This book is written for those who are caught in between. They are unhappy with the present state of the evangelical church but are not sure where to turn for an answer. They like some of what the emerging and traditional camps offer, but they are not completely at ease with either. The public conflict makes this anxiety worse, and these people don’t know who to trust or believe. What if both are off target? Is there a third option, a via media? I believe there is a third way. It is what C. S. Lewis called “the Deep Church.” Deep church is a term taken from Lewis’s 1952 letter to the Church Times in which he defended supernatural revelation against the modernist movement. He wrote, “Perhaps the trouble is that as supernaturalists, whether ‘Low’ or ‘High’ Church, thus taken together, they lack a name. May I suggest ‘Deep Church’; or, if that fails in humility, Baxter’s ‘mere Christians?’ ”
Second, this book is written for those on the outside who want to understand the debate. They are new to the conversation and want to understand what all the fuss is about. They have heard of the emerging church but have no idea what the term stands for or what it is advocating. The whole conversation seems foreign and is outside their church reality. Why is this debate important? How does it affect their church world? Should it concern them? This book will explain the contours of the conversation, what the emerging church is and desires, and why it has created such a strong pushback from the traditional church.
Third, this book is written for seminarians, those who are attempting to work out their ecclesiology—their theological view of the church, its purpose, structure and goals. Seminary is a great time to test inherited beliefs, dig deeper and then slowly work out in greater depth biblical convictions about ministry. This book lays out the options, the two sides of the debate, so seminarians can get a handle on what they believe Christianity and the church is all about.
Finally, this book is for pastors who have been in the ministry for a while and have begun to question how ministry is practiced in their context. Many pastors who reach this midlife ministry crisis end up burning out and even leaving the ministry. I don’t want to see this happen. Some pastors are disillusioned with aspects of evangelicalism. They are searching for pastoral models that can refire their ministry, their calling and their church. Though they may not know how to achieve it, they know they want a deep church, one that is profoundly meaningful to them and their community, and brings glory to God. This book is for them.
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
I blogged awhile ago about what emergents and neo-Calvinists have in common, and I wondered if Christians from different wings could meet together and learn from each other. Well, IVP just published a book that aims to do just that. Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional by church planter and pastor Jim Belcher is now in print (PDFs of the introduction and first chapter are available for free). Here's an excerpt from the introduction: