I ask this every year. This year, MOST people in my world say that the label “emerging church” or “emergent church” does not define or describe the kinds of ministries they are doing. That also means that many books on the subject do not speak for these people and most of the criticism misses its target. Not only that, but using the term is problematic for some Seminaries and ministries. What do you think? Is the term helpful to you or a hindrance?
In comments, I noted:
thanks for asking the question. I go back and forth. the emergent thread of the emerging church seems to have most of the emerging famous and so it draws most of the attention and most of the criticism. …I definitely consider myself emerging but haven’t resonated as much with the emergent side of the conversation, though I have friends there. And I have gotten publicly criticized by those who consider me emergent and don’t seem to be saavy to the distinction. In fact, it seems to me that most outside of the conversation aren’t saavy as to the distinction. Because of this, I’m wondering if we non-emergent emergers should just call ourselves missional and be done with it.
On the other side, I’m deeply grateful for what I’ve learned as a result of being a participant in the emerging church conversation. Anyway, I’m just being honest about the dissonance I feel about this. I don’t today have a settled answer to your question.
But, thankfully, it’s a *relatively* unimportant discussion (I’m not saying it can’t be discussed profitably). In the final analysis, what matters is if we are Christian or not.
Andrew Hamilton (hamo) noted:
I have almost jetisoned the term except for the fact that it is so much a part of popular parlance.
I choose to speak of ‘missional incarnational’ communities. A bit of a mouthful, but simply put it is ‘going out – going deep’ and I believe that captures the essence of the our movement here in Oz.
I can’t always bat for the ’emerging church’ but I can for the MIC!
Andrew Jones concludes:
i am not really looking for a new term. i was doing this stuff 20 years and ago and i was doing this stuff 10 years ago (when the “emerging” label came into play) and i hope i will still be following Jesus in this way over the next decade and beyond.
Let someone else name it. We should just be getting on with it.
Sounds like it really is time to move on . . . which is a pity in some ways because there is a lot of interest in the word right now.
but i have found very few people in the christian world who actually researched the idea of “emergent theory” in biology or economics and made connections to ministry. Rather, it became a label with a short shelf life like all the other labels.
i still like the idea of “missionary” and “missional” though.
There’s lots of other comments to that post worth reading. See the whole thread here.
- Resonances with the Emerging Church
- Is the Distinction Between “Emerging Church” and “Emergent” Obscurantist?
- The Emerging Church, the Post-Emerging Church
- Are there Emerging Church Shibboleths?
- Theological Disagreement and the Emerging Church