Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Please explain to me the emergent church movement."

Recently had a friend ask me this question. Where to start right? I referenced them to obvious websites (emergent village, the ooze, etc.) and books (McLaren's trilogy, Jones' most recent work, Emerging Manifesto of Hope and Listening to the Beliefs of Emerging Churches, etc.) but also offered the following attempt at explanation. Let me know if I did this question any justice.

"Explaining the emergent church movement is, for many including myself, a little like nailing jell-o to a wall. I find that to really define the emergent church movement, you need to read a little and visit different . One of the easiest and most accessible books I recommend to assist you in figuring this out is Gibbs and Bolger’s Emerging Churches. In it Gibbs and Bolger offer, I believe one of the most articulate and correct definitions of some of what lies beneath the emergent church movement:

“Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures…[thus] Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities" (44-45).

I believe Gibbs and Bolger nail down 9 categorically correct identifiers for the emerging/emergent movement within the church though these nine manifest themselves quite differently from community to community. It is a very organic approach to reclaim, for most outside the church, what seems to be central to the message of Jesus and therefore reclaim the church by redefining it and redesigning it within the context of a community of believers seeking to serve in the missio Dei (mission of God) and bring about the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven (not in ah the Left Behind apocalyptic way but in the way Jesus explains the last will be first kingdom of God). So, on top of reading, understanding the emerging/emergent thing is best done by seeking out emerging communities in your area and meeting with them to see how they articulate these 9 elements (though the nine are by no means “required”) in the context of their community."

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