April 28, 2008

Emerging Church Language

No this isn't a post on why its cool to cuss, or to cuss makes you postmodern or something. This is a post on all this confusing language around the movement of churches engaging emerging culture. As of late terms like "postmodern" and "emerging church" have become akin to "conservative" and "liberal," by that I mean they're quite meaningless other than what we fill them with to derogate others by.

Tony Jones argues that emerging and Emergent are basically memes with no real difference other than what we attach to them. I'm not so sure Jones' fighting against categories is true to reality though.

Jonny Baker illuminates that there is a difference between emerging and Emergent, one is a movement the other an organisation. This is the reality, and the distinction is important.

Second, it's important because the language of "emerging church" is losing its meaning, if it really had any. I think "emerging church" is an umbrella term that incorporates many bodies (including Emergent), congregations, voices, and such of churches that are engaging the emerging culture (the culture in continuity with deconstruction, but seeking reformulation and reconstruction).

Also, I'm afraid "emerging church" has been pigeon-holed into one defined culture that wears torn jeans, speak certain ways, and uses Macs. Not true. A church of "gray heads" can be emerging if its trying to engage the emerging culture, that's why I stick with this definition for understand the emerging church movement-"churches that are engaging the emerging culture."

Do you think its important to distinguish between emerging and Emergent?


Anonymous said...

Personally, I think we should stop using the term "Emergent." It makes sense to say "Emergent Village" because that is something that actually exists. As for "emerging church," I don't think it exists. There is no emerging church. The term is not very helpful. However, if we have to use terms I think we should stick to "emerging church" but be clear that it doesn't exist.

Pretty clear and simple, right? :)

Anonymous said...

Also worth checking out:

Steve Taylor's thoughts

JoeBumbulis said...

I agree that there is no monolithic "emerging church," but (and this may be semantics) I do believe there are emerging churches. I prefer to call them churches that are engaging the emerging culture because this helps keep the distinction between churches doing the hard work of engaging the cultural shifts and phenomenon, and churches who are simply changing outward forms by adding candles, etc.

I like Steve Taylor's thoughts, although I haven't read the Emergent Manifesto of Hope. I was glad to learn the Amahoro term though.

I think language will be confusing for some time because what Emergent Village and many others are attempting to do is create a movement. Thus, language is always changing and not easy to categorize. Maybe being part of the movement means being frustrated about the language and always searching for new ways of talking about what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Is it cool to cuss or not?

JoeBumbulis said...

"not cool unless you pee your pants" - billy madison

Cheryl said...

Good words.