Emerging Church: You Say Dump It

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:

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Results: 60/40 on dumping it. OK – I hear you but let me tell you my dilemma and how hard it is for me.



DUMP IT

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

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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.



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.

Quote

“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?

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" :-)

49 Comments

  • It’s such a vicious circle. The name definitely has all sorts of baggage attached to it now, and it’s become kind of confusing, so it would be a shame to sacrifice so much for a term.
    On the other hand, it stinks that ignorance is placated by dumping it.
    It seems though that there has been lot’s of names that have come and gone now though, why not let this one be the next? Jesus is still Jesus through it all.
    Maybe by dumping some of these terms and names we can start back down the road of just being known as Christ followers or something original like that.

  • File this under: “Just Ted’s Opinion”, but nevertheless, here goes.
    Speaking solely from my perspective within a denominational framework whose wars with one another have all but destroyed biblical community and given many the impression that these “wars” are very similar to the Clone Wars of Star Wars, I offer this.
    Conflict seldom defines. It almost always describes but uses descriptors as definition. And, the accuser almost always sets the issue and the turf for the battleground.
    Early on enough of those with visible platforms using the term “Emerging Church” attempted to distinguish themselves from everyone else by dissing the “traditional church”, anyone Boomer generation and up, and just about anyone else that might disagree with them. Those extremists then put many others who were either in or sympathetic to the Emerging Church genre on the defensive. Not only did one have to define who they were, but they had to also give numerous disclaimers as to who they were not.
    And of course along comes those who in the name of dialogue reveal that in some pretty important areas to a lot of the church, they are not so certain about what is truth.
    Emerging Church, like Evangelical, has pretty much become a meaningless term, imo. So my encouragement is to call yourself a follower of Christ, lead others to do the same, and walk in the light God gives you. Define yourself in such a way that you are known for who you are rather than being known by a description you cannot control.
    Again, just my opinion.

  • If it weren’t for #4 in the Dump It list, I would encourage you (and others) to keep it. I remember when I challenged Tony on his use of those words and he basically said I was being silly and drinking the “Andrew Jones Kool-Aid.” Silly me, but I’ve talked with dozens of people who were involved in emerging church stuff (whether they called it that themselves is besides the point) for 20 years or so. I myself “emerged” into this stuff before I ever heard of any of the emerging church gurus or read their stuff. This is a move of the Spirit that is increasingly being co-opted by a very particular organization with its own agenda.
    That isn’t to say that Emergent Village isn’t doing great things. But the more they play these language games and try to speak for a movement that is much larger than them and seek to form strong organizational ties that centralize the movement around themselves, the more I will feel the need to distance myself and stop using such language. And seriously, every single time I bring this up to anyone on the “inside” I get shot down as being over-reactive. And then every time I then go public with my concern I get tons of “amens” and also an email or something from someone really tied to Emergent Village telling me I’m being over-reactive. When so much passion is tied to a couple of words, it is time to move on.

  • Told you so 😉
    Language always begins to suck. We just need to realise it as soon as we denominate something. What matters is what’s behind it. Problem is, we get too caught in the language. I think this is a valid critique of Emergent as a ‘conversation’ – its parody as a talking shop is harsh, but sometimes fair. We’ve all done it.

  • Hmmm more questions from me… Of your reasons for dumping it most seem to be to do with money/acceptance… whilst I appreciate some folk “earn their living” this just makes me uncomfortable … i.e. if we have to hide who we are because we won’t get funded, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with that? Or to put it another way, are the “American Institutions” completely wrong in their understanding, or do we not want them to know the whole story so they’ll keep paying out?
    I agree there is a problem with the “Emergent” monopoly on the word, or at least the difficulty in separating “Emergent” – a noun from “emerging” a verb – perhaps if we could get back to stressing the emergence theory behind it – tbh my problem with the word is that is has become too acceptable… I met a guy at Greenbelt who was heading up a committee to employ an “Emerging Church Consultant” tasked to plant two “Emerging Churches” that had to have Reformed theology! in other words in the UK “Emerging Church” has become synonymous for some with “Fresh Expressions”… the idea that one can set theological boundaries for a church/community not yet “emerged” makes me want to scream!
    TBH in some ways I want something that makes a dinstinction between what and where we are heading and where some of the Institutions (especially the Evangelical/Church growth/Cell church) are seeking to go… that’s not to say we have it right and they have it wrong, just that we have, in many cases radically different values and I don’t want to get money/association under false pretenses!

