There is no Emerging Church… A defense of the Emerging Church

Posted on January 2, 2008 by

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There has been some controversy in scholarly circles about the emerging church and some of the things that the “leaders” are saying and writing. Previously on this blog I reviewed Dan Kimball’s book “They like Jesus but not the Church” and since then I have read many books pertaining to the topic, which I might review at a later date. But through all the reading, listening, discussing, observing, and thinking I have done I have come to the conclusion that there is no Emerging Church. There are Emerging thoughts, and some semblance of a methodology but across the board I haven’t encountered a church that I would visit and from observing their gathering (service) I would call them emerging. I have, however, heard many “conservative” preachers preach very emerging sermons. I have seen some churches that would condemn those who call themselves emerging and yet their programming and the structure of their outreach has a lot of emerging elements.

The basic values of the alleged emerging church, as I have seen it, are these:

They have a missional mindset, that is to see that we are living in our mission field and that everyone of us is a missionary by virtue of our faith.

It is very relational, that is to say that we evangelize through our relationships and that simply arguing the facts with people is no longer enough. People won’t care about the historical facts and the scientific proofs we have if we are abrasive, hypocritical, judgmental, unloving people.

They are very accepting, seeing that people usually don’t change who they are in a day or even a week, instead it takes a long period of time to change deep seated habits and methods. It also takes time for people to come to the decision that they want to follow Christ with all that they are. This is especially true if we present to them the truth of Christianity, that it is a hard life, that sometimes it’s confusing, and that there are a lot of struggles with our natural way of being, and that the enemy will attack us and discourage us every chance he gets. Especially when we are doing what God wants and are heading down the right path.

They encourage critical thinking in that they promote open discussion about topics. They recognize that there are people out there that don’t want to blindly follow a leader, but instead want to know for sure for themselves what they believe, just like the Bereans. As I have presented that view of some of the postmodern population I have been met with how they are nothing alike, the Bereans were testing for truth but today’s generation is simply trying to disprove and deconstruct everything. Although it’s true that there are those out there that are looking to disprove everything, it’s also true that there are those that simply don’t blindly follow everything that they are told. As the Bereans were commended for their critical minds we should also encourage that same attitude.

These elements don’t make up a church. Instead they contribute to the character of the church body. Some say that the emerging church is the model that all churches will need to adapt to someday to stay alive. This may be true, but that day is far off. We still need the Traditional churches, we need the WillowCreek churches (especially with their reformed methodology), We need the Pentecostal churches, We need the Conservative churches, We need the back country small farm churches. We need all of you and you don’t have to change, necessarily. Don’t follow trends just because they are new and all the rage. Be sensitive to what your Congregation NEEDS and strive to meet those needs.

We are all The Body of Christ and we need to encourage and challenge each other, but we can’t do that when we ignore, or condemn each other for being different or progressive. Listen to one another and understand one another. The Church is full of different churches, love one another.

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Posted in: Praxis