"RIP Emerging Church"?

One of the notable (prominent) articles about the death of the EC is at the Out of Ur blog through www.ChristianityToday.com.

Last summer, this brief piece was published:

“The emerging church will disappear.” That is what my informant told me as we shared drinks at our clandestine watering hole. I felt like Luca Brasi being handed a dead fish wrapped in newspaper. The hit had been ordered… the emerging church’s fate had been sealed. In my informant’s mind, the death of the emerging church was a settled matter. I double-checked my surroundings for listening ears before whispering, “How can you be so sure?” The informant (who worked for a publisher) leaned forward and said their marketing plans included dropping the “Emerging Church” brand within two years.

That was two years ago.

Now comes word from recognized leaders and voices within the emerging church movement that the term has become so polluted that it is being dropped.
The emerging church is dead—at least in nomenclature, if not in spirit. Both Jones and Kimball are dropping the term while trying to remain faithful to the original intention of the movement. And they represent many other church leaders and bloggers who are moving toward a post-emerging church reality.

As the emerging church rides off into the sunset, where does that leave things? Well, news has been leaking about a new network being formed by Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, and Scot McKnight among others. I understand further meetings will be happening this week to help solidify the group. The still unnamed network has agreed to start with the inclusive but orthodox theological foundation of the Lausanne Covenant, and they intend to emphasize mission and evangelism. They appear to have learned from the emerging church’s mistake—define purpose and doctrine early so your identity doesn’t get hijacked. If they do their work carefully,
perhaps the new network can avoid getting "wacked" in every sense of the word.

Click here to read more.


asthedeer.com said...

I don't think you should rename your blog, Peter. The name gives me the sense of a baby emerging from the womb, or a plant emerging from the earth.

I agree that words get tired and stale after a while from overuse. Maybe emerging/ent is one such, although the term is newer to me. Words I'd like to see retired are 'transformation,' 'journey' and 'justice.' (What they represent, though, is still important.)

To quote The Trivium, 'words are symbols of ideas about reality.' So words are already two steps removed from reality. The symbols and ideas may change, but the reality of things is still there.

Peace to you today.


David Henson said...

This proves what I've been saying for awhile now. I think the Emerging Church is dying, not from overuse or becoming watered down. As you note, Evangelical is about the most overused and meaningless word folks throw around.

The Culprit, I thing, is Consumerism, the very thing so many emerging types rail against. I'll keep this short, but I rambled on for a bit longer on my blog. Yet, interesting, that it is the book publishers that seem to be setting the terminological trend, here.

Hitch your fate to the market and when your product is no longer novel, it loses its value.

Peter said...

Chris, thanks. That's kind of the visual I've had for it too - that messy, beautiful birthing process. I agree particularly on the word "journey" (though I'm guilty of using it) and can absolutely see the same in "justice" (also guilty of).

Justice in particular is a funny one. "WHOSE justice?" Len Sweet said, "The last thing we want is JUSTICE! If we got justice, we'd all be dead..." We should be marching for social GRACE.

David, you nailed it. Consumerism, absolutely. And I hitched myself to the bandwagon, right along with the rest of the hipsters and gen-X'ers and other stereotypes.

It IS an interesting idea - that a publisher would do away with that word - especially while it's still [so far] so trendy. I wonder if it's just lip service.

Existential Punk said...

i find Kimball's project problematic precisely b/c of the very evangelical Lausanne Covenant, which i do not much subscribe to in my understanding of faith. It is like they are going backwards when i find that covenant to be a modern construct.

i have met and conversed with Kimball and he is a good guy, but i am not gonna move back with him.

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