Deep Ecclesiology : Intro

The term "deep ecclesiology" has begun to be adopted and used over the past 3 years and is circulating mainly among practitioners and leaders of the emerging-missional church. I was surprised this morning to see the phrase used as a part of the Emergent Order which was read out publicly by the participants of the Emergent Conference.

The phrase "deep ecclesiology" has been attributed to me. I realize the meaning of a term or phrase is often determined by its contemporary usage rather than its original intent and therefore I plan to honor those who have taken it further and have brought additional insights. I am grateful for their effort and am honored that they saw possibility in the term, perhaps more than i did at the time.

I write this in response to numerous requests to have the concept fleshed out a little more for the sake of clarity and for a permanent home on the internet to link to. I write it here initially as as blog post – opening up to the accountability of the wider community, inviting discussion and the input of other viewpoints. The next step would be a .PDF file to download. After that, if necessary, a book. Brian McLaren has been the loudest voice behind me writing a book called "Deep Ecclesiology". At conferences, he is often been asked what the term means, and after mentioning me (thanks Brian) lays out some of his excellent thoughts.

By ecclesiology, I mean the nature, life and practice of the church, in this instance, that part of the church that is growing and active in the emerging culture. By "emerging church" or "emerging-missional church" I refer to the new church forms that are being started as a response to effective missional work in the global emerging culture. I have witnessed these new forms in dozens of countries and have spent the past ten years devoted completely to assist the budding, emerging movement wherever i see it. I am grateful for Baptist General Convention of Texas and DAWN Ministries for the support to travel to wherever I see God working around the world and to be a part of this exciting movement.

Is it proper to say "Towards" or "Toward" ??. Any English-geeks out there?


Deep Ecclesiology : Intro

Deep Ecclesiology 1 History

Deep Ecclesiology 2 : Usage


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • steven says:

    This probably isn’t what you were hoping for on the first comment, so let me first say that I love the terminology and your attempt to give some more explanation to it!
    Now on to the English geek inside me: your question got me thinking, so I did a bit of digging. Basically, the consensus on the web is that the two words are interchangable, with “toward” being more American, and “towards” being more British.

  • andrew says:

    I will go towards the British. Thanks towards you! Now, towards the next post . . .

  • John says:

    Towards. “Toward” is a variant, with some obsolete definitions listed. But, as Steven said, it’s more accepted in US English than in UK English 🙂
    pax et bonum

  • Ed C says:

    Some thoughts on ecclesiology:
    “By ecclesiology, I mean the nature, life and practice of the church, in this instance, that part of the church that is growing and active in the emerging culture.”
    In the new things that I’ve seen God doing in my neck of the woods, this definition has played out in the following ways:
    Nature of the church: communal (hat tip to Stan Grenz)
    Life: the triune God; Father (the sender/initiator), Son (the sent redeemer), and Spirit (the “being sent”)
    Practice: worship on the go (this has looked different in every emerging congregation I know of/participate in)

  • Really interested to here more on Deep Ecclesiology never come across the term. Doing some stuff on what I call “Process Ecclesiology” about the link between church and mission and had been connecting this with “deep learning” (Marton and Saljo 1976) which describes a process from Performative Understanding through Direct and Indirect Application to Holistic Integration, which I guess (guess being the operative word) may correlate to Deep Ecclesiology.

  • fernando says:

    look forward to reading more of this. your post inspired me to spotlight ecclesiology, which yielded not just the academic papers I expected (rather boring stuff), but also a number of reflections on experimental services I was involved with in sydney in ’97-98 and in london in ’99 and ’01. these were quite difference experiences, because the first were in a highly enmeshed and participatory environment, the later in a church that was struggling with it’s “evening service.”
    in the enmeshed context (where mission was ill-defined but effective), there was a lot of trust and risk in worship. in the later contexts (were mission was implicitly well-defined but fruitless), there was willingness to “experiement” but almost as an academic game, with very little commitment.
    i don’t know (yet) if your idea of deep ecclesiology resonates with deep (green) ecology, but to me there was something very ecological about the first experience (a bapo church I served with). hope some of those thoughts are useful.

  • andrew says:

    thanks everyone
    i think what i come up with over the next few days (week) will be quite simple and self-explanatory rather than uber-impressive. i am hoping to have some material that is accessible to most people who want to figure out this church stuff and dont have a background in missiology or ecclesiology.
    your thoughts are helpful – thanks for your encouragement.

  • Mark says:

    My problem is I understand the word “ecclesiology”, and also the adjective “deep”, but as a term “deep ecclesiology” I understand not. 🙁
    Is it a bit like Deep Magic?
    The OED says that towards and toward are the same word, and that “-s now more usual in prose & colloq.” – but I still differentiate between the two. I can’t quite explain how, though.

  • dave paisley says:

    More on toward(s):
    Bottom line – there is no real difference, although towards is more British and toward more US. Worldwide it’s a tie.

  • andrew says:

    you guys are such GEEKS!! i cant believe that i put up with you all!!!1

  • ella says:

    i’ve been getting really inspired by liberation theologians and their thinking on ecclesiology over the last few years – stuff from Latin America and Asia – in terms of base Christian communities and responsiveness to the emerging culture in those countries.
    i think they’ve got a lot to teach us…
    My prayer for the emerging church at the moment is that we don’t fall into the same paternalistic trap that people have fallen into for centuries where we think we’re inventing something new because we haven’t listened to the wisdom of those who have discovered a different way of being the church well before we have. — that’s *not* a criticism of you, Andrew, i’ve heard you talk of your connections and deep respect for communities in latin america and asia. it’s a prayer for myself.
    i think we’ve got a lot to learn from liberation theologians – Boff, Segundo, Gutierrez – who write about the resistance they encountered from the “traditional church” as they tried to give expression to the emerging church in their cultures. We might get blogs written against us (and i know that’s awful)… they’ve had death threats.

  • Dr. AJ says:

    This post has been featured at SmartChristian Blog

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