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:
- Mainline, protestant, shrinking, liberal
- 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.