Does anyone really know?
I do! (oooh... did someone say "book deal," yet?)
Over the past several years I have read everything major and minor on the subject... Kimball. Jones. Bell. Mclaren. Grenz. Sweet. Webber.
I've listened to sermons and seminars by some of the sharpest minds on the matter...
I've attended strategic breakfasts where we get fed great quotes as well as been a part of informal lunches where we ask questions that no one really knows how to correctly answer...
I've networked and visited blogs upon blogs...
I've debated, listened, conversed, and case studied...
I even grew facial hair around my lower lip...
None of that clued me in, though...
in fact, much of it just generated more questions than answers. The more educated I'd get the more I'd find myself an expert in everything I shouldn't be... but never in what I should be.
But I've discovered the secret - I know what the Emergent Church means.
It's all in the phrasing.
The "Emergent" Church.
Think about it... if something is next to the word emerging... then that means we're going to see it soon, right?
So I suppose what the "Emergent Church" is really is quite simple... it's seeing the Church emerging within the church.
(dang it, there goes my book deal)
Maybe this happens as the Church emerges literally...
- MEGIDDO PRISON, Israel Nov 8, 2005 — Israeli prisoner Ramil Razilo was removing rubble from the planned site of a new prison ward when his shovel uncovered the edge of an elaborate mosaic, unveiling what Israeli archaeologists said Sunday may be the Holy Land's oldest church. The discovery of the church in the northern Israeli town of Megiddo, near the biblical Armageddon, was hailed by experts as an important discovery that could reveal details about the development of the early church in the region. Archaeologists said the church dated from the third century, decades before Constantine legalized Christianity across the Byzantine Empire.
Two mosaics inside the church - one covered with fish, an ancient Christian symbol that predates the cross tell the story of a Roman officer and a woman named Aketous who donated money to build the church in the memory "of the god, Jesus Christ."
Stephen Pfann, a biblical scholar and professor at the Holy Land University, said the second and third centuries were transitional periods where people sought to define their religious beliefs and modes of worship. Iconography and inscriptions found in Nazareth and Caperneum places where Jesus lived show that people went there to worship, although most did so secretly.
"This was a time of persecution and in this way it is quite surprising that there would be such a blatant expression of Christ in a mosaic, but it may be the very reason why the church was destroyed," Pfann said.
Or maybe this happens as the Church emerges missionally...
Again, I think in its simplest terms it's all about what is about to happen. Therefore, no one can say with any certainty what something "emerging" will look like. It hasn't happened yet, so it can't be deconstructed like the past can. However, we can guess at it based on trends and ideas that are catching on. And that (I believe) is where all the "conversation" is these days... the same place it was last year, and the year before that, and so on.
- Dictionary.com says:
- (adj) Coming into view, existence, or notice: emergent spring shoots; an emergent political leader.
- (adj) Rising above a surrounding medium, especially a fluid.
- (adj) Arising or occurring unexpectedly: money laid aside for emergent contingencies. Demanding prompt action; urgent.
- (adj) Occurring as a consequence; resultant: economic problems emergent from the restriction of credit.
- (n.) One that is coming into view or existence: “The giant redwoods... outstrip the emergents of the rain forest, which rarely reach two hundred feet” (Catherine Caulfield).
- Missional living. Christians should go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves into communities of like-minded individuals.
- Narrative theology. Teaching should focus on narrative presentations of faith and the bible rather than systematic theology or biblical reductionism.
- Christ-centeredness. While not neglecting the study of scripture or the love of the church, Christians should focus their lives on the worship and emulation of the person of Jesus.
- The reason we keep having endless "conversations" is because we're all in the dark about what's coming next. We're so afraid we missed something that emerged in the last five seconds that we keep reading and listening to the same cliff notes (just with a different time stamp on them).
- There isn't one "right way" to be an Emerging Church. For every progressive leader who isn't concerned about leading a megachurch there is another who believes a movement of God shouldn't have boundaries or lids. It's less about the next best way to create a program and more about following the unique call God has placed in your soul.
- In lieu of being Purpose-Driven we have opted to be value-based. No one seems to be willing to say, "Here's the solution!" but many are willing to propose "things you should keep in mind while on a pilgrimage to discover the solution."
And one more thought...
- God is still on the throne and has an ultimate plan we're heading towards. No one gets to tell us what the Church looks like other than Him... what we get to do is join Him in a union unlike any other. So who knows... perhaps the Church will emerge within the church in all of this hub-bub... supernaturally.
It has "grown tiresome and boring" and reminds me of a Norwegian monkey named Pookie.
Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance...