The emerging church (or emergent church) is an elusive movement.1 Attempting to understand and explain the emerging church is admittedly difficult. However, the movement is impacting the church today and needs our attention. This article will give an overview of the emerging church and offer some basic critiques.His article defines:
What Is the Emerging Church?Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger offer this nuanced definition:
Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.3
Emergent leaders intend to minister “as” postmoderns. Individuals such as Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Marcus Borg, and Rob Bell fit here.
How Did the Emerging Church Emerge?
What Are Emerging Churches Like?
How Should We Evaluate the Emerging Church?
Without claiming mastery of the emerging church, he offers two critiques:
- Relevancy to culture
"many in emerging circles seem to have “thrown the baby out with the bath water” when it comes to the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:19–27 Paul explained the need for relevancy and contextualization to those whom he ministered. Yet he knew that the preaching of the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:18–25). Paul never changed his message to somehow “click” with the current crowd. He realized that the message of the cross brought the aroma of life to some and the aroma of death to others (2 Cor. 2:14–16). In addition, Paul explicitly warned about altering the preaching of God’s Word to accommodate the world’s itching ears (2 Tim. 4:1–5). The emerging church is ultimately worldly because of its uncritical embrace of postmodern culture".
Where Do We Go from Here?
"My biggest concern is with the next generation in our churches. Are we preparing our young people with the Biblical worldview and epistemological grounding to handle the postmodern abyss? Parents and pastors need to disciple and equip their youth so that they can face this new threat. Postmodernity will continue to present new sets of questions and problems for our young people to navigate. The question is whether we are meeting this challenge".