Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Dialoguing with the Emerging Church Movement, Part 1

From what I’ve posted thus far about the emerging church movement, a very natural response would be: So what’s all the fuss about? Are there legitimate concerns about the emerging trajectory of these thinkers and these churches? I believe there are issues to be concerned about, and I’ll explain some of them below.

Before explaining some of my concerns, we need to remember that we are bound by the Word of God to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Some of us are so wired to “speak the truth” that we fail to do it in love. (And of course, the converse is true as well—those who are so concerned about speaking in love that they never get around to speaking truth.) I know for myself that am often far too impressed with my own cleverness and far too desirous of “scoring points.” The biblical imperatives call us to a higher ground—a both–and—truth and love. Perhaps the most helpful phrase is that coined by my pastor: “brokenhearted boldness.” We must seek to soak our critiques with meekness and humility.

I’d also encourage fellow critics to focus on the main things. Candles and couches certaintly aren't central. Let’s keep our attention on the most important issues, and agree to continue the dialogue on secondary matters.

Also recall that emerging churches—broader than the Emergent category—are a very diverse group. That makes criticism particularly difficult. It must be stressed that churches can be emerging without falling prey to the weaknesses identified below. But if we are to speak of this movement at all, we must speak in some broad categories.