how do the emergent churches worship? Persona? 'splain please how Bell runs a service. Anybody else? I REALLY need to know. I've been disinterestedly curious about worship form like forever.
I've never heard Rob Bell or any leader at Mars Hill Grand Rapids use that word, and I don't think the services are "emergent" at all. Mars Hill is a totally unique worship service, not necessarily designed like that show in the other thread, yet drawing thousands upon thousands of people. It's hard to describe, especially in such a small city.
One thing that sets it apart, that I love and I've mentioned here before, is that the service is done in the round, the musicians in the center of everyone, in a sqaure facing each other (often around a cross). This automatically cuts out a good portion of the "show" element. Their backs are to us, but we can see all that's going on as they face each other. Lyrics are on a square above them, too, so that the musicians and the crowd can all see, and it is white letters on a black background, no power point. There are a *lot* of hymnns played, some fast, some slow, and the band finds a very nice groove for each kind. But they also have their own music, and every once in a while will throw in a Delirious song (or whatever).
There are no offering baskets passed. "Joy boxes" are located in the back of "the Shed," which is the sanctuary of a hollowed out mall that was given to the church years ago. There is nothing overly-spendy about the lights or the sound or really any of the rooms at Mars Hill -- although finally last year they did put in some softer lights in the ceiling of the Shed for reading and writing during the teaching.
And then there's Rob. Who, like I've said before, is an artist. And I'm certain that's why the church itself gets thrown into the "emergent" section by some. To look at his tours, his DVDs of the tours, his Noomas (11 minute DVDs which are basically teachings he's done in the church that the folks of GR have wanted to make known to the rest of the world in small film format), and his books, and the high level of artistic design that goes into all of it, one could easily make the assumption that the church is like this, too. And one could make the assumption that the church, because of Rob's artistic output, is "emergent." Gladly, it is not. I think there is a huge difference in the understanding between creating a piece of art, even in the teaching process, and the minimal needs of a large worship experience.
I didn't know about the books, the DVDs, the Noomas, the tours -- any of that, when I decided to move to Grand Rapids a few years ago. Finding all of that after I got there was a huge plus. We'd been listening to the Sunday teachings on mp3 online for a long time, and found them utterly healing. We simply decided that this was the teaching we needed, that it was finally the Christ as we understood him. We were in a spot in life where the teaching was so healing to us, every time we heard it. After years of always gnawing away at that itch in our brain where we said to ourselves, "This is Christianity?" (and remember, it might be harder for me, as I've experienced various forms of the faith in over twenty countries), we finally felt we found something that is authentic without power-tripping. The teaching was refreshing, enlightening, contextually considerate, culturally aware (even of its own limitations within American culture, for instance, it knows it has a problem only appealing to whites, and they have tried to take that on), and above all... filled with grace and healing. Which is what we needed.
Even in the past few weeks, these same teachings have felt very healing. Which is awesome, considering that El Wifebo and I are still trying to figure out whether we can make the marriage work after all the hurt, and the power-over forms of Christianity and addiction issues that have set us back. Way back. But I can honestly say that the church will be good for us either way. I hope one way more than the other (the reconciliation of our marriage), I don't know if it's "too little, too late" for that or not. But the church is a reminder of a Christ that wants to help us, speaking blessings now over curses in the past.
Wow, I don't know how I went down that road. I guess it just felt good today to say all that.
I don't think Mars Hill GR a good example of "emergent," but I know we're always grouped in with all the others who actually use the word. I think we'd rather not define it. "It is what it is," but it's a really beautiful thing happening in GR.*
* I am still living between both Chicago and Grand Rapids, for the record. I do not go to church when here on weekends in the Chicagoland area. I guess I go to movies here. I know that can't necessarily be good for me -- to not go to church -- but I went pretty much every week for decades on end. I think I know what happens there most of the time. (Hence my love for that recent vimeo thread.)
Edited by Persona, 17 May 2010 - 03:46 PM.