What’s Emerging from the Emergent Church


Daniel Vestal visited our church several weeks ago and during a Q and A session got this question “What do you think about the Emergent Church?” I knew this question was coming and had advised him earlier so he’d be ready for it. Not so much to avoid the question but to give an informed answer to it. I don’t recall the specifics of his reply but he indicated that the Emergent movement could be defined in so many ways that it was hard to address the subject. He did say that CBF churches affirm the deity of Christ and if the emergent church meant questioning that then the CBF is not part of that movement.

Vestal also added that he had read a few of Brian McLaren’s books and felt like he was seeking to find ways to impact 21st century culture with 1st century truths. If this is what emergent meant, then the CBF had congregations who affirmed this approach. I admit at not having much interest in the emergent approach until recently but am reading McLaren’s work The Church on the Other Side right now and will see where that takes me. I know there are others but this is where I’m starting. Here is the website for the Emergent village which should offer additional info.

I doubt if that explanation will please everyone, especially Roger Moran who is taking his concerns about the emergent movement to the Missouri Baptist Convention with a 47 page document. Yes, I said 47 pages. I’ll have to pass on that epistle and might wait for the movie instead, but I guess that’s what a livid lawyer can do. Those who have lived in Missouri longer than I have know about his attacks on the CBF in this state and beyond.

It will be interested to watch this next battle from the stands to see how his concerns play out in a state convention with opposition to his brand of politics. Fundamentalists are always looking for another fight and this one will do. The secondary and more important consideration is what affect this increased attention will have on the emergent movement. Moran feels this is a dangerous, creeping liberalism infecting Southern Baptist congregations and it needs to be addressed. I would be interested to hear what others think.


4 thoughts on “What’s Emerging from the Emergent Church

  1. Being emergent is kind of like being Baptist. The question is, “What kind are you?” The movement is not moving toward a center; rather it seems to be working within denominations, especially among young adults. It is a renewal movement, but it is hard to define. Like most renewal movements, it may have a heightened sense of self-importance that needs adjusting. That said, I think it is healthy for 21st century Christians and churches.

  2. I’m all for looking into ways to communicate the gospel to a 21st century audience. It may well be a renewal movement and if it encourages questioning of the faith then that could also lead to spiritual formation.

    I do believe churches are in desperate need of being renewed and if this helps then I am for it. It seems that the emergent approach is missional at its core, but I haven’t checked its theological or doctrinal constructs. I doubt if there is anything such as a confessional statement because it would lean toward the traditional church.

  3. I agree that it is something coming from within denominations as much as without. You won’t find a unified whole, though such websites as you pointed out can help.

    I think the term “emergent” is kind of like “generation x.” We don’t know what to call it, but it sure is coming out of something…namely, the dying denominations. You’ll find Calvinists and Armenians in the group. You’ll find those you deem as Orthodox, and some that would be considered Heretics. It is a large disparate group. Some might even disagree with how we lump them together.

    I definitely see this as one extension of the missional movement. At its core is people desiring to get closer to God, worship in authenticity, and serve wholeheartedly. In my opinion. that is.



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