Tuesday, September 23, 2008

R.I.P. Emerging Church

Url Scaramanga @ http://blog.christianitytoday.com reviews the trend to stop using the "emerging" Church label.


In Kimball’s blog post from last week he writes:

Although I am finding that the term [emerging church] has become so broad now and so confusing, it is very important to know that I am not by any means stopping being involved and pursuing the heart and mission of what the term "emerging church" originally meant. At least in how I was personally using it when I wrote the book 6 years ago.

What did the term mean 6 years ago? Kimball defined it this way:

“If you were to have asked me what the core of the emerging church is, I would have responded with ‘evangelism and mission in our emerging culture to emerging generations.’” But, according to Kimball, few people associate emerging with evangelism anymore. (He finds himself using the term missional instead.)

Today, Kimball says:

I can't defend or even explain theologically what is now known broadly as "the emerging church" anymore, because it has developed into so many significantly different theological strands. Some I strongly would disagree with.

Why has this occurred. One commentator noted:

"Emerging Church" is being dropped by people across the theological board. It's no surprise that the term has become useless, for it doesn't define what must be the most central aspect of any church movement: the God they worship. The many conceptions of God and Christianity that evolved without boundaries among the emerging churches couldn't be united on the lesser issues of evangelism and mission, as important as those issues are. And when such a thing (uniting as an "Emerging" movement) was attempted, the result was often a greater focus on people and community (the subject of evangelism and mission) rather than on God simply because of the nature of the way the movement defined itself. Beginning with defined doctrine is a much better way to make Christ the foundation--the focus--of a movement.

Dan has a new network in the works that will try to make a fresh start in the direction he originally intended when he created the "Emerging Church" term:

The still unnamed network has agreed to start with the inclusive but orthodox theological foundation of the Lausanne Covenant, and they intend to emphasize mission and evangelism. They appear to have learned from the emerging church’s mistake--define purpose and doctrine early so your identity doesn’t get hijacked.

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