The Emerging Church Part IV

In my last post, I talked about the communal nature of the Emerging Church. As a result of this emphasis, Emerging Churches also pride themselves on their inclusiveness and willingness to welcome the stranger.

As noted in an earlier post, the modern church separated the “sacred” from the “secular”. This dichotomy paved the way for unintentional exclusivism and homogeneity within the church that remains to this day.

Emerging Churches wish to return to the pre-modern notion that all things are sacred, and in so doing, re-embrace an intentional inclusiveness that refuses to acknowledge an “us vs. them” mentality. Instead, Emerging Churches look to Jesus as their model, noting that he welcomed men, women and children from all walks of life: specifically focusing much of his time upon those considered to be “unclean.”

We hear a great deal of talk about being “inclusive” today from our denominational leaders. But are we truly willing to become the kinds of people – and churches – that open our doors to anyone? The reality remains that our worship gatherings (which still represent what most people consider to be “church’) are notoriously homogenous. Our society does not help: socialization in the US occurs through a lengthy process that begins in pre-adolescence when children begin to wrestle with identity formulation. This process of identity development is worked out through social connections with individuals and groups that embrace specific characteristics and traits appealing to the individual. In other words, homogeneous social groups promote identity development through a process that promotes separation and comparison.

The modern church, as a social construct, was not exempt. Individuals chose churches based upon several criteria, one of which being whether or not they felt like they “belonged.” Belonging, in this case, being a euphemism for social segregation: “Do I fit in with this group of people? Do they look like me? Are their lifestyles like my own? Are they conservative or liberal? Traditional or Contemporary? Black or White? Blue collar or white collar? Old or young? Rich or poor? Male or female?”

Emerging Churches want to deconstruct this dichotomy. They do this in several ways:

-By making hospitality a central practice of spirituality (this includes making the Eucharist the central act of worship)

-Turning a welcome space into a safe space

-Welcoming those who are different

-Moving from perceived arrogance to transparent humility

-Moving from verbal apologetics to embodied apologetics
“in contrast to orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxis (right practice), we advocate believing rightly and practicing rightly. In other words, one should speak and act in a manner that respects others and transforms their existence. In this way, we have a moral agenda, but it is a minimal one that focuses more on the how of belief and practice than the what.” – Peter Rollins

-Moving from having an agenda to letting the Holy Spirit carry the agenda

-Changing from salespersons to servants

-Moving from changing beliefs to changing lives

-Moving from speaking about grace to grace speaking through our lives

-Moving from privatized faith to public faith

-Moving from evangelizing to being evangelized
“Evangelism has an important role but is seen as a two-way process designed to open others and ourselves to God.” – Peter Rollins (Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches pp. 119-133)

“Modernity teaches its inhabitants to exclude and to conform. Members of emerging churches, however, display the hospitality of Jesus and include and welcome others into their midst who are different from them. Emerging churches hold to Christian orthodoxy, affirming the uniqueness of Christ. This understanding, however, rather than being a reason to exclude, empowers them to include those of other faiths, cultures, and traditions” (Gibbs and Bolger, 134).


Popular Posts