I have been wrestling, as you know, on whether to keep the term “Emerging Church” and apply it to a new project this year. Here are the results from my poll:
Results: 60/40 on dumping it. OK – I hear you but let me tell you my dilemma and how hard it is for me.
1. I arrived home last week after teaching a group of missionaries from an American denomination that has basically forbidden any connection with the emerging church. And I was their main speaker. . . . . AWKWARD!!!!
2. Even worse, when I got home, Jenna White who is staying with us, told us that her missionary support had been stopped because a pastor in the Baptist church she attends in USA just preached an anti-emerging church sermon and they put a hold on the money they were going to send her. Funny thing was, it was the same denomination that I had just taught, and we have enjoyed a decade long relationship to this particular church
3. Pastor Skender, who thought I was perfectly Biblically sound when I taught at the Four Square convention in Switzerland left a comment yesterday where he thinks I am now a heretic because I support the “emerging church”. I have responded to him that Four Square in Europe has some good examples of emerging church but thats a another vote in favor of losing the word.
4. Tony Jones defines “emergent” as “specifically referring to the relational network known as . . . Emergent Village” (in his book The New Christians) and since our ministry and the ministries we support are not officially part of Emergent Village, I can no longer use that word honestly, despite the word’s usage over the past 30 years.
But wait . . . as always, plenty of good reasons to keep it.
1. Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence is coming out any day and its a fantastic history of the last 40 years of The Emerging Church. Be a shame to throw a wet blanket on it.
2. The Church of Scotland has just released some guidelines on applying for their Emerging Church fund. [Download the PDF] The leader, Rev. David Currie, is a friend and I have been offering to assist in this wonderful project that is still using the term.
“Emerging Church’ and ‘Emerging Ministries’ are about reaching out to others in ways they can relate to. It is about the church adapting in order to speak to the cultures round about. Our society is diverse and fragmented, and if we are to fulfil the church’smission in sharing the Gospel, we need to be a people who are prepared to incarnate the Gospel in the many and various expressions of contemporary culture. Such adaptation and innovative risk-taking finds roots in our Reformed tradition – “reformed and always reforming” (reformata semper reformanda). Most people are familiar with the traditional Parish model of church life, but there is no single model of church and Christian communities have always taken a variety of forms.”
Well said. What they call emerging church is something I wholeheartedly support. And you will also, if you are applying for support from the Church of Scotland from their emerging ministries fund. But there are some countries and circles where I am no longer using the word. The word no longer communicates what i want it to so, even though i will still be in support of Emerging Church ventures like this excellent one from the Church of Scotland, I will no longer be using the word for myself and the ministries that we support.
Words change. We give meaning to words and we take it away. The word is problematic for many American institutions and often insulting to European ministries that preceded their American counterparts.
So . . . most of you said to dump it and I will. But I am still staying connected to many ministries around the world that are using it.
What do you think of that?