Because I write often critiquing the church system and examining ideas about how we do church, I am concerned about sowing seeds of discouragement and restlessness in emerging people who are in traditional churches.
It is not my opinion that everyone should abandon church as we know it. For those who are planting churches, I hope we see new expressions of what church life can be. However, those who aren't involved in something new can become a new kind of church member - one with a better understanding of their role in the kingdom and the role of church in their life.
I have written survival tips for the emergent-thinking person who is a part of a not-necessarily-emergent church community:
Accept the church you are in for what it is.
This one is first because if you are in an established church, acceptance is necessary for survival. Expectations of changing their system will only lead to discouragement and frustration for both you and those around you.
I have learned that there isn't a church system around that can prevent you from being what God has called you to be, expressing His life in you, and serving the kingdom wherever you happen to be.
Commit to relationships both within your church and outside of your church.
Be open to fellowship in the church you are in, but also try to nourish relationships with others who don't attend your church. This will help you develop and maintain a healthy perspective of life outside the church bubble.
Define your beliefs and values.
Understanding yourself will help you with the rest of the survival tips, especially acceptance. Rather than discouragement or frustration, understanding can give you the ability to acknowledge and embrace the differences you find between yourself and your existing church. Knowledge of those differences will help you to express yourself in church life in ways that are appropriate for you and to set boundaries for yourself in the areas you don't agree with.
Empower others whenever possible.
If you are in positions of leadership, you have the opportunity to model servant leadership. There is nothing wrong with being a leader if you understand that the role of leadership is to empower others.
Find the things you are in agreement with in your church.
Knowing these things will give you a positive aspect for building your relationship with the church. Invest yourself in the areas you agree with. Find God at work in the congregation and make yourself a part of His work.
Grow in your relationship with the Lord.
This is your highest calling. Again, there is nothing the church can do for you or to hinder you from expanding the depths and riches of your walk with the Lord.
Have faith that God will position you within the body of Christ. Trust that He will lead you in the path that He has for you, whether that path leads to staying or leaving.
If all else fails:
get a tattoo (ht to Pam)
dye your hair pink (ht to Lily)
grow a soul patch - men only please (ht to Bob)
and have a guinness! (ht to Robbymac)
I hope these tips are helpful to you.