  • mark – good point. i raised some money when i spoke to some american foundations about 3 years ago and they have funded some emerging church projects overseas. none of them american projects and none tied to any controversies. no problem yet.
    but there might be backlash later on and i could avoid it by not using that term to describe what they do.
    no fear in not getting money. but both funders and receivers could be damaged by misinformation. the word has become too broad and it takes too long to correct its understanding.

  • Andrew, in the book I was attempting to *explain* how people are currently using the terms, not to proactively define them for people. And in the definition section that you cite, I claim the Emergent with a capital “E” refers to those associated with Emergent Village, and emergent refers to a much broader and looser coalition of people.
    Further, *no* ministries are officially associated with Emergent Village. It is, as it has been since you lived in the States, a social network — a hub of activity. So, as long as you’re still friends with many, many people who live around that hub here in the States, you’re still connected to it.
    Hope that’s not a bother! 🙂
    T

  • TSK – I’m curious about your #1 for dumping the term. I’m with the same group you spoke to last week, just in a different part of Western Europe. You actually spoke to my group last year (and I loved it by the way). I’m wondering what gave you the idea that we were forbidden to have anything to do with the emerging church? Were you told this directly, or did it come up indirectly through conversation?
    I only ask because I’ve never received any sort of direction from leadership to stay away from the emerging church. In fact, I know personally that there is a small team of individuals in Western Europe doing the exact opposite, trying to connect with the emerging church and generate partnership possibilities here in western europe.
    Thanks.
    ray

  • Andrew – From what I gather, Phyllis book encompasses a historical movement that goes well beyond “emergent church.” She doesn’t use “emergent code” when talking about what she sees happening. In fact, you might find it helpful to download some of her talks to see how she uses language in describing what she sees happening. (She’s also a hoot to hear as well as read).
    My take is that emergent/emerging has become yet another turf war — and one of Wormwood’s favorite tricks is to get us bickering so we can’t move the Gospel forward. In fact, the jockeying for power in the NYC progressive/emergent circles has gotten so bad here in NYC that things are starting to implode. (That’s a good sign to get the heck out of there.) By then, Jesus like Elvis has left the building.
    I predicted that Emergent Church (TM) jumped the shark last year (as you well know) so I join in with Kester in saying the shark needs a funeral cause dead fish really, really stinks.

  • ray. thanks. its a complicated issue and i appreciate your way of putting it. forbidden was not the word used but a similar word. the funny thing is that many missionaries are doing what i would describe as emerging church but will now use a different term.
    tony – my friendships are intact – you and others will remain my friends and every 2 or 3 years I will try to get to an EV event as has been my routine. I try to do this with a lot of “emerging church” groups whether they use the name or not.
    But Tony, it might be hard to comprehend from an American perspective, but the networks and movements around the world that have been using the “emerging” or “emergent” tag, some of them connected to EV and some of them who have never heard of it, are suddenly now defined by it and you have become their spokesperson and will remain as such as long as they stay under the label. [this was one of my concerns with your book and i was hoping some edits would correct it before the final version, especially when it says you are the “primary media spokesperson for the Emergent movement”]
    i realize the distinction between Emergent Village and the global emerging/emergent church movement is crystal clear to you and also to me and hundreds of others . .. but for a lot of people, including the Baptist church that stopped the support last week of the young adult staying with us in Scotland . . . that distinction is blurred and they really cant tell the difference.
    I am sure you will be sensitive to the danger of a new American colonialism over the global emerging church and the need for that movement to find its own native words and terms on its own ground.

  • well becky – there are some fantastic things also going on but its not the quality of the events in USA that is the point, but rather that USA and one or two relatively small and recent movements in that country have the microphone to speak on behalf of the majority of the global movement. one group that i have been working with is now in over 40 countries and another is in nearly 30. these are becoming huge movemeents and they should get their own spokespeople.

  • Actually Andrew – we’re on the same page more or less bud. I agree there are some amazing things happen in the US – much of what I see that’s truly transformative though is led by folks who bristle at being identified with emergent because of the baggage associated with this label. They tend to operate under the radar – in fact, the moment what they are doing gets commercialized like Emergent Church (TM), they’ve moved on to where they feel the global spirit is calling them.
    My concern with anyone saying they’re spokesmen for a global movement can be illustrated by what’s happening in NYC – those who are the more media savvy, well connected, and aggressive tend to be the ones who tend to get the most attention thus pushing the ones who are walking the walk to the back of the room.
    Also, there’s a general bias in US religion reporters to focus on what’s on our borders – you’ve been amazing at helping me to open up my eyes (And if that means I’ve drunk the Andrew Jones Kool-Aid so be it – it sure is tasty.)_ But a lot more awareness needs to be raised.

