The emergent church is the current phenomena in the church world these days. It is not exactly the sort of thing that can be easily pinned down but it seems to involve the creation of new communities of worship and the revitalization of existing ones with a combination of four things:
1. Bring into worship the Spirit filled enthusiasm of the evangelical and Pentecostal traditions.
2. Develop a profound respect for the sacraments through liturgical practices from the Anglican tradition.
3. Emphasize the importance of individual commitment to contemplative practices exemplified by many religious orders, especially the Benedictines.
4. Recommit to the gospel as primary with a special emphasis on socio/economic issues.
As usual, I may be wrong about that, but it will not keep me from plunging ahead.
What happens with really worthwhile movements such as this one is that clergy, and other church leaders, eagerly adopt the language and attend all kinds of workshops, but seldom do he hard work of implementation. They just slather the new words over the same old way of doing things. In the end, the whole thing can come to nothing more than anti-clerical complaining, a rejection of the institutional church, an excuse to be unfocused, and a sort of know-nothing suspicion of serious, informed theology and well educated clergy theologians.
What the emergent church movement is really about is evangelism, pure and simple, and evangelism is what we are supposed to be about. But evangelism takes courage, daring, risk taking and all the other things we would rather avoid. It’s so much easier to talk about it than do it. And that, my brothers and sisters, is the failure of the main-line church. To use the oft-cited words of Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”