There Are No Thin Places

Thin Places – Chapter 2: Submerging from The House Studio on Vimeo.

So, I said something at a conference a few weeks ago, and Steve Knight captured it in his notes and blogged about it. For years, I’ve been talking about the fallacy of the “sacred-secular” divide. It’s made up. It doesn’t actually exist.

I say this because God is ever-present, everywhere. God isn’t more some places and less in other places. God is, in the classic sense, omnipresent.

Now, I’m being a bit hyperbolic. Traditionally speaking, a “thin place” is what Celtic Christianity calls a spot where heaven and earth seem to touch, a spot where this world and the next seem to have next to nothing separating them. So, it’s not really about where God is, but where we sense God.

A quick Amazon search shows that “Thin Places” has become a hot title of late. With the rise of interest in Celtic Christianity has come the inevitable co-option of the term by evangelicals and mainliners, and it looks like there have been about a dozen books with this title in the last decade.

The latest, as Steve points out, is an entry by a couple guys from Nieu Communities. They’ve written a book that, according to the video above, advocates bar-b-ques as thin places. I’m all for that. I love BBQ.

At first blush, one might look and say, “Ugh. There’s another group of hipster missional Christians appropriating a classic Christian concept and bending it to their own purpose.” That’s what I first thought.

But then I reconsidered. If they’re advocating for deep spiritual attention to the presence of God, not just on Iona, but in a neighborhood BBQ, then that’s exactly what I’m advocating as well.

In other words, pay attention. God is already where you are.

Ten Missional Myths

A couple weeks ago, Steve Knight took notes during a talk I gave at the Funding the Missional Church conference, and he’s posted them on his new Patheos blog, Missional Shift. Here are the first 5; click thru to Steve’s blog to see the rest, plus my theological reflections on “missional.”

10. Missional is trying to put the conventional church out of business — Not so, says Dr. Jones.

9. Missional is anti-denominational — Many of us were surprised to hear Tony say this, but he clarified his personal position: “I am anti-denominational, for theological reasons.” But what Tony thinks is not what typifies all of the missional church, thank God! (grin)

8. Missional is a new way to “do church” — “Missional is a thorough-going theological re-evaluation, a thorough-going rethinking of church, what it means to be a disciple of Christ. … Everything should be re-thought in view of missional church.”

7. Missional has a spokesperson — Tony affirmed the broad spectrum of theological voices in the missional church conversation, which is the philosophy of this blog, as well.

6. Missional doesn’t appreciate church history — “Missional is more of a pastiche, a mosaic, a re-appropriation of church history in a different kind of fashion.”

Read the rest: 10 Myths About the Missional Church.

Steve Knight Lauds the Language of Participatory Church

When it comes to publishing, social media, and the church, Steve Knight knows what he’s talking about:

I’ve been working full-time on the Web (in one shape or form) for over a decade now, and it’s been fun to watch the language of it evolve from “interactive” to “multimedia” to “Web 2.0″ to “social media.” The radical shifts in culture that have taken place because of the Internet have been astounding.

At the same time, there’s been a similar shaking going on in Christianity, and I’ve noticed a similar evolution of language for what to call this too — from “alternative church” to “alternative worship” to “ancient-future worship” to “emerging church” to “missional church” and now “missional community formation.”

I predict the conversation about tech lingo will continue to parallel — and deeply inform — the conversation about Christianity and church (how we organize ourselves into religious/faith communities), just as the revolution sparked by the evolution of the Internet is re-making other sectors of society, such as education, journalism, and publishing.

READ THE REST Recap: The Language of Participatory Church | knightopia.com | the online home of Steve Knight.

What Makes a Vibrant Congregation [VIDEO]

Steve Knight, who consults with the Disciples of Christ denomination, interviewed me about my book, church planting, and what makes a vibrant congregation.  He writes:

I think what Tony talks about in the book, in terms of church practices that are supported by the theological ideas of Jurgen Moltmann, are really worth reading and considering for anyone doing church planting or new church development work in the U.S. today. Also, for anyone interested in the history of the emerging church movement and an insider perspective on where it’s heading now, The Church Is Flat is a must-read.

Toward the end of the interview, Tony and I discuss one of the more startling admonitions he makes in the book, which is this: “The emerging church movement … will have a hard time standing on its own without ultimately coming under the patronage of mainline denominations.” Tony sees this as a tragedy. I see here, instead, an opportunity. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and, of course. But only time will tell whether emerging churches can forge new ways and models that are sustainable or whether they’ll be reliant on old money to do new ministry. [READ THE REST: Interview with Dr. Tony Jones - The Intersection]

Video after the jump:

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