Originally posted on 19 September 2005
In a lecture presented to the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa a few months ago, Eddy Gibbs, a long-term voice for change in the church, talked about his view of “emerging church”. What found really interesting in the report I received, was his list of emerging church characteristics. He since wrote a book on the topic. While it is now slightly outdated, I do think that the picture he presents of the “ideal” emerging church