R.I.P. Emerging Church
An overused and corrupted term now sleeps with the fishes.

by Url Scaramanga

"The emerging church will disappear." That is what my informant told me as we shared drinks at our clandestine watering hole. I felt like Luca Brasi being handed a dead fish wrapped in newspaper. The hit had been ordered?the emerging church's fate had been sealed. In my informant's mind, the death of the emerging church was a settled matter. I double-checked my surroundings for listening ears before whispering, "How can you be so sure?" The informant (who worked for a publisher) leaned forward and said their marketing plans included dropping the "Emerging Church" brand within two years.

That was two years ago.

Now comes word from recognized leaders and voices within the emerging church movement that the term has become so polluted that it is being dropped. Consider Dan Kimball. He wrote the book on the emerging church - literally. His 2003 book, The Emerging Church, reintroduced the term into the evangelical lexicon. In Kimball's blog post from last week he writes:

Although I am finding that the term [emerging church] has become so broad now and so confusing, it is very important to know that I am not by any means stopping being involved and pursuing the heart and mission of what the term "emerging church" originally meant. At least in how I was personally using it when I wrote the book 6 years ago.

What did the term mean 6 years ago? Kimball defined it this way: "If you were to have asked me what the core of the emerging church is, I would have responded with ?evangelism and mission in our emerging culture to emerging generations.'" But, according to Kimball, few people associate emerging with evangelism anymore. (He finds himself using the term missional instead.) Today, Kimball says:

I can't defend or even explain theologically what is now known broadly as "the emerging church" anymore, because it has developed into so many significantly different theological strands. Some I strongly would disagree with.

The other recent voice in favor of dumping the term emerging church, is Andrew Jones (a.k.a. Tall Skinny Kiwi). Like Kimball, Jones has been an advocate for emerging ideas. (He even co-signed Emergent's "Answers to Critics" declaration.) Jones conducted a poll on his blog asking whether or not to dump the emerging church term. The results were 60/40 in favor of killing the expression.

Jones travels internationally, and he's recognized that in many places (particularly parts of Europe) the term emerging church is still a popular, defined, and generally positive idea. But he concludes:

September 19, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 48 comments

ece units

February 26, 2012  8:16am

Thanks to Matt Kelly above for the detailed comment. Interesting read. Stu

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early childhood education salary

September 09, 2011  11:31am

I once had a roommate that couldn't wait for a particular couple to break up. As it turned out, he had no intention of dating the girl but just despised their relationship. As others pointed out, it seems some want the term and the "movement" it represents to be erased. Btw, my former roommate is still single - hasn't found what he's looking for.

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ali

December 01, 2009  7:49pm

3. Jesus as idol. [5:72] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, "O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord* and your Lord." Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers.

