Emerging Church: The demise of the term since 2004

For those geeky church historians tracking the huge discussion on the death of the emerging church label, here is a little timeline of its demise from my humble and subjective point of view:

2004– My post entitled When We Stop Emerging stimulated some excellent discussion in the comments regarding the death of the name.

2004 – At the Epicentre Roundtable for Global Emerging Church, that I hosted at Greenbelt Festival, I asked if we should keep using the term “emerging church” or dump it. While a few people suggested the name was problematic, we decided it was still good.

2006– At the Global Roundtable for Emerging Church leaders at Freakstock, Germany, where we gathered 70 leaders from 27 countries, I also asked the question about keeping it or dumping it and even though the Jesus Freaks in Germany did not use the term,[they preferred simply ‘church’] we said it was OK.

2008 – In January, Kester Brewin predicts “the collapse of the emerging church as a popular project” during 2008.

2008 – I get asked if “The Emerging Church Fund” would be a good term to use for launching a new fund supporting those working around the world in the emerging culture.

So I ask my readers . .

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2008 – In August, I take a poll on my blog in which 60% of my readers suggested we dump the term “emerging church”

2008 – In September, a post in Christianity Today’s Out of Ur highlights my poll and Dan Kimball’s post on not using the term. Dan points to Bob Hyatt who in 2005 was recommending a name change for Emergent Village because they were “constantly getting confused with the emerging church as a whole.”

2008 – Current. So I am advising the mission and denominational organizations that I consult to use a name that has less baggage.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot more discussion:

– Scot McKnight looks at his experience with the term in Emerging and Emergent

– Jason Clark approaches it from a Vineyard perspective in Beyond the Emerging Church?

– Brother Maynard launches a beat poet discussion with Emerge-ed

– Tony Jones thinks the whole conversation is “silly” and . . .

he is probably right!

But still, some of us find it quite interesting.

And can I add that around the world, there are movements and networks still using the name emerging church, as well as excellent websites with that domain name and title and so . . puhleeeze . . give them a break. Its just a term. Lets get on with the job and let people call it what they want.


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.


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