Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Is the Emerging Church Movement? Part 9

Where did the so-called “younger evangelicals” come from? Gibbs and Bolger identify three movements or paradigms within the last couple of decades.

1. Gen-X churches (1986). The first Gen-X church in the U.S. was Dieter Zander’s NewSong in Pomona, California. Gibbs and Bolger write:

To generalize, their church services were characterized by loud, passionate worship music directed towards God and the believer (not the seeker); David Letterman style, irreverent banter; raw, narrative preaching; “Friends” (as per the popular TV series) type relationships; and later, candles, and the arts. The bulk of church practice remained the same as their Conservative Baptist, Seeker, New Paradigm, Purpose-Driven predecessors, only the surface techniques changed. (my emphasis)

2. Church-within-a-Church (1993). These churches really weren’t much different than Gen-X churches. The only difference was that they were sponsored by a megachurch. Examples:

3. A Shift Away from Generational Ministries (mid-to-late 90’s). There seemed to be a growing interest in postmodernity and a concomitant disillusionment with generational ministry techniques. This shift become an increasingly prominent topic of discussion in the Young Leaders Network and later the Terra Nova Theological Project (which later became Emergent). In 1995, Richard Middleton and Brian Walsh published their book Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be in the U.S., and Dave Tomlinson published The Post-Evangelical in the UK. Three years later, Brian McLaren’s first book, Reinventing Your Church, emerged.