I was just wondering . . . what happens when those of us in the emerging church stop emerging. I mean, we are always changing and keeping up with the Spirit, but when our new church structures actually settle down, and stop evolving, then we will no longer be able to call ourselves emerging church and we will just have to settle for “church”. Maybe thats not a bad thing. It has happened before.
In the 80’s, we were youth church or “contemporary church”. But we either grew up, or the “contemporary” word got stuck and no longer defined us.
In the early 90’s, we were “Gen X Church”, but the name came to be associated with slackers and go-tees and some of us moved on from being boxed up by the boomers into a tidy marketable package.
In the late nineties, we were “postmodern church” but the pomo argument became very abstract and locked into philosophies of the 70’s, and we were more holistic than that so we dropped the name. (Although others still call us “pomo”)
Also in the nineties was the concept of “rave church” and and “club church” which was somewhat helpful, sometimes. But many of us now are post-club and too old to stay up really late. And having kids changes everything.
“Emerging church” was a good option – bigger than philosophy, not locked into age-specific ministry, non-reactive, and highlighted because of its evolution and constant change – the new thing on the horizon, taking shape, not yet formed, quasi-modo. But the fact is that many of us have already taken shape and we are not actually changing enough to be accurately defined as “emerging”. We have done house church, celtic spirituality, moved into monastic structures, done rave worship, tapped into ancient liturgies, utilized internet technologies, and now we are settling down into a new way of being church – a new way that is not necessarily changing or emerging.
So, what happens when it is dishonest to use the word “emerging”? Will we be the emerged church? No. Because there will be another wave of emergence happening in the margins, quite possibly ignored by us as well as the mainstream. What goes around . . .