Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Seasons Change

My husband and I took a walk with Charlie last evening down by the river. It was one of those days when it’s still sunny and a bit hot, but if you’re paying attention you can tell that Fall is coming. Summer blackberries are ripe for picking and it still feels great in shorts. But there are already early Fall leaves crunching under our feet where the path moves under the trees. The season is changing.

When summer turns into Fall each year I feel this mixture of emotions. Summer is never quite long enough. We didn’t go on all the hikes we wanted to, or make it to the beach nearly enough. We didn’t get out and walk these lovely paths near our house as often as we wished. And there are projects around the house that we didn’t quite finish. As a person who is perpetually chilly, I love the heat. So there is always a bit of grief knowing that Summer is about to move to the back of the line in the cycle of changing seasons.

But I also feel a pleasant anticipation for Fall. The part of me that is ready to return to a schedule, that enjoys school and studying, that loves the coziness of a warm sweater and a hot cup of coffee on a chilly day, and the stunning beauty of nature’s soon-coming color show.

The change in seasons is also marking another transition for our family this year. Sunday marks our farewell celebration from the church where we have been. Josh is leaving his full-time job next week in order to do freelance graphic design from home part-time. The time has finally come for us to turn our attention and energy to the creation of a new faith community – something we’ve dreamed of together since the first few weeks of our relationship.

There is some appropriate grief for the season we are leaving behind - our time at a church with people we love and appreciate, the safety of being in "preparation," the security of one of our regular paychecks, the rhythm of life we're used to. But there is also great anticipation for a new season with its challenges, risks, joys, trials, and opportunities for making a difference in our community.

Blind Spots in the Emerging Church?

In a seminary class on reconciliation, another student gave an excellent presentation pertaining to the Millennials - the generation coming up quickly behind Gen X. In the midst of his very compelling report he commented as an aside that the emerging church isn't cutting it with this generation. He said the emerging church is mainly for Gen Xers and Boomers, and they don't seem to be having many conversations about the younger people just behind them who are distinct from them in many significant ways, and who are largely being missed by the church.

I've been pondering that observation and wondering just how true it is. I can certainly think of a few exceptions. But I think he might have a very good point. It appears that the EC is having some conversations about what to do with their children, now that they are growing and having families and finding existing, traditional models of discipleship with children to be inadequate. But what about the gap between the parents and the young children? Where are the Millennials in the emerging church? I'd love to hear from people on this subject.

As we prepare for planting what we hope will be a multi-class church, I've been keeping my eyes open for emerging churches who are involved in doing ministry with the poor as multi-class congregations. There is no doubt that the EC generally has a strong social conscience - caring about creation, AIDS, and global poverty. But how many have reached beyond the limits of charity to be churches of and with the poor? Again, I can think of a couple of exceptions. But for the most part, the EC generally appears to be a movement of middle class folks who do more charity than justice - at least on the local level.

I know there are some fabulous exceptions in the EC world to both of these observations. But what do you think? Do we have some blind spots in these areas?