The Post-Man Cometh - 2006
is from from Kelowna BC, Canada. His insights can be read online at his blog: http://www.robbymac.org/charismatic/
. His wife Wendy took the photo below entitled "Intercession."
Grab a coffee and read every word Rob has been kind enough to share.
You will be blessed by this.
Rob is most recently known for his writings entitled "The Post-Charismatic." For our purposes, we will title this interview:
The Post Man Cometh
The PDL – Question # 1
by Rob McAlpine
: Rob, do Christians in Canada read about the wacky stuff that the religious right proclaims in the name of Christ in the U.S. and get together and laugh, cry, rejoice or cuss about it?
LOL! All of the above, depending on who you talk to, and what they're reacting to! :) Usually, it's a sort of head-shaking, deep-sighing, "well, (insert name here) doesn't speak for all of us" kind of response. And a good, dark ale, of course -- preferably Guinness. On the flipside, I also find it intriguing (in a "brace yourself" kind of way) to hear what my non-Christian friends and co-workers are saying at those moments. (ouch!)
The PDL – Question # 2: It has been reported that there are now more podcasts than radio stations in the U.S. How do you see technological advancements impacting the way the post-charismatic message continues to be delivered and distributed.
The immediate impact on me is that I will finally be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Podcasting Continuum: Resistance Is Futile, so I guess I might as well accept my inevitable Assimilation!
Podcasting is a great idea, because one of the limitations of our current online conversation is reading "tone of voice" into what someone has posted. There's been a lot of misunderstandings and hurt feelings because of this. While podcasting won't completely eradicate this, I think (hope) it will go a long way in making online communication more accurate between sender and receiver.
And it's great to have a face/voice to go with the words, although some of us may end up getting the same rep that St. Paul had -- writing great words, but being very unimpressive in person. Podcasting is still somewhat limited in that it's only one-way communication, but far more personal than just words on a screen, which is an improvement.
The PDL – Question # 3: It has been observed that there is no "coherent" message from the post-charismatic/EC. In other words, there seems to be a whole lot of banter and no action being taken. Isn't the post-charismatic/EC really a bunch of disillusioned, armchair, theologian wannabes?
The lack of coherent message, I think, is a perception based on the idea that the emerging church is a new denomination, which it isn't by a long shot. There are emerging voices in many denominations (Ie. emerging Vineyard, emerging Baptists, emerging Anglican, emerging house church networks, etc.), and generally, they aren't changing their theological roots -- re-examining, perhaps -- but are seeking an ecclesiology/missiology (the same word, really) that is historically rooted and appropriate for contextualizing the Message for our current culture.
Banter and no action? I think there is actually a fair bit of action occurring already, as evidenced in church plants and missional endeavours. We don't always hear about them, because (A) they're small and still in the beginning stages, and (B) they're so busy they don't have time to blog about it! As for the banter, I would respectfully suggest that some people are in a season of detoxing from inadequate models of church and leadership, and that this banter (and the occasional rant) is all a very necessary part of the process of sorting things through. Awkward, yes, and sometimes volatile, but those who consider themselves mature in the faith should recognize that it's all part of the journey. If people become long-term ranters based on bitterness and judgmentalism -- not good, but I suspect that these dedicated nay-sayers are the minority.
Disillusioned armchair theological wanna-be's? Well, with the exception of the armchair (which suggests a passive/aggressive non-participation), I wish TONS of Jesus-followers would invest significant time in theological reflection and engagement! The disillusionment that many feel should lead to some serious theological pondering, and based on that, a better ecclesiology/missiology to engage our culture. Part of our problem is that too many Christians have been content (lazy) to let other people do their thinking for them (imho).
And armchairs are good for reading in, as long as we don't settle there. :) May God grant us many, many theological wanna-be's!
The PDL – Question # 4: Emergent has said publicly they have struck a "strategic publishing arrangement with Baker Books to provide a platform for "post-charismatic/emerging voices." Do you know of any post-charismatic/EC author Baker has signed in 2006 as part of this initiative?
I'm not aware of which authors have been invited or have already agreed to be a part of this, but I do know that Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt have been working towards this partnership quite eagerly and have a three year plan in mind (I have no details on that plan, sorry). I'm sure they'll keep us apprised via Emergent's website when the time comes.
The PDL – Question # 5: It seems that the "post-charismatic/emerging church" voice is muted by the established, mainstream Christian publishing houses (particularly those that feed the CBA…Christian Booksellers Association). How will the post-charismatic/ EC "voices" that "need to be heard" become heard?
The partnership between Emergent and Baker will be one of the ways of addressing this. Other authors are choosing to produce e-books, or in my case, building websites to communicate their message. I've had numerous people email me to encourage that I publish "Post-Charismatic" in book form; some have suggested that it would be easier to underline if it wasn't onscreen, while others have told me that they're working through it as a home group, and jokingly asked when I would write a "study guide" for it.
I have submitted Post-Charismatic as a proposal to most of the Christian Publishers that I'm aware of, but have either not heard back yet or been politely turned down. The decision I quickly came to is that I'd rather have the project online and available to some, versus waiting for a publisher and having it available to no-one.
The PDL – Question # 6: Rob, is the emerging church really a "movement" at this juncture of it's evolution or a "concept" with a catchy title and a lot of chatter?