  • HI Andrew
    I have been following this debate with interest!I had written this on my own blog in response to one of your earlier posts;
    “In our small group in Dunoon, Scotland, we have only fairly recently started using the term ‘emerging church’ in a way that is not wrigglingly self conscious.
    This was in part because although our group has many of the characteristics of what the EC supposedly represents, we have never agreed that this is the label or yardstick that we would use. It is only as other Christians have attacked us for being ‘emerging’ that some of us have had a look at this label again, and thought- yes, that kind of fits.
    But it is not as if the label is well defined anyway. The 2006 Gibbs and Bolger book ‘Emerging Churches‘ took a well researched swing at this, and I found it really helpful- but to be honest, I also had this feeling that if you look at a diverse movement of Christian activists and malcontents, and search for common strands- you then become responsible for creating a movement as much as defining one.
    I wonder if there is also a kind of intellectual snobbery about not wanting to be defined. Many of us have escaped from solidity and predictability in the way we practice our collective faith, and the last thing we want to rush towards is another denomination.
    Perhaps others felt the same way- the Methodists, or the Anabaptists- do you think in the beginning, with all the excitement and promise of something new, that they enjoyed the fluidity and freedom of lack of form and structure- and they enjoyed the lack of definition too?”
    But having said all this- we need some words that bring us together do we not? If others take pot-shots at us, does that mean that we ditch the words?
    You say that the term has gathered baggage that is not helpful- but I am not sure that this will not be true for any term.
    And I am not sure what baggage I want to throw out anyway- for me, the great thing about the term is that it excludes the excluders- who are understandably less than impressed!
    So- for what it is worth, lets hang on to this for a while longer. There will be enough splitting off into factions later- church history seems to suggest this is inevitable! Perhaps our job is to worry less about definitions, and more about getting on with faith and life?
    Cheers from the south…
    Chris

  • “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?”
    I think CS Lewis spoke of the importance of using words concisely…it helps foster effective communication. But it assumes that efficient and timely understanding is to be valued over the messier, more difficult to understand kinds of communication.
    Perhaps the biggest problem surrounding the use of the word emerging is the relative lack of time spent with those of the “opposing” side (as though we’re on opposing sides!) actually trying to figure out what’s being said. It’s like two ships passing in the night. And we typically allow the ships to pass rather than trying to love one another.
    If dropping the term helps us love our anti-emergent brothers and sisters – then drop it. It’s annoying – but the right thing to do.
    If its about retaining funding sources – find a job making tents and send the funding back!

  • Becky: It’s funny and snarky that you put (TM) after the word emergent, but in fact those of us who started emergent village have always made clear that it is an open source name and logo, under the auspices of a creative commons license. Not trademarked, registered, or otherwise owned.
    Andrew: Please, please stop referring to a phrase that was on the back of an early, advance galley copy of my book. There were about 100 copies with that on it — written by a well-meaning publicist. I defy you to find it in the final version, because it’s not in there. (NB: I made this clear after your original review of the book.)
    And while I’m sorry for the emergents around the world who are disappointed for how the name has evolved — and how some of us in the States have been a part of that, there are also scores of folks who appreciate the website, the books, the events, and the weekly email.
    God Bless!

  • Look who’s done with words like “Emergent”…

    Since at least 2005, I was advocating for Emergent (technically Emergent Village) to change their name. Already, at that time, there was confusion between the emerging church, a loose movement of those interested in exploring methodological, philosophi…

  • I thought persecution was one of the hallmarks of Christian authenticity. Ever since the New Testament, Christians (and, yes, the Judaizers were still followers of ‘the Way’) have persecuted other believers for making innovative and creative steps to bring the fellowship of Christ to people who are being excluded by the church’s status quo. So then, what should we say? “Bring it on”, surely? Furthermore, history is remarkably effective in obsoleting organised heresy. If Emerging churches are heretical (which I doubt!) then they won’t last. So let His-story be the judge.

