Now that we have stopped emerging . . .

In June 2004, I wrote a post called “When we stop emerging”. It appears that time has come.

ButterflySome churches have matured and are no longer “emerging”.

Some have ventured away from the inherited church and have come full circle to rejoin it.

Some started and died and restarted again. Others went back to the mother church.

Some emerged and replicated all over their country and even overseas to become networks and movements that are shaping their worlds.

Some are just carrying on with the job but are ceasing to allow the term “emerging church” to describe them.

Some are still using the name and are not even aware of this conversation because they live and minister in either Latin America, Africa, Asia or Middle East and they will keep on using it, as the church has been using it since 1968 to describe the new forms of church in the emerging culture.

In R.I.P. Emerging Church Christianity Today posted some thoughts about the death of the emerging church. In his response, Scot McKnight points out that the movement is still going strong but the term “emerging church” might be dead. Forgotten Ways have also responded.

I thought a blast from the past would be appropriate today so take a look at my 2004 post called “When we stop emerging” and especially read the comments, which are much better than the post. I have pasted a few of them below.

“I have never been much of a fan of the phrase “emerging church”, it sounds like too much angst or a zit or something”. Doug Pagitt

“Perhaps we’ll just keep the word emerging and the next group of people will look upon us as old and out of touch” Darren

“I am as happy as anyone not to have a title or tag for what we are seeing, and instead just call it “church”. None of us really need a name, nor do we care if it is the lastest thang or not – i am quite sure is isnt.” Andrew Jones

“I’ve concluded that while all these movements and models have some constructive things to offer, when they become “the thing,” they become destructive. they are too narrow … even when they seem far roomier than what came before. . .

go beyond emergent. there is far, far more room to maneuver around in, without going outside the boundaries of Scripture.”
Brad Sargent

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“Perhaps the future of emergence is divergence: allowing the marginal a seat at the table in the kingdom that we are beginning to realize was never ours in the first place.” Dan Hughes

“The emerging process will continue for another 5-6 years as the rest of us catch up and as emergent becomes transferable (oh, no!, or ist that good after all?). A move of the Spirit must be able to move to and fro, from postmodern to modern, to boomer and buster, to Latino and African American, from Europe and Asia, through current emergent, post-emergent and barely-emergent. To those of you ahead of the curve, don’t get bored, keep learning, keep growing, but realize that there are many of us still emerging.” DavidT

“I think that the emergent church will not have done its real work until you can learn about it and experience from inside the institutions of the church–namely credentialing agencies, denominations and seminaries. I do not think it will be done until Barna’s or Warren’s textbooks are replaced by ones by Doug Pagit. Then we’ll be rigid enough to be replaced by another movement;) And not that that is the goal or aspiration of the emergent church, but it may be a natural byproduct.

Or maybe not, maybe the emergent church is simply the natural counter/corrective-force to mainstream Christianity.”
Tim Bednar

Read the rest of the comments from “When we stop emerging”.


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.


  • Kai says:

    Never cared for tags…let it die…(but)Long live the Revolution!!!
    Too many people dying or barely living to give a warm bucket of spit about what people call it…just get to work!

  • Charlie Wear says:

    Hey Andrew,
    I wrote about the labeling in October of 2006 here:
    Stephen Shields posted around that time about how we may be post-emerging.
    I like your idea about calling it “church,” however, you are probably aware that one of the reasons that some folks want to drop the term is because of the criticism they have gotten by those who don’t think that some of the practitioners in the “emerging church” are not a part of the Church.
    The use of terms like emerging, emergent, missional, monastic, transformational, incarnational, organic, etc. seem to be communicating something. I have found over the years that as I have asked those who are using these terms to describe what they are doing that they have a hard time giving a clear explanation.
    I remember hearing one pastor say: “Oh yeah, they went full-on emergent with candles, tables and liturgy.” I heard a conference speaker for a nationally recognized association of churches define emerging churches as “those churches that are trying to reach younger generations.” Both of these comments were last year. In an interview with an editor of a magazine for pastors I was asked, “What should we tell pastors, is the emerging church a fad that will soon pass?”
    All of these comments (along with those used by Doug Pagitt to describe the emerging church in a recent YouTube video) seem to really miss the point.
    Ah well, with new descriptions we can get a whole new round of books, seminars, conferences and seminary courses describing what the “new” thing is, awesome!

  • LOL so now we are deconstructing Emerging. — i’m just a lover of Jesus.

  • ok, ok, – so it’s really Glory to Glory (hopefully – some days getting out of bed feels like enough) – but— then it’s really incarnation transformation- and that is one on one with Jesus And in relationship to the Body And in relationship to those that are in becoming His………….. (ok, i’m off to work, just my thoughts this morning.)

  • rob says:

    sorry, its in german – but it fits very well.

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