Nov 30, 2005

i figured out what the emerging church is!

What is the "Emerging Church?"

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...

This is just a meaningless Olsen Twins picture that I needed to find a place to put... so there.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.

  • says:
    1. (adj) Coming into view, existence, or notice: emergent spring shoots; an emergent political leader.
    2. (adj) Rising above a surrounding medium, especially a fluid.
    3. (adj) Arising or occurring unexpectedly: money laid aside for emergent contingencies. Demanding prompt action; urgent.
    4. (adj) Occurring as a consequence; resultant: economic problems emergent from the restriction of credit.
    5. (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).
  • Wikipedia comments:
    1. Missional living. Christians should go out into the world to serve God rather than isolate themselves into communities of like-minded individuals.
    2. Narrative theology. Teaching should focus on narrative presentations of faith and the bible rather than systematic theology or biblical reductionism.
    3. 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.

My spin?

  • 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.

So that topic can officially stop being talked about... everywhere.

It has "grown tiresome and boring" and reminds me of a Norwegian monkey named Pookie.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance...


Mark D said...

Hey Tony, great post! I had never even heard of the Emergent Church until about a month ago when I started investigating this blog thing. In my humble opinion, you hit the nail on the head with one word...supernaturally. We can strategize all we want with our natural minds, but we will come up empty. Peter fished all night and had nothing to show for it. Jesus told him to drop his net on the other side of the boat. I'm sure Peter was thinking, "Uh, Jesus, not to be rude, but I'm a professional. I have been doing this for years. I tried the other side five minutes ago and there was nothing." I don't know about you, but I detect a bit of sarcasm when he stated, "But because YOU said to, I'll try it." Boom. Fish. More fish than he could handle. I think our job at this point is to get in the habit of trusting Him and obeying Him. It's time we pay attention to His voice and His leading instead of sifting through man's opinions for what makes "sense" to us.

derek bethay said...

"...we keep reading and listening to the same cliff notes (just with a different time stamp on them)."

That's it... I'm never buying another "Emergent YS" book again! :-)

The Cubicle Reverend said...

I think we are trying too hard and worrying about the wrong the wrong things. I do not know if I'm emerging or not, quite frankly I do not care. If I am seeking God, have Christ in my heart, serve and love others, then we'll see what happens from there.

deathway said...

would u like to touch my monkey...?

touch him!

love him!

Chris Marsden said...

Derek...You, apparently, need to keep reading about the emergent church. YS is no longer publishing the emergent line. I don't think they got bored with it as Tony seems to have, but they realized it was distracting them from their calling. Youth Ministers.

I have to say that I generally dislike anything that distracts from the purpose. Labels seem to do that. Don't worry about what label your church is. Instead, be the church God has called you to be in the community he has called you to be in. If you fit into the emergent thing, great, if not, great. I would rather fit into God's will and be left out of some group that I admire then be in the group and missing God's call on my life. Just my thought.

Thanks, Tony, for the insight.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Thank you Chris, you spoke my sentiments much better than I could have.

The Cubicle Reverend said...


White Rabbit said...

while i don't think we should get caught up in some new form of "church", i do believe God is moving, and tranforming the church to meet the changes of culture. i enjoyed the post, saying we don't know what it looks like yet, or where it is going, but we certainly can enjoy being a part of a much needed change, and hopefully what will be known as Post-Protestantism. Do we all have hopes for the church? One of mine is that all these non-essential doctrinal differences will all melt away. This was definately a downfall of the Protestant, humanistic movement which focused so heavily on original sources and getting the precise understanding of a text. While this is good, there is so much in the Scriptures that is debatable or unclear, and those of this modern movement could not accept that, and there need to "be sure" and "biblical" led to a terrible splinterning of the church. i hope part of what is emerging in the church is the ability to accept that we don't know all the details of God's plan, and there is room for grey and differing opinions.

Tony Myles said...

I like your idea, but I'd like to tweak it.

I hope there is room for continued conversations... not about our opinions, but about trying to wrestle down some Truth together.

There's a difference - the goal of grey opinions is to let everyone have a voice.

The goal of wrestling down Truth together (from all sides) is to allow God's voice to be heard.

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Good call pastor Tony. But I'd also like to add that we actually do something. There are times I think we all talk too much.

Gman said...

And I think that is what the Emergent Church is trying to do. Not just talk but lend some application to being the church rather than talking about Being the Church.

Tony Myles said...

So perhaps "Emergent" and the "Emerging Church" leaders are like the kid who took really good notes in class... and then when you missed something you'd ask, "Dude, can I borrow your notebook for a second?"

Mountaingirl said...

Somebody else was talking about this same topic yesterday...check it out:

Frank Martens said...

good word, I've been a part of a church that is doing a church plant that calls itself "emerging".

It really is getting old

Tony Myles said...

Ha! An emerging church plant... getting old. Pretty soon emergent will be "that thing that emerged."

Frank Martens said...

Haha I know huh?

"It came, I saw, It went, I'm disappointed"

Also, congrats on the new one :)

And! I was also thinking... wouldn't it just be easier to comprise a list of what the Emerging church IS NOT?

bigkey said...

The emerging Chuirch has been with us sense Christ died, it is more a case of politics than religion, some people feel that the church should change to fit how they think, there is a good example of it, King George did it and even got a rewrite on the bible to help with it. This has been going on a lone time and will go in the world as long as people are on this earth, if you want something new try doing as the bible says not by what church officals say, there is a big differnce. Bigkey

Jose said...


As far as I see it, the emerging church that Brian McLaren promotes does not adjust to what the Scripture say. He denies that Jesus is the "only" way to be saved, he takes no stand on what the Bible crearly condems such as homosexuality, and he is very evasive and ambigiuos when it comes to difining things. I've never seen Jesus do that. Do you believe that this type of belief system should be promoted in Church? I don't see it as "Christian" but more of an ecumenic movement. What's your point of view?

Tony Myles said...

Honestly, I would agree with some of your conclusions of McClaren. I've heard him take stands on some of the issues you mentioned, but in most of his interviews and otherwise he errors on the side of promoting conversation that just saying, "Here's what I believe, so get on my side of the line."

Personally, I'm uncomfortable with it... and yet I also appreciate his willingness to take bullets in order to get us talking.

You mentioned Jesus never did that... and yet only in a few spots of Scripture did he clearly articulate himself as the Messiah. It was always assumed and presumed through his teaching, but I find it interesting that the "I am he" statement was a rare commodity in his speech.

Kind of makes me wonder... can both the "articulates" and the "non-articulates" (i.e. McClaren) claim the same Messiah?