As I mentioned previously, I am reading Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), edited by Robert Webber. One of the interesting things about this book is that it finally shows that there is no “Emerging Church” (as a monolithic organization or movement) and there is not a certain “Emerging Church” doctrine. Each of the five authors present their own view of God and Scripture.
Here is another quote from John Burke’s chapter “The Emerging Church and Incarnational Theology”:
Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Stop and ask yourself whether you really believe the words of Scripture you just read, that God alone makes people grow. That no amount of teaching, Bible study, classes, disciplines, or condemnation-engineering can change people. God alone changes people, and only when they are willing. If this is true, what implications does this have on the role of the church? Our job primarily is to create the right soil, the right culture, which helps people connect and stay connected to God. Does your theology and practice create the soil where people really change and grow?” (author’s emphasis)
Once again, I think that Burke has made a point that the church needs to consider. We cannot change people; only God can change people. We give “lip service” to this, but do we live as if we really believe it? Or, do we think that if we have a little better teaching, more professional classes, etc. that we can cause people to grow? This applies to evangelism and discipleship.
So, can we trust God for conversion? Can we trust him to bring our family and friends and neighbors into his new people, or do we think he still needs us?
Can we trust God for personal, spiritual growth – sanctification? Do we think we have to be a little better, do a little more, try a little harder? Do we have to change our hearts, our desires, our passions, our hopes, our attitudes?
Can we trust God to build his church? Or does he need us and our degrees and our programs and our methods?
Can we trust God for growth?