Yesterday I read through Jonathan Brink’s interesting article Is The Emerging Church Dying or Maturing on the Emergent Village weblog. I particularly love his comment Emergence suggests transformation but it also reveals that we’re not finished. And like Jonathan I believe that the emerging church is still alive and well.
I have been thinking about it and the implications ever since. Tom and I have been involved in the emerging church conversation since the mid 1990s when it first emerged in the UK. We have watched with interest its spread downunder and throughout North America. And we have watched with more interest its struggles with theology and the shaping of spiritual practices.
I have watched with even more interest in the last few years as the movement here in the US has grappled with issues of justice, inequality and the need to listen to more diverse voices – women, Latinos, Africans and Asians. In the future I hope that the issues of climate change and our need to live more lightly on the earth could move from the periphery to the centre of this movement too.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article for the MSA Seed Sampler on What Will Shape Spirituality in the Next Decade? I expanded it on my blog to three articles that looked at the trends I felt will have most impact over the next 10 years –
- Religious Pluralism – how Will It Shape Christian Faith
- The Coming of the Majority Church – How the Shifting geographical Center will shape Our Faith
- The Global economy, Busyness and the Impact of Media Immersion
What I appreciate about the emerging church is that it is engaged in grappling with aspects of all these issues, as well as some others that I have not mentioned here. It is not hiding its head in the sand and pretending that the world is not changing or that we don’t need to change in order to be effective followers of Christ in the future.
We live in a world in which the rate of changing is increasing and I think that the conversations the emerging church has initiated and continues to participate in will become even more important in the future. Yes I think the movement is maturing but I hope that as it matures it will not become comfortable and settle into a conformist way of doing things. I love the concept of transformation because it does imply an ongoing process. My hope for the future is that the emerging church can continue to challenge all of us to recognize that we are on a journey of continual transformation. that needs to engage each new issues facing the church in the future.
And so dear brothers and sisters I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind that he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Dont copy the behaviour and customs of the world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12: 1-2 New Living Translation)