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Emergent is no longer just emerging. It has in many respects emerged. Though some things remain unclear, what you see is what it is and, more importantly, what you see is also where it is going. Where it is going is in the direction of gospel expansion. Is emergent "evangelical"? Some answer with a hearty, "By all means!" Others, a more moderate, "Well yes, on some level." Still others, a most definite, "No, of course not!"

The emerging movement, the larger movement of which emergent is a segment, remains more or less connected to the core of evangelicalism. It contains a variety of missional impulses; it remains concerned about the church; and its theological ideas will undoubtedly continue to impact evangelicalism. John Stott recently sketched three core practices of emerging churches: the way of Jesus, breaking down the sacred-secular divide, and community living. He says that "emerging churches are rediscovering [these core practices] and giving them a fresh emphasis." Rediscovering accurately describes what is going on, but those in the emerging movement feel these core practices are a fresh discovery. Furthermore, what Stott calls the "emerging churches" involves a spectrum that deserves a closer look.

I maintain a crucial distinction between two related streams: emergent and the broader emerging movement. Emergent is crystallized in Emergent Village and its leaders Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. Emerging is a mix of orthodox, missional, evangelical, church-centered, and social justice leaders and lay folk. When I think of this broader emerging movement, I think of Dan Kimball at Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, Dave Dunbar at Biblical Seminary in Hatfield, Pennsylvania, Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch ...

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September 2008

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