When newspapers pick up on a religion story, there's a good chance it's old hat to insiders. So now that the Denver Post and the Press-Enterprise of inland Southern California have written stories on emergent churches, are they really still emerging?
First, in case you don't know, "Emergent is first and foremost a friendship, a network of warm and mutually encouraging relationships," according to the official Emergent website. The idea is that Christianity, as we often see it, is outmoded. Postmodernity has taken hold in our culture and the church needs to adapt or die.
In a sense, emergent churches are to Gen-Xers what mega churches are to Baby Boomers. The Denver Postexplains: "Throughout its history, evangelical Christianity has shown it can change with the times, altering methods but not the message. … The emerging church has its roots in the mid-1990s, when young evangelical pastors noticed large churches brimming with boomers were lacking 18- to 30-year-olds."
So, Xers began their own churches to meet their peers' needs. "Missionaries don't try to teach people English and then teach the Christian message. They learn the language," said Scott Thumma, faculty associate in religion and society at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Connecticut. "This is attempting to learn the language of a new generation and conveying it in that language." That language often means having couches, lava lamps, worshiping by painting, reciting poetry, journaling, and meeting in bars.
The Denver Postwrites that the "emergent" churches have their roots, and often their financial backing in the megachurches they react against. "The Journey is backed financially by Foothills Community Church in Arvada, [Colorado] a large Southern Baptist ...1