Saturday, February 03, 2007

What is the Emerging Church?

My wife was leading a Living the Questions session today here at the church. This group is a partnership of various congregations in the city who explore a more “progressive” approach to the faith. It’s not always my cup of tea. But some folks find value in it.

I usually don’t find value in some “progressive” approaches to Christianity because I don’t find them all that progressive. While they extol “inclusivity” and “diversity” as core values, they are usually inclusive of folks who think like them.

Afterward a group surrounded me and asked me what the Emerging Church stuff was, especially as it pertained to Evangelicalism. I don’t know about you, but I find easy definitions of “emerging church” unsatisfying. There are as many definitions as there are emerging churches.

I hemmed and hawed and muttered something about postmodernism, church in the dark, rock bands, Walter Brueggemann and NT Wright, knowing that I’ve lopped off many “emerging church” types from the definition.

But then again, I wonder if that’s a strength. One of the things I LOVE about the emerging church mov’t is that there is no definition. There’s real power in ambiguity. They don’t have everything nailed down. Their faith ebbs and flows with the ups and downs of life, not offering easy answers but a living, breathing, relationship with Jesus.

Some may say that their falling into theological or moral relativism. I say, look closer. Look at the relationships being established and communities strengthened. Look at people trying new ways to be the church in a changing culture. Look at faithfulness, not at doctrine. As Tony Campolo reminded us last week, even the devil has good theology.

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