I found Emerging Worship by Dan Kimball a challenging read. Much of it resonated with me: the church is losing 18-35s, partly, at least, due to it not listening to their needs. They seem to want something ‘deeper’, something more ‘authentic’, something more ‘raw’. Some churches have seen growth and development through starting an alternative worship community. These look very different – there is no set model, unlike the worship-sermon-worship sandwich practiced by so many churches across the world. This means to some degree there are no wrong or right answers with regard to what is done.
I read with interested the debate and examples of where an emerging worship gathering sits within the existing church model – for some it doesn’t, it forms a new church; for others it becomes an extension and bridge from youth and college ministry into the wider church; the most popular option seems to be that it becomes a separate congregation but still part of the church.
I see the positive benefits (it engages with a lost generation), I understand how it can fit into the wider church but I struggle with emerging gatherings against the aim for an inter-generational church. I want to see young people and the elderly worshipping together, side-by-side – and that is what I understand the Bible calls us to. The gatherings normally start as an extension of older youth work and then seem to travel with that generation so that eventually it becomes inter-generational – but it is still narrower than I would hope for. But then doesn’t church already do that – we have a ‘family service’, we have a service that is ‘more traditional’ and so on.
Certainly a book I want to spend more time reflecting on, and probably re-reading in the next few months.