I was recently asked to conduct a few lectures for students at Cliff College in the Peak District. The Bible College has Methodist roots and I had made connections with the Principal, Martin Atkins, and an American lecturer, Ron Willoughby, back in 2004 at the Lausanne Forum in Thailand.
I was asked to speak with specific reference to Mission and the Emerging Church. Often when talking about the evolution of Zac's Place, over the past nine years, I use some illustrations which I think best describe what is going own - many of these I've never written down, I just tell them as stories. Zac's is being discussed at many levels as a possible expression of the emerging church. Some think it's the spawn of the devil, others including Rowan Williams, have come into bat for us. To be honest, I have shyed away from getting into too many discussions and forums about it all - mainly because being involved at ground level is so time consuming, never mind have time to write a book on it all and go to endless conferences and forums.
Of two things I am certain though; something special is happening and it's not rocket science.
I have grown up within a church culture that likes things clearly defined. It's been important to know who's in and who's out for example. What theological boxes do you tick and what box can we place someone in. Several years ago it became clear that Zac's Place was very messy around the edge and over a simple lunch it became clearer! Where many church communities tend to be like a boiled egg or a fried egg on toast, where the edges are clearly defined - there's a yellow bit, a white bit - you can see the line that separates them and another edge onto the toast. It's safe, presentable and neat. Zac's however is most definitely more like scrambled egg on toast. There's yellow bits and white bits all mashed in together, it's cooked, it tastes good and it nourishes, but the edge of anything, even the toast and plate is almost impossible to find.
I thinks there's probably at least two kinds of emerging church. There's the ones that emerge from the established mainstream who take much of the familiar with it's clearly defined edges into an unfamiliar environment. Then there are those that emerge from the street, which are messy and unpredictable............now where's the brown sauce.
(For a little more history about Zac's Place see the main website Zac's Place section)