That’s the title of a piece on Bishop Dan’s blog about new church directions and the emergent church.  I have to say that what he writes about doesn’t seem to reflect a lot of what I’ve seen and heard of the emergent church.  But here’s the start of what he said:

I was having dinner with a group of Episcopal Church leaders discussing “the emergent church” and a bold new proposal to ordain priests for the emergent church with minimal preparation, trusting they would pick up priesthood OJT. I said nothing, but it gave me pause to hear this idea, knowing we tried it in Nevada and other Total Ministry dioceses, sometimes with unfortunate results. In fact, only a couple of conventions ago, the church repealed Canon 9 to get away from that experiment. We are now in the midst of upgrading the training for all orders of ministry so it surprised me to hear that training for priesthood was at risk again. (I am not saying the training has to be conventional seminary education. We are expanding local training, but still requiring that training comes before ordination.)

The conversation then took an interesting turn, the turn that makes this subject blog worthy, because there was a young man at the table – a college student. The older leaders asked his view. He said relaxing the training for clergy was irrelevant. He saw no reason for the church to have ordained people anymore than there was any need for the church to have buildings. (It is an axiom of the emergent church movement that the church should not have buildings.) This led to the leaders asking how he would envision a service led by a lay person in a secular building. The young man did not think church services were such a good idea either. His vision is that the lay minister would hang out at a bar with people and if religion came up naturally in the conversation, then the minister would participate in that conversation.

I suddenly got a vision of the post-modern church: no sacred space; no clergy; untrained laity; no prayers; no hymns; no scripture. I wondered if the bar where religion might come up in the conversation naturally would have a Sunday School area for the children. I am entirely for extending the gospel message into all sorts of settings in all sorts of ways, but I was struck by the idea that so much of the faith that has saved my life might be erased as no longer relevant to people now.

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