  • Since when did heresies “not last?” There are many ancient organized heresies (Nestorianism being just one) and some relative newcomers with long pedigrees (Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses to name two).

  • tony – thats really helpful – that description of you [which was written by someone else, btw becky] is not on the final edit – fantastic! i dont have a newer copy and would not have mentioned it if i knew
    please forgive me. i will not mention it again.
    Andy – it is not about keeping funding sources. the foundations i work with trust us when it comes to terms and labels and that trust relationship helps both of us to do what we do best. but they would also expect me to inform them of when the term is no longer useful and they would expect me to know that information.
    Paul – i would miss the criticism because we all need it but the main problem is that we are criticized for the wrong things and mis-fires dont help anyone.

  • Hey anrew,
    Just caught up with this… I admire you for your commitment to ‘continue emerging…’ even it it means changing language. I was talking to a Bishop friend recently about the idea of ‘planting emerging churches’and he asked ‘how do you plant something that is emerging?’ – which is a good question.
    What’s interesting is that what you and a bunch of early-adopters began with was a willingness to seek out the boundaries of the Spirit in our culture and ask ‘what new forms of faith and mission are emerging at this time?’. Which is also a good question. Now the question is shifting from ‘what is emerging’ to ‘what can we make happen’ – hence the question of funding, projects, titles etc. The conversation has shifted from ‘what do we see?’ to ‘what should we do?’ This is an entirely different conversation, I think, and carries the very heavy risk of trying to impose on the emerging church the presuppositions of the funders / project makers: quite possibly the opposite of where you boys began.
    So for what it’s worth, Andrew, I would say don’t lose your prophetic edge. Stay with what is emerging… and is probably not called that any more.

  • I too just caught up with this as well. I am from Canada, where the term “emerging” or “emergent” are not readily used (at least in Ontario).
    The only hint that I have seen is that a Christian bookstore in town added a section called “Emerging Church” with authors like Mclaren, Bell, Pagitt ect stocking the shelf.
    Though many people are tired of the term, or feel that it causes confusion, some people haven’t even heard of the term either. I think this is particularly interesting to note, that as the waves of the Emergent or Emerging church rock back and forth, new people and churches are only NOW being washed over with the ideas.
    I think the idea to the dump the term may be the way to go for those of us that are “old hat” with it all. But for those who are just joining in, losing a term they never were familiar with my cause even more confusion.
    Just my two cents!

  • I am not citing any individual or organization but rather noting a trend in which certain people are identified as “emergent experts” replete with publishing deals, speaking gigs, etc. Hence the use of the term Emergent Church (TM). This seems to go against the ethos of what I experienced at Greenbelt and some other settings both here and in the US – as I’ve stated in another comment, I’ve noticed that the practioners who are doing the real transformative work tend not to write books. So they are often overlooked in these discussions at least here in the States. End of rant – I have to get back to my book or else I’ll blow my deadline. December 1st isn’t that far off.

  • tres bon, Andrew.
    I was also at the same conference where you felt “AWKWARD”. yeah. so did i. i connect with emerging churches aLL the time. no “forbiddeness” (is THAT a word?) about it.
    one funny (ha ha, not strange) thing about “our denomination” is that they like to add acronyms and catch word to things to make them their own, so they have made MAC as the acronym for “multiple affinity church”. this means that we can associate with MACs, but not with “emerging” (although they are precisely the SAME thing). go figure. if semantics get in the way of relationships, then it is the relationship that has the problem … personally, i will keep on keeping on, and do the job that God has called me to do. oo rah.
    thanks for a voice.
    ewinwe

  • WOW, what a reaction-line on this, WOW!
    Is it life-transforming? Is it getting us closer to Jesus, the son of God?
    We are very bound by our churchy terms – emerging ore not – it is a subculture-slang.
    And . . . why is it so hard to think/do, changing things? “every thing must change!” 😉
    My personal idea: don’t change the gospel! Change words, terms, styles, ways, forms . . . , so a “human” (heathen) can be saved! – Jesus did!
    Sorry for being so naive! – It is not my live (emerging church) – I am just part of a global network (family) of followers (disciples) of the one and only Son of God – Jesus Christ!
    And yes, it hurts, when we give away some things (evan terms), we used so often, – got to love, defined ourselves by it . . . it is time to say good by, it will help create a new thing, cant you see it? It already starts . . .
    Evan the emerging church is not the sought after final way – it is a step on the way we go through history. Let us listen to our maker, what tools we should use this time: The stick was last time – and I want to enter the holy land! 😉
    Sincere condolences from my side Andrew! I still will love you and what you do! I belief in you! (But who am I to tell you anything? I could be totally wrong!)

