Monday, July 11, 2005
Public Broadcasting gets the Emerging Church bug
PBS is running a series exploring the phenomenon of the emerging church, a once-fledgling movement of mostly evangelical ministers seeking to reach a postmodern audience with the gospel. The movement has gained momentum over the last several years, and key names (such as Brian McLaren and Solomon's Porch) have become common parlance among many younger ministers. True to its younger, media-heavy culture, the emerging church even has a wikipedia entry.
Several people on my church planting team have read books that would fall within the circles of the emerging church: More Ready Than You Realize, The Church On The Other Side, Blue Like Jazz, Postmodern Children's Ministry, The Emerging Church, SoulTsunami, AquaChurch, and others.
Though we rarely agreed with everything written, these books have provided endless fodder for discussion and have helped us to understand new ways of talking about ministry in our context. On the up side, the so-called emergent conversation is a thoughtful corrective on some of the failures of modern thinking to address our culture effectively with the gospel. On the down side, things said in these circles can sometimes be seen as too loose on important areas of theology.
I find it interesting that a movement arising out of our institution-averse, authority-shy postmodern context would organize itself with a board of directors and president, which is precisely what the emerging movement has recently done. With a more unified front, this once scattered, loosely defined cadre of like-minded individuals will now be called upon to define itself more rigorously against its critics.
I would be disappointed to see these external pressures force the emerging church into an institutional mode, falling back into systematic (and modern) patterns for its preservation and defense. Needless to say, the emerging conversation is one I will continue to watch as it unfolds.