Mental Integration: Head and Heart and Emergent Church
The role of the Western church decreased in the last decades, which is caused by the low interest of people and socio-cultural shifts. Consumerism and scientific discoveries may be noted among the key issues that affected society. The emergent church and Christianity appeared as a result of the mentioned shifts. Therefore, it is critical to comprehend the core of the changes so that ministers may adjust their work accordingly.
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Mental Integration: Head and Heart
The question of the head and the heart unity remains critical concerning Christianity and the role of the 21st-century church. In his review of Wesley’s work, Clapper (2014) discusses the notion of affections caused by the spiritual senses that allow a person to understand the word of God and follow Christian postulates. The incontrovertible connection between the heart and the head may be found in the Bible: “through the hardness of their hearts – Callous and senseless.
And where there is no sense, there can be no life” (Ephesians 4:18, NIV). The author also points to another excerpt that shows that without senses, life cannot be full (Mark 6:52, NIV). One can understand the affections of the heart only through the experimental way. For example, Clapper (2014) provides such examples as “hearing ye will hear, but in no wise understand” (Matthew 13:14, NIV) and focuses on the simile between a lack of spiritual senses and the closed eyes (Philippians 1:9–10, NIV).
Personally, it seems that the argument of Clapper (2014) is rational as the heart and the head in religion cannot be separated. In case a person uses only his or her mind to practice Christianity, the heart remains cold and irresponsive, which is not correct. Since the spiritual senses and affections possess their cognitive component, it means that both the head and the heart are already integrated, and there is no need for a distinct stage for their connection (Shepherd, 2016). This topic is relevant to the modern church as people need to be taught that they should open their hearts towards religion and its benefits. It is sometimes rather important to use one’s heart to understand love, friendship, divine peace, and other issues, which can be achieved through the ministry.
Emergent Church: Quite Spiritual but not Religious
Nowadays, people tend to behave differently driven by the changing social and cultural values. In her book, Tickle (2012) examines the emergent Christianity, claiming that it responds to these modern shifts by adjusting discipleship and evangelistic methods. The utilization of mind in the context of a commitment to religion is seen as one of the most significant aspects of emergent Christians. There is a diversity of methods used for worship, such as various music styles, dancing, et cetera.
As for evangelistic methods, it should be stressed that the emergent church proposes decentralization of its missional work, which means that ministers are empowered to select the most suitable strategies. The discipleship ways include both traditional teaching and group meetings in places that are not specifically provided for religious purposes. By stating that modern Christians are not religious yet spiritual, Tickle (2012) means that the authority of the Holy Scripture is debated, while people remain believing in a higher power.
The concept of sacred space traditionally referred to a church as the place where citizens may come and conduct worship since it was perceived that such places are closer to God. The institutional church was regarded as the dedicated place that integrated people, making them more open and supportive of each other. Today, the notion of sacred place is under the rethinking as Christians gather not only in special places but also in theatres, pubs, and other facilities. The participatory liturgy when the congregation is engaged in singing or other collective actions became popular in Western Christians. In the 21st century church, it is of great importance to nurturing relationships between people, and the role of the sacred space is to accommodate to their needs.
The research shows several works that utilize the paradigm offered by Tickle (2012). For example, Hall (2017) examines the community of North Carolina and concludes that for people, the traditional church is not of interest. Instead, they need it to be engaging and modified according to the ongoing social changes, which is consistent with the views of Tickle (2012). The concept of neo-monasticism is assumed by both of the mentioned authors as a way to reach people. In particular, it refers to various religious gatherings and groupings as expressions of thoughtful life. Marti and Ganiel (2014) also found the ideas of Tickle (2012) pertinent to the modern church as they explain how ministers should reach to shifts in the society to share Christianity in a reconsidered fashion.
To conclude, the contemporary church in exile is described as facing emergent Christianity as a response to cultural and social changes. While the spiritual senses identify how people perceive religion with its evangelical methods, the new forms of worship appear, and people tend to be spiritual yet not religious. Ministers need to realize that sacred space was enlarged, which requires achieving people through creative ways, strategies, as well as gatherings.
Emergent Church Worship
The history of Christianity consists of several crises and revivals. Today’s Western church is seen as being in exile, leading to significant changes regarding the overall perception of religion and its practices. Despite difficulties, the role of ministers as those who are expected to spread the word of God remains similar. However, the context of their actions is different: people seem to have spirituality and lack religiousness due to the altered notions of worship, sacred space, and liturgy.
