||Jonathan's Resource Ezine
Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
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Featured Interview: Dan Kimball clears up the "hype" about The Emergent Church and talks with Jonathan about post-Christian Culture, evangelism methodology... & poodles!
Who are those "Emerging" guys? We might have heard some of the
hype about them... but do we really know what
they believe? In our last interview Josh McDowell
mentioned the "emergent guys" a few times, Dan Kimball by name, sharing some negative and
positive. I thought we had better give Dan a chance to share his "two cents" with us so we
could hear first hand.
Dan is one of the pastors at Vintage
Faith Church, a new church in Santa Cruz, CA designed for the post-Christian culture. Dan
is author of
Worship. Dan also serves on the emergent YS board for
JONATHAN: Dan the biggest question every youth worker has about you
is obvious, how long are you going to sport the "Vanilla Ice" hairdo?
DAN: Well, I originally got this haircut from being interested in rockabilly music and I
was into that whole scene. It morphed from there into what it is today. I would say that I've
been locked into this haircut since the mid 80's and I probably will be locked into it maybe
until the day I pass on from this earth. I just hope that if I loose my hair as I get older that
it will recede on in a way that I'll still have a high tuft of it left in the very front.
JONATHAN: That's cool. Well... I guess on the day you die you're
gonna need a coffin with just a little extra headroom.
DAN: Yes, I've joked even with the girl that cuts my hair that she'll have to advise the
mortician how to do my hair.
JONATHAN: So what's the recipe for such a fine "do?"
DAN: I actually get asked that often. I use a pump spray called Rave Mega-Hold and then a
grease called Fiber-Grease. Those are the two things I put in there.
JONATHAN: Cool... if you don't mind hurrying up with this interview...
I have to rush to the store to get those two items!
DAN: I did talk to David Crowder about this once and he spends more time on his hair than
I do. We had a really good hair conversation. It bonded us in deep ways.
JONATHAN: With Crowder I think the question would be about that beard
DAN: Yea, he has double the special grooming techniques with his hair and the little beard
JONATHAN: (laughing) Alright, moving on. You're one of the voices of
the Emerging Church. For those of us who don't know, what the heck is the "Emerging Church" and
how did its name ....emerge?
DAN: I first heard of the term 'the emerging church' from an organization called
Leadership Network back in the mid 90's.
DAN: Leadership Network was started by Bob Buford, who was involved in cable T.V.
He basically was linking together churches that are being innovative across America to accelerate
the communication and ideas. They used to use a tag line calling themselves "advance scouts" for
the emerging church' and that was where I first saw the term. They began hosting events for those
that were working with "Gen X", which is a term no one uses anymore since we realize it is more
than just a generational issue and change happening. But through their events, the term 'emerging
church' began getting known. I wrote the book,
Church, because that term was starting to represent churches that are rethinking what it
means to be the church in our emerging culture. The word emerging basically means 'what is coming
to the surface' so the church is always going to be emerging, it has been emerging since its
birth. I recently found a book called, "Emerging Church" that was actually written in 1970
talking about what was emerging in the church at that time period.
DAN: So I think in another thirty years there's somebody who is about nine years old now
that will write another book called "The Emerging Church."
DAN: Emerging churches are simply churches that are just trying to rethink what it means to
be the church and contextualize the church with a missional heart for our culture today. So there
are all types of emerging churches out there. It is a heart and values issue, not a style issue or
specific age issue. Although because of cultural change, most emerging types of churches today are
generally younger overall ? because they are the ones born and raised almost entirely in the new
emerging culture. But then there is also an organization that is called Emergent.
JONATHAN: Are you involved in Emergent?
DAN: I am good friends with a lot of the key people in Emergent. Emergent is
an organization, more like a networking of like-minded people who are focused more on the
rethinking of theology in our culture. However it is important to know that Emergent
intentionally does not have a formal doctrinal statement as there is a variety of beliefs from
those within it. In regards to the focus on theology, Emergent is somewhat different than
"emerging church." The term "emerging church" is broader and focused primarily on methodology you
could say Emergent is more specific in its focus on theology. However all our methodology
in our churches stems from what we believe theologically. So I hope everyone is always thinking
about theology in the midst of what we do in ministry.
JONATHAN: And did that come about from this whole "emerging church"
concept? Which is the chicken and which is the egg?
