Emerging Church Definition 3.0

STEVE: Why do you think the idea of an emerging church has gained such popularity over the last few years – why do so many want a part of it?

TALLSKINNYKIWI:
Well, some would say that the new thing is always attractive to those driving the old model, and everyone wants to upgrade from what they currently have. This need for progress is a very modern trait and I don’t see this need coming from emergent people in the same way. Instead, I believe the commitment to emerging church has to do with a deep love for God’s church as the beautiful Body of Christ, and the dissonance in knowing that the church in its present form is not living up to our expectations, is not attractive to outsiders, and is not adequately reflecting Kingdom culture in the world we live. A great body, stuck in a frumpy dress.

There is also the new sense of empowerment. Not long ago, young people were encouraged to join a church but they were not allowed to start them – that was considered rebellious or reserved for the professionals.  In the last two decades, partly as a result of the church growth movement, church has been somewhat demystified of its priestly elitism, defragged of its excess baggage and deconstructed of its abusive power claims. We are now seeing more streamlined, simple, organic churches that ordinary people can start in their favourite coffee shops or their own homes. Add to this the sense of empowerment and immediate access to resources that the internet has provided, and you can see why being a player and developer in the emerging church is more appealing than joining the struggle to preserve an incumbent church.
People in the emerging culture are generally creative, entrepreneurial, innovative, empowered. They don’t want to join somebody else’s program. They don’t want to become somebody’s number. They don’t want to warm up somebody’s empty room. But they do want to be a part of starting something that will make a difference.

Last question tomorrow:
4. How far do you think the church has to go before it will really start to reach the emerging generation in large numbers?

ADDED: Oct 2006

Here are the links to my answers:
Defining the Emerging Church

Emerging Church Definition 1.0
Emerging church Definition 2.0
Emerging Church Definition 3.0
Emerging church Definition 4.0
Emerging church Defintion Additional
I believe the magazine published this but i dont think i ever got a copy.

I briefed a number of American Foundations on the emerging church scene. You can read what i said at Emergant.org

 

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

11 Comments

  • Poor old church. You are very down on us, aren’t you?
    [ANDREW] Hi Maggi!
    I hope i dont come across like that. i have spent the last 20 years giving everything i have to building the Body of Christ. One of the reasons is because when i was a teenager, the people i introduced to Jesus did not end up staying in the traditional churches. I figured that we just need to start new churches planting movements around the world if we are to fulfil the great commission. I understand the English situation – of having empty churches that need to get filled, but i also understand (and have experienced) the manipulation that sometimes happens when religious professionals are too determined to get new people into their own buildings, rather than releasing people to start new wineskins.
    If we are to get the job done, we have to start new structures for the new people – i pray that we will not step on toes when we do this, and i certainly recommend that church starters DO NOT take people from existing churches.
    perhaps you could advise young emerging church planters how to succeed in starting thousands of churches and at the same time, stay in good relationship with the older churches, or even to bless them at the same time.

  • I’m curious about “the” emerging generation in the question for tomorrow. From where I’m sitting (here in Auckland, NZ) there is no single united demographic – plurality in ethnicity, language, economic power and religious belief make it hard to identify just one group. And each is developing their own narratives. Do you have a specific group in mind?

  • In the words of MLK
    “Free at last, Free at last, thank God Almighty i’m Free at Last”!
    Thanks for speaking what we all feel!
    Peace

  • Definition of Emerging Church

    There has much talk recently among Christian bloggers regarding the definition of “Emerging Church”. Knightopia has a handy summary of the recent posts on the subject. Plus there’s the small matter of the rather lame definition I added to Wiki…

  • Definition of Emerging Church

    There has much talk recently among Christian bloggers regarding the definition of “Emerging Church”. Knightopia has a handy summary of the recent posts on the subject. Plus there’s the small matter of the rather lame definition I added to Wiki…

  • Hi again. happy thursday 🙂
    you said above –
    “I understand the English situation – of having empty churches that need to get filled, but i also understand (and have experienced) the manipulation that sometimes happens when religious professionals are too determined to get new people into their own buildings, rather than releasing people to start new wineskins.”
    Why is it that when I invite people into the Body of Christ it’s a manipulative determination to get new people into my building, but when you invite people to some new thing or other, that’s making “a new wineskin”?
    Much of your critique on new forms is interesting, but it would be a great shambles if this turned into an ecclesiastical “us v. them” – England saw enough of that in the 1980’s and we’re only now beginning to recover from the fallout. Maybe you need to hang around in England a bit longer and soak up what’s happening here: there is tremendous potential for the ’emerging’ mindset to RENEW, not divide the church.
    Incidentally, as you’re interested in cinema, I have a fab seminar coming up on the subject. Would you like to join us?

  • Just a little note on the lovely picture of the “great body in a frumpy dress”. I think this dissonance about what the body of Christ is like is actually a biblical one. John Wimber used to talk about getting this beautiful bride ready rather than having this wreck of a body waiting at the altar. However, I wonder whether, as we look at the body of Christ, we need to see the literal body of Christ on the cross. I hear the sense of hope and optimism and the prophetic yearning that “things should and can be better”. We’re missing the point though if we aren’t capable of seeing the church as inevitably broken, fractured and pitiful to some degree, as Christ, to some degree is. For me, the heart of what emerging church (whatever term you like…) is that we are embracing those small, fractured, broken expressions of church. Though I agree with your comments about the mega churches, emerging church is by its very nature, not going to be mega, not going to be programmatic, not going to be dramatic. The bride at the altar in Revelation is also matched with the hosts of heaven around the throne….and there at the centre is a slain lamb!

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