Emerging + Missional = Emergissional
What is the relationship between the emerging church and missional theology, and do they share a common future?

Dan Kimball is a recognized authority on the emerging church. After all, he did write the book on the subject. At a recent conference we sat down to talk with Kimball about the future he sees for the emerging church, and how it relates to the growing popularity of all things "missional."

There has been a lot of talk at this conference about the emerging church. Looking into your crystal ball, where do you see this going? Do you think this conversation has legs, or will it morph into something else?

It is totally hard to say. The term "emerging church" now means so many different things depending on who you are asking. So it all depends on what stream of the emerging church we are talking about. For me, the term means churches that are being missional in our emerging culture. That part of the conversation certainly seems to be gaining steam and interest from churches of all types. So I really hope the missional outward thinking is something that grows stronger and lasts. But what that looks like may be constantly changing as culture changes. But I hope we keep gaining a passion for being sent by Jesus into the world. I hope that stream of the emerging church grows and lasts.

You've talked about Guder's book, The Missional Church. Do you see a convergence between the ideas generated by the emerging church and the growing popularity of missional theology, or do you see them as really separate conversations?

To my best understanding the emerging church and the missional church are very much the same. But when you talk about the "emerging church" there is also a stream of conversation which focuses more on pragmatic changes - like worship gathering and helping younger people connect with worship. That is part of it, but it is far more than just making changes in the worship gathering, it is a philosophical way of being a Christian and being churches sent into the world. Personally, I use the terms "emerging church" and "missional church" interchangeably. They are synonymous conversations. But not everyone sees them that way.

Because they're not addressing the deeper, philosophical, theological issues, they're just changing their style?

Some churches only change the style or add an alternative Sunday night worship gathering to see younger people come to the church and consider that to be missional or emerging. That's a wonderful hope and worthy motivation, but usually that isn't addressing the deeper issues. Adding an alternative worship gathering to an existing church is very difficult because the philosophical DNA not going to be different. Being missional requires an ecclesiological change.

September 06, 2007

Displaying 1–4 of 4 comments


October 02, 2007  1:50pm

Emerging...missional...whatever. How about a little less talk and a lot more action? We all like to think that we are influencing our communities, but redeeming involvement in the community has to be more than slogans in a brochure or a cleverly worded mission statement. It's simply this: less time inside our evangelical cocoons and more time outside, rubbing shoulders with those we claim we want to reach.

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September 19, 2007  11:29am

The joke is that if you put the names together oppositely of the title of this post then you get quite possibly the very worst name for a church ever. Perhaps, if you stopped taking yourself so seriously you could see the humor in situations such as these.

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Mike Kaylani

September 14, 2007  1:07pm

I don't quite get the joke of the previous comment, but I do want to say that I believe the labels can do more damage than good at times. It is my hope that the emergent/missional movement being seen in the church today is actually more of a peaceful reformation to free the Church from some of the bad habits and practices it has picked up in past generations (especially as America becomes more culturally diverse). I don't know of many evangelicals who do not desire to be missional. It's just that the target is changing from "over there" to "next door" or even "under the same roof". At the same time, I secretly wish that the "emergent" label would go away, simply because it is being used to divide rather than unite churches that desire to uphold the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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September 11, 2007  1:37pm

How about: Missional + Emerging = The Missing Church

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