By Mark A. Taylor
If you wish all this talk about emerging churches was just a fad, I can relate.
It’s not that I’m against change. I’ve lived through a lot of change in my life—work, family, my house, my diet. All of these are completely different now than when I entered adulthood 35 years ago. And most of these changes have been for the better.
It’s true at church too. For example, the explosion of contemporary Christian music in the last four decades has led me closer to God. Like most of my fellow Boomers, I’ve welcomed new worship styles and new ways of accomplishing ministry.
And I relish the satisfying fresh air I discover when I encounter principles like some of those espoused in this issue:
“Be the church, don’t just come to church.”
“Participate in worship instead of watching it.”
“Produce, don’t consume—in the church community and amid a needy world.”
I want to lift up such notions, because I believe they could revitalize many congregations. But I can’t help but wonder if many good people in churches I know could ever cope with congregations called “emerging.”
And if not, is there a way to tap the genius of the emerging church without destroying or abandoning existing churches? Must we just walk away from our buildings and programs and organizational charts to truly “emerge”?
The issue isn’t about communicating with the 21st century any more than it is about imitating the church of the first century. And this is why I don’t think the emerging church will go away, or should.
We say we want to restore the church of the New Testament. But the emerging church conversation reminds us there’s still a lot to talk about.
This is why we’ve published the feature articles this week and last, to spark discussion about how we can and should be Christ’s church in our generation. Restoration always requires change, and sometimes it must continue after those who started it thought they were finished.
Let’s not reject the emerging church just because it may call us to unfamiliar experiences or forms. Instead, let’s figure out where it’s capturing the genius of the first church, and then compare our own congregations to the picture we discover.
Is it possible some leaders outside our movement are restoring aspects of New Testament church life better than we have? If so, let’s not be too proud to learn from them.