By Rogier Bos
There are not many resources available for people who really want
to reach postmodern people. One of the best available ones is Young Leader Network, which endeavors to connect
leaders who desire to minister on the new edge. While there are similarities
between Young Leader and Next-Wave, the first has been going for a few years already, and
has developed more momentum. As I write this, Young Leader is in the process of conducting
regional forums in six different locations in the U.S. Next-Wave attended the West Coast
forum, held in April in Costa Mesa, near Los Angeles. Heres a report.
An inside look at Tim Celek's church in
Costa Mesa. Notice the interesting Egyptian theme...
The first thing that stood out about this three-day forum, was the
amount of people that participated that actually came from different new
churches in this part of the country. Some 150 people came from a variety of churches,
most of them already actively involved in ministry towards postmodern people.
Seeing how many Gen-X church plants are going on right
here in Southern California is very encouraging. Young Leader should be complimented on
finding all of them and putting them into contact with each other! When you dont
know how many people are traveling the same road as you, it is easy to feel lonely.
Conversely, when you know the ones that do, you can travel together!
The nature of conferences is that it is easy never to really
connect with anyone. The way Young Leader set up this forum did not allow for that; it
seems like wherever you went there was a discussion going on, and you could dive right in.
Most of the plenary sessions featured panel-discussion, which unfortunately did not always
bring out the greatest content. Most of the seminars, called journeys, brought
both good teaching and good interaction. Right from the start it seemed like everyone was
involved in discussion.
Special contributions were made by people like Brian McLaren,
author of Reinventing Your Church and Finding Faith,
self-described evangelical vandal Andrew Jones, and Tracy Radosevic of the
Network of Biblical Story-tellers. Dieter Zander, who has just left Willow Creek to move
to San Francisco, also made a great contribution.
Brian McLaren opened Monday afternoon with the illustration of the
1500s. "Imagine that it is 1500, and you are a monk in Germany. In Southern
Europe a movement called the Renaissance is going on, and it is bringing very challenging
ideas to your world. From Spain you hear reports about the discovery of a new world called
the Americas, and closer to home some German has invented this machine
the book printing press, and it is simply revolutionizing the way youve
always looked at books. Now imagine your name is Marten Luther. Then he asked the
audience what they would say to Luther.
Answers varied widely, from be careful of the pope to
youre on the right track, but it will cost you.
Then Brian turned it around, and started drawing parallels between
the cultural transition of the 1500s to the current cultural changes. He
demonstrated how in so many ways we are experiencing the same tumult that Luther and
associates must have sensed. Changes in worldview, new insights into language, scientific
answers and quandaries, and political developments that create a whole new world.
It was obvious that Brian struck a chord. The discussion was
lively, with questions such as is there a new persecution coming?, Is
this transition really of the same magnitude?, and what should our attitude
be?. Clearly much of the audience sensed an emerging tension, and sought to grapple
with the issues.
Jones described his stance to me later: "We are in this time of change, and we dont
know what is on the other side. Its like we are in mid-air, and I am waiting for us
to come down. Until we do, I think we should resist coming out with definitive statements
of any kind. Were not ready to go public with the things we are thinking yet."
Besides the main sessions there was the workshops, called
journeys. Here are a few of the topics discussed:
- Biblical Story telling 101
- Utilizing the arts
- Narrative Preaching
- Adjusting Modern Ministry for a Postmodern world
- Thinking Radically
- Thinking Ethnically, ministering locally
- Image and Affliction: Towards a Postmodern Embodiment of the
- Leadership Transitions - Leaving a Ministry Honorably
- A call to youth pastors - Launching a church within a church.
Most of the journeys has excellent content as well as very
Young Leader should be congratulated on pulling together a wonderful group
of like-minded people, and giving them this much space to discuss ideas and exchange
experiences. Compliments go to Doug Pagitt, who has managed this network for some time
now, and who is about to leave Young Leader to start
a church plant in Minneapolis.
About Young Leader and Next-Wave
Both organizations are very similar, albeit Young Leader has
been in operation longer. The objectives of both organizations are the same,
in that they want to pull together leaders and thinkers on the new edge, who
desire to plant churches that are culturally relevant to the increasing postmodern world
in which we live, and who want to see a generation of postmodern people reached for
Next-Wave differs from Young Leader because we
are using the World Wide Web do draw people together. Many people who would like to be part
of this discussion in fact cannot do so, because they lack the time and resources to
travel to a forums, or because they live outside the US. This is why
has chosen the World Wide Web as its locus of operation: internationally accessible it
offers us the opportunity to meet each other, share experiences, tell stories, and learn
This is not a criticism of Young Leader, just an explanation or
how the two are similar and how they are different. From this forum it is obvious that
nothing can really substitute meeting each other face to face, and we are thankful Young
Leader made it possible for us to do so!