Recent Responses to Emerging Church

Scott Bader-Saye, 'Improvising Church: An Introduction to the Emerging Church Conversation', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 12–23

Luke Bretherton, 'Beyond the Emerging Church?' in Andrew Walker & Luke Bretherton (eds.), Remembering the Future: Explorations in Deep Church (Paternoster, 2007), 30-58

John Drane, 'Editorial: The Emerging Church', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 3–11
_____ 'What does maturity in the emerging church look like?' in Steven Croft (ed.), Mission-Shaped Questions:  Defining Issues for Today's Church (Church House Publishing, 2008), 90-101.

Ben Edson, 'An Exploration into the Missiology of the Emerging Church in the UK Through the Narrative of Sanctus1', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 24–37

Gladys Ganiel, 'Emerging from the Evangelical Subculture in Northern Ireland: An Analysis of the Zero28 and ikon Community', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 38–48

Kees de Groot, 'The Church in Liquid Modernity: A Sociological and Theological
Exploration of a Liquid Church', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 91–103

Mathew Guest & Steve Taylor, 'The Post-Evangelical Emerging Church: Innovations in New Zealand
and the UK', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 49–64

Philip Harrold, 'Deconversion in the Emerging Church', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 79–90

Stephen Hunt, ‘The Emerging Church and its Discontents’, Journal of Beliefs and Values, Vol. 23,  2009 287-96

Alan Jamieson, 'Post-church Groups and their Place as Emergent Forms of Church', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 65–78

George Lings, 'Unravelling the DNA of Church: How Can We Know that What is Emerging
is ‘Church’?', International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, 104–116

Pete Rollins, Biting the Hand that Feeds: an apology for encouraging tension between the established churuch and emerging churches' in L. Nelstrop & Martyn Percy (eds.), Evaluating Fresh Expressions (Canterbury Press, 2008), 71-84

Book Reviews
of Gibbs & Bolger's Emerging Churches (reviewed by Graham Cray), Carson's [awful] Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (reviewed by Anne Richards), Taylor's The Out of Bounds Church (reviewed by Stuart Murray) and Brewin's The Complex Christ (reviewed by Bob Mayo) can all be found in International Journal for the Study of the Christian Church Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006

Evaluating Fresh Expressions

This is a new book edited by Martyn Percy and Louise Nelstrop (Canterbury Press) and is a welcome contribution to the recent Anglican phenonoma of 'fresh expressions' (what happens when they are no longer "fresh"?).  Having given it a quick read, several chapters stand out. Martyn Percy's 'Old tricks for new dogs? A critique of fresh expressions', Pete Rollins' 'Biting the hand that feeds: an apology for encouraging tension between the established church and emerging collectives', Mark Mason's 'Living the distance between "a community of character" and a "a community of the question"' and Louise Nelstrop's 'Mixed economy or ecclesial reciprocity: which does the Church of England really want to promote?' What each of these chapters raises is the serious theological and ecclesial questions behind pragmatic ventures like 'fresh expressions'.  I don't want to suggest the emerging church and fresh expressions are all bad - there is much, in my opinion to like, especially within emerging churches - but there is a serious need for theological reflection. I hope to blog some more on specific chapters.

de-coding the new 'church' language

emerging church - a loose term that reflects christians who are experimenting and trying to discover church in a postmodern world. those who identify with the term 'emerging church' resist trying to define and label it. there is a difference in how the word is used in the uk and usa, because of the different contexts. for more see eddie gibbs and ryan bolger's Emerging Churches (2006, spck). in the uk, see and the blogs of andrew jones, jonny baker, jason clark and kester brewin (this is just some of the major players).

inherited church
- this term is used to described the existing church, which still is the vast majority, from which those involved in these other types of church listed here are moving beyond. some are very critical of inherited church, others are more kind! evangelicalism does come in for a lot of criticism.

liquid church - first coined by pete ward (lecturer in youth ministry and theological education, kcl) in his 2002 book of the same name. He borrowed the word 'liquid' from zygmunt bauman's book Liquid Modernity (2000, poliity press). Liquid church is church that moves beyond the one-size fits all (solid church) into a more dynamic notion of church which is focused on networks, relationships and communications.

