It is a natural desire to try and understand who we are and who we are becoming. Many Christ followers are distancing themselves from the traditional expression of Christianity that seems to be lacking substance and authenticity. The common term used to identify this group of Christ-Followers is "The Emerging Church". But what does that mean? Who are we and what are we becoming?
I've found many cool and interesting definitions of what the Emerging Church is, and what it is not. Among the best I have found comes from Andrew Jones in his article "what is Emergent?"
"The emerging church around the world shares a number of common characteristics, including in most cases, an emergent vocabulary, synoptic outlook, creative expression, organic resourcing, fluid strategy, decentralized leadership, holistic expression, fluency in new media, postmodern sensibility, structural simplicity, countercultural origins, an upfront missional focus, modular church expression rather than singular, a deep ecclesiology, attendance at particular yearly festivals, a greater ecumenical commitment and social concern, and so on."
But what does this reveal about our understanding of our identity and of our destiny. I would like to propose some of the following thoughts for consideration.
The dictionary defines the word emergence in the following way: Emergence 1) The act of rising up or coming forth, as if from immersion. 2) To become evident or obvious.
I think that is at the heart of what is happening to the church in our time. We are emerging into the unknown. As our culture transcends the horizon we now call postmodernity what will it become? It will be obvious in retrospect but in our emergence, becoming a genuine expression of the Church should always be in our view.
With that in mind I offer this definition of who we are, The Emerging Church: A
group or network of Christ followers who are in the process of rising
above the culture(s) they are immersed in to passionately follow Christ while living within their culture(s). (2 Corinthians 4:1-7)
Maybe I am being idealistic and this is an oversimplification. Yet I see the church as something that has been in the process of emerging for over 2,000 years. It will continue to change and grow (emerge)as our culture changes over the next 30-40 years and into the future.
Only God can say for sure what the Emerging Church will become. But it is my prayer that we will be given the ability to transcend, yet engage our culture (modern, post-modern, and beyond post-modern); to become authentic Christ-Followers who will, with His enablement, be catalysts for change; and to trade our wisdom for His wisdom, our worldview(s) for a Biblical worldview.