When I picked up my current issue of Light and Life Magazine -- published by the Free Methodist Church of North America -- I was a bit surprized, but absolutely thrilled by the theme: The Emerging Church.
In addition to the lead article by Robert Lincoln Hancock: "Microshift: The Changing Shape of the Church", the magazine's tear-out devotional guide -- The Deeper Path -- is exclusively focused on the emerging church, and the many ways in which the Free Methodist Church is already resonating with emergent's core values (as you may already know, I am a Free Methodist pastor who helped plant an emerging church a little over three years ago).
The "teaser" on the cover of the devotional guide reads like this:
In our postmodern, post-Christian world, where absolute truth is suspect and the self reigns supreme, the church must find ways to be relevant and fresh so that it can continue to do its God-given work of reaching people everywhere with the saving message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In "Microshift: The Changing Shape of the Church" (main magazine p. 12), Robert Lincoln Hancock tells us new, only recently noticed forces are reshaping our world while the local congregation (according to a Barna Group study) has "virtually little or no influence in our culture."
This issue of Deeper Path seeks to explore the emergent church movement and how we as Free Methodists can share its heart for the lost -- maintaining our unique denominational identity while joining together with brothers and sisters everywhere who are actively engaged in exploring and uncovering new (an ancient) methods of worship and outreach.
- "The Emerging Free Methodist Church" - -an article by Dick Freed, which parallels the Nine Core Practices of Emerging Churches with Free Methodism's "core values."
- "The Original Emerging Church" -- a reflective study of Acts2:42-47, followed by an article by David Ashton that summarizes Free Methodism's affirmation of and participation in "one holy, catholic, and apostolic church."
- "An Emerging Prophet" -- an article by Bruce N.G. Cromwell which draws attention to the important contribution being made by Brian McLaren today.
- "The Emerging Community" -- a reflective study of Ephesians 4:1-16
- "Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?" -- an article by Ralph Clark, highlighting how we are rediscovering how to "be" church rather than going "to" church.
- "The Irreplaceable Community" -- an article by Denny Waymn which draws on recent brain-related research in confirming our need for authentic community.
- "Body Prayer" -- an article by Kathy Callahan-Howell, which elaborates on concepts explained in Doug Pagitt's book, BodyPrayer; encouraging believers to involve their bodies more in times of prayer and worship.
- "The Emergent Small Group" -- an article by John H. Bunn, which encourages small group leaders and participants to learn from the emerging church and then challenges them to begin making changes.
Recommended "Look-Ups" in this issue of the Deeper Path include:
- The Celtic Way of Evangelism, by George Hunter
- A New Kind of Christian, by Brian McLaren; and...
Wow! Even though Light & Life Magazine does not "officially" represent the beliefs of the Free Methodist Church, this issue and its content is HUGE in its importance to our denomination. Out here in Southern California, we Free Methodists have been engaged in the emerging church conversation for the better part of four years now (thanks to the leadership of our bishop and superintendent). And if it were not already, this certain helps set the stage for important denomination-wide dialog and action in the future. And I couldn't be more thrilled!
You can subscribe to Light & Life Magazine by going here. OR... if you'd like a copy of the current issue, I will mail a copy free to the first six (6) people who contact me via email and provide me with their mailing address.