Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What is the Emerging Church

A lot people seem to be asking this question, and I hear of a lot of people going to a lot of different sources to find the answer. I couldn't get the original link to the article to work, but here is a shorter version by the same author.

Hope this helps.


Ryan said...

Is our church moving towards becoming an emerging church? Apparently this question is on a lot of people's minds, however once a proper understanding of the emerging church has been reached, the question will be understood as not really making any sense.
In its most basic understanding, an emerging church is a church which possesses new growth, and is seeking to do church in a manner different than the way that church was done yesterday. Its ministries and messages are such that they are relevant to today's culture, rather than asking today's culture to rewind and look like the culture of yesteryear.
That said, many who consider themselves emergent may disagree with that definition. There is a lot of will full disagreement taking place among those in the emergent conversation, making nailing down any theology, or statements of faith, extremely difficult.
A church could be labeled an "emerging church," a lot easier than a church could be said to be moving in an emerging direction. Keep in mind that the word "emerging" is a verb, and not a noun. If I called a church "emerging" I would simply be saying that the church looks different than the churches that we grew with in the 80s and 90s. Not that there was anything wrong with those churches, we just aren't in the 80s or 90s anymore. More specifically I would say that a church that is "emerging," grew out of a previous model of a church.

So, imho, a church can be growing, but a church can't move towards growing. I think that asking the question, is our church going to become an emerging church is akin to asking if our church is going to become a growing church. I'm not at all saying that a church that is not emerging will not grow, please don't read it as that, but "growing" and "emerging" are both verbs, and both look pretty bizarre in a vision statement.

Debbie Evans said...


I thought you ought to know that the weblink you posted to read McKnights article on Emerging Church isn't working and/or the page is no longer available to read.

I tried several times last night and again this morning. - Debbie

Ryan said...

Debbie, I just tried and was able to get it. Click the text that says "Here". It will take you to the link. Once there, right click (or control click if you have a mac) on "What is the Emerging Church? By Scott McKnight" Then choose save as, and a new window should pop up asking you where you want to save the pdf file. Hope this helps.

Kari Rodems said...

Thanks for this vehicle to continue on the dialogue. The more I learn about this subject, the less clear cut and definitive it seems to become, and that very evasiveness of the term emerging that is the current subject of so much division leads to uncertainty with me. I realize that perhaps if it could be pinned down there would be no need to continue the conversation, it would be all figured out and the movement would no longer need to mull over traditional Christian orthodoxy, so perhaps by not easily defining it gives it breath and continues to live. In regards to your example of both “growing” and “emerging” being verbs, I’d agree, when not presented with the lexical definition that in this instance is attached to those two words. In much the same way that “deconstructing” and “restoring” are verbs, they are not interchangeable. At the risk of having a grammatical debate, I would tend to think of “emerging” in this instance being used more as an adjective describing the noun “church”. Such as in the statement” I attend a Baptist church”, or” I attend an emerging church”, or “evangelical church”, etc… the particular descriptive word preceding “church indicates the expectation of the core beliefs, ways and expression of that particular church’s doctrine. And what I really can’t seem to understand is, if you use the verbiage of, and the expression of and the scholarly or theological leaders as examples of, what is right and true in regards to living out your faith as a follower of Christ, why not say the church is an “emerging church”, meaning adhering to the ways and constructs of that leaning, than to rather say it is an emerging church in the way that it is a growing church, because by that definition, Joel Osteen’s church in Texas due to it’s sheer volume of attendees or the fact that it changed from Joel's deceased father's church to his church (therefore it grew from a former model of that church) is perhaps one of the largest emerging churches in the country, even though they’d assure you they are not in step with the EC movement. Do you see what I mean? I don’t understand the hesitancy to align yourself with the emerging movement, and simply acknowledge, yes we are growing, evolving and changing the constructs of the non- essentials as followers of Christ and gather together at Community, or OVCC to encourage each other along that path? It seems instead there is acknowledged esteem for it’s identifiable leaders, ongoing discussion of how and what the “church” should look and act and be like and an ongoing disclaimer that although as a church we have begun evolving (growing) in a direction that is foreign (not necessarily without value) to many in attendance, we are not now, or not heading towards, being reframed as emerging. To borrow a line from a friend, I have thought so much now my head hurts, so I’ll sign off and would love to hear from you when you get time. I know you are busy at camp, so no hurry…. Just pondering as I’m prone to do – blessings Kari

frisky said...

Hi Kari!
Your head hurts?... I've been reading all the blogs this whole time and STILL can't get my thoughts written down!! LOL!! Thanks to all of you for your beautiful thoughts and ponderings.
Love ~ Gina

Ryan said... are crazy smart, I can't wait to get together and talk with you more about the emerging church. I'm still not sure if Community, let alone OVCC fits the common description but am excited to talk with you about it. I'll be back in the office Tuesday.