culture · emergent

Thoughts on the Emergent Movement – Part 3

If you have not read the first two posts on this subject, you can find them here and here.  As a brief summary, we have been talking about what has been going on at Jesus Creed over the last few days in regards to talking about the emergent movement.

Mark (comment #26 at Jesus Creed), from Kearsage Church of God,  wrote this in regards to the emergent movement:

“I personally don’t see the missional writings and work to be a movement (sociologically). It is not organized enough to be an actual movement. However, I would qualify the emerging church as a movement (another example would be Promise Keepers).  We have had this debate for decades in our faith tradition  [Church of God] because we have taken a self-designation of a “Reformation Movement” but we have ceased being a movement decades ago and should be called a denomination as we do have (sociological markers), a self-perpetuating organization and unifying doctrinal positions (although admittedly this is still very loose) that serve as self-identifiers. The emergent movement although it has several common descriptors does not have a uniform code of belief (i.e. “We believe…”) and everyone says, Amen!”

Mark’s thoughts head in a bit of different direction than mine, but they are worth mentioning because he differentiates between a sociological movement and a denomination.  Outsiders who are not familiar with emergent theology might assume the movement can be definied sociologically–by twentysomethings, hip worship music, and low lighting.  In fact, Jonas recently commented on the last post arguing that we have to careful how quickly we jump on such a sociological band-wagon.

Let me once again hypothesize in this regard.  In part 2, we went through the economic factors that have changed America over the last 500 years from an age of feudalism, to mercantilism, and then finally to capitalist (and perhaps a new kind of outsourced flattening capitalism in the past ten years) systems.  Why is the movement made up sociologically of younger people?  Perhaps it is due to language and youth culture.  I have talked about this in passing in the past, but would like to focus on it for a minute.

All that my grandmother knows how to do on a computer is check her e-mail.  My grandmother cares very little about ecclesiology and Christology.  She works at a homeless shelter twice a week, goes to a Bible study, and complains that the worship music is to repitive.  She, and many others like her, do not have the synaptical connections available to interpret a movement like emergent.  If we are leaving these people behind (and because of the internet nature of the movement and the new ways of doing church we definitely are) then how can emergents be called anything more than a sociological cultural phenomenon?

It takes more than a computer to make a movement, and the church should encompass all spectrums of the generational divide.  How well can we honestly say the emergent church meets these requirements?  Your thoughts on this are welcomed and encouraged.


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Emergent Movement – Part 3

  1. Good series you got going here. I like it.

    Sometimes I’m not sure what a “movement” is? Origin, ending, boundaries, etc can be hard to nail down.


  2. a movement does not always imply organization or even that its members know each other. Perhaps it’s good to note that a movement like this is not “sociological” but it may be philosophical or theological. It can’t be denied that there is a huge number of people beginning to think and dream alike. There are many people sharing these dreams of the Church together and even joining together in experimenting with them. I think, though it’s not organized, there is enough to constitute calling it a “movement.” There is enough agreement (and thought going in a similar direction) among enough people for us to consider it something like a movement. You can’t say it doesn’t exist, so what do we call it?

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