Monday, May 09, 2005

The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball

I'm presently reading The Emerging Church and have a number of thoughts about how post-moderns and moderns connect (or, rather, often don't) and I realize that even though I think I'm a pretty cool guy for someone my age I really incredibly modern. I like to think that I have a bit of "post" in me because I listen to cool stuff and read cool things and hang out with younger people but I'm a pretty modern guy under all that alleged postiness. So I'm trying to get a look inside the emerging church to see if I have a place in it or if I'd be better at more of a thoroughly modern place.

One thing in this book that jumped out at me yesterday was that if all the non-church-going people in the US were turned into one nation it would be the fifth largest nation in the world and the largest English-speaking nation in the world. (Who can name the other four? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller?) So we have a huge mission field right here on our doorstep. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I've been thinking about it a lot for the past 24 hours.


bethany said...


as you know, I've been thinking about this inter-generational postmodernism business a lot. And the more I learn about postmodern thought the more I realize I do sort of naturally tend to think that way. Go figure.

But I also think focusing on distinctions too much is hurtful because it IS possible to connect, and I think everyone has a different level of affinity for each type of thought - it's a spectrum rather than two distinct groups.

The funny thing is that emergent church tends to focus a lot on the history of the church - especially mideval traditions. While being expansive across centuries, we are having a lot of trouble bridging the generational gap in our own time, perhaps partly because of the older generation's rejection of tradition (of course, this is a gross generalization), and I don't know how to reconcile that.

James Stewart said...

One book I've long meant to read, but never quite get to is Alan Jamieson's "A Churchless Faith". While statistics about the large number of non-churchgoers can be quite surprising, any engagement with a society influenced by postmodernity needs to recognise that we're all coming from different places, and that not everyone who isn't a churchgoer isn't a person of faith.

It's probably four years now since I was last a regular attendee at any established, clearly-defined church. In that time I think that my faith has become much deeper and my ability to talk about it has increased considerably. I tend to find that the impersonal and didactic nature of much that passes for 'church gatherings' is pretty alienating to me and the times when I most actively doubt my faith are those when I sit in a 'church service'.

At the same time, I have a lot of misgivings about 'emergent'. The sociological phenomenon of 'emergence' strikes me as a very good model for church building, but the organisation often comes across as rather faddish, and as a deeply modernist movement in vaguely pomo clothing. I'm going to the Emergent West Michigan meeting this week hoping that the grassroots doesn't resemble the public persona, and that the size of Mars Hill, Michael W Smith as convention draw, and other symptoms are just aberrations.

o1mnikent said...

I read the book over this past Christmas break and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think the great danger in the Emergent movement/conversation/discussion/whatever is that lots of churches are reading a book by Brian McLaren, Robert Webber, and buying a few candles and calling themselves emergent. Emergent is all about community, interaction, etc., and worship reflects that.

And, I think Emergent in many places is becoming boiled down into something of a matter of preference... Tradition Worship at 9:00, Contemporary Worship at 11:00, Emergent Worship at 6:30 kind of a thing.

That's my $0.02, hope you continue to enjoy reading the book.

Raphael Muszynski said...

Merri Xmas and Happy New Year!