Last night I took a virtual tour of all the old storefronts in the emerging village.
Emergent.ca : closed down.
Resonate.ca : closed down.
JordonCooper.com : No mention of church
EmergingChurch.Info : A few scragglers
TheOoze.com : Remodeled
EmergentVillage.com : Signs on the window saying the Emerging Church is dead
Forge.org.au : They just unlocked the doors after 12 months of dormancy
For all its faults I really did enjoy the conversation. I miss battling fundamentalists on Phil and Dan’s signposts blog. I miss the MSN messenger chats. I miss the feeling of being part of something new that was trying to honestly address deep problems in the church.
While the emerging church is largely dead, I don’t think the church has solved the problems the EC tried to address. Some elements of the church may have done of good job of shooting down some of the answers the EC purposed, but I don’t think they did any better job of coming up with better answers.
The question of relevance was approached in the wrong way. The EC tried to become relevant by becoming current without ensuring they were sourced in the timeless. It is the same mistake the seeker church made.
I think the fear of over-institutionalization kept people from building relevant and necessary structures to maintain some level of durability and fruitfulness. Don’t get me wrong on this, I’m a house church guy, I like church as simple as possible but organization is required for some things. When honest criticism began there was no way to make course corrections. How does one correct a conversation? A movement can shift but a conversation just is.
I think the general impulse that helped form the emerging church still exists. The house church movement doesn’t seem to have lost steam. Those that chose timeless answers (e.g. community and genuine fellowship) over timely answers (e.g. coffee, candles and cool) have much more life in their churches. Especially those groups that are led by people of substance with genuine love and a willingness to sacrifice. I’d like to think the missional movement still has life. Those of us that have attempted to be missional have learned that there are large elements of risk and sacrifice involved. It is much easier to talk missional than to actually be missional. I’m not thinking of anybody other than myself as I write about this.
The questions that face the church will only become more difficult as society transitions through peak-oil, climate change and an overhaul to our economic system. The over-commercialized and Americanized version of Evangelicalism is doomed. The mega-churches are doomed. Who is going to commute 20 miles to church at $5 / gallon especially when their disposable income has been dramatically cut? I’d like to think more difficult economic times would be able to create some disillusionment in the prosperity gospel, but if such theology can take over large swaths of Africa, I think it might become an attractive escape for those who don’t have a hope of living the famed “best life now.” There is a dramatic need for discernment and correction in the church.
I think there will be a 2nd wave of (attempted) transformation in the church. Next time it won’t be about keeping the twenty something’s around and looking cool, it will be about survival. It will be about rediscovering the timeless strength of faith in Christ and fellowship in a world full of crumbling idols. Idols and false gods that the church as accepted as much as the world.
In the timeless words of James T. Kirk “Buckle up.”