DAN: The term "emerging church" was being used as we now are using it, before the term
"Emergent" was used in all of this. Emergent, the organization, is led by a coordinating
group, but Tony Jones recently became the national coordinator of it. But as Tony jokes, the
headquarters is him and a card table in the basement of his parents' house. So Emergent
began as a discussion and network after the term 'emerging church' was being used. It's funny
because if the words weren't so closely similar, it wouldn't be as big of a problem to understand
it all. But it is confusing, I know. The key leaders of Emergent, and the core of who
birthed it pretty much were Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones and Brian McLaren. There are also others
involved, but they were the key core ones who formalized it in the beginning.
JONATHAN: So, did Emergent come out after your book ...or the
DAN: I was actually with those guys the day after they formally called it Emergent.
At that time, my book The
Emerging Church had been written, but not published yet. But the term, "Emerging Church"
was being used prior to the term "Emergent" being used in all of this.
JONATHAN: So I'm curious what an emerging church looks like. If I
visited your church on a typical Sunday what would I see or experience? I'm assuming your church
is an emergent church?
DAN: Well, to start off I would say that we try to really guard and use words like
"church" to mean the people, not just the church meeting. So if you were to visit our "church"
it would be visiting the people wherever they are through the week. I think you are asking, what
our church worship gatherings are like if you were to visit them. Also, we don't use the term
"emerging" or "emergent" describing what we do. If you were to ask most people in our church,
they wouldn't know what those words "emerging" or "emergent" even mean.
JONATHAN: Sure. It's not on the sign out front.
DAN: No, it's not. But to answer your question about what our church worship gathering is
like... I was part of a large mega-church for fifteen years working with youth and young adults;
we just planted Vintage Faith Church
two years ago, from that church. In Vintage Faith Church, we try to really think through what
you'd experience and what we communicate in all we do in a worship gathering. So, if you're to
walk in the place we are right now renting, it is a very large contemporary room. We transform it
to try to reflect who we are a little bit more and what we are expressing in our worship. So as
you walk in, we make this big room into kind of a circular feel, with these big black curtains.
We also set up the room half with tables and the other half chairs. So the seating tries to
reflect more of a communal feel than rows all facing the pulpit.
JONATHAN: So people sit around tables?
DAN: Not everyone, as some still like seats. We try to be diverse in the set up and about
half the room is tables.
JONATHAN: Oh... okay.
DAN: I don't personally sit at a round table. I actually like sitting on the floor. So we
try and create an environment where people have some freedom in that. When we think of the early
church, they met in homes. They sat around; there was teaching from Scripture but there was some
dialogue, they made eye contact with one another, you know it was very different than most of our
churches today. I don't believe we all have to go back to all house churches as we live in a
different culture and time period. But the question is where do the values of the early church
play out in our churches today? In our church we have mid-week home community groups, which are
something like house churches. But we also all meet together on Sundays in a large meeting. But
in the large meeting, if you walk in where the preacher normally is in the church we rent the
space from, where he normally stands, we put up a big cross. It's probably around 6 or 7 foot
high. We want the cross to be the focal point of the room, not the preacher or the band. When I
preach or speak, I preach from a smaller lower stage below the cross. Its high enough so I still
can be seen from all around the room, but the focal point of the room remains the cross not me.
We set up another little stage to be off to the side for the band. We are trying to communicate
that we are all servants of Jesus and He is the reason we are all gathered. By visually being
lower, it does make a statement of being a servant. Now of course, the pastor of the church we
rent from would say the same thing from where he stands, but we are just trying to visually
JONATHAN: That's cool.
DAN: This coming Sunday night in our church the band is playing entirely in the back. We
do that on occasion when we have communion nights and there is more reflection time. So if you
were to walk in on a normal night, we do typical, sort of, pop-worship upbeat music to start.
Sometimes Josh Fox, the worship leader, actually asks people to call out songs to play, to try
and communicate that we are more communal than just the people up front doing everything. We
give a sermon like normal, but then after the sermon we give people time to respond in different
ways. Like last week if you were to come after the teaching time, I spoke on the temple veil and
how when Jesus died it was torn in half. I taught from Hebrews and focused about Christ being the
high priest. We then set up a prayer area where people would go take communion. But to get there,
we set up curtains and a veil that people walked through. We instructed them to stop and pray and
think about the joy and wonder that the temple veil was no longer there because of Jesus. And
then after they walked through that veil, we had 9 or 10 kneeling places where you could actually
go down on pillows and take communion. We do all kinds of prayer stations after messages or
interactive prayers where you can use art. But it's important to know, not everyone likes these
things. Some temperaments like just sitting, some like doing some interactive learning and
praying. So we are just trying to have a culture that extends how people like expressing prayer
and worship to God. On communion nights everyone usually goes through whatever the set up is, but
on other nights not everyone does.
