1. How would you define the “postmodern/emerging” conversation?
Adolescent, but maturing, though still in danger of postponing adulthood. Moving through tension of deconstruction toward reconstruction. Increasingly positive, but perhaps losing some of its edge by becoming another “popular movement” (though that’s probably a reflection of snobbish early-adopters’ distrust of perceived newbies and wannabes, like your favorite indie band getting signed and “everybody” discovering them).
2. What makes capax dei different from other churches in the area?
Nothing: We’re with Vince on this one: “All possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all.” — St. Vincent of Lerins, d. 445 AD.
Something: A few things that I think are somewhat superficial: weekly worship on Sunday nights; younger than average leadership and congregation; eclecticism of style that blends classical spiritual practices and liturgical elements with more culturally indigenous music, media, language, and art.
Everything: I shudder a bit at “vision” and “values” stuff, but they can honestly be helpful when they aren’t banished to some plaque never to be heard from again. So, for us, the inclusion of “engaging culture” as part of our overall vision to “encounter God, embrace people, and engage culture in the way of Jesus,” might be a bit distinctive. Our particular emphasis and blend of biblical values definitely gives a unique fingerprint: “Awe. Beauty. Roots. Community. Justice.” (www.capaxdei.com/about/mission)
3. What do you see as the “three” main differences between a postmodern/emerging community of faith and a “modern” church?
pax Dei’s values capture some of the differences. Gross generalizations are both, but here goes.
Awe – MC: tend to play up “clever” over “deep.” Uncomfortable with mystery, uncontrollable need to explain (away) the punch line. EC: Reflection follows experience. A God we can fully explain isn’t worth worshipping and serving (though reason, logic, and relevance are still important components of our faith).
Beauty – MC: place higher value on pragmatic functionality and utilizing art and beauty to serve/illustrate/propagandize something else (e.g. “office chic” worship décor, skits, and PowerPoint slides). EC: Beauty is its own apologetic — good art tells the truth, bad art lies (cf. Bezalel vs. Aaron).
Roots – MC: distrust of others’ traditions. EC: distrust of all traditions, yet bias toward pre-reformation and pre-Schism Christian traditions, with a real willingness to reappropriate the “best” (which is only slightly less arrogant than ignoring them).
(MC: the need to explain things in three points :)
Community – MC: community is the endgame, one of the stated goals of what should come out the skinny end of the funnel. EC: Community is the ends and the means. High expectation community not hidden (or absent), but genuinely offered from the start, with freedom to still pace oneself.
Justice – MC: emphasis on compassion and addressing the immediate need (certainly important). EC: emphasis on justice and ending the underlying causes of the particular suffering.
4. How do you see art, visual and written, playing a role in capax dei?
Our value on “Beauty” explains, “We are inspired by the breathtaking artistry of our Creator and seek to reflect that beauty in all we do as we co-create with him.” It plays prominently in our communications and worship gatherings. It helps bring the whole Gospel to the whole person. We see it as one way of inspiring others to pursue God, and an honorable gift to be shared (not lesser than other gifts). It’s great at raising questions and tugging on the soul.
5. As a church planter in a postmodern/emerging world what do you see as the major pitfalls?
Trying to “innovate” beyond orthodoxy and becoming unmoored from consensual Christian Faith. Trying to be a “feral” church, independent from any parenting that the larger Body of Christ, the Church, can provide. Conversely, allowing others (well-meaning or self-serving) to keep you from dancing right up to the edge of “feral innovation” (and occasionally going over and needing forgiveness).
6. Is capax dei connected to a denomination, and if yes, how does that denomination help in developing your vision for capax dei?
We’ve received incredible, tangible support and encouragement from the Evangelical Covenant Church (www.covchurch.org). They’ve provided training, assessment, resources, and ongoing coaching all without an “official” relationship. Needless-to-say, we’re pursuing official adoption into this wonderful family of churches. They’re helping us stay true to what God has already called us to.
7. Knowing that a postmodern/emerging world is in constant flux, where do you see capax dei in five years?
Still around. By God’s grace and our response, we’ll increasingly be a neighborhood church in the Neighborhood of the Arts/East End/Cultural District of Rochester, with a regional reach (particularly with the multiple college campuses), and greater engagement with the global Christian community (learning from them, missions, persecuted church, etc.).
do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share with us?
I fear I’ve said too much. They’re on to me.