Posted by: Rodney Shaw | April 5, 2009

The middle of the road is the most dangerous place to stand.

Here are four reasons why I wrote “Where Do We Stand? Postmodernism, the Emergent Church, and Apostolics.”  Hopefully this will clarify some misinterpretations.

1. I wanted to simplify and distill some of the issues facing the church so people on both sides can understand the other. This is probably the greatest shortcoming of the article; I overly-simplified the issues. I think both sides (if there are only two) make sweeping generalizations about the other without full understanding. For example, I doubt if we have any true emergents among us, though we tend to lump everything we don’t understand into one category. I think a lot of our guys are using “emergent” to describe anything postmodern, just as we used to use “charismatic” for anything non-denominational. This is neither accurate nor helpful. Too, it is a strategic mistake for people to point all their guns at the emergent church and not deal with the underlying issues. What happens when the emergents go away? Who will be our enemy then? Accordingly, I tried to communicate that the emergent church is not to be confused with postmodernism in general; rather, it is an extreme expression of postmodernism. I tried to make this distinction in the article. If the article was not clear in this regard, I will try to do better in the future.

2. I wanted to initiate dialog. I tried very earnestly not to be disrespectful, condescending, or misrepresenting. However, the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to stand.

3. I wanted to challenge both the establishment and the up-and-comers in a responsible, respectful way. Change is here, and if we don’t realize it, we will shrivel into nothing. On the other hand, there is an appropriate way to engage change. Our core theology is right. We cannot abandon our core because our methods and church culture are perceived to be stale. We need to understand where we came from and how we got here, and we need a sustainable plan of succession.

4. I wanted to redirect the conversation from fighting over cultural preferences to defining what is truly apostolic. Theology is first. Period. We start with theological commitments. Culture and methods (which I will address in upcoming articles) are secondary.

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Responses

  1. My offerings to this blog:
    I was not raised Apostolic but have been in the church 36 years.

    My determinations on some issues are self-limited due to my location and specific ministry.

    Nonetheless, I have been in every ministry our local church, except for the nursery and ladies ministry. I evangelized for a few years, pastored, assistant pastor, started a home missions church, and a pioneer missionary to many nations in South East Asia.

    I am of the thought process that none of our pastors are selling out for any reason.

    Knowing and understanding the diversity of ministry may help us to understand why some pastors seem to be more inclined to operate in a certain way more than a neighboring pastor does.

    Numbers are not mathematical integers but a word that is/has been used to speak of people.

    Personally, I do not like this but slang has entered our language long before my birth.

    Pastors are about people.

    Pastors know that if people do not obey the gospel they are doomed to a lake of fire for everlasting.

    The ministry is pressed to reach the lost and no one takes any pleasure in the soul that dies without the Lord Jesus and His plan of salvation.

    Pastoring is a labor of love.

    Do pastors, ministers, or I need to conform to the world – No.

    Do pastors, ministers, or I need to distort the Truth – No.

    We are obligated to remain in the Faith that was delivered to us and to proclaim His Word to His Church and a lost, blinded, and wandering generation.

    Commitment is a word that has replaced dedication and consecration. Why?

    Maybe after a few more years in the church, your view might change considerably.

    Dress codes! If we loved God and people as much as we love our dress code……..

    I remember when Sunday was a fashion show of designer clothing and now the swing to the other extreme, or is it a swing. I see blue jeans costing far more than a pair of slacks.

    Is anyone complaining about wearing military fatigues to service?

    Do not read in between the lines but I like a nice suit – once a year!

    That is because of where I am and where I go for ministry.

    (Rodney has been to the nice places with me).

    I think we are discovering a generational change and in some cases where you are might determine how well you dress. Modestly is always required.

    Pastors are men sent from God to shepherd His people.

    He is required to minister the Word and the Word and Spirit will meet every need in every congregation regardless of age.

    I will trust and rely on my young men and I will trust and rely on my older men to help me with the young men. Death knows no age – it comes at the appointed time.

    The bridge between the generations is in the beginnings of being built by this blog.

    This is what I understand Rodney is attempting to do and as Nehemiah faced the naysayers so must Rodney.

    The activity of the local church members is a needed ministry.

    Every person in the church has a ministry and we read that the “5-fold” ministry is to equip the saints for this ministry.

    People want to be wanted and liked but most of all the church should love people.

    Foreigners want to learn how to become a part of the American society but there is a possible language barrier and different thought process. We like to talk but are we willing to listen?

    The harvest is ripe but we must recognize the season for harvest as well as the season for planting.

    Luke 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

    Where are the laborers?

    Are they searching for a more effective method of evangelism?
    Is this what all of this looking into the emergent group is about or is it about something else?

    And in closing:
    those who stand in the middle of the road usually end up as “Road Kill”. (hee heee heeee)

  2. I was not raised Apostolic and have only been in an apostolic church for six years. I am not qualified to make judgment on this issue as I am not a pastor but I can relate my observations from attending churches of different faiths.

