What's emerging?

I guess those involved in the emerging church have found themelves. Or is it rather, they have been found?

When a non-computerite retiree asks about the emerging church, I sense the label "emerging church" is now becoming mainstream.  Interesting for an anti-institutional movement that would rather not have a label.  At least, not the way this one is being fashioned.

One thing that seems to be happening, even as people are just now learning about the emerging church, is that they are dividing up.

A former participant, Mark Driscoll, is distancing himself from the slippery theology of some of the movement.  Brian McLaren, a proponent and writer, continues on appearing at speaking engagements internationally.  John Piper, a theologian/pastor who never really joined the group, has been plugging along involved with a counter-group forming around "reformed theology". 

Now, even putting out these few names doesn’t do justice to the emerging movement or its opponents.  Check on Wikipedia and you will find the article has strong reader advisories — "The neutrality of this article is disputed" and "The neutrality or factuality of this article or section may be compromised by weasel words."   Basically this is a way of saying a fight is underway.  Both sides want to label the other wrong.

I’ve been watching this "emerging" debate for a decade now.  I remember remarking years ago, to a pastor’s coffee group, that we should be looking at this with caution, but also see what is good.  Just this past year, one of those pastor’s told me he thought I was out to lunch when I first said this (that’s my paraphrase — works well when you talk about having coffee).  Now he is watching young couples his age stuggle with the church.  And he is finding the emerging church has been asking their questions for some time.

I’m happy that the emerging church is pushing us to be "missional".  The church has been for itself, by itself and within itself for far too long.  We need to push out in "missional" approaches.  My great caution is that we may rid ourselves of what we believe in order to wedge our way into an increasingly non-Christian society.

And that, dear readers, is one of the quickest summaries I’ve written or spoken about on the emerging church.  Thus I have missed much.

What would you add?

2 thoughts on “What's emerging?

  1. I think what started as an effort to ask some tough questions is now being scrutinized and people are trying to figure out what it all means.

    While I have struggled with some of the doctrinal statements, I think most of what people argue against are in fact the omissions in the writings of “emergents”.

    Many emergents are more interested in dialog than statements; so they leave things out, hoping and praying that others will eventually arrive where they are.

    An interesting blog of a Portland Pastor


    Emerging really means “not what used to be church” and then I think the rest is up for grabs. But, then again, what do I know?

    Hope all is well.


  2. One of the greatest techniques of writers is to leave out enough that the reader must engage his own thoughts, and not be spoon fed. I wonder if many emergent church leaders are really frustrated writers.

    The real problem may be that some writers don’t have a sense of a fixed plot — they are putting their thoughts out there to invite a democratic concensus — which then becomes their plot line. Soap Operas are a case in point — when a better story line arises from the audience, the next Friday features a “new twist” to an old story.

    I fear that we expect God to accept our story lines, regardless of what he has written in the first place. I would call that forming theology around myself and hoping somewhere along the line that it might intersect with God. My preference would be to read God’s story first, and then work with His script.

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