  • This has been a really though-provoking post. In one sense, for me it’s raised the matter of what is truly of value in Emerging churches – for that can do without a name. If you removed the name “emerging” you’d still have to invent a replacement because I think we’ve got a phenomenon here that begs a name. OTOH, there is so much that is being placed under the heading of EC that it may be so wide as to be meaningless – to supporters and detractors equally. Perhaps we need to see the word as describing a set of characteristics which many churches (from all sorts of backgrounds) hold in common – but then who is to decide what those characteristics are? Just a quick response to Mark Van S. to me above – I would consider Mormonism and JWs as very recent heresies. Nestorianism is much misunderstood, as recent ecumenical convergence between the RC church and the ancient Church of the East (struggling, mainly in Iraq) give testimony to. The ‘heretical’ aspects of Nestorius were more the result of effective spinning by his opponents – particularly the (‘orthodox’ but odious) Cyril of Alexandria. Schism is far more long-lasting in its effects than heresy in my view.

  • Andrew – I know its not about funding for you. Ok…I don’t know but I trust you when you say its not. I believe you mentioned that one of your friends lost funding due to the word. Perhaps I misread.
    I’m just a little irritated that its come to a point where we need to drop terms, adopt new ones, while most likely preparing to drop them too.
    I’ll be interested to see if the word missional can break through current strongholds of money and power in the western church.

  • “I am not citing any individual or organization but rather noting a trend in which certain people are identified as “emergent experts” replete with publishing deals, speaking gigs, etc. Hence the use of the term Emergent Church (TM). This seems to go against the ethos of what I experienced at Greenbelt and some other settings both here and in the US – as I’ve stated in another comment, I’ve noticed that the practioners who are doing the real transformative work tend not to write books. So they are often overlooked in these discussions at least here in the States.”
    I agree…the practitioners are the ones I want to read…and I would prefer to read for free. That’s why God made adobe acrobat and the internet right?

  • just a note on the denominational/mission conference – no awkwardness there at all. what is considered normal practice overseas in mission is sometimes called “emerging” back home. its just labels. every denomination and mission agency that is addressing the global emerging culture is finding solutions that are small, organic, flat structured, artistic in expression, laity led, etc and i try my best to draw from that denomination’s own teaching and missiology on the subject so that it is accepted as normative.
    andy – yes – she temporarily lost some funding but all was restored when things were communicated. She is not the first.

  • I tend to think that no matter *what* one calls oneself, the moment one starts to innovate (or even faithfully retrieve theology and practice that is not explicitly from one’s tradition), there will be purse-string-holders who will cry foul. I don’t mean to be a tire-kicker, but…if the ‘powers that be’ funding new church and missional expressions are that picky, then perhaps we missional/emerging/ent/whatever people need to figure out lives and careers and vocations that provide funding we don’t feel slimy about taking. Otherwise, we’re going to be perpetually looking over our shoulder every five years, hoping to stay ahead of the curve of heresy-hunters who don’t like our terminology or our lives.

  • Eeesh things do get a tad testy around this…. and it is really getting difficult with people freaking out on the term Emergent.. emergent.. emerging..
    Not for nothing Tony… (if your reading this ongoing link)- there has been some fall out with the EV and as i said to you when we met way back in NC– it was around the same time as Andrew was doing his thing and then Derek came and was a part of that community house that God’s big elbow nudged me to open doors to……… there are many of us that have been DOING it for quite some time. But now when i explain to some folks what we are about- more and more i’m getting the raised eyebrow look with the quip comment about how it sounds like that heretical Emergent stuff. Hand over heart – i do love what you guys are doing- Steve K, Tripp F, Mike M, Doug P, Tim C, and the like are what i would consider friends and i do pray for ya all a lot! But there are things that are taking place on a spiritual realm that aren’t so good. (yes, i am one of those charismystic emerging folk- deal with it- 😉 didn’t help much when the Emergent Church was compared to a “poop slide” (andrew you had me chuckling for weeks on that post it was brill!)
    Just seems like the enemy is trying to screw with Kingdom stuff by causing a lot of strife, misunderstanding, infighting and the like…. yeah same old – same old M.O. – but for what ever reason, this feels bigger than the usual crap that goes thru our denominational fans. Kinda feels like a spirit of divorce- divide and conquer thing.
    Ahava & Shalom,
    cat
    Wish we all could get in the same room and hash thru it… pray in it… seek wisdom and bless each other better.