Short answer: both, depending who you're talking to. For a lot of people, the chatter is the beginning of their journey of re-thinking their concepts of church and mission in the world. And the global nature of this conversation, thanks to the 'Net, has provided a cross-pollination of ideas that has been very helpful to many. And realizing that it's global -- and not just Western -- is exciting, as it seems that the Spirit is definitely saying something to the Church worldwide.
I hope this doesn't become a movement, at least not in an organized, systematized, sign-here-on-the-dotted-line, card-carrying way. While some people feel that they have no option but to leave their current church situation(s) and plant something completely new, there are many who are staying in the denominations/streams that they're already in, trying to find new ways to be the church within that context. If the emerging church became "officially" a movement, I would be concerned that an all-or-nothing, Ocean's Eleven sort of "are you in?" mentality would actually limit the influence and impact of the conversation. As long as it remains a cross-denominational conversation, people are free to "eat the meat and spit out the bones" as they take gleanings that they feel would be appropriate and beneficial to whatever context they are in.
The PDL – Question # 7: In your opinion, what are two of the most exciting things going on in the post-charismatic/emerging church right now?
In the post-charismatic area, I'm really excited that more people are addressing the questions and issues raised by what I wrote. The thing that excites me the most about that is people are asking "okay, if we ditch the hype and charismania, how do we still be people led and empowered by the Spirit?" A lot of post-charismatics that I know have not been asking that question in recent years; the burn-out and pain was too great. But now, they are "emerging" out of the season of burn-out and beginning to seriously explore what it means to be post-charismatic but not post-Spirit.
There was a conference recently on the West Coast called "What Happened to the Holy Spirit?", which was addressing these very issues. Sadly, I don't live anywhere near where the conference was held and so was unable to attend, but it's encouraging to note that (A) the conference took place and was well-attended, and (B) that it appears I'm not the only one talking about these things! :)
The second thing that I'm excited about is seeing many formerly reactionary and disillusioned people coming out the other side of their season of detoxing from church, and beginning to reconstruct a missional outlook for their communities of faith that is focused on the advancing Kingdom. They're not building out of a negative reaction, they're building out of a sense of renewed vision for cooperating with Jesus in seeing His Kingdom come. And the prospect of healthier communities of faith is what puts the espresso in my latte, so to speak.
The PDL – Question # 8: In your opinion, what are the two most difficult obstacles presently facing the continued growth and development/evolution of the post-charismatic/emerging church?
I'm glad you keep saying "in your opinion", because I wouldn't dare to presume to speak for anyone other than myself! :)
Faddishness and over-marketing come to mind. As Christians, we are far too prone to jump on bandwagons, and with our fast-food drive-thru impatience for "results", we are too quick to give up and run after the next fad. For several years now, I've been concerned that while society is changing, we may miss an opportunity to have an impact because of our compulsive addiction to ministry fads. Missionaries -- the oldskewl type -- often invested years and years in their field before seeing "results". We should take note of their example.
And while the emerging church is asking good and necessary questions about missiology, the church marketing machine could very easily churn out so many "resources" that the more thoughtful voices will be lost in the midst of an over-saturation of products labelled "post-_______" (which is why I really wrestled with calling my project "Post-Charismatic" -- it's such an over-used prefix). This may be a case where "less is more".
The PDL – Question # 9: What may occur in the next 24 months that will surprise global Christian community, but won't surprise you if and when it occurs?
Hmm. Never been much of a prophet, but let me restate it as a "hope", a "fervent hope": There are a lot of post-charismatics out there who equate "post-charismatic" as "non-charismatic" and consider that a closed chapter of their lives, one they have no desire to revisit. My hope and prayer is that more people will become willing to reconsider their renunciation of the charismatic gifts, and instead find a biblically-based, community-building, Body-encouraging expression for them.
And the Holy Spirit has a way of showing up in ways we aren't anticipating. I for one would be turning handsprings if the Holy Spirit were to initiate a 21st century Great Awakening (although I'd also need prayer for chiropractic healing after turning handsprings, because I'm a klutz).
The PDL – Question # 10: Do you live what can be characterized as a "Porpoise Diving Life?"
Yes, and I'm eagerly awaiting my glossy membership card and commemorative lapel pin! LOL
The part of your website that resonates with me the most is the whole idea that following Jesus is NOT synonymous with anything pre-packaged and easily digestable.
I love that theology is important to the Porpoise Diving Life; it's all about a timeless Message contextualized to our current society.
And I get jazzed when I read the quote: "It's at times like these that God provides a new reality for the rest of us. Just as He did with Peter, His intervention is characterized by forgiveness, mercy, grace, restoration and a Spirit empowered witness to the world that only He could imagine. The way forward is filled with uncertainty and risk."
John Wimber once said, "Faith is spelled R-I-S-K". So, when I read about uncertainty and risk, I get excited about the walk of faith that is absolutely necessary for the porpoise diving life. I'm jazzed and honoured to dive these waters with you guys. I look forward to the God-stories we'll be telling each other in the days to come.
And thank YOU for the opporunity. I've been so busy since starting at YWAM a couple of weeks ago that I wasn't sure when I'd get a chance to write an article for you (although I WILL do one soon). This interview format came at just the right time.
The PDL...Rob, your membership card is on the way mate!