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"Out of the Doldrums"

Emerging Church Retreat?

Kester asked me to read his post yesterday called Has What Emerged Retreated? Returning to the Institutions, and give some comment.

- In a nutshell, yes, I agree. Perhaps more so in UK have emerging church leaders either sought ordination and full-time jobs in older ministries or been snapped up by those agencies. In the USA, many leaders from the movement back in the 80's and 90's are still growing and giving shape to the ministries that they have been leading all this time. Although in the USA, there is a tendency to play down the organizational connections rather than claim them as a sign of authenticity, as in the UK. This has led to the idea that EC and trad. church were incompatible - a problem that books like Deep Church have tried to address - when in fact the majority of the movement has been both conversational and collaborative with the older movements in ways that most people are not aware of.

- All this is a sign of growing up and maturing, as I noted in the beginning of the year when I said that the emerging church movement grew up in 2009 and is no longer a radical and controversial movement, something that I fleshed out a little with 10 Types of Emerging Churches that will no longer upset your grandfather.

- Kester's observation of emerging phenomena paralleled by the 'rumspringa' [Part 2] is similar to what I have referred to as coming "full circle", although the return to the mainstream is usually accompanied by a changed mindset about church and hopefully a deeper ecclesiology.

- Maybe the emerging church HAS INDEED retreated a little over the past 2 years but, actually, the global recession and changes in the mission landscape have forced even the most conservative and traditional denominations and Western mission agencies to retreat in some manner or at least pause and reevaluate. In fact, having just circled Europe in our truck and talked to missionaries all over, I sense that the retreat was stronger for the traditional mission groups than the younger and in some places, the only new mission efforts into pioneer areas seem to be coming from what we used to call emerging churches. And in the case of certain young 'emerging' groups, the push into North Africa and the Middle East DESPITE the lack of resources is unparalleled.

Anyway, Just some thoughts. Good post, Kester, and good observations as usual.

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