Monday, September 25, 2006

Back to the future?

The US is making plans to return to the moon. And guess what? The crew vehicle will be a space capsule! Yes, the new Orion spacecraft will look like the old Apollo crew vehicle and not like the space shuttle. The Aries launch vehicle will be based on the shuttle launch system, but the crew will ride on top of the booster "where God intended for them to be" (according to one veteran astronaut). The new space system will be a mixture of the old and the new, the proven and the innovative.

Perhaps there is a word here for the church. Whatever we undertake, it is always a mixture of tradition and innovation. We look to what God has done in the past, but we trust the Spirit to bring fresh insights and understanding for the present and future.

In THE SKY IS FALLING, Alan Roxburgh points out two tribes in the church that are seeking to deal with discontinuous change--the liminals and the emergents. Those who come out of the mainstream are the "liminals." These are the folks who bring institutional memory to the dialoque and are seeking stability. On the other side are the "emergents" who bring innovation and imagination to the mix and are more than ready to embrace radical alternatives.

The liminal folks basically want to retool what has worked in the past. The emergents want something new, realizing that it may or may not work! Roxburgh reminds us that both need each other and both need to realize that the Spirit of God is already among the people of God offering a way through this time of change.

We look to the future without throwing out the past. This may just be the way forward for NASA and the church!


Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

Reggie McNeal, a consultant for the SC Baptist Convention, did a conference in Cleveland recently and talked about this subject. He contends that the present really is the future for some churches, because many are so far behind in their approaches. He has a good book out "The Present Future: 6 tough questions for the church." I'd recommend it. Not bad for a denominational guy, I was pleasantly surprised. He didn't promote any canned approaches and suggested that churches needed a new measuring stick (not SS attendance, budgets, etc.). This impressed me.

Ircel said...

I think McNeal is one of the clearest voices for true change in the church. It is interesting to think about new "measuring sticks" for our churches (and for TCBF).