Wednesday, January 30, 2008

As Much As It Pains Me...

I find myself in agreement with Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent Village. Every once in a while, I click over to Emergent to remind myself why I left the "conversation" behind.

One of the podcasts uploaded is a "conversation" at last fall's SBL conference between Jones, New Testament Scholar Scot McKnight and author Diana Butler Bass (all three are emergents, which raises the question as to why the SBL hosts conversations only among those already enmeshed in the movement but I digress).

Bass is a strong proponent of the so-called "mainline revival." I have yet to see such a "revival", in fact, the last time I had lunch with a Methodist D.S., he confessed that all of his churches were stagnating or dying. He didn't have one growing church, but again, I digress.

Jones, on the other hand, believes that the bureaucracies behind the main line denominations are killing their own churches. Bass jumped all over Jones insisting that all she sees is vibrant life returning to the mainline churches.

I'm with Jones. As a former Methodist Pastor, I chewed more than a few Tums dealing with the endless (and useless) paperwork, committees, etc. Jones is right that bureaucracies typically stand in the way of the Gospel rather than facilitating its growth.

Ironically, Jones is a political moderate-liberal which means he trusts bureaucracies to take care of the nation's poor and the world's problems but just not a local church or seminary. Does anyone other than me see a disconnect?