several weeks ago, i posted an entry in an attempt to offer people an open invitation to ask some of the questions they may have about this thing we’re calling eikon church. in the past several months, more and more great questions have been flowing in and the blog post was an extension of that reality.
in the blogosphere, it’s often difficult to entice people to leave comments. understandably, it “commits” you to an exchange that some people aren’t interested in pursuing. after that particular post, we had a lot of email questions and many more from just personal interactions. one brave soul, though, chose to leave some questions in a comment. :)
so, i thought i would answer these in this public forum (whereas other email/personal questions were answered in the same manner). here goes:
1. Is Eikon in any way inspired by Rick McKinley’s Imago Dei Church in Portland (also home to Donald Miller)?
the simple answer is no. here, though, is a more sufficient response.
by all means, i do consider them to be a great community of faith and would recommend them to friends in the portland area. one of the things i absolutely love about them is their commitment to and emphasis on the arts—visual arts, writing, filmmaking, songwriting, etc. i hope and plan to have a similar emphasis and hope to—much like they do—build networks of artists and writers and filmmakers and craftsmen and the like.
so, while the answer is emphatically no, i certainly like many of the ways they’ve organized their community.
2. Is Eikon actually a church, or more of a community movement toward God?
in some ways, this question is a bit of a catch 22. what i mean by that is that semantics seem to get in the way for many people (although it certainly may not for the person asking these questions). for some, the word church has negative connotations. certainly, i interchange the words church and community of faith often. i think the term community of faith elicits much more fruitful and biblical connotations, but i don’t have a problem with the word church.
with that said, in the broad and most generally connotated sense of the word, yes, eikon is a church. “officially”, it is eikon church. we certainly hope that—much more than just a bunch of people who sit in a building once a week and call it a church—there is a community and network and movement of people throughout little rock that follow and know jesus. i have little interest in creating an organization, but i am driven and called and motivated to engage our surrounding culture with values that reflect jesus.
more to the point, we will have a building where we meet regularly (hopefully more often than just sunday). we will have leaders (which i’ll talk more about very soon). we will have various ministries in which we engage as a community. we will do all the things that are “traditionally” associated with “church.” BUT, we hope to do it an a bit of an alternative manner. we think that we in the american church need to be honest and admit that we have mistakenly prioritized and de-emphasized some things that are central to a community that claims to follow jesus. ultimately, we hope to do church and a be a community in a way that directly reflects jesus and trims away some of the non-essentials.
3. How does Eikon work in light of (or shadow of, as you may prefer) the 1st Century New Testament Church, acts, etc.?
that’s a pretty big question for a blog post answer, but let me see if i can distill that down a little. :)
i think the best place to go is—as you pointed out—the book of acts. specifically, acts 2 sheds some great light on the way the church can and should look.
They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.
They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
here’s what we see:
1) they placed emphasis on learning and theological discovery (committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles),
2) an important part of their community was life “beyond the four walls”, so, in other words, they weren’t completely “church”-focused/obsessed (the life together, the common meal, meals at home),
3) eagerness/willingness to engage in personal sacrifice in order to meet needs (they sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met),
4) spiritual engagement in community was vital (prayers, daily discipline of worship, praised god, celebration) and
5) assuming that these thousands of people described here have different starting points, worldviews and specific values, they were a community that were able to place friendships/mutual understanding above individual differences (all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony).
with all that said, we hope these traits are characteristic of eikon. naturally, we want to engage people in a way that is relevant and meaningful within the context of 21st century sensibilities, but i think the church described here in acts exhibits very broad and overarching characteristics that transcend time (much like most of the scenarios described throughout scripture).
so, whereas our context is, obviously, very different than the 1st century church, i hope that we will be able to learn from and exhibit the characteristics that shaped them.
4. How do you define Emergent?
wow, what a question…
well, i don’t know if i do define emergent. :) if i’ve got to try, though, i generally “define” it much more as a conversation than a “way to do” church or a specific set of theologies. i think one of the beauties of the emergent conversation is that you see so many different expressions of church and faith involved. it transcends age, denomination and, again, specific theologies. that isn’t to say that you don’t see some connective streams and characteristics, but it isn’t confined to simple, limiting definitions.
i sort of think of emergent as the indie music equivalent within the church/theological camps. of course, indie music began by exactly that: independent music. it was bands/artists that weren’t signed to any major label (or any label, for that matter). indie music—in the last 10 years (or maybe more)—has shifted from a strict definition of “bands not signed to a label” into bands that exhibit certain qualities and characteristics. these qualities and characteristics, though, aren’t easily definable categories. it’s more of a feeling and a spirit. quite frankly, i can’t really any verbalize what those specific things are, but i can certainly sense when a band is sort of indie in nature.
for example, i love jenny lewis (and rilo kiley, for that matter) and i would say she is an indie artist, despite the fact that she’s signed to warner bros, a (very) major label (as is rilo kiley). she’s clearly not truly “independent”, but there’s something about her lyrics and the delivery and the way she “does” music that gives off that indie vibe. now, you could certainly argue that she’s not an indie artist, but so it goes with the term “emergent.” who’s emergent and who’s not?
there’s just a spirit and vibe and “energy” that connects people and churches under the umbrella term of “emergent.” so, that may be the absolute most vague and unhelpful “definition”, but that at least shared some of my thoughts. :)
well, for those who have made it to the end and are not in a vegetative state due to my ramblings, i hope that serves to further the conversation and your ability to understand what this whole thing called eikon is all about. thanks for playing! :)
we’ll be back very, very soon with some exciting information about our first ever collective gathering under the auspices of eikon. it should be a cool time and help to give you a more tangible grasp of what we’re doing. check back soon for details.