Emerging Church

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"Emergent" is a loosely knit group of people in conversation about and trying experiments in forwarding the ministry of Jesus in new and different ways, as the people of God in a post-Christian context. From there, wide diversity abounds. "Emergents" seem to share one common trait: disillusionment with the organized, institutional church as it has existed through the 20th century (whether fundamentalist, liberal, megachurch, or tall-steeple liturgical). Its strengths: creative, energetic, youthful, authentic, highly relational. Its weaknesses: somewhat cynical, disorganized, sometimes reckless (even in the theological ideas willing to be entertained), immature. Todd Mangum

The Emerging Church
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The "emerging church" describes a difficult-to-define movement of the last three decades that has moved away from traditional, institutional styles of worship and church hierarchy. Proponents of this movement often call it a "conversation". Members of emerging communities often are disillusioned with the organized and institutional church and may support the deconstruction of modern Christian dogma. The movement often favors the use of stories and narratives. Members of the emerging movement place high value on good works and social activism.

The movement is also referred to as the "emergent church" although in recent times there has been a shift in the understanding of some people where "emerging" refers to the wider, informal, church-based, global movement and "emergent" refers to an official organization, the Emergent Village[1]

Defining the Emerging Church

Defining the emerging church is difficult and there is no clear consensus in meaning.[2] Todd Mangum, the associate Professor of Theology at Biblical Theological Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania in the United States has described the emerging church in this way:

"Emergent" is a loosely knit group of people in conversation about and trying experiments in forwarding the ministry of Jesus in new and different ways, as the people of God in a post-Christian context. From there, wide diversity abounds. "Emergents" seem to share one common trait: disillusionment with the organized, institutional church as it has existed through the 20th century (whether fundamentalist, liberal, megachurch, or tall-steeple liturgical). Its strengths: creative, energetic, youthful, authentic, highly relational. Its weaknesses: somewhat cynical, disorganized, sometimes reckless (even in the theological ideas willing to be entertained), immature.[3]

History of the Emerging Church

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Quotes

Scot McKnight[4]

It is said that emerging Christians confess their faith like mainliners—meaning they say things publicly they don't really believe. They drink like Southern Baptists—meaning, to adapt some words from Mark Twain, they are teetotalers when it is judicious. They talk like Catholics—meaning they cuss and use naughty words. They evangelize and theologize like the Reformed—meaning they rarely evangelize, yet theologize all the time. They worship like charismatics—meaning with their whole bodies, some parts tattooed. They vote like Episcopalians—meaning they eat, drink, and sleep on their left side. And, they deny the truth—meaning they've got a latte-soaked copy of Derrida in their smoke- and beer-stained backpacks. Along with unfair stereotypes of other traditions, such are the urban legends surrounding the emerging church—one of the most controversial and misunderstood movements today.

References

  1. S. McKnight, "McLaren Emerging", Christianity Today, 26-September-2008. Web address: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/september/38.59.html
  2. Stuart Murray, Church After Christendom, (London: Paternoster Press, 2004), 73
  3. "Catlyst 4 Mission Leadership: Q & A with Todd Mangum" (2007-10-06).
  4. S McKnight, "Five Streams of the Emerging Church", Christianity Today, 23-October-2007. Web address: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/february/11.35.html

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