The emerging church is….?

‎”The emerging church is not an evangelistic strategy. It is the last rung for evangelicals falling off the ladder into liberalism or unbelief.” ~ Kevin DeYoung~

What do you think of that statement?

Todd Rutkowski

~ by blueporch on April 17, 2011.

3 Responses to “The emerging church is….?”

  1. In one sense, the quote has some merit to it in terms of what I have encountered with people who identify with emerging labels (probably many of whom would baulk at talk of an evangelistic ‘strategy,’ instead attempting to holistically live one’s life so that good news is embodied and lived in all facets of life). I agree that what is often assumed to be the broad brushstrokes of emerging church (EC) writings/practice is a step away from what some would define as ‘liberalism’ and/or ‘unbelief.’

    But I think it depends on your point of view regarding the meaning given to the various nouns in play. I’d like to see the bigger context for the quote and why the denial of EC being an evangelistic strategy is contrasted with ‘falling off the ladder.’

    I think many who identify with EC would reject for a variety of reasons, evangelism as a strategy – too sales-like in the bad sense of sales (trying to hawk a product, probably in a somewhat aggressive way that paternalizes the ‘customer’ and is likely to be more self-interested than interested in mutual benefit).

    As for the latter half of the quote, I think many who wrestle with EC perspectives and are coming from some variety of ‘Evangelical’ paradigm, might be charged with falling off the ladder or being a step away. And I think many of these same EC sympathetic individuals have struggled or do struggle with the above feelings/thoughts re: liberalism and unbelief.

    The bigger questions to me are: how bad is it to wonder or agonize over whether one might be becoming a ‘liberal’ (pejorative non-evangelical sense) or ‘unbeliever’ of some stripe? This questioning is likely ‘normal’ (for some or many persons?) and perhaps good to a degree – there are plenty of examples in church history of the ‘saints’ doubting, struggling, being accused of heresy … and I think defining who is on/off/falling off the ladder is more complex than many people like. Are evangelical (or other) paradigms or judgments, over what is liberal or unbelieving, valuable, correct, helpful, etc.?

    I hope/trust I’m on the ladder … but not the ladder as defined by various forms of evangelicalism. And I suspect struggling over whether one is falling off the ladder or whether the ladder might lose its footing and slip out from underneath isn’t as bad a place to be as some suspect.

  2. I like what you’ve said and how you’ve expanded it Jer – and can’t wait for a time of conversation and refreshment:)

    I only have time for one simple point at the moment. One thing that makes murky the water of clear thinking more than anything on this subject is the definition of terms and labels that get used. So like Jer I’d need to know the quote and the book. But regardless of that, many Evangelical people, leaders, local churches, and denominations consider themselves to be fully Biblically responsible and “Emerging” (and embrace and practice a historically and globally recognizable Evangelicalism). The adjectives that precede Evangelical Christianity are expanding, but are often loosely defined. For example, I believe, if the Reformed guys and the Missional guys had more conversations, many of these kinds of statements would likely evaporate from print and pulpit. Perhaps what De Young (I haven’t read his writings) is really trying to target is the group who gather under the “Emergent” banner, as distinct from “Emerging”. If the Devil is in the details, he is definitely messing with these two words. I like Driscoll’s short discussion on the differences.

  3. Great topic!

    Should the church’s priority be an evangelical strategy or should it be focused developing an evangelical life? I believe that we need to strategize on how we keep our concept of church from interfering with us being what Jesus has called us to be.

    “we would love nothing more than for those in the emerging church to write up a statement explaining exactly what they believe on the controversial issues like hell, the atonement, and the uniqueness of Christ. One of the hazards of being part of a movement whose only statement of faith is that you don’t believe in statements of faith is that you are bound to be misread and lumped together with some ideas you don’t like” – Why we’re not Emergent: By 2 Guys Who Should Be.-Kevin DeYoung, Ted Kluck.

    I think this quote sums up the difference in approach quite well – the difference between answer and questions. It’s much easier to learn when I’m not convinced that I have the answers already.

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