Reflections on the Jesus Freaks

A few days have passed since camping out with the Jesus Freaks in Germany and I have a few thoughts on the movement.

1. The Jesus Freaks, after 2 years of summing up the previous chapter of ministry, going through a few trials, and accepting their identity as a movement that has matured out of infancy, have landed in a good and healthy place. GREAT!!! I was holding my breath and am relieved that they are ready for the next chapter.

2. A number of movements that have come under the “emerging church” radar [and I should be clear that JFI have never used that term] have just come through that same 2 year process of redefinition. This is true for other groups in USA, Australia while the same process seemed to happen earlier in the UK.

martinandbishopdamian.jpg

Photo: Jesus Freak Martin Dreyer and Bishop Damian of the Coptic Orthodox Church

3. I have noticed that very new movements and very old movements seem to get along together quite well. The Jesus Freaks have found favor with the Egyptian based Coptic Orthodox Church which offered their facilities for the Freakstock Festival. I have also seen very new urban church experiments receive hospitality and acceptance from the oldest institutional churches in the city. I have also seen very young church planters getting support from very elderly church leaders. Its the group in the middle that is usually the non-responsive party in these partnerships, in particular, the movements that were new and cool 20 years ago and probably still think they are the cutting edge.

I am curious – are you part of a similar movement that has just come out of a similar process? Tell me about it.

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” :-)

12 Comments

  • Andrew, can you please get Mark Driscoll and Acts 29 to stop flying under the “emerging” radar? Ever since Driscoll became aligned with the likes of mainstream evangelical leaders he’s gone in the opposite direction of being “emerging.” Mars Hill and The Resurgence is becoming the very thing that Mark despised to begin with. With this new Re:Train “school” and Re:Sound record company (is there something wrong with music that it needs to be re:done?) I fear that The Resurgence is going to end up as Purpose Driven 2.0. feeding off of people’s consumer driven Christianity. Mars Hill is already running 7 other church campuses via Satellite, just like the seeker churches.
    This doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for Mark. I agree with him and disagree with him just like anyone else, but I am starting to wonder if Mark helping or hurting the emerging movement?
    My point is that Mark is still flying under the “emerging” radar, when other than a missional focus, Mark, Mars Hill, Acts 29, and The Resurgence are moving further and further away from the emerging conversation and more towards seeker movement on steroids.
    By the way, Doug Pagitt inquired to me about a comment I made on the EV blog concerning a comment about his apparent appeal as a universalist/antinomian. I forget what the blog was about, but I remembered your brief review of “A Christianity Worth Believing” and how you thought it lacked some theological clarity. I think i quoted part of your post and from how you describe it and given Doug’s ever popular argument with WOTM floating all over youtube and the blogosphere, Doug seemed to lean anitnomian or even universalist, if I understood him during his brief response on WOTM. I’m not promoting WOTM here, btw.
    anyway, just thought i’d share my thoughts. i should comment more often. i usually read but rarely comment.

  • thanks jeremy. i havent heard about the retrain or re:sound company but mark has been a friend for a long time. The “emerging church” is a very very broad category and it includes very new forms of church as well as those groups that are still holding on to 17th century models. room for all of us in this term although i no longer recommend new organic groups use the term because of the confusion.
    i wouldnt call doug antinomanian – his church certainly is not.
    thanks for your thoughts.

  • Maybe the reason the old and the new can be friends while the middle doesn’t really seem to want to play nice is because they have everything to loose and seemingly nothing to gain. The old and the new are more likely to be on the fringes, powerless, or disenfranchised, while the middle is probably the most comfortable with the status quo. So while the old and the new have much to gain from mutual cooperation, the middle can just ignore everyone else and still get what they want. On the micro level this is true of my local church. Why would the people with the most power/voice/position learn to converse and compromise with the powerless? So that people they don’t even get along with in the first place can have room at THEIR table? They can just shield their eyes and ears and things stay the same–in their favor. The powerless can’t afford to play dumb. But what is the incentive for those on the inside if they are happy with the way things are? They can do nothing and keep being happy…
    Until one day, when they are the old, and they are on the margins. And they’ll wish they had left a better legacy (one that voluntarily gives voice to the powerless even when it doesn’t have to).
    Maybe this has nothing to do with your post. Sorry 🙂

  • Emily – you raise an interesting point. What those on the fringes don’t have (and don’t seem to want) is to play the author/speaker publishing game. Once one becomes branded as a particular type of author/pastor/speaker, then there is considerable pressure to maintain one’s brand identity and that often takes precedence over following where the spirit of God is speaking.

  • Andrew,
    I think it’s probably true that Emergent Village is in the midst of one of these 2-year transitions like you described in your post. I think it’s safe to say the transition began when Tony Jones stepped down as National Coordinator (back in November 2008) and continues up until now. There is activity going on behind the scenes, things getting ready to be announced, and a new chapter for Emergent Village will soon begin, but for right now things are in transition — and frankly, it’s a bit of an awkward place to be 😉 But I’m encouraged by other examples like the ones you shared in your post. Thanks.
    Shalom,
    Steve K.