deep church- first coined by cs lewis, but used more recently by andrew walker (professor of theology and education, kcl)  and others to describe church that seeks to reconnect with the common historical Christian tradition and go beyond denominational divides. See Andrew Walker's essay 'Recovering Deep Church' in Remembering our Future (2007, paternoster).

mcdonaldized church
- first coined by john drane in his book the McDonaldization of the Church, which adapts the theory of george ritzer to the church. It is church that is pre-packaged and takes on the characteristics of McDonalds.

- the understanding that in recent years there has been a shift from christendom to post-christendom. in christendom, the christian story was known and accepted and society was christenized in many ways. after christendom, the christian story is much less known and the chrisitans find themselves on the margins of society and competing for the public square. see the work of stuart murray, especially his two books Post-Christendom (2004, paternoster) and Church After Christendom (2005, paternoster).

mission-shaped church
- a 2004 church of england report which got the anglicans moving into exploring and financing different kinds of church. operates under the name fresh expressions.

alternative worship
- worship that emerged out of the likes of the nine o'clock service in sheffield in the mid-1990s. it can be described as creative (embraces the arts), post-charismatic  (tends not to do singing) and post-evangelical, visual, kinasethetic, post-modern, contemplative, retriving and rewriting liturgy, rediscovering theology (especially doctines of incarnation, creation and trinity), having a positive of view of contemporary culture. see jonny baker and doug gay's book Alternative Worship (2004, spck) and steve collin's alternative worship website.

- first coined by dave tomlinson's in his 1995 book of the same name. casued something of a debate. a term that describes those wanting to move beyond evangelical church and theology. 

churchless faith -  first coined by alan jamiseon in his 2002 book of the same name. the word refers to those who still express or identify with the christian faith but have beyond the church. these people are evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal church leavers (and jamieson's research showed often church leaders as well).

incarnate network: church planting and emerging church

Incarnate_house_party_2007_medium_2 I spent the day at Baptist house in Didcot at an Incarnate Network steering group meeting. This is still a fledging network, although over 200 have register on the website and 50 or so attended their houseparty last year. There is a lot of potential to get Baptist churches and the BUGB more focused on church planting and emerging church. One thing that is sorely needed is financing. The Anglicans and Fresh Expressions are way ahead of the game on this.  I have to wonder where the BU is with regards to church planting and emerging church. It doesn't seem to be on many people's radar. Where are these kinds of conversations taking place? Council? Assembly? Regional areas? Baptist House?

This is a group of people who are passionate about mission and reaching people outside of the church. I think they are a pretty rare bunch. I will be at the houseparty this year and hope to contribute to the network through some writing and other stuff. There hoping to get some regional gatherings started for anyone interested or currently involved in church planting.

'Beyond the Emerging Church'

Lbretherton Chapter 2 of Remembering Our Future is Luke Bretherton's helpful chapter on the emerging church. He writes not as an outsider but as a 'fellow traveller' (p.32). He sees the UK emerging church conversation growing out of the alternative worship movement, the Nine O'Clock Service and Dave Tomlinson's 1995 The Post-Evangelical. He argues that emerging churches are an off-shoot of the pentecostal charismatic movement (p.36-44). He questions how much 'emerging churches can avoid  an overly therapeutic and 'me-focused' approach' (p.40) and whether it is too capitalist orientated (p.41). Bretherton also raises some concern other the emerging church pick-mix appropach to tradition and says 'the challenge for emerging churches is how to avoid being a novelty act playing bits and pieces of undigested material produced by great acts' (p.47). He ends on a note that there is need for faithful improvisation, which is echoed by Jonny Baker and Doug Gay in Alternative Worship (SPCK, 2004). This is a well-written essay with which those engaged in the emerging church should wrestle with. I wonder whether they would agree with everything Bretherton says. The emerging church I believe needs to have deep roots and continue to be a theological conversation.