Baptist21 had the honor of sitting down with Dr. Mark Liederbach and Dr. Alvin Reid to discuss their new book “The Convergent Church.”Dr. Mark Liederbach, a man who grew up Roman Catholic, is an ethics professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary who received degrees from James Madison University, Denver Seminary, and a Ph.D from the University of Virginia. He is a student favorite on campus known for spending time on the basketball court with students as well as for his engaging classes. Dr. Alvin Reid is a well-known author and blogger. He is a professor of evangelism at Southeastern and a student favorite. He is known for spending more time with students than colleagues. He has grown up most of his life as a Southern Baptist. So, in these two men you have the unique perspective of a nearly lifelong Southern Baptist and in Liederbach a man who only recently became a part of this denomination of faith. These men were gracious enough to sit down with us.
A brief description of the book: “Countless followers of Christ find themselves restless. They wonder if there is more to Christian faith than compulsory church attendance and rigid moral standards, and they wander in search of what they hope will be a better form of Christianity—if such a thing exists. The Convergent Church brings together conventional Christianity and the emergent church, moving beyond the antipathy that has developed between the groups and urging Christians to honestly consider the best that each has to offer.”
Book Endorsements: “The Convergent Church tells us where we are, explains how we got here, and offers a vision for where we need to go. Biblically and theologically faithful, culturally and missionally relevant, this is a must read for those who care about the church of the Lord Jesus in the twenty-first century.”—Daniel L. Akin President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
“The spiritual landscape of our world is changing; tens of thousands of people leave the church and thousands of churches close their doors every year. For the sake of the gospel and for the honor of Jesus we must refocus our hearts, retool the local church, and recharge followers of Jesus to accomplish the Great Commission. The Convergent Church does just that. This book is essential for the seminarian, the barista at Starbucks, the computer programmer at IBM, and everyone in between.”—Tyler Jones Pastor of Preaching atVintage21 Church
Questions they address in part one of this interview:
0.What prompted and motivated you to write this book? What is convergence?
0.What effect do you hope this book will have on the church at large? And more specifically for the purpose of our site, how will it help us be Baptist in the 21st century and what does the SBC most need to hear from this book?
0.You break down several streams of the Emerging Church. What are some of the “dangers” in the emergent church? What are the best characteristics of that movement? What are some of the “dangers’ in the traditional evangelical church? What are the best characteristics of that movement?
0.Some critics may say “Doesn’t the Bible spend a lot of time saying that we should be separate from our culture not influenced by it?” How would you answer this critique? How should pastors communicate to traditional congregations that relevance doesn’t mean accommodation?
I was blessed to be able to read an early manuscript of this book and I found that I was very engaged in what they were writing. I was reading this manuscript as we were starting up this blog and I found myself thinking a lot of what they are saying in here is exactly the kind of things we want to dialogue about and explore on Baptist21. Part of our purpose is “Baptist 21 is grateful for a Southern Baptist heritage where the Gospel has been faithfully passed down and effective Great Commission ministry has been undertaken. Many believe there is a crisis ahead for Baptists, particularly Southern Baptists, in the 21st century. Our commitment is to work diligently in the present by honoring the Gospel faithfulness of the past, contending for the Gospel, engaging current cultures with the Gospel, and cooperating toward future Kingdom effectiveness among Southern Baptists in the 21st century and beyond.” I believe that this book helps us do such a thing. I recommend picking this book up and reading. Please help us begin a conversation about how we can be a group of convergent churches that are on Mission with our King in the 21st century.
Some of the Questions to be answered in part 2: How does your book address the question of whether there ought to be an emphasis on Evangelism as opposed to the Social Gospel or Mercy Ministries? How do we combine mercy ministries and passionate, bold proclamation? What is the difference between traditional Evangelism and Convergent Evangelism, and why is the distinction important to know? What does a covergent idea of discipleship offer as opposed to the more conventional ways of doing discipleship? How would you transition a church from being more conventional to being missional/
N.A. and B.W.