Re: What is the emerging Church?
April 24, 2007
This was ‘n mess-up. I posted a response to Roger, but somehow never posted it, just saved it, and then I lost that as well. So this is not what I wrote initially, although I’ll try and touch on some of the same points, I’m already influenced by some of his comments he made later on.
It’s has almost become common language to speak of the emerging church as an eccesiological conversation rather than a theologicalconversation (meaning that it’s about the way we are church, rather than what we believe). This is interesting, since when reading Brian Mclaren, you’ll often see theological questions pop up, and listening to Tony Jones last year I had the same experience.
But the theological part of the emerging church isn’t really unique to this conversation. Most of the theological ideas can be found in theology from the past few decades, although it hasn’t really filtered down to our churches and congregations.
The ecclesiological part seems to be more unique. But what exactly this ecclesiology would look like is difficult to define. Tony showed us a video last year about some emerging churches (can’t remember the name of the video), some of you might have seen it. Some congregations looked like rave-clubs, with lasers and music. What about One80? Is One80 an emerging church? Looks like they try to be church in their culture, trying to use technology to minister to youth. But for many of us One80 just looked like a typical evangelical church with a new look, which maybe it is. The type of ideas found with Brian Mclaren and Tony Jones, and type of example set out by Brian’s congregation and the Solomons Porch community (Doug Pagitt) seems to have become the major influences in South Africa. Small communities, non-hierarchical, importance of narratives, meeting in the round, conversations, that kind of thing.
Part of these ecclesiological ideas is a very strong emphasise on missional. No, more than that, missional is integral to these ideas. Today many choose to talk about emerging-missional church/communities. This is they type of language I find myself comfortable with as well, but there are some things I still think we need to consider.
The reason I say this, and may the denomination (yes, emerging is also described as post-denominational, but I’m still part of one) of which I’m a part of hear these fears: I hope that as the emerging conversation goes on in South Africa, and the Dutch Reformed Church, we will remember that integral to it is the fact that it’s a missional conversation. But it’s not going to happen automatically! It is possible that we forget it. I fear the result will be that we change our ecclesiologies, to fight the fact that our church is shrinking.
But I couldn’t say it better than the quote you gave : “Without the missional, emergent is just style. Without the emergent, missional pours the new wine backwards into old containers, and often without regard to context.”
Maybe reading some of my other thoughts will clear up some of these ideas. Especially why I believe that we should remember emerging to be a verb and not a noun. Just a thought Roger, you said way back then that ““Emergent US” is the official body of the emerging church in the States”, but I’d rather think that “Emergent US” is only the official body for a certain part ofthe emerging church conversation, although it may be the part which I’m most comfortable with.