Saturday, February 14, 2009

The emerging church is dead, long live the emerging church!

The emerging church is dead, long live the emerging church!

I keep coming across articles like this one that seem to state that the emerging church is a dying movement. To me, if it is a movement or was ever a movement then great… let it die. Yet, for many of us we never saw it as a movement in the sense “movement” is often used… It is in a sense like a Tsunami as is alluded to by authors like Lenard Sweet, yet is the emerging church a wave to ride until the next one comes? In our faith are we nothing but surfers that ride the waves that come? To me that sound too much like what is warned about in Ephesians 4: 14:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

To me it has never been a movement, as a movement does imply a passing fad or thing that comes and goes. That is why I prefer the emerging conversation as it has its roots in Genesis and runs through until Revelations. It is the conversation that starts when we come to life in Christ and guides and leads us as we learn and grow. It lifts us when we fall and scolds us when we need discipline. Mostly it loves us unconditionally with only the agenda to make us into the image of Jesus Christ. It is the loving words of the Living God that now indwells the believer.

In a sense maybe there are two things going on. If there is the “conversation” and the “church” and the church is the movement, again let it die. Yet to me I do not see how the eternal conversation started in God between the Father and Son can ever end.

One thing I notice is that there seems to be yet another branch in development. Scot McKnight has plans to start something called the Origins Project. This seems to be more of a traditional stream that is developing in the “conversation”. This is not meaning there is a spit in the overall “emerging” rather, that some are not as comfortable with some other streams, or maybe not yet ready to tread in certain areas yet. Don’t get me wrong I am all for discussion on things such as homosexuality and other controversial topics, yet to me it seems there is a difference between my view of one’s identity in Christ versus acceptance of lifestyles. (Sometime I will unpack this thought more).

Yet to me to say that the emerging church is dying or dead misses that in some places I believe it is just now taking off and though morphing a bit, it is not dying yet… let alone dead.

People will talk of scandals that happen or as usually cast false accusations against us, but in the end it is not against us it is against the idea of the exchange of ideas without attacking and demeaning the other. At the core this is the issue with those who are against the emerging ideals and if that is the best that they can do, we will be doing well for a long time.


Jimmy said...

Good stuff Iggy!!

I don't want people to force me to fly under any particular flag, be it emergent or traditional. What i have always desired is the ability to ask tough questions and make bold statements and still be allowed to hang out with a group of people. The emergent/missional relationships I have found have allowed me that freedom, while my more traditional friends alomost demand I stand in one camp or another.

Anonymous said...

Many -successful- movements are the ones which begin as a kind of fad, novelty, reaction or insurgency, which -mature- from a movement into something permanent, lasting and valuable.

I fear that emergence has such an inherent fear of maturity as calcification that it will prevent itself from ever becoming something permanent, lasting and valuable. If emergence cannot find a means by which it can cease being a teenager acting out, and become a genuinely adult, mature visionary without becoming the new institution, then it will become the passing wave movement that you fear. But it does not have to be doomed to such a fate.

It will be what we allow it to be, for good or ill.