Emerging From What?

I’ve been reading Tony Jones’ manifesto on the Emerging Church movement, entitled “The New Christians”.  My friend, and fellow blogger, Jake Bouma lent me his copy…and I must say, I’m glad he did.  I entered into the book with some trepidation.  After all, as a life-long liturgy-loving Lutheran, I tend to be adverse to anything new.

So, on Sunday night, after an insane weekend of church shizzle, I found myself unable to sleep.  Around 11:30 I sauntered in to the chain smoker’s paradise, known as the Village Inn.  I thought about cracking open my laptop, but I figured (A) there’s no wi-fi at the VI, and (B) the two gentlemen sitting in the booth adjacent to me had probably never seen a computer before…and I didn’t want to make their brain explode.  Instead, I decided to open the book that Jake had given me.  It was amazing!

I’ve re-read the first chapter 3 times since then (once each day), and I can’t seem to get past my initial reaction of “ohmygodthisisamazing!”  Now, I temper my enthusiasm with a disclaimer that I haven’t read many books in my life.  Magazines…yes.  Blogs…absolutely.  Newspaper features…you know it.  But not books.  Thusly, I have little to compare Jones’ first chapter to.

From what I can gather, his main thesis is that there is a groundswell of faithful Christians who are looking for a “third type of church”.  There are currently two kinds of Christian churches these days:

  1. Mainline, protestant, shrinking, liberal
  2. Non-denominational, charismatic, growing, conservative

These options, to put it concisely, suck.  I liken it to the 2004 Presidential Election, where voters had to choose from elitist, slick, ultra-liberal John Kerry or incompetent, unintelligent, ultra-conservative Dubbya.  What resulted was record levels of voter apathy and an insane amount of polarization throughout the country.  It left the middle-majority of the country saying, “isn’t there a third option?”

So, too, with church.  Jones argues, and I agree, that there is a growing group of people who aren’t satisfied with the two-party system of doing church.  They are looking for something relevant and meaningful.  They want to feel connected to Christians throughout history, but also want it applied to a modern context.  Basically, they don’t want church to assume anything about how to function.

I’m intrigued by this group of Christians – the “new Christians”, according to Tony Jones.  I look forward to reading the rest of the book.  Something tells me that these Emergent types may not be truly “new”, but they do have something they haven’t had in a while…a voice.


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