20060512

emerging/evolving?

when you write the term, "emerging/evolving" what do you mean?

i was asked that question recently, because i have been using the term "emerging/evolving" in things i have been writing - so what does it mean? humm, let me see if i can explain.

the person who emailed me was rather concerned that i was "leaving the emerging" and walking away from the conversation, and that is so not the case. i will stay in the conversation as long as people are talking, and real conversation is happening. i have no desire to think of myself "outside" the emerging church, but i also have no desire to be placed into a box where others define what it means to be part of the "emerging church."

in that, here is where i am at in the conversation. with the exception of a few people i know, most in the "emerging church" are simply "evangelical" with different music, and they burn a few candles. many seem to think that if they simply offer music to attract a younger gathering they have become "emerging." still others think the "emergting church" is a youth group in a "a real church." but for me, and some that i know and speak with, "emerging" is much more - it is a desire to go deep into scripture and open it from the inside, to find what is real in the word of God and remove all the traditional stuff that covers it. it is walking in a community, where accountability is found in love and grace and people lift each other; because accountability is not "punishment" and should never be done with punishment in mind. for many who were raised in the church these are hard to understand.

you see, if the "emerging church" is just like willowcreek [sorry gene and bill] with different music, then what value does it have? the idea of emerging has been to be "true" to what we believe God is speaking, and how we believe God is working in his people today. but i think we lost most of that search in a fight started by others. we have found some people who are against the idea of emerging, so we hide our heads in the sand and stop saying what we think is real because we may offend someone. we give in, instead of giving to God. we are "silent" while many in the communities where we serve are being ignored, because they do not see us as anything but "regular church." this hurts the most, because many in our communities are hurting people in need of the grace of Christ in their lives.

if that is what "emerging" and "emergent" have become, then i am uncomfortable with that - because i do not believe we must settle, i believe God is telling us to move up, move on and move into the world we live in; God is telling us that there are people hurting in this world and if we do not reach them with the life changing message of Jesus Christ, no one will.

i believe we have tone down our call to being closer to God because it causes us to lose book deals and speaking enagements; we tone down our call to being closer to Christ, because it makes some "powerful" people in the evangelical community uncomfortable with our desire for real accountability outside their control. we have lost the idea that "emerging" does not mean "liberal or fundamental" it simply means "emerging" - in the "emerging" we have lost the idea that we are not "anti" others, in fact we support and encourage them, but we are not them.

so, i have started to add the idea that we need to evolve in the emergent. i have, in the past, used the term "emergent evolution" [and will continue to use it] which is an actual term. when we are evolving, we are saying something is changing, something is different, we are no longer what we were; while at a core our DNA is somewhat the same we are changing at dramatic levels. What we were, is not what we are, and it is not what we will become, we are 'evolving' and reaching new expressions of our faith in Christ; to me, that is exciting. in fact, one of the definitions of "emerging" is to "come into being through evolution." so, the idea of "emerging/evolution" is different in that i desire to be more then what i see happening in the "emerging conversation" - and i desire to truly see change in the lives of the people around me. this may have been the heart of the emerging at one time, and it can still be, we need to return to our first love, God.

4 comments:

DaNutz said...

Yes!! Thanks for saying that. I am growing tired of finding a new website, blog, or church that embraces the terms emergent, emergent church, etc. only to find that they are typical Evangelical literalist types that simply want to slap a new appearance on the same thoughts.

It is about changing our vision, politics, systems, priorities and values so that they embody the spirit of Jesus. If we do that and our traditions and appreances stay the same then that is great. If they change that that is fine too.

pdstein said...

John, I am just becoming familiar with the concept of the "emerging/evolving" church as you call it. You said...

>>"emerging" is much more - it is a desire to go deep into scripture and open it from the inside, to find what is real in the word of God and remove all the traditional stuff that covers it...
>>
>>you see, if the "emerging church" is just like willowcreek [sorry gene and bill] with different music, then what value does it have? the idea of emerging has been to be "true" to what we believe God is speaking, and how we believe God is working in his people today

Your statement implies that Willow Creek is not being true to what God is speaking and that it is allowing tradition to prevent people from going deeper in the world. Am I hearing you correctly?

If so, that runs counter to my experience. My impression of seeker-oriented churches like Willow is that they have abandoned tradition and hold as one of their highest values to be culturally relevant.

Again, I am not all that familiar with what the "emergent church" looks like, but I wonder if it's simply the church trying to reach Generation Y, which is more experiential, where as Willow-type churches tend to be more geard for Generation X, which is more observational.

Paul Steinbrueck
OurChurch.Com
Christian Web Trends Blog

Anonymous said...

John,

As a young man who did not "grow up in the church" I find myself somewhat saddened by the emerging church instead of welcomed and encouraged. Why? Because I like my church. It is a young evangelical AG church. However it seems by emergent definition then that either I or my church is apostate from God. I welcome tradition. I like the denomination. But more than all else I am completely in love with God. I could go on about why I like my church but it seems the bottom line is as welcoming as the emerging church says it is unfortunately in practise it is as exclusionary as it hammers and blasts others for being.

You state "in that, here is where I am at in the conversation. with the exception of a few people i know, most in the "emerging church" are simply "evangelical" with different music, and they burn a few candles. many seem to think that if they simply offer music to attract a younger gathering they have become "emerging." still others think the "emergting church" is a youth group in a "a real church." but for me, and some that i know and speak with, "emerging" is much more - it is a desire to go deep into scripture and open it from". the inside, to find what is real in the word of God and remove all the traditional stuff that covers it. it is walking in a community, where accountability is found in love and grace and people lift each other; because accountability is not "punishment" and should never be done with punishment in mind. for many who were raised in the church these are hard to understand.

I do not mean to hammer on you I simply want to state that many people see the emerging church as very exclusionary. I like following and being involved in many of these conversations. However by definition I and others are labeled by many as shallow, ignorant, sheep. As loving as I can I will say I find many in the emergent church are very arrogant. And I realize the defenses very possibly just went up. However the very things I see and hear from emergent conversations – the rage, disgust, and vomit spewed towards the fundamentalists, evangelicals, and any church labeled as “traditional” are the very things will push many people to just walk right on by this conversation.


you see, if the "emerging church" is just like willowcreek [sorry gene and bill] with different music, then what value does it have?”

You assume a lot. First that an evangelical church is not going deep in to scripture and tearing about, chewing on it, and looking past man’s interpretations and biased to find the words of God. Second that only emerging churches have the “real” meaning of accountability. I belong to a church where other men do hold me accountable not to find my faults and punish me to make themselves judges, but out of Godly love and grace by lifting me up when I stumble. And third that Willowcreek has no value.

I do not mean to hammer on you I simply want to state that many people see the emerging church as very exclusionary. I like following and being involved in many of these conversations. However by definition I and others are labeled by many as shallow, ignorant, sheep. As loving as I can I will say I find many in the emergent church are very arrogant. And I realize the defenses very possibly just went up. However the very things I see and hear from emergent conversations – the rage, disgust, and vomit spewed towards the fundamentalists, evangelicals, and any church labeled as “traditional” are the very things will push many people to just walk right on by this conversation.


I say this in all love - Why are many in the emerging church so willing to label me?

Live Loud!

Anonymous said...

Sorry ... disregard the double talk. I pasted from a word document and did not quite make it over as I wrote it .....