JONATHAN: So logistically... wow! It sounds like you might need a
creative team, a set-up team... and you're probably making props each week... this is
DAN: Basically, there's a team of volunteers called "the Palette team." And we use the
metaphor of the palette because like with a painter's palette, there are all types of colors to
express with when painting. So we use that metaphor of how we express worship in different ways.
It's a volunteer who leads it and we meet once a month to then plan out what the next month will
be. There are team representatives from photography, music, spoken word, fine arts, and sacred
space. Sacred space is what we call the environment set up and the team that puts together the
prayer stations. It is extra time to set up, but because we believe people learn differently and
that people express worship differently, we want to see more engaged with Scripture and truly
learning. Not everyone learns from just sitting and listening to someone talk. There are other
ways to learn. So the motive and why we spend extra time is for this reason. However, the set up
stays the same quite often. We use the same stuff over and over again like the candles, crosses,
art items, drapery and fabrics. The team went to flea markets and garage sales and bought all
this stuff and then they just re-use it in different ways. Depending on the teaching there may be
different special elements on the tables.
DAN: There is a set up team that comes about two hours early and they set it up. So it is
two hours extra set up per week for that team.
JONATHAN: Now, how many people go to this church? I ask because when
I hear about people getting up, going through stations, kneeling... I'm thinking, "Wow, this must
take a long time?"
DAN: About 350 attend on Sunday nights after two years since the launch. We try not to
count attendance at the worship gathering; I only know that number from knowing how many chairs
are set up. We count leaders, people serving and those in the mid-week community groups though
JONATHAN: Now, what if your church got to be 1,000 or 2,000 weekly.
Would you just have to create more stations?
DAN: Yes. When I was leading the young adult ministry at my former church, we were doing
these things with 600-800 people. It definitely changes and you need to think through how it will
work, but it can be done. In terms of growing to 1,000 or 2,000 people, we have decided to
intentionally keep our church gatherings to around 350 each one. Then multiply those like
starting new congregations instead of trying to grow bigger and bigger ones.
JONATHAN: Now does that mean launch completely separate churches or
just new services?
DAN: For us, it will be starting new worship gatherings and even eventually developing
different teams for them. At Easter this year, we are launching our second one. We are actually
even switching locations too. The new location we are moving to will be a challenge as it is all
pews right now. We will be doing some major renovation and redecorating in the place we are
moving to. But as for launching new congregations, I see that as the way we will grow. We will
launch congregations in the way churches launch new church plants.
JONATHAN: So, it would be the same location, but just different
DAN: Some might be at the same site. Some might be at other sites. It will eventually
look like the plan that Bayside Church
in Sacramento has... where you attend... where they are launching new churches but they are
still remaining one church. I love what they are doing there in that regard.
JONATHAN: Okay... so we're talking about different locations? Because
Bayside has several different locations around the city, each with their own pastors, their own
congregation... and they get together at ARCO Arena once a year for a big rally.
DAN: Yeah. I forget what Bayside's tagline was, but it was like "one church, many
communities" or something like that. I love that thinking and how it empowers leaders and trains
new leaders. Yet still has the advantage of momentum of being all together in a way too.
JONATHAN: Sure. So you're actually thinking of each of these being
autonomous churches, so to speak, under the umbrella of one church?
DAN: Yes. But this is all theory and future thinking right now. We are only two years old,
but that is the direction we see ourselves going in. Ask me in two to three years from now how it
is going and I will tell you how it actually develops. My main thing as leading this church is
that we will grow and be built of course by the Holy Spirit. But from a human standpoint, we want
to see the church not based around one person's giftedness or personality. We want to build the
church by building leaders. I am more of the architect you could say. I only preach now half the
time. So from the beginning we want to establish the church this way. But by multiplying like
this, and still remaining one church instead of totally separate churches as we grow, we can
harness more energy and impact for the kingdom, I think. Think of video venues without the video.
Instead we build and train leaders. It's sort of trying to have the advantages of a mega-church,
but mixing that with being smaller congregations and the beauty that smaller churches
JONATHAN: As you describe the unique characteristics of this church...
