In Chapter 8 Gibbs and Bolger discuss the full participation of God’s people in the redemption of God and the life of the church. Emerging churches encourage broad leadership in worship, incorporating the gifts of each person in the church. Their worship services are highly flexible, dynamic, and try to incorporate the stories of each believer as fully as possible. “Emerging churches have a strong desire to provide a genuine community expression of worship that reflects the level of understanding and the richness of experience of the members (p. 172).”
Ok, I guess I get this and appreciate it. However, it seems like the emergent church (at least within Gibbs and Bolger’s selection of churches for this study) can throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. Liturgy has always been the “work of the people.” When worship is practiced with intentionality, no matter the setting, it can be a highly participatory event that encourages broad participation. In other words, not everyone has to stand up and read a poem to have ‘participated’ in worship. I don’t think we have to leave liturgy behind to address the cultural concerns that the emergent church is trying to address, but I could be wrong.
On the other hand, I appreciate their desire to incorporate each persons gifts in worship. One of the encouraging things about the emerging church is the reclamation of arts in worship. Sculptors, painters, and artists of all kinds should be able to find a legitimate way to contribute to the ‘work of the people’ in worship.
Sometimes, while I’m reading this book, I think of all the emphasis on community and broad particpation and the phrase “pooled ignorance” pops into my mind. Perhaps that is because I’m clergy, and I’m afraid to have my power and control taken. Of course, God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. So….