These thoughts represent what i added on to the email to Steve for his article, as well as some recent thoughts.
1.We are always looking for better words or concepts. The word that makes sense right now is “Emerging”.
In the 1990’s, 10 of us formed a group that was devoted to helping churches understand the post-modern transition. That group, called Young Leaders, changed its name to Terranova, and again to Emergent. Our website, emergentvillage.com has links to resources and events that deal with this same conversation we are now having and also has a brave attempt by Brian MacLaren, not to define the boundaries of Emerging Church, but rather to name the tone and spirit of the conversation and the growing friendship we called Emergent.
2. I just took a look at The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball, and Dan comes to the same conclusion as me – cant define it, it is broad and inclusive, emerging values more important than models. That makes me feel better and I am sure you also.
3. Values are more important than models, or worldviews/mindsets.
4. As we all dive down into a deeper ecclesiology, we see that we have more in common with each other, despite the various expressions of church on the surface.
5. Defining what we are experiencing as church in our new environment may be easier if we approach it from a aesthetic level, and not a cognitive one. This is easier and is actually how many of us are already describing it.
This morning i walked through the Walthamstow market and saw farmers selling the organic produce they have been growing themselves. There is something freeing and simple, even rebellious, in buying produce directly from the people who grew it. I feel good buying it. He feels good selling it. Our transaction bypasses quite a few levels of marketing people and middlemen, and it is quite deconstructive in displacing those heirarchies. But it is also empowering to us, and it just feels good.
I get the same feeling when i experience church - real church -
i have also felt it in homeschooling, unschooling, downloading info from the web, the immediate self-publishing of blogging, punk music, shopping at Home Depot to fix my own house.
It feels empowering, never complex, bare and naked, totally human, focused, and God's pleasure is one of those feelings mixed into it.
This kind of real church experience can be had by anyone, and regardless of church model.
6. Most of the young people who approach me for help in starting churches are not working inside traditional models that we would call traditional or modern or even seeker sensitive. There is not the money for those buildings available, nor the years of training. And there is not a group of de-churched people waiting to join something. The simple/organic churches seem the obvious choice for these people. It is not as if i choose a model and then work with people like me. i do not have that luxury.
I am waffling now, and should really shut up. But i do want to talk about it again sometime. Thanks everyone for your comments.
ADDED: Oct 2006
Here are the links to my answers:
Emerging Church Definition 1.0
Emerging church Definition 2.0
Emerging Church Definition 3.0
Emerging church Definition 4.0
Emerging church Defintion Additional
I believe the magazine published this but i dont think i ever got a copy.
I briefed a number of American Foundations on the emerging church scene. You can read what i said at Emergant.org