When we protested against ourselves

“We had become banal to ourselves and felt complicit with a culture of banality in worship. It was a protest against the sing-along ‘concert’ model of worship, in which a new breed of ‘worship leaders’ had become a new ‘performing clergy’ and we their audience-congregation.” Doug Gay, Remixing the Church.

I love that quote. I have just added another book to my TOP TEN BOOKS EVER on the Emerging Church: Remixing the Church: Towards an Emerging Ecclesiology just released by Doug Gay. It gives a great history of the alt.worship/emerging church/fresh expressions in the UK and tackles a lot of the key issues with sensitivity and insider knowledge.

From a Scottish and Reformed perspective, Doug traces the impact of missiological thinking, ecumenical vocabulary, and Anabaptist ecclesiologies on the emerging church over the past 20 years. He examines the retrieval process (what I called “dumpster diving” a decade ago) of taking on board some historical practices. He also points to the current tension of being “subsumed” into a high-church environment which very few people are talking about.

Don Carson once called the emerging church movement a “protest movement” in Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church, a book Doug Gay calls a “disappointing treatment” lacking “breadth, nuance and awareness of its topic”. What Gay does in this book is show that protest in a clearer light; not as a protest against the church but rather a “protest against ourselves”.

“It was a protest against the words that were in our own mouths, and the tunes to which we all knew the guitar chords. . . . It was also a protest against the MOR light country/soft rock style that had mainstreamed ‘praise and worship music’ and deprived it of any musical or lyrical edge.”

Jonny Baker has a more in-depth review of Remixing the Church.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


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