I can't help but to wonder: what would my grandma think if she walked into your church?
Because she's used to: sit in the pew, stand up, sing three hymns, etc. Even these contemporary
services have been quite a change for her. She's from the old school that has barely come to
terms with an electric guitar and drums. But now if she walked into your building and saw people
sitting on the floor and around tables... she might have a coronary!
DAN: I'd say every church has a specific culture that some people fit in and some don't.
Actually, I don't want to say the word fit?bad word. I more mean that certain churches and the
values they have resonate with different hearts and temperaments. You know, our church is
primarily people in their twenties. There are also people in their thirties, forties and fifties,
but overall it is a younger church. So, many of our values and culture reflects that it is a
younger church. But in answer to your question about your grandmother, I know grandmothers who
love what we are doing. I have heard older people say what we are doing is why they are part of
it. But then I imagine that some other grandmothers would walk in and see it rather dark, and the
art around the room, and people at prayer stations and think "what the heck is going on here." You
know, "This is not right; this feels too weird."
JONATHAN: Well, it sounds like you guys are really thinking outside
of the box... but not just to be outside the box.
DAN: We try to always be teaching, even in our bulletin, why we do the things we do. It is
not just a trend or a gimmick. There are thought through reasons for it all. But I think it is
important, as what you do when you come together for worship and what the room is like does
reflect things about you. If I was to walk into your house, your house would have a certain
environment; you might have certain patterns that you do as a family when you eat dinner, where
you sit for dinner.
DAN: And church is family, so each family may have patterns in their life that they do
uniquely as a family. There is not a right or wrong for things like this, you just develop family
preferences and patterns. If I was to walk in your house, you have put pictures up on the walls
that represent certain things about your family. You chose them for a reason to reflect things
about your values, what you are like. You have the furniture arranged a certain way. You pick
out a certain motif of furniture that reflects who you are as a family. Yet, at the same time
there are differences, you're a Christian and I'm a Christian. But we still might have different
taste in things. We might have different types of art on the walls of our house. So, it's like
that to me with church. When a church meets together on a weekly basis, they are a family. They
have certain tastes and things they do as a family that is different than others. It just
reflects who they uniquely are, like what we do in our homes as a family. Each church is unique.
Not that one is better than the other, just different reflections of a specific family.
JONATHAN: I like that. That's a good way to look at it. But I don't
think everyone has a clear glimpse of your theology and methodology... some people have been
critical. You might have seen my interview with Josh
McDowell in our last Ezine. Let's keep it real. Josh seemed a little miffed at "these emergent
guys." He even named you. Do you know why?
for the rest of this interview where Dan and Jonathan talk about:
CLICK BELOW FOR
- The focus of many apologists
- The role of apologetics in evangelism
- How to reach out to this post-Christian culture
- Absolute truth
- What theology Dan actually subscribes to
- Movies, CD?s and pets...
EITHER OF DAN'S BOOKS...
The Emerging Church
or Emerging Worship
A Deal We've Arranged for You to Get a Free Book: All our EZINE subscribers exclusively get a free book with the subscription of The Journal of Student Ministries-you've gotta check this out!
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Something You Can Use: New Object Lessons, Openers, Curriculum...
As you know, we love to provide you with "TRULY FREE" resources and ideas
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Pop onto our web site and click
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"Reaching Out to the Unchurched" Training on Both Coasts: If you're near Tampa, FL or Livermore, CA-peek at these affordable training opportunities!
A TRAINING OPPORTUNITY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS:
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ABOUT THIS TRAINING
...OR REGISTER NOW FOR THIS TRAINING IN THE FOLLOWING CITIES!
May 20th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth workers within
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A Personal Note from Jonathan: I'd love your help! If you are a youth worker in
the TAMPA area and would like to help me spread the word to the greater Tampa area, please email
me at jon@TheSource4YM.com
Here's the details for this TAMPA training:
Saturday May 20th, 9AM to 3PM
St. James United Methodist Church
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- $20 (includes lunch)
- ONLY $10 for paid pre-registrations (VISA/MC accepted) on or before May 15th
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Jonathan will be doing his REACHING OUT TO THE UNCHURCHED training seminar at the INVIGORATE
conference this year in Livermore, California on May 6, 2006. This Saturday conference is only $15
including lunch if you register by April 1st. All youth workers, both paid and volunteer are
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CLICK HERE FOR MORE
ABOUT THIS TRAINING WORKSHOP
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