Whites Only 2: Listening to More Criticism

is the emering church for whites only

Story from Jason Mach

[Jason Mach} “When Professor Rah was writing The Next Evangelicalism, he asked me (Jason) to visit a number of Web sites for emerging churches. I discovered that the large majority of emerging church leaders were white 20- to 30-year-olds. Photos showed people in trendy clothing, sporting cool hairstyles and eyewear.

Some might respond, so what? If the majority of people to whom the emerging church movement appeals are younger people of European descent and stylistic flair, then so be it. But there is a larger problem. As I continued my research, memories from my own spiritual journey flooded my mind—memories of hopelessness and longing, of wanting to believe there was something more rich and diverse about Christian life than what I was experiencing in the white suburbs. There was a great sense of joy when I found an emerging church, a place where people from various backgrounds (so I thought) were gathered in one community. I quickly became a fan of the emerging church. But now, in the midst of my research, my excitement was beginning to fade.
The emerging church, or rather this particular expression of it, was in essence no different than the church environment in which I was raised. Younger and cooler, maybe, but still the same: white, middle- to upper-class, and reflecting many of the values associated with these categories. It became apparent to me that this “emerging,” postmodern church was simply the pierced and tattooed offspring of its older, modern parents.” From Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?
Thoughts? Response?

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" :-)

5 Comments

  • Most emerging church leaders are white, it seems – certainly in the UK. And within Baptist circles, i’d say most of the people engaged in the conversation about emerging church are white.
    But, having said that, the leader of the cafe church network, a pioneer church planting group in the UK, is black. He’s a creative, dynamic and sometimes original thinker.
    I suspect there are others but they don’t achieve the prominence that others have.

  • Ok Andrew, here’s an important question: What has the emerging church done in the area of foreign missions? In other words, do emergents value co-laboring in places such as the Developing World?
    You will recall that Carl Raschke in his prescient book “GloboChrist” called the emergent church, because of its postmodern valorization of difference, the “veritable end of missions.” Also, “In the West, Christians themselves cannot be a counterforce to the trend toward radical Islamism in the 10/40 Window unless they come to terms with their own spiritual weakness and the way the gospel has been compromised for the sake of the greatest of all idols – ‘relevance.’ ”

  • Tying my last comment/question into the “whiteness” of the emerging circles…the postmodern valorization of difference that Raschke refers to, stated in plain language I think, translates into “white post-colonial guilt” and as such the West has lost its self-confidence in asserting anything to its former colonies. While there is much good in a more humble Western church, the question is: Has the baby been thrown out with the bathwater?

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