Emerging Church: Recent English Language Voices on the Transition

Australia

“While I find much of value in the emerging, missional and neo-monastic conversations there is much that sits uneasy with me too, given where I am and where I have come from. I am seeking an understanding of postmodernity which is less monolithic than what I find the emergent stream is offering, I am seeking an approach to contemplative disciplines which is less Euro-centric than what I find the monastic stream is offering, and I am seeking an approach to church contextualization that is less tribal and more critical of the “homogenous unit principle” than what I find the missional stream is offering.”

Matt Stone, Just to Explain . . . Hopefully, Glocal Christianity

South Africa

Regarding the current conversation about the term emerging, let’s just say that I don’t think the term is dead,”

Cobus Van Wyngaard, Emerging Alternative Communities for South Africa, My Contemplations

“When the conversation exploded a couple of days ago, I found Sine’s four streams to be of a lot of help as well. As we were busy trying to get some “emerging” folks from around Pretoria and Johannesburg together, I realised that what we call “emerging” encompasses all four of Sine’s streams. For us it isn’t a tension yet. When we say “emerging” in our context, we tend to understand what it mean.”

Cobus Van Wyngaard,, in comments

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New Zealand

“And I will look at them and part of me will want to cry. How could my efforts to be part of God’s work, born for such a time as this, now be called dead. And part of me will want to hit over the head all the people who have stirred and misrepresented and fought over labels and words and used the web to spread disinformation and increase their blog ratings. And part of me will smile. What will they call the next thing, I wonder? And I will respond to the question by suggesting we turn to Acts 2 and Luke 10. I will suggest we stop worrying about what we call these “new forms of church.” Instead we think about what it means for us to be obedient to the mission of God, because we are born “for such a time as this.””

Steve Taylor, Why I’m Emergentkiwi (still), EmergentKiwi

UK

“Whether you are catholic, house church, an naissant/proto emerging church, we are all the emerging church, with a deep ecumencalism, helping each other respond to similar contextual problems. Trying to form churches that see people find and grow in love and orientation around Jesus.

. . . But the emerging church can become so broad, that it loses it’s meaning. It does seem that almost anyone and anything is called emerging church these days. I’m still more comfortable with this broader and generous delineation though. But I sense many are thinking of moving beyond the emerging church, due to it’s dilution.”


Jason Clark, Beyond the Emerging Church?, Deep Church

Canada

“This present “evolution” of the emerging church may not be (read: is rather known not to be) its final stage, but it does represent a form of maturation from where it was. Not a complete maturation, of course, but the maturation in a specific area. Considering that those within the movement are continuing to pursue this same course of “emerging” into a revised form of church, we may conclude that there remains some life yet in the old dog.”

Brother Maynard, Emergent Terminology: It’s Not About Terminology, Subversive Influence

USA

“As for me- I don’t know if I’m done with the phrase “emerging church” yet- but just about. I know that when I say it, I’m more often than not now answering a question about what we aren’t than what we are about- and that saddens me.”

Bob Hyatt, Look who’s done with words like Emergent, bob.blog

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” :-)

8 Comments

  • LOL. well not sure if i fit the diagnostic criteria for such a set, but i do have some thoughts…….
    It appears that the word Emerging has been misconstrued on a bunch of levels. Emerging and Emergent have somewhat become synonymous – and because of theological debates- has caused confusion. (not so much if you have a PHD or a M.Div. – and are open to discourse on that level of dialogue)…… but for many – who don’t even know the word post modern- they are struggling. So for me… unless i’m in like company of Cohorts,– having to constantly defend a position based on a misunderstood concept – is more of a labor than any fruit could harvest. I think some of it is being all things to all people, so if i’m with friends that hold to a more conservative mindset, my main goal is seeing the Kingdom of God manifest and NOT my own personal investment in a specific word or frame. I am not disowning my Emergent/Emerging friends – because i’m using that word a bit more sparingly. Just that in the context of people that i am in relationship to … that may have some issues with that frame, i’m giving a grace space- for them not to have to jump to My thought processes, before they can see Jesus on a different level. What are we really trying to share, – Jesus or a concept or style in relating? Sometimes, things need reframing for people to understand better, but if they are stuck on a word, persevering on a point of view that has that word in it, isn’t the best way to reconcile things.
    and p.s. i’ve always liked the word Organic Church better than Emergent or Emerging …..some things grow better when we don’t put our Mental Fertilizer on it!
    cathryn

  • I guess I am a bit confused when a person says they are no longer using a term, that they continue to blog about not using the term. A bit weird…

  • no reason to be confused, Noah.
    I recommended recently that the fund in question should NOT call itself the “Emerging Church Fund” but rather dump the term and find another, lest people confuse it with something going on in America.
    I will still be tracking the movement around the world, and be involved in it, but i wont be calling our ministries “emerging church” or “emergent church” because what we have been doing for many years is very different from what Don Carson described . .
    Carson said the movement was a ten year old movement that started in USA and involves a few hundred churches.
    He must have been talking about something different that this particular 40 year old movement that is global and involves thousands upon thousands of churches.

  • Andrew- I just got back from my first trip to Seattle where I got to play with COTA (and yes, I sat through a Mark Driscoll service) and Oregon (caught a range of some pretty interesting stuff going on below the surface). There is a small band of people here who consider ourselves expatriates in a sense – we might be based in the US geographically but our hearts are with what’s happening globally. I think it needs to be made clear that there’s a stream (esp. in Anglican and Lutheran circles) that doesn’t fit into Don Carson’s description (as well as some who used to fit that description but have since chucked that label).

  • most of it doesnt but a few things do. The Aussies Don talked to in Australia (Andrew Hamo, Geoof Westlake) certainly did not fit with his preconceptions but these are my brothers and we have been conspiring on ministry things for over 2 decades.

  • Gotcha – and I agree there are things we have in common. Unfortunately here in New York City for example, the power plays by emergent and progressive players have kept too many projects from advancing beyond the “talking phase.” I find when talking with Episcopal folks, I use the term “UK-US Anglican emerging stream” and that gets the ethos across sans baggage. When that term doesn’t work, I’ll find another one. The point for me as a writer who both satirizes religion as well as highlighting those who I sense are walking the walk and then making connections when I can. (I’m connecting Steve Hollingshust to an amazing woman who is on the US Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy tomorrow). Then sit back and see what happens.

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