    The way I read this is: Pastors are selling out for the numbers. Is that alright or can they still get the numbers and remain Apostolic? Do you conform to the world and distort the truth or do you remain steadfast in your original commitment. Maybe I have this wrong or maybe this is the way I want to look at it.

    The emergent church is all about numbers. To be successful (in their mind) many pastors want growth in their church and the more growth they get, the more successful they are. Success in many cases leads to financial gain, admiration from fellow Pastors, fame (perhaps a poor choice of words), etc. What is success – a revolving front door? By a revolving front door I mean many will come to see and how many will leave when the message being delivered is without substance. Sure there is a great multitude out there that doesn’t want to be told about the sinful life. They want to feel good about what they are doing and they want a pastor to tell them it is okay.

    I attended one church where over a period of a few months I watched the Pastor go from taking off his coat – then his tie – finally to wearing blue jeans to deliver the Sunday sermon. Instead of setting an example for the congregation he was dressing down to the congregation. I suspect a lot of this had to do with the building program they were launching. He was trying not to lose anyone. I may be classified as old-fashioned but I do believe a big part of attending church is showing the proper respect through the way you dress. I am okay with what other people wear (to a point) but don’t try to dress me down.
    Many people who attend Sunday morning service do not want to go home after church and change clothes. That is a loss of time (we are always in a hurry to go nowhere). Instead they will dress to fit whatever they will be doing after church service.

    A pastor is like a high-wire walker, balancing the needs of the old and young members. You can’t rely only on the young as many will wander and you can’t rely only on the old as they will die away. I will agree with many of the comments that a bridge needs to built between the older and younger pastors. Is that bridge the middle age pastor or is he rooted in his ways. You can beat the subject into the ground but in the end someone needs to build that bridge. Start a dialogue with some sympathetic older pastors for advice on how to approach the subject. Eventually form a committee of young to old pastors to develop a way this can be done.

    Please let me sound off on one more thing. If you think I’m in left field on the what I have written, understand I am in right field on what I am about to say. If you want to keep people, engage the people. Many people who come to church are lonely and looking for some kind of fellowship. The problem is they are not proactive. The regular members need to be proactive about engaging them. I am not mentioning the pastors because of the limited time they have. Also these people are not looking to fellowship with the pastor. Many people are looking for someone to engage them in conversation before or after service. This makes them feel welcome. It takes time but eventually you can get them involved in something. International people (born in another country) are especially looking for a church that makes them feel welcome. If no one engages them in conversation, THEY WILL LEAVE! They want the feeling of being treated equally. One or two members cannot do this. It takes the whole congregation and that is your biggest challenge. The harvest is ripe and the dividends are high.

  3. I felt your article on, “Where Do We Stand? Postmodernism, the Emergent Church, and Apostolics,” was well articulated, and needed for this day.
    I am a young minister who has begun to study some of the postmodernist literature that is out there. I am no where near a scholar on the subject, but I have a basic understanding of this ideology, or should I say ideologies. (There are many that call themselves Postmodernist and various ways of expressing this movement) At no point in your article did I feel as if you were demeaning anyone’s methods for reaching the lost. I felt as if you were challenging me, a young man, to search deeper into what I study.
    To my fellow young Pastors/Leaders:
    These books and mindsets may have some good thoughts, but we have to measure everything with the word of God. As a Pentecostal and a Christian, I must not allow this modern day to dictate the message I preach. I am not here to preach a message that tickles people’s ears, whether on the liberal side, or the conservative side. I am here to preach a message that transforms men, women and children from sin and death, to righteousness and life. (The message does this, not me.) Yes, there are many methods for doing this, but there is only one message. There is only one God, we must accept Him, repent, be baptized in Jesus name, and receive the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. His spirit then gives me the power to live a holy and pleasing life inwardly and outwardly before the Lord. This is the good news, and it is His substance. We have to reach the lost with His substance, and not our own.
    I know how many of you feel, I have felt the same way. I am tired of being behind the curve in a lot of areas. I am tired of pastors murdering people with a dictatorial rule, rather than being there to Sheppard their flock. I am tired of us relying more on the way we look outwardly, than inwardly. However, just because we have one extreme, doesn’t mean we have to jump to the other. Jesus instructed us numerous times to live a life of moderation, and I believe we can translate that into our ministries, as well. We can preach a message of hope, and be kind and gentle with our flock. We can do this with the very same message that we began with. We think we have two choices before us; liberal or conservative. Well, we do have two choices before us, but it isn’t those two. Our choices are; Jesus, or no Jesus. Both belief systems tote their ideology, and both mindsets try to do the saving. Church, we need JESUS! He is the only Savior!!!
    In closing:
    Brother Shaw, I want you to know that I appreciate what you have written, and the numerous things you continue to write. You challenge me to search deeper and deeper into myself, making sure that what I find is Jesus Christ. I don’t want a church that pleases man; I want a church that pleases God. Our lives and the lives of our flock depend on it!

    Love ya brother! Keep it coming!


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