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Brian McLaren: Emerging Values

 

Brian D. McLaren, “Emerging Values: The next generation is redefining spiritual formation, community, and mission” Leadership (Summer 2003), pages 34-39.

What are the values of the thirty-somethings entering ministry today?

Brian McLaren says that there is a lot to be hopeful about in the emerging Christian leaders who grew up in a postmodern culture. “The way we traditionally expressed Christianity may be in trouble, but the future may hold new expressions of Christian faith every bit as effective, faithful, meaningful, and world-transforming as those we’ve known so far” (page 35).

McLaren’s hopefulness regarding a postmodern expression of Christianity may be a significant reason why some consider him controversial, however this article has little if anything to concern readers. Rather, this is an appealing invitation to get to know people in the emergent church movement by introducing the values they embrace.

McLaren sees three rivers of thought and emphasis shaping the ministry of the next generation of spiritual leaders. The emerging emphasis on spiritual formation understands Christianity as a way of life, not as a perfect belief system. “Instead of ‘If you were to die tonight, do you know for certain that you would spend eternity with God in heaven?’ the new question seems to be, ‘If you live for another thirty years, what kind of person will you become?’” (page 38). Longing for authentic community, emerging leaders believe the church is about relationships not numbers in attendance or conversions. “Throwing a small-groups program at this hunger for community is like feeding an elephant Cheerios, one by one. What’s needed is a profound reorganization of our way of life, not a squeeze-another-hour-for-‘community’ into the week” (page 38). Leaders take less dominant roles where they serve as team leaders on a shared journey. Finally, the missional emphasis is an invitation to join in the journey. Instead of a rhetoric of exclusion if certain preconditions or statements of belief are not adhered to, “missional Christianity says, ‘God is expressing his love to all outsiders through our acts of kindness and service. You’re invited to leave your life of accumulation and competition and self-centeredness to join us in this mission of love, blessing, and peace. Want to join in the mission?’” (page 39).

If you want to learn about what emerging leaders are emphasizing and is influencing them, I do highly recommend this article. At the time of this writing, the entire article was available here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2003/003/3.34.html

Reviewed by Raul Mock

 

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Category: Fall 2004, Ministry

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996 and their Information Technology team since 1998. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Google+ LinkedIn

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