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ali

December 01, 2009  7:46pm

* The Primordial Covenant "And [remember] when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their seed, and made them testify of themselves, [He asked]: "Am I not your Lord?" They said "Yes, we testify!" Lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: "Of this we were unaware." –Quran, The Heights 7:172 The definitive attribute of man is his ability to forget. The very word used in the Quran for "man," insan, is related etymologically to the word nisyan, or forgetfulness. Thus the human as he is initiated into the world progressively loses his awareness of the immediate presence of God. It is the function of religion to make us remember. 1.This is related to the five stages of the lives of man, one of which, is the 'preconceptual life', which took place before we came into this world. 2.This world, known as dunya in Arabic, is derived from the word 'low' and is seen in Islamic cosmology as the lowest world. Indicating that there are worlds above this one, and that man descended from the highest, which is from the presence of God. This stage of preconception is when, according to the Quran, God took all the created souls, and brought them together where He said to them "Am I not your Lord?" and the souls responded in affirmation, "Yes, we testify!" What is the meaning of idol worship? A simple definition of idol worship is to believe that anything beside God can help us, or to hold something as more important to us than God. Thus if we hold our property (for example) as more important than God /or give our jobs more time and attention than God - we are committing idol worship. Unfortunately, the majority of people who believe in God commit this gross offense without even realizing it. If you ask them, "Who is your god?", they will be outraged to hear this question. "What do you mean, `Who is your god?' they will ask, `My god is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.' " And most of these people will be shocked to find out that their proclamation that their god is the Creator of the heavens and the earth is no more than lip service, and that they are in fact destined for Hell (12:106). Idol worship is a gross injustice, the violation of the first commandment in all the scriptures of God, and is an unforgivable sin if maintained until death. [31:13] Recall that Luqmaan said to his son, as he enlightened him, "O my son, do not set up any idols beside GOD; idolatry is a gross injustice."* Footnote: *31:13 How will you feel if you take care of a child, give him the best education, and prepare him for life, only to see him thank someone else? Thus is idolatry; injustice. [12:106] The majority of those who believe in GOD do not do so without committing idol worship. (sub-title) The Unforgivable Sin [4:48] GOD does not forgive idolatry,* but He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who sets up idols beside GOD, has forged a horrendous offense. Footnote: *4:48 Idol worship is not forgivable, if maintained until death. One can always repent from any offense, including idolatry, before death comes (see 4:18 & 40:66). (sub-title) The Unforgivable Sin [4:116] GOD does not forgive idol worship (if maintained until death),* and He forgives lesser offenses for whomever He wills. Anyone who idolizes any idol beside GOD has strayed far astray. God tells us that idol worship nullifies all work. 3. Jesus as idol. [5:72] Pagans indeed are those who say that GOD is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah himself said, "O Children of Israel, you shall worship GOD; my Lord* and your Lord." Anyone who sets up any idol beside GOD, GOD has forbidden Paradise for him, and his destiny is Hell. The wicked have no helpers.

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Matt Kelley

February 14, 2009  9:29pm

Luca Brasi was not the one being handed the coat with the fish. Luca's bulletproof vest was delivered to Sonny to demonstrate that Solozzo and the Tattaglias had killed him. Get your "Godfather" references right. This is the first, but not the only or worst weakness in your argument. The emerging church (I use lower case letters because it is not a formal organization, hence not a proper noun) does not play by the standard rules of organizations or even movements, so why would you use those rules to conclude that the emerging church conversation is "dead"? This is exactly the type of stuff we're trying to escape. Thank you for making our point for us.

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Ron

December 02, 2008  12:28am

As one on the outside of EC and especially EV looking in, Emerging looked to be nothing more than a bunch of intellectual-talking guys dialoguing on how to make the church more acceptable to the world, and trying to synthesize different ideas with the Christian religion. It's interesting that there now seem to be two types of Emerging Christian leaders. Those who want to be based on God and His objective Word, and reach post-moderns. And those who are questioning so much that they can barely be called Christian anymore. I'll let the reader guess who belongs in each camp, heh heh.

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Tim

October 08, 2008  8:40pm

Most all terms end up meaning something than what they started as. Karl Marx once said "I am not a Marxist." I sometimes wonder with what many people cal "Christian" if Jesus would have said "I am not a Christian."

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e.

October 01, 2008  3:00pm

"Emergent" folk are so resistant to definitions (heaven forbid we define anything so we know we're talking abotu the same thing) that they can only blame themselves for it getting away from them. Defining is not the same as "labeling" or "stereotyping" or whatever else it is they are afraid of.

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Isaiah

September 27, 2008  1:00pm

Where did you get this news about this new network?

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Tim

September 27, 2008  12:22am

I once had a roommate that couldn't wait for a particular couple to break up. As it turned out, he had no intention of dating the girl but just despised their relationship. As others pointed out, it seems some want the term and the "movement" it represents to be erased. Btw, my former roommate is still single - hasn't found what he's looking for. Some great comments here. Appreciated Scot and Dkimball and Trucker Frank!! signing on. Loved this one in particular - "Your post is no better than macro level gossiping." by Dave Brusch. (Will be checking out his blog.) "Emergents" don't really care about the term. If you've haven't heard it said yet, It's often described as more of a friendship and the conversations that are enjoyed.

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