  • Andrew with this notion of new movements finding homes with older movements how would you classify the New Reformed movement? Do you think it has emerged from something and/or that it has identified with an older movement? I don’t really classify “Reformed” as a movement, because it’s a theological system more than a philosophy, and there are so many different ways of being “Reformed.”
    A lot of people think it’s just the Reformed leg of the Emerging church, when in reality it’s like it’s own separate movement, according to Hansen and DeYoung.
    Secondly, if you wouldn’t classify Doug as antinomian then what would you classify him as? The reason I ask is because of what I’ve read and heard about the way Doug leads and what he teaches at Solomon’s Porch, there is no real level of authority except for one’s own interpretation, which leaves it all as free game. I understand the need for their to be differing interpretations, but when it gets to the point were one can chose not to even believe in the judgment of hell, the authority of scripture, that just seems too far to the left, echoing the liberalism of Schleiermacher and Ritschl.
    I’m not pulling any of this from Ken Silva or any of the “heresy hunters” this is just simply my view of what I have read and heard of Doug. I have read the firs three chapters of A Christianity Worth Believing via Doug’s blog and it was pretty good, I’m eventually hoping to get the book and read it in it’s entirety.

  • Jeremy, its been a long time since i last say Doug and I really dont know how he handles church discipline etc at solomons porch so i really cant answer your question.
    as for the reformed leg of the ec, i think it is partly an attempt to find some historical anchors, partly an outreach to the traditional church and partly an attempt to salvage the best of that tradition, esp. as the church from the global south threatens and replaces its dominance on the global church scene.
    the model kept going by the reformed worked well in previous centuries but i believe it is financially unsustainable in this new century.
    DeYoung gets paid for 20 hours a week to sit in an office and prepare a sermon. 20 hours!!!! Now thats a cushy job that will only work in a very rich area of the world with people who dont mind throwing money at that kind of model. It would be unheard of for an emerging/emergent pastor or leader to demand half a salary to prepare a 30 minute oratory. No wonder he is not emergent, and no wonder he loves that kind of church.

  • Andrew, better late than never: It was even in the local church that the kiddies and the grandfathers/mothers got along better than the middle generation. Remember the old ladies in St.Thomas that made tea and prayed for those crazy young ones in the Roxy? 🙂 Seems to be human 🙂 I can imagine many reasons for that …. Is what the young generation seeks / needs rather grandfathers, not so much fathers? just an idea….

  • This is in response to Peter’s comment re: paying pastors – depends on the blogger and the pastor. At the megachurch churches the lead pastor (meaning the draw) often devotes the bulk of his time on the sermon (which will available via CD, DVD, streaming audio, etc.) and a good chunk of the rest of his time prepping to take his show on the road – you’d have to ask each individual church how much of the money is funneled back into the church versus goes to the pastor directly. The other pastoral jobs are left to other staffers. People who attend these churches are there for the show so they want someone who can wow the crowd and those kind of people tend to command (and get) a sizable chunk of change.
    I agree Andrew it sounds pretty cushy but except for a few superstars like Rick Warren, most of these pastorates tend to have relatively short life. I heard of an agent who is trying to sign every emergent and new monastic author he can get is hands thinking he can squeeze a bit of bucks out of the brand until it expires. Also, they’ve gotten used to a very comfy country club lifestyle aka Greenwich, CT or Orange County that isn’t maintainable once the curtain closes and those who are into this kind of a thing have moved on to the next shiny thing.
    Today’s religious rock star is tomorrows fallen American Idol (I am using the American not British version of this show cause this is a phenomenon that’s much more prevalent in the states). Look at who was “uber hot and holy” 10 years ago and see how many of them are still raking in the crowds.

  • Hi! Came across your blog while researching what exactly “missional” and “emergent” is. Thanks for shedding light. You should also check out Mavuno Church ( http://www.mavunochurch.org/j/ ) in Nairobi Kenya. Though under the Nairobi Chapel umbrella, it is probably the most cutting edge church in East Africa. I’m Kenyan American and its my home church when I’m there. Membership has grown from 400 last year to 2000 this year and about 80% of members are young Nairobi professionals between 23-35. The church body is a bunch of twenty somethings. They are also planting churches in Uganda and Germany!
    Imagine an African church planting a church in Germany! Check them out, I’ve been so blessed by Mavuno, which means “harvest” in Swahili.

  • Andrew, suggesting that Deyoung has a cushy job because he is paid 20 hours to prepare a sermon is quite the rash judgment. Just because you disagree with him doesn’t make his lifestyle less righteous than yours. Do you know how much he is paid or how much of his salary he gives back?

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