Fire and Wind in Emerging Church

This weekend, unless tidal waves stop the ferries, I hope to be in the Shetland Islands for a conference on prophecy and hearing God. Ruach Ministries, the people behind the “Fire From the North” Prayer Conference next August, have invited me over to meet some of the Shetland people and to check out the scene.
Here are some thoughts on prophets and apostles in the emerging church that Church-Geeks may want to read . . .or if you dont have time . . . . here is a thought from the next page.

The emerging church is NOT where charasmatics meet non-charasmatics. The emerging church IS where post-charasmatics meet post-non-charasmatics, and of course, those that have absolutely no idea what those words refer to.

One of the inherent values of the emerging church, although not often verbalized, is the web-like leadership structure that is shared among all the gifted leaders – the apostles, prophets, teachers, pastors (shepherds), and evangelists. Leadership is not longer monopolized by a big man at the top, nor by the two spiritual gifts of pastor and teacher. In the emerging church, as in the early church, prophets inform and apostles act on the information.
But why more so in the emerging church?

Possibly because the emerging church is finding root in new places, and the church is built on its prophets and apostles. As the new churches begin to grow, and the movement finds maturity, pastors and teachers are able to add stability and strength. If you go to a place where God is wanting to move and create something, you will find prophets and apostles turning up before anyone else. This is not abnormal. They work together . .

Rivers flow (prophetic)
Trees grow (apostolic)
The River of Life is found next to the Tree of Life in the beginning and end of Scripture.

Shetland and Orkney are both crawling with prophets and prophetesses. God wants to do something here, but it is at the very early stages . . . and we have to work at it to see His desires come into being. As i write these words, a number of ladies are walking over key pathways in Orkney, praying for God to lock up evil and unlock blessing. Another prophet is on her way to Shetlands to encourage the prayer movement there. As those with prophetic focus and calling read what i am blogging, and check out the previous prophetic words from conferences up here, they are experiencing a resonance in their spirit, and probably a desire to either come and join what is going on, or just to pray into it from a distance. Its a bit too early for the apostles who need more people action to make it worth their while, but some are here – making a way for the prophets and making simple structures for the early stage of the work.

It has been said that God has been restoring the ministry gifts back to the church over the last part of the Century
50’s – Evangelistic
60’s – Teaching
70’s – Pastoral
80’s – Prophetic
90’s – Apostolic

I am guessing that the “emerging” church over the past 50 years has been dealing with and discussing these issues during the decades in which they were occurring. The mainstream church, generally, was discussing the issues in the following decade. This is probably why there is so much discussion in the mainstream church right now on a new ecclesiology and church structure.

But certainly we can say that the apostolic and the prophetic are now part of the emergent church conversation. And it is not a “charasmatic” conversation, in the bi-partisan, dualistic emphasis of the word in its early 1980’s incarnation. There is very little difference between charasmatics and non-charasmatics in the emerging church. We sing the same songs and speak the same language. Both groups read their Bibles and both groups pray for the sick. In fact, it is not even a point for discussion anymore. There are not even “two groups” in the way I just described it. A postmodern sensitivity has allowed different journeys to find each other in the same place.

The emerging church is not where charasmatics meet non-charasmatics. The emerging church is where post-charasmatics meet post-non-charasmatics and, of course, those that have absolutely no idea what that argument was all about.

David Bosch was spot on when he called this postmodern season the “Emerging Ecumenical Missionary Paradigm.” (Transforming Mission, 1991) The postmodern shift has allowed us to rediscover the unity in the body that had become increasingly fragmented due to the atomizing effects of a modern paradigm. And the unity of charasmatics and non-charasmatics (or, as the case might be, of the complete lack of discussion) in the emerging church is just one example of that new unity.

But back to fire and wind, before this little blog post becomes a full-blown article, and therefore subject to scrutiny from people smarter than me . . .

