Emergent Church: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A report on Emergent Church from Alan Roxburgh who is a deeply respected teacher and advisor. Alan brought together 40 leaders from USA, Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia in conjunction with Allelon. I was with them also, and also acted as a “listener, tuning in to the larger picture of what was happening and reporting back to Alan and the team.

Here is Alan from his report entitled “Emergent Church: Filled with Creative, Energetic Potential.

Alcv83-1“Something is happening! It may not be all the postmodern things that are claimed, but there is something going on here that has the potential to be deeply missional and innovative for the church on this continent . . .”

“At their best they courageously and joyfully enter the worlds of Goths and tattoo parlors to form Christian life in, with, beside and for people who would never be welcome in most congregations. At their worst they become the purveyors of more experiential, artsy, aesthetic forms of religious goods and services.”

“This is a movement that needs to determine where there is some definition and closure especially around the discernment of the practices, skills and habits that provide continuity, empower mission and produce children.”

“EC, in one sense is not new at all, it is connected to movements and events in the 20th century. It is not a radical break but the re-emergence of themes and issues recognized by many in the theologies and experiments of the mid-20th century, but largely lost in the second half of that century and now re-emerging in new forms. . .”

“Therefore, at one level, we are witnessing movements among younger leaders seeking to engage the church in a radical shift of its habits and practices from those of the last fifty years. . . “

There is continuity here. EC people are the children of passionately committed and theologically reflective leaders several generations ago.” More

The Skinny on Alan’s report?

I think it is very fair and accurate as a reflection of the mixed group in that room. I was there in the room for 3 days and saw what Alan saw. A lot of it was great but some of it made my hair stand on end. The Emerging Church is so vast and multifaceted that there is much to love and much to hate for everyone. Alan’s report reflects the good the bad and the ugly – and I am glad he wrote it.

What I really appreciated was Alan’s historical link to mission leaders of the mid 20th Century and a fifty year progression into our current forms and mindset – something that i have noticed and experienced and said, although I don’t think I have been heard yet. At least I have another voice saying it alongside me.

It would have been nice to get the other continents to send some leaders over to share with our very Western group – Latin America, Asia, Africa – and I think that might have tipped the balance towards a more encouraging report – but that would have cost too much . .. and why host that event in USA?


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.


  • fernando says:

    Australia, the UK, The US and Canada are multicultural societies. If the emerging chuch is truly emergent, then it will represent that diversity in it’s leadership and that should already be giving you a cultural non-homogenious point of view, even before you include voices from atin America, Asia, and Africa.

  • Emergent Church: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    I reckon this is one of the best articles Tall SKinny Kiwi has flagged in a while: Alan Roxburgh, writing on the Emergent (US) conversation,

  • The Hope of the Emerging Church

    Alan Roxburgh has a brief report out about the emerging church (also at Allelon, with HT to TSK). The report is titled “Emergent Church: Filled with creative, energetic potential” which is the positive spin, but there’s also some gut-check mixed in…

  • jen lemen says:

    extremely well said, fernando.
    i think it’s entirely possible that the emergent/emerging church network will expand internationally while having a basically white network here at home.

  • Emergent Church: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    What’s in a word like emergent? Quite a bit, as we’ll see, when it comes to the designation “emergent church”. How might we describe this movement?

  • Emergent Church: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    What’s in a word like emergent? Quite a bit, as we’ll see, when it comes to the designation “emergent church”. How might we describe this movement?

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