If you are in any way in touch with ‘church-culture’ you will have head by now the term “EMERGING”. There have been books, articles, talks, conferences, and apparel made around this conversation in the last decade (well, maybe not apparel, but that does sound cool).
I would say that I am one who is ’emerging’ to something new within the Christian culture. To be honest, even though I’m in youth ministry, I don’t quite understand the whole entire movement. I know there are extremes to both sides of the emerging spectrum – both going too far in their approach to changing the face of Christianity. In any case, if I were to wear any type of an emerging label, I would have to say that I fall within the middle of things.
Before I go any further, I want to make it very clear that I love the Church. I say these things not to bash the Church but to call it to repentance and a reformation-of-sorts in getting back to the Word of GOD. My love for the Church drives my passion to help transform the Church back into the image of CHRIST, as it was first established in Acts 2. But somewhere between the end of Acts and now, we have lost the purpose of Church and the reason for being a Christian – again, in my opinion.
I am one who calls the Church to change their stance and perception to and within society. The Church doors where made to stay open at all times and never close to those willing to enter in. The Church has become corrupt in many ways, and very dysfunctional in many other ways. Many Church traditions are not of GOD, and therefore should be done away with. Church denominations, in my opinion, have no purpose or biblical authority, and only serve to separate Christians into groups who lobby against each other over petty issues.
The Church seems to have thrown out the sinners, but have kept the prideful and ignorant. It seems more and more that the Church speaks one things, does another, and yet in some cases, believes something totally different. Needless to say, the Church is full of hypercrites and things carry on as if nothing is wrong. It raises a fuss about abortion issues, but does nothing about genocides in third-world countries; likewise, it protests the war on Iraq, but does nothing about the homeless families living down the street. Sin has been replaced with grace, and grace has been replaced with stimpulations. Anymore it seems that the Church is being led by the world, instead of the world being led by the Church. Unless we have totally forgotten and dismissed the entire message of JESUS.
And even in saying that, Church leaders openly debate about doctrine and scripture, calling for a new gospel of sorts to live by – it appears the one we have now has somehow become outdated. From debates about Creation days to issues of Inerrancy, and everything in between, the leaders of Christinaity battle each other and in the process further the wedge between CHRIST and HIS people. False hope is being given in place of authentic truth, and yet both sides claim their way trumps the other. Meanwhile, the message of CHRIST slowly becomes irrelevant to a culture that is looking for something to believe in.
Does the Church and it’s Christian inhabitants need to emerge into something new? YES, but not at the cost of forsaking biblical truth for the sake of looking like the good guy in all of this.
According to Mark Driscoll’s article, Navigating the Emerging Church Highway, in the Christian Research Journal (September 2008), there are four roads on this ‘highway’ of emergence: emerging evangelicals, house church evangelicals, emerging reformers, and emergent liberals. Here is an audio interview with Driscoll about the article, and below are some highlights from the print article.
Emerging Evangelicals “are interested in updating worship styles, preaching styles, and church leadership structures” within the Church in order to be more “relevant to postmodern-minded people” (p 14). Some examples of these evangelicals are Dan Kimball, Chris Seay, and Don Miller.
House Church Evangelicals “are dissatisfied with the current forms of church”, calling Christians on the complacent carpet, and “propose more informal, incarnational, and organic church forms such as” house churches (p 14). Some examples of these evangelicals are Shane Claiborne, Michael Frost, and George Barna.
Emerging Reformers “see the postmodern world as an opportunity for the church to” continue the “cry of the Protestant Reformation”, being “charismatic in terms of spiritual gifts and worship and aggressive in church planting” as well as being passionate about Reformed theological traditions (p 14). Some examples of these reformers are Billy Graham, John Calvin, John Stott, John Piper, Martin Luther, Darrin Patrick, and Mark Driscoll. I would also say that I favor this ’emerging lane’ more than the other two.
There is nothing wrong with the above three lanes of emergence. As long as we drive upon the foundations of CHRIST’S truth and grace.
The final lane of the emerging highway is the one I fear is becoming more and more popular within the Christian culture. While their idea and premise is good and needed, the means of how they are going about it compromises the very reason for taking such action. Emergent Liberals are ones who critique “key evangelical doctrines” in the name of peace and tolerance. The doctrine of GOD, the Trinity, Biblical revelation, the deity of CHRIST, and sin overall (especially in regards to the practice of homosexuality) are called into question as being irrelevant, out dated and too harsh. Some examples of these leaders are Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones.
I do highly recommend reading the article and listening to the interview for more insights about these particular lanes.
So why bring this all up? Because we need to be talking about these things. The Church needs to begin to move back to it’s roots (Acts 2), and from there we need to dig ourselves deep into the TRUTH of GOD’S Word. I fear we have gotten far away from our beginnings, and if we keep traveling down these roads the generations following us will be led further away from their FATHER GOD, and in the end we’ll have no one else to blame but ourselves.
I feel an urgent plea from GOD to close down the Emergent Liberal lane of traffic and help our brothers and sisters to merge back onto the truth that has called us forth to be such examples in a dark and saltless world. six11 ministries stands on the truth of GOD’S Word, and within the strong belief that we are one in CHRIST, the bride of CHRIST, and that HE does not share HIS glory with any other. That CHRIST has called us into a pure relationship with HIM, and to do otherwise is to forsake the convenant HE made with us on Calvary.
I guess the only question that needs to be asked of yourself is this: which lane are you driving in, and which lane will you continue to drive in?