I find it interesting that the Shetland conference has chosen FIRE as its theme. Fire is prophetic. I also find it interesting that the name for our monastery, chosen before we knew of the conference, or of the significance of fire, is “North Wind Monastery. I feel wind is apostolic more than prophetic. Fire needs wind, or it will not travel, will not become a movement. So as my prophetic friends pray for God to come as Fire, we will join with them, learn from them, and also pray that the Spirit’s wind will bring motion and direction to whatever God wants to do up here.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

9 Comments

  • I’m with you on 90% of this which is really helpful… but not sure I agree with you on the charismatic/non-charismatic being irrelevant. I agree that it doesn’t seem to be an issue of contention in some quarters. But at times it is – the “Future of the People of God” conference for e.g. was hosted by guys who were proud of their “post-charismatic” badge at the expense of respect for those of us who would define ourselves (carefully) as charismatic. I mean than it in the sense that I believe in the work and power of the Holy Spirit, I believe in ministering in that power etc. I would not want to define my ecclesiology as “charismatic” – that would be lazy and unbalanced if it was.
    I still encounter an under-current of “I was once a charismatic and then I saw the light” which is understandable, but not helpful. Equally there are still people for whom the charismatic is too much the epitomy of ecclesiology.
    I would not want to lose the adjective “charismatic” out of any description of myself. Nor would I want that to hinder connecting with my fellow pilgrims etc.

  • This is a good point. We all meet together on the same page, and yet we do not jettison our history to do so.
    Like you, I would not want to lose the distinctiveness of my unique journey through denominations, emphases and movements that give insight to where i am and how i got here.
    The issue is not irrelevant (nor did i say it was) but neither is it a point of contention or division like is was for many churches that split over the issue 20 years ago.
    The undercurrent you mentioned
    “I was once _________ and then I saw the light” is far more prevelant in the modern mindset that values linear progression and replacement. What is more common, i have found, among emerging church people is:
    “I have been influenced by _________ and ___________ and _________ and now am exploring _________, but i am a product of the unique fusion of all my past experiences”
    Thanks Rich

  • Thanks Andrew. I agree that the more common approach is becoming “I’ve been influenced by _____ etc” and that is a wonderful, refreshing and honouring to God thing. Who are we to box God and badge the stages in our lives as somehow in the past. We are a product of all God has done.
    I think however, there are still some of us who are working through stuff and until that is done, it’s hard to say “I’ve been influenced by” and easier/tempting to say “I was once…”. That’s fine – but lets be honest about our hurts/frustrations/confusions for our own sake, if not everyone else !
    Be blessed this weekend (watching with fascination how the adventure unfolds. Wish I had £168,000 for you !)

  • Thanks for a great post.
    The emergent church is were the church meets all those people, ideas, and concepts that it as long rejected. It is when the church frees itself from the shackles that prevent it from following Jesus where Jesus dared to go. It “emerges” and follows Jesus into the edge of the society where it finds the outsiders longing to be included in the Reign of God and invited to the table.
    The emergent church is when the church comes forth from obscurity and the safety of our Temples
    into the existence of the world surounding us.
    When it is evident to the world that the Church exists by its action on behalf of the Reign of God… we will have emerged.
    Thanks for the post!
    Rick

  • too interesting not to post

    I didn’t think my blog was going to be a blog that posts about other blog posts….. oh well. This was interesting enough to send you all to. I spent some time in Scotland last year. And some of the…

  • Fire and Wind in the emerging church….

    Andrew Jones, the new “abbott” of Orkney, ponders the emerging prophetic and apostolic influences in the emerging church in this interesting post

  • hey Andrew, this was one of the first things I discovered & I was thrilled to at last be in a place where we could worship together without the atmosphere of tension or suspicion. We were united around higher purposes. Kingdom stuff. What a relief. btw I need to talk with you about this research stuff. will email next week. glad you have landed finally in the Orkneys. peace & grace.

  • That is a very good question. 🙂 Hmmm. Hopefully we follow Jesus to the edge where the “true Temple” is built in our hearts never having to return to the man-made symbol of where God resides. For God is found on the edge in & with those on the edge. The Temple is no longer in Jerusalem it is in our hearts.
    May we worship God there and on the edge.
    Peace,
    Rick

Leave a Reply