Tuesday, July 29, 2008

EC#1 - What is it?

It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. My head keeps churning with thoughts about the Emerging and/or Emergent Church, What it is and What it isn't. So here is installment one of my emergent whining.

Imagine for a minute that your favorite hospitality host or hostess has prepared a large molded gelatin creation for a special occasion. It was concocted by combining over a gallon of Jello using many layers in a rainbow of different colors and flavors. It looks appealingly beautiful and delicious laying upon the platter on which it has been unmolded.

Now suppose that you attempted to pick it up (not the platter just the Jello) and examine it with your bare hands. If you are familiar with Jello you know that it would crack, splinter, and break apart into many pieces so that it's original form would no longer be discernible. Whatever portion you might be able to hold onto would then melt in your hands leaving behind a sticky goo.

Think of this as a simile of the Emerging/Emergent Church. It is not really a Church, nor does it posses any single or unifying characteristics. It is nearly impossible to define. Yet this amorphous concept has captured the hearts, minds and imaginations of many Christians who are dissatisfied with "Doing Church" in traditional ways.

Features common to most assemblies that are identified with this phenomena include a modern style of music combined with a multimedia delivery as well as mostly unstructured worship or gathering format. The trend is to reject legalistic doctrinal positions in favor of individual discernment. Instead of traditional preaching interactive conversations are frequently the accepted format. Most of these fellowships place a strong emphasis on social activism such as in caring for human needs, community outreach, and environmental responsibility while simultaneously distancing themselves from such issues as abortion rights, homosexuality, and similar long held "moral high ground" positions which they tend to view as more political than spiritual. There is much more but that is enough for the first day.

My overall impression is that like every human invention this one is as imperfect as what it attempts to replace.

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