Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Journey of UnEmergence pt. 1

So the next few posts are going to deal with what has come to be known as the "Emergent" church. Since not every one is familiar with the term or the players in the movement, this first post will serve to set the table for the rest.

The "Emergent" church movement has grown out of the two major movements in late twentieth century evangelicism. The emergent church is self-conscientiously critical of both fundamentalism and seeker-sensitivism. The movement
has reacted to both the moral legalism of fundamentalism and the showy/falseness of the seeker-sensitive movement. At first glance these critiques are valid and attractive. We will explore these deeper in the following posts, but for now, it will suffice to say that the movement reacts strongly to the church of the twentieth century. The movement also has some relationship to postmodernism, sometimes billing itself as postmodern Christianity.

The movement began in the late 90's with the founding of a number of churches. Churches like Mars Hill (Michigan), Vintage Faith, Watermark, Solomon's Porch, Imagio Dei, and Mars Hill (Washington)began to pop-up in major cities. These churches were a haven for disenfranchised 20-somethings who were largely ignored by mainstream Christianity. The church
es often had no denominational ties and no authority structure beyond the Pastor/founder/planter/leader/whatever.

The movement began to gain a great deal of popularity with the publication of A New
Kind of Christian by Brian Mclaren. The book picked up steam as the new century began. The fictional account of a Pastor struggling with his faith resonated with a large section of the population. This book lead to the success of Blue like Jazz and Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. After this the floodgates opened and everyone who was anyone in the budding movement was published.

As the movement grew, there was a natural fracturing and fact
ioning of the congregations. There was a continuum of how much of the past we are to hold onto.

At the present time, the key players in the movement are Brian Mclaren a pastor turned lecturer and author. Rob Bell (pictured to the right), a pastor of a large church in west Michigan and the teacher in the Nooma films. Mark Driscoll, an interesting charcater since he is often lumped into the movement, but against his will.

The movement has birthed a magazine - Relevant, an imprint - Zondervan/Emergent YS, and a huge following among the internet generation.


JackthePirate said...

"The movement also has some relationship to postmodernism, sometimes billing itself as postmodern Christianity."

This may be quite the understatement. As postmodernism is in part (perhaps largely in part) a reaction to modernism, so is the Emerging conversation (in its postmodernity) a reaction against the modernity in the contemporary church (both that of current 'fundamentalism' and seeker sensitive environments).

I look forward to ensuing posts....don't relax on the futon just yet.

Justin Woodall said...

John, I would agree with you, but though the emergent church equals postmodernism; postmodernism does not equal the emergent church. Perhaps a post on this later...