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Posted May 30, 2009
Dan Kimball analyzes the characteristics of the current American culture and the emerging generation. He proposes specific practical approaches in communication and worship style that will help the churches bridge the worldview gap between the church culture and the general society.
I was surprised that his comments and proposals were somewhat tentative, as if these cross-cultural dynamics and concept of worldview were just coming to light. Since I have been working overseas most of my life, it was a good insight to learn how insulated the American church is from the reality of the culture and society around it.
Out of Touch
In the early 2000s, after living in other countries for about 28 years, I had observed that a great segment of America's churches appeared to exist as their own separate culture, out of touch with the world around them. Most churches seem not to be communicating to the community in which they are located, but exist as little pockets of alien culture.
Their interests seem more oriented around maintaining an organization and lamenting the declining interest in their programs. While some creative churches are growing and creatively engaging their communities, many churches seem to be bypassed as a back-water of out-of-touch islands of irrelevancy.
Some of the experiences Kimball relates and the situations he reports look what I was experiencing 40 years ago! Why would they want to be so irrelevant? Don't the churches want to communicate? In some quarters it is encouraging to see a more engaged, aware and active church.
Back to the Future
However, I myself, while in the US for about 4 years, saw several churches rushing headlong into the 1950s! Rip van Winkle has awakened, but is still in a time warp. While in college in the 1960s I led a contemporary Christian music group. Some exciting things were being done in Arkansas then and in the 1970s.
Kimball's primary audience is not the church, except to the degree that he is calling for a re-evaluation of our communication formats to the non-Christian public. Kimball is focusing on the society at large.
He is not talking to those inside the church; he is talking to those outside the church, not within the circles of "in-language" and "in-group" connections. Hmmnnn! That sounds a lot like Jesus. He spent more time out in the community, the markets and the countryside than in the Temple and synagogue.
Kimball is trying to learn how to communicate with those outside the church - those who have dismissed the church as irrelevant, who have rejected the church but have never heard the Good News of God's love. Kimball is exploring ways to open up communication again with the surrounding communities. If the American church cannot do this, it will become ever more insular, isolated and disconnected from the world around, and farther and farther out of touch.
You can't communicate if you are not even talking! If you are talking a foreign language (how the church is usually perceived) or nonsense (unconnected with perceptions and needs of the people themselves) or condescending (the normal way most "evangelism" is done), there is no way anyone will hear any Good News in what you say!
You will enjoy the engaging style and insights of Kimball's book. You will learn a lot about American contemporary culture. you will learn specific ways to communicate with the new generation.
Posted November 10, 2005
The Emerging Church really helped me pull together the pieces. I had been accumulating thoughts and notes through conversations with young adults and various 'rambling journals' of post moderns. Now I feel like I am beginning to see the painting in process.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 23, 2003
this isn't the usual postmodern type of book that is out on the market, but this is the first one i have read that actually gives examples of what churches are doing. i love that rick warren and brian mclaren give their comments throughout the book. it is a book that finally gives me as a pastor some practical things to consider.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2011
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