The Emerging Church movement (is this a good term?) caught me off guard. The Wikipedia article isn’t too helpful, but does give a nice set of links to begin spelunking. The first one I visited is, logically enough, emerging::church, subtitled “postmodern::world.”
My first reactions are mixed. The very term “postmodern” for me is like fingernails on a blackboard. It’s a jargonish way of saying, “I don’t much like what you’ve done; I’m not going to do anything different, but I’ll call it by a sexier-sounding name.” PoMo this; deconstruct that. Jacques Derrida, call your office…there’s some work here for you.
From emerging::church, this on their “mission context”:
today’s mission context provides the church with a chance to:
1. shake off any residual “leave it to beaver” orientation and begin swimming (even with a paddleboard) within the postmodern culture.
2. really trust the power of the gospel and learn to communicate it with authenticity, because for postmodern people, authenticity is primary.
This says absolutely nothing. I may not be the most orthodox of Christians, but the Gospel is for me the most authentic thing I have ever, in my entire life, come stumbling across. It does not need “deconstructing.”
So my gut reaction is negative. I will not let that stop me from learning more, to see if the emerging church is just another flavor of the month. Or, if it is, truly, a new way to reach people in the 21st century with a new take on a timeless message.
That last phrase, timeless message, may be a giveaway that I’m not really into this project. I believe there are immutable truths. Perhaps emerging church is but a new veneer, a method of presentation that preserves the truths that make us Christians. The message of salvation through Jesus is simple yet powerful, and will stand up to a fresh coat of paint. The only question for me is, are they throwing out the baby Jesus with the proverbial bathwater?
An open mind collects dirt, I’ve heard said. Nonetheless, I’ll continue to read, and, if I can, interact with some people in this movement – and try to see if there is something that might make sense in our church and community.