The Deep Church

At the suggestion of a friend, I recently read Jim Belcher’s Deep Church. I was not disappointed. This is thoughtful and thought-provoking book. 

The subtitle really captures the theme of this book: A Third Way. 

With all the discussions about “how” to do church, and the polemic approaches of the Traditionalists and the Emerging/Emergent, some of us find ourselves caught somewhere in the middle.  I see strengths and weakness in both movements. 

Belcher offers understanding of both worlds. With his understanding he offers honest reflections.  Belchers experience and research are helpful for bringing clarity about the issues of the debate and the players doing the debating.  I especially appreciated his dilineation of the “protests” being offered by the Emergning/Emergents against the practices of traditional church:

  1. Captivity to Enlightenment Rationalism
  2. A Narrow View of Salvation
  3. Belief Before Belonging
  4. Uncontextualized Worship
  5. Ineffective Preaching
  6. Weak Ecclesiology
  7. Tribalism

Honestly, I share these collective frustrations – though I cannot endorse the Emergent solutions.

More than just offering perspective, Belcher offers his thought process as he wrestles with the strengths and weaknesses of both the Emerging/Emergent and Traditionalist arguments.  He does not seem to be trying to convince anyone to embrace his positions, only sharing the insights of his personal and spiritual leadership journey.  I found this helpful. It was almost as if I had someone to talk with about these issues as I contemplate my own positions, questions, and inclinations. 

Most important, at no point does Belcher compromise by seeking the “middle way”.  Instead, listening to both sides of the debate, he searches and wrestles with Scripture to find “A Third Way”. 

The Bereans would be proud.

3 thoughts on “The Deep Church

  1. Reminds me of this Chesterton quote;
    “I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.”

  2. I want to read this book at some point. Thanks for offering your thoughts here.

    Also, @ Seaton, I really like that Chesteron quote. Very appropriate and I think, true.

  3. I really think the the term “Emergent Church” has lost it’s meaning for the most part and not too many people are even discussing this issue much any more. Guess it depends upon what you believe the Emergent Church is.

    The “Traditional Church” in America is, along with the major Denominations losing ground in both attendance, members and numbers of Churches.

    There are in fact reasons for this. Too much to have a conversation about that here. Enough said on that. But the “Church” is alive and well and has more to do with being the Church than going to Church and is what I think is a major reason that many turn to non-denominational Bible centered Churches.

    Most Christ Followers desire to be Disciples and embrace Jesus and his example of Loving God and People without the hang ups of Denominations. Probably why so many Churches are changing names and branding themselves differently these days as they don’t want to advertise they are a SBC, PCA, Methodist, Church etc… Too many down sides.

    Before you jump on me…I know things are different in Southwest Va and Eastern Tenn. for the most part. Were not in Kansas any more Toto..

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