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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Emergent

It has become somewhat commonplace these days to hear or read references to emergent or emerging churches. One may also hear the term, the emergent church movement from time to time. I have read articles that refer to this phenomenon with great enthusiasm, and I have also heard speakers dismiss it as “nonsense” or “wishful thinking.” For me, the problem was, I really didn’t understand what people were talking about! Oh, emergent clearly means something that is emerging, but what?

It was time to do a little research. Consequently, I borrowed a book from Marion’s bulging bookshelf. The book is The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle, one of the leading writers on this subject along with Brian McLaren. I must hasten to say that reading one book does not make me an expert on this or any other subject. Truth be told, it probably doesn’t even qualify me to write this blog post, however I am happy to share with you what I have learned.

It turns out that the emergent church movement or ‘conversation’ is related to the changes affecting our entire society, especially the transition from modern to post-modern life. It is connected to the sometimes unsettling adjustments each of us feel but sometimes have a hard time identifying or explaining. In a sense it reminds me of the mistrust of consumer ‘brands’ we have seen over the past number of years, with many people opting to buy generic products. In the case of churches, the mistrust may not be so much for the brand, but for how those brands have traditionally behaved or what they have believed. There is a blurring of theological boundaries, with various churches endorsing views that typically characterize other faith groups. In a sense, there appears to be a kind of ‘meeting in the middle’ of a variety of faith experiences.

A number of rapidly growing church movements have been identified with the term emergent, such as Calvary Chapels and the Vineyard network; however emergent churches are appearing across the faith spectrum. Emerging churches may be nominally Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anabaptist or any variety of others.

How important is this? I confess, I really don’t know, but Tickle thinks it is big, comparing it to a new Reformation, or the medieval emergence of Protestantism and the resulting re-imagining of the Roman Catholic Church. That is big! Is she right or is it merely wishful thinking? I suspect it will take a few more decades to find out.

In the meantime, if you would like to know more about the Emergent Church movement, Tickle’s book is a great place to start.

Posted by Carman

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