Interview with Spencer Burke with Charlie Wear
I recently traveled to the international headquarters of The Ooze, located 1 and 1/2 blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Newport Beach, CA. at Spencer Burke's garage. I was there to interview Spencer in connection with the publication of his new book, Making Sense of Church.
1. Spencer, I was personally touched by reading Making Sense of Church, what audience were you trying to reach with the book?
I saw this book as a bridge between my twenty-two years of experience in paid pastoral ministry and the last six years of non-institutionalized ministry with The Ooze. Since I have crossed the "bridge" between the institutional church and the "emerging" church, I wanted to speak to both audiences as "The Church." rather than as market segments of the church. Another potential audience for the book is people who have never been able to "make sense" of the Christian church. I hope this book will be a great step in that learning process.
2. As the founder of The Ooze, a published author, and now a church planter, are you encouraged or discouraged with the "church's" response to the cultural shifts we have experienced?
I think the answer is both, and...I am encouraged that people will not let the old power structures that have held us so tightly in the past keep them from following God's call on their heart, no matter what it takes. On the other hand, I'm a little concerned that Postmodern.Inc. has arrived on the scene and there are far too many discussions, products, or conferences that stylize with "coffee and candles" the gospel that deserves to be released.
3. If there were one point you would like to make with Making Sense of Church what would it be?
Inexpensive and clean solar energy needs two things to occur before it can be released,
1) we need to untether ourselves from the "man" at the power company who owns the power lines, and
2) we need to radically reevaluate the power needs we have to run our homes.
Likewise, in the church, we need to reevaluate our consumption needs which may allow us to unplug from traditional structures, theologies, or funding and through deep contemplation and soul searching ask what is it that we need to be authentic followers of Christ in the 21st century, thus allowing God's Spirit to transcend any human institution and free up the gospel.
4. In your book you use metaphors for transition to illustrate the shifts you have sensed in the church. Which metaphor rings most true for you and why?
The movement from "Teacher to Facilitator" as it pertains to learning is particularly interesting to me. If we truly desire people to learn to follow Jesus, then teaching will be a part of the learning experience, but not the central component of the process. The implications could be far reaching. We could reevaluate church as a Sunday event. We could reconsider the concept of the "teacher equals the Leader," simply because they have pulpit power. And this could unleash many different gifts of expression in the body of Christ giving equal footing to acts of service, advocacy, arts, experiential learning, and who knows what other means of expressing the gospel.
5. Any closing words you have for Next-Wave readers?
Whatever this cause, cultural shift, movement is, it really is in its infancy. Let's be slow to judge it. Let's give it plenty of room to grow and mature. Let's be careful to not shrink-wrap and package it as the latest and greatest thing. I would encourage people to find as many ways as possible to continue in the community and the conversation what God has for us.