  • Andrew, I guess what saddens me is that this is yet another good word gone. “Postmodern” still means something to me. “Emerging” does, too. What’s next, “Missional”? The need for the recent missional syncroblog would seem to indicate that “missional” is also in danger.
    Of course, what matters is that innovative faithfulness continues to move forward wherever the Spirit leads. And I suppose it is inevitable that when a word enters popular consciousness it is either denigrated or watered down. But when I lose a word I feel like I’m losing an old friend.

  • Could I suggest we also stop using the term ‘church’? This word has an increasingly negative connotation among people we intend to serve. I know the funders wouldn’t like that idea, but hey it’s only mentioned once or twice in the Bible, so it shouldn’t be a problem to give that one up as well. 😉

  • funny marc . . . he he he
    jon – what about bringing back the word “religious”? it used to refer to someone who had taken monastic vows but now, with the new monastacism, it might be appropriate to use again.
    the word “professional” used to be a religious word (to profess) but the business word took it. maybe we can bring that back also.

  • . . . and what about – not taking so much care about words – but about people?
    “India: Flood victims AND Christian martyrs” got two comments!!! This one got about 40!!!
    THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE – ore differently put: There are people in here (www.), who neeeeeeed help (if with the gospel ore other . . . ) – the beetles, in their time, new that already! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ibX3TejlZE&feature=related
    This was a comment first to me, I and myself! So please don’t feel bad about this! 😉

  • once again, the fact that this conversation is happening is so important. it needs to happen every decade in every denom to keep from growing crusts. the fact that emerging/ent is one of the few who actually do this sort of self-deconstruction once again proves to me that there is still life and vitality around these parts.
    i’m tied to emergent/ing. the people, thoughts and energy in this circle have breathed life back into a tired shell of a christian. i love all of you.
    seriously. if every group out there in christianville would say “should we continue to call ourselves [fill in the blank]ians or should we rewrite the book (not The book) like those who came before us did?” i believe there would be a lot less hostility toward groups like emerg___ and we would probably find a much more radical christianity..

  • I am glad to hear the discussion moving away from labels. I came to the faith about five years ago (in my late 30s) after years of rabid atheism and recovery-based agnosticism. I grew up in a completely secular household, so had nothing to “come back to.” I must say that all of these delineations were (and continue to be) one of my biggest challenges as a relatively new Christian. It’s like coming to faith means you have to pick a team, something I have no interest in doing. We need to love each other…denominational, modern, post-modern, emergent, evangelical, pentacostal, etc, etc.

  • I agree with Tony, “emerging” and “emergent” as well as “Emergent” simply describes a network of friends. You can stop using the word, but as long as you’re still friends with the people and part of the network, you’re still “emergent” whether you like it or not.
    Personally I find this trend to walk away from the term “emerging” a little dishonest. If you walk like a duck and talk like a duck, you’re probably a duck, whether you want to be called that or not. Whatever happened to truth in advertising? Are we so afraid of what others might think of us that now we have to pretend to not be something that we actually are?

  • I am with Paul on this one”
    1 Corinthians 4:19-21
    But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

  • Mike – appreciate the comment
    “but as long as you’re still friends with the people and part of the network, you’re still “emergent” whether you like it or not.”
    but the fact is that most people in my world (’emerging ministries’ in dozens of countries) are doing small organic communities and in many ways are doing the opposite of what people like Rob Bell are doing with a megachurch that was started with a transplant of 800 people. So when people say “Oh, emerging church like Rob Bell” We have to say “NO, hes a nice fellow but these people are doing something much different – please find a new name to describe what we are doing”
    nobody is walking away from incarnational missional ministry to people in the emerging culture. but to say that the emerging church folk in Portugal or Chile or Japan or Norway are part of the emergent network is dishonest because they often do not know each other. And suggesting they all take orders from USA is a new form of colonialism.

  • i like what gerard kelly said.
    also, i thing ™ is funny and clever… good shorthand and clever satire.
    is it just me, or are there simply faaaar too many books?

  • i like what gerard kelly said.
    also, i thing ™ is funny and clever… good shorthand and clever satire.
    is it just me, or are there simply faaaar too many books?

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