by Bob Whitesel from Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 emerging Congregations (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006).
Figure: A Partial Comparison of Ancient-Future Elements[i]
Ancient-Future Orientation Fuses the Two Columns
||– Hymns- Chants, etc.- Professional interpretation.
||– Alternative music- Drum circles, etc.- Audience participation.
||– Candles- Natural lighting
||– Computerized images,- Mood walls.
||– Plain icons such as:
- Ichthus symbol,
- Chi Rho (Constantinian) cross.
– Lavishly ornamented icons such as:
- Celtic symbols and crosses,
- Byzantine symbols and crosses.
|– Techno-icons such as:
- Mars Hill’s Directions© signs,
- And, St. Tom’s Lifeshapes©
– Stylized icons, where artists interpret ancient symbols via modern artistic genres, e.g. multi-media, expressionism, surrealism, kinetic art, etc.
||– Presentation of the Word via sermonizing, pedagogy- Intricate musical lyrics.- Art, such as stained-glass windows, mosaics, sculpture, church architecture, banners/tapestries, drama, etc.- Stations of the Cross
||– Interaction with the Word via questioning, dialogue- Native[ii] musical lyrics.- Art, such as film, video, acting, design, poetry, dance, photography, pottery, visual arts, abstract art, kinetic art, mixed-mediums, etc.- Interactive stations
|Christ and Culture
||– Christ Against Culture, [iii]) leads to monastic disciplines (e.g. Tertullian, St. Benedict:
- Prayer grottos,
- Prayer labyrinths.
- Spiritual retreat.
|– Christ Above But Working Through Culture, [iv] leads to sifting culture where,
- Some elements are judged,
- Others reaffirmed,
- For the transform-ation of the whole.[v]
||– Monastic, “withdrawal from the institutions and societies of civilization.”[vi]
||– Missional, with engagement and “dynamic equivalence.”[vii]
[i] The chart is not meant to be exhaustive. It is presented here simply to give the reader a general direction of the ancient-future nexus. The elements of these columns will continue to evolve and adjust along with culture, experimentation, and effectiveness.
[ii] Native is a word I have introduced into the organic discussion due to a sense it conveys the duality of the organic church’s sentiments, where feelings of opposite extremes are acknowledged, and even expected as the result of humanity’s fall. Thus, native sums up the dual yet inborn nature of humanness, where emotional pairings such as the following contest with one another: e.g. faith-doubt, love-hatred, impartiality-prejudice, acceptance-alienation, community-isolation, exuberance-despondency, reassurance-apprehension, chance-predetermination, etc. Such human duality is often expressed in the organic church’s liturgy, songs and teachings; and has biblical precedence in the psalmists’ meditations, e.g. Psalm 12, 53, and 139 among others.
[iii] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, pp. 45-82.
[iv] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 113-115.
[v] Eddie Gibbs, I Believe in Church Growth, pp. 92-95, 120.
[vi] H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture, p. 56. It should be noted that I have not witnessed any societal withdrawal due to monastic tendencies in the organic church. Rather their monastic elements are primarily evident in spiritual disciplines, such as praying at the monastic hours.
[vii] Charles H. Kraft, Christ in Culture: A Study in Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective, pp. 315-327.