taking place and some critique of contemporary approaches to being Church and doing mission. Together with this you'll find some theological input on the emergent conversation, and perhaps one or two ideas on how the conversation can approach mission going forward.

In the lecture I used powerpoint slides (I have noted where these apply in the text), you can download the powerpoint slides here if you wish to use them (10.5MB).

As with everything I do this is opensource! So, please do change it, adapt it, fix it, improve it! All that I ask is that you acknowledge my effort in your sources and perhaps offer a linkback.

So, please do share your thoughts and ideas. I always appreciate comments and interaction. What do you think - is the Church dying or simply changing? And, do we have the necessary courage and critical insight to adapt our presentation of the Gospel to meet the needs of our current context?

Rich blessing!


Update 26 March 2009

I've had quite a remarkable response to this paper. Thank you to all those who have commented below, and to all those who have emailed me directly! A couple of persons have asked about the previous post I made, with the short QIK video of my approach to the emergent conversation.

You can find the original post here - I posted this after being invited to deliver a lecture at Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary at the University of Kwazulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg. In some ways that lecture was a trial for some of the ideas that I intended to research further and present in the UK.

Here's the video, but please do check out the original post for a little more 'context'. Thanks!

Update 7 May 2009

My journey into the 'emerging conversation' continues! Yesterday I had the great joy of recording an episode for my show, The Ministry and Me (on Radio Pulpit) with Rev Steven Lottering.

Steven is a good friend, and the pastor of the Methodist Church congregation where my family and I worship - Coronation Ave Methodist Church in Somerset West.

Steven has a very balanced and informed perspective on the emerging conversation - it is balanced by the fact that he is a pastor of a healthy Church, and informed by his searching to find ways to effectively engage more than just the members of his congregation! He always seems to have an eye on the world around him to see how the Church can serve society.

It was great to be with Steven. The lead broadcast of this episode will be aired on Radio Pulpit on Wednesday 13 May 2009 at 9.00 (CAT).

You can catch a sneak preview of the show here: 'Is the Church dying or simply changing? A conversation on the Emerging Church with Rev Steven Lottering' (6MB MP3).

If you've found the program useful, please do drop me a line, and please cast a vote for it here.

Rich blessing!


Technorati tags: , , , , ,


  • excellent work Dion. I passed on your lecture to a Malaysian Methodist pastor :-)

    By Blogger Sivin Kit, at 5:33 PM  

  • excellent work Dion. I passed on your lecture to a Malaysian Methodist pastor :-)

    By Blogger Sivin Kit, at 5:33 PM  

  • Dion, you almost lost me on page 12 under the weight of the bad news. But it was worth the wait.

    Do you really think God can take the established denominations and evolve them into an emerging church; or have I misunderstood. Isn't it much more likely God has a revolution in mind and his church will emerge from outside of the mainstream. Like the prodigal son returning to his father with the mainstream church as the elder brother excluded from the feast by his own decision based on his own self imposed set of rules.

    If the mainstream church is simply a ball and chain locking us into its mindset rather than Christ's are we not better hastening its demise using the emergency exit and getting out there to work with the prodigals.

    By Blogger Simon G, at 8:00 PM  

  • OK, some valid points. The more recent statistics are debatable, as I think you yourself suggest. Some of your comment would seem to be confusing (I confess that I merely scanned your paper), e.g. ?This is a reality in South Africa where Christianity is still in a growth phase,? then, ?Effectively these statistics clearly show that in Southern Africa the Church is in a decline...? Such comments would need clarification. I?ll address one major point. About two-thirds of your paper focuses on the (statistical) decline of the traditional Churches. Then, about one-third focuses on the emergent alternative. Yet at the two-thirds way mark of your paper, the statistics stop dead. This is inconsistent. On what basis does a ?quantitative? paper suddenly turn into a ?qualitative? one? This has been a focus of my own postgraduate studies: namely the absence of statistics, the fallacies which are used to permit this, and indicators that all may not be well where they are absent.

    By Blogger Thomas Scarborough, at 10:15 PM  

  • Good point, and bravo for the work... Never could have thought to do such a research... However, I have agree with Thomas Scarborough, the information input (statistics and facts presentation) still need some polish. But anyway, still good stuff.

    About Simon G's comment, I believe that God will do anything He can to ensure the gospel being preached throughout the world. The real thing is not whether the real task lies on the emerging church or the established church, that is not the real problem. The real problem is that whether the church is willing to take up their responsibility, and without division (in denominations), go and reach the lost. God has certainly raised some churches up out of scratch, and proven to be effective, but God can still stir the hearts of the established churches and be revived with His vision.

    Let's not jump into the elder brother's mentality and keep on becoming good servant of Jesus. Stop the internal debate and start the external reaching. As long as we keep our focus in living for God, preaching the gospel in words and in lives, we are certainly going to get God's glory upon us.

    "Not by power, nor by might, but by My Spirit," said the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 4.6)

    By Blogger ???, at 6:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home