Telling the History So Far
The theme of active participation is promoted in the Holy Scripture to provide examples of appropriate behavior. For example, Jesus sent 72 apostles and told them to help people in need, accepting food and wage they will be given at homes of a small town (Luke 10:24, NIV). The apostles were also instructed to say that it is the kingdom of God that helps sick and poor people. This narrative demonstrates that both apostles and citizens were expected to actively participate in the life of the whole community for common prosperity.
In the parable of the good Samaritan, a citizen from Samaria did not abandon a beaten-up Jew who was lying on the road, but gave him first aid, fed, and brought to the nearest inn (Luke 10:25-37, NIV). The Samaritan also asked the maintenance and servicing of this person to be recorded on his account. At the same time, a priest and another person passed by the sick person, which is condemned by God and perceived as the rejection of Him.
The two main greatest commandments such as recognizing the Lord as the only God and loving one’s neighbor are represented in the above stories. Besides, in the home of Martha and Mary, physical and mental commitment to these commandments is shown: Martha provided offered food, while Mary provided emotional comfort Luke 10:26-42, NIV). Thus, active participation includes care about the close one, oneself, and serving to God.
Taking Church out of the Church
Emergence Christianity is associated with the changing nature of the sacred place. Instead of collecting at homes and churches, people started to initiate meetings in public places, theatres, and other places. Monasticism means the desire to be closer to God and away from the persecution of the Roman pagans led a large number of early Christians to Sinai. They found peace, silence, solitude, and holiness there.
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In neomonacticism that is characteristic of the modern church, the order is to be maintained not through the revival of former monastic statutes and rules, but joyful obedience. The latter can be achieved in small groups of disciples practicing mutual admonition, correction, and reconciliation – just as the first disciples of Christ did. It will be based on a foundation of deep theological reflection and commitment through which the church can revive its life and testimony to the world.
A mega-church is another concept of emergence Christianity that identifies the non-denominational organization changed under the current socio-cultural shifts. The new formations occurring within the church are the results of accommodation (Tickle, 2012). The role of the church concerning the future becomes evident from the described changes: there is a need to accept a modification of faith practices and find the words to inspire people based on the Holy Scripture.
Spiritual But Not Religious
In the 1960s, many Americans moved away from the institutional church and traditional forms of religious worship. They were the first who began to identify themselves as spiritual but not religious, as documented by Tickle (2012). This group was characterized by more a high level of education compared to peers, a more individualistic approach to life, and greater openness to mystical experiences. One should also pay attention to the discovery of the nature of Christ and His narratives that began to be discussed in public. In this connection, the questions about faith, its purpose, and methods were reconsidered in that time, and they remain critical for today’s emergent church in exile.
To explain to the ministers and the congregation the meaning of the emergent church to handle its alterations, the views of John Wimber are essential. This scholar mentions the transition from belief to behavior and belongingness, which eventually leads to belief again. As stated by Tickle (2012), Wimber proposed the extension of teaching lessons in church, emphasizing the role of discernment and the establishment of conversation with people. The idea of opening hearts and helping everyone, be it a traveler, a nurse, or a homeless, is given great significance. Regardless of the location, the church and ministers should be ready to guide people on their way to God, which refers to the notion of emergent Christians and their intrinsic liturgy.
The emergent church is the reality of the Western world with its shifted attitudes towards religion. Many people tend to be far from Christianity due to their preference given to spirituality instead of religiousness, while worship and gatherings also change. For the ministers who need to reach the congregation, the biblical narratives serve as a valuable foundation to interpret the current challenges and address them. It is essential to be consistent with the contemporary notions of neomonacticism, liturgy, and sacred place to revive the church in the 21st century.
The Bible, New International version (NIV). (n.d.). Web.
Clapper, G. S. (2014). As if the heart mattered: A Wesleyan spirituality. Eugene, OR: WIPF and Stock Publishers.
Hall, A. C. (2017). Neo-monastics in North Carolina, de-growth and a theology of enough. Journal of Political Ecology, 24(1), 543-565.
Marti, G., & Ganiel, G. (2014). The deconstructed church: Understanding emerging Christianity. New Yok, NY: Oxford University Press.
Shepherd, V. A. (2016). Mercy immense and free: Essays on Wesley and Wesleyan theology. Toronto, Canada: BPS Books.
Tickle, P. (2012). Emergence Christianity: What it is, where it is going, and why it matters. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group.