I’m in the midst of a God thing right now, whereby I think I’m being led – with the help of others – to plant a church near downtown Nashville. It’s all very preliminary, but I’m in the process of reading a lot about church planting and trying to cinch down some ideas. So you, the reader, should not be surprised to see a lot of references to books on ecclesiology on this blog in the near future. My most recent foray into church planting has been Deep Church by Jim Belcher.
Deep Church is Belcher’s attempt to plot a course for a “third way” of ecclesiology between the emerging church and the traditional church. He wants to take the best aspects of both camps: the orthodox beliefs of the traditionalists, and the cultural concerns of the emerging churches and combine them into a new movement.
I listened to this book via audio and now I want to get my hands on a physical copy so that I can go back and underline / rethink many of Belcher’s insights.
But here are a few quick thoughts
1. Belcher is truly kind to both traditionalists and emerging folks.
2. He truly understands the ideas and complaints of both sides.
3. Belcher is an evangelical and his suggestions for a deep church are extremely well stated.
4. Personally, I think he’s a little too soft on McLaren, Jones, and Pagitt. I wonder if his tone might be slightly sterner now that McLaren’s most recent book, A New Kind of Christianity, has been released, because frankly it is pure heresy.
5. Belcher helped me gain a key insight into postmodernity. Different people define the movement differently. I’ve been well aware for quite some time that some think postmodernity is good for Christianity and some think it is evil, but Belcher helped me to understand that often these two sides talk right past each other because they define the movement differently. Some see postmodernity as ultra-modernity, while others see postmodernity as contra-modernity. This is probably why there seems to be so much confusion about postmodernism and why it seems so elusive to define.
6. I think the church that I’m helping to plant may gain important insights from thinking through some of Belcher’s ideas.
7. In the end, I’m not sure that Belcher’s Deep Church is really a “third way.” For me, it’s more or less “the way” that I’ve been striving after for quite some time. And, I don’t think I’m alone. However, Belcher’s ideas have helped me to add clarity to many of my thoughts and for that I am grateful.
Also, after I get a physical copy of this book and rescan it, I may post some helpful insights here in the comments.