Whites Only 5: Middle Class Suburbanites

is the emering church for whites only

Taken from “Is the ‘Emerging Church’ for Whites Only?”

“Another example of the difficulty in understanding and using the term “emerging church” is found in a blog entry from December 2009. The blogger states that “history will most likely mark 2009 as the point of transition and maturation for the emerging church movement.” The “emerging church” being referred to is the Western expression of it; the history provided centers on events in Western countries and cultures. Yet found in the following sentence is this statement: “various streams within the movement will continue on for many years to come. For example, the biggest global emerging church event on the calendar for 2010 will take place in Brazil and be attended mostly by Latin Americans.” If the larger emerging church has many different streams, then why, if one of those streams supposedly has dried up, is the entire movement being declared dead?

In truth, the term “emerging church” should encompass the broader movement and development of a new face of Christianity, one that is diverse and multi-ethnic in both its global and local expressions. It should not be presented as a movement or conversation that is keyed on white middle- to upper-class suburbanites.” “Is the ‘Emerging Church’ for Whites Only?”
I agree ENTIRELY with the authors that the term ’emerging church’ should encompass the broader movement, diverse and multi-ethnic, global and local. As I said in my original post.
A little bio and a little history would be in order, especially since the blogger who is quoted here is actually ME.
1. I am not a suburbanite and very few of the EC people we have been mentoring and supporting have been suburbanites. I was a suburbanite, a long time ago, when I was pastoring a Baptist church, but I gave that up to spend my life in the inner cities and with global nomads. I dont own a house, dont have a mortgage. I dont even have a car anymore. I dont like bright cement. I hate shopping malls.
2. I am not middle class. I am POOR, at least by Western standards. But very very happy. And the poor people we live and work amongst are also happy. When I say that I am poor I mean that breakfast cereal is a luxury, we take buses around because we have no car (although we live in a motorhome) and have NEVER had a new car or even a car newer than 9 years old. I also dont get a salary but am dependant on people believing in what we are doing and supporting our family (we have 5 children) and supplementing that with my wife’s pottery. My poorness means that I cannot finish my seminary degree, but I am grateful that I was able to study there for a while, thanks to the proceeds of selling our house 15 years ago.
3. The emerging church we referred to was NOT only the Western expression of it but was actually the result of research from about 50 organizations and movements in nearly 50 countries. And when I say research, I dont mean downloading a few web sites, or chatting to leaders from a single group, but I mean we actually travel to those countries, live among the people and assist them in what they are doing while we observe. However, the area of my concern is the Western world so my take on the whole movement might be skewed more in that direction than some of my African or Asian buddies.
Where are we right now? We have been in Africa for most of the year, in an area where the MAJORITY of believers connect together in simple, non-hierarchical churches that exhibit emergent behavior. In USA, we might call them emerging churches but over here, and also in Asia, they are just the kind of churches that make sense in countries where resources are low and governments are suspicious and locals have less contact with complicated, expensive, non-sustainable Western models of church. And its a good thing.
4. the history provided centers on events in Western countries and cultures.
This is kind of true but there is a reason. Over the past decade we have hosted roundtable events for global emerging church leaders. We [the Boaz Project] keep a low profile because we do not want to colonize or abuse the leaders we support – thus we have chosen not to have a high profile or even a website] Most of our events in the past decade have been hosted in Western countries. Our first global event was held in Austin Texas in 2001. We brought in leaders from countries including Indonesia and Brazil but did not have the funds to invite more. The Baptist General Convention of Texas, God bless’em, would not have sponsored this event if it wasnt in USA, and in particular, in Texas. But they did and their gift of $2000 enable us to throw the event. After 2001, we had attracted a little attention from DAWN MInistries and through a joint partnership of the BGCT’s Boaz Project, DAWN Ministries, and some other more local groups overseas. we were able to host a number of international events for EC leaders in Latin America (we met in Colombia) and Asia (we met in Japan). Other events happened in Czech Republic, Poland, UK, Germany, Australia – Western countries – but actually it is often easier and cheaper to meet in Western countries. Flights are cheaper for internationals and visas are easier to obtain. UK is very easy to get to with budget airlines so we have often hosted events there. From the North African country I am writing from, it is cheaper to fly to London than it is to fly or even drive to the next African country.


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.


  • Lee Fischer says:

    What is the Boaz Project?

  • tsk says:

    Hi Lee. Its the ministry we have been working on for the last 10 years and the host of these global leadership roundtable events but we normally do not use the name, preferring to spotlight the ministries in the various countries we are supporting or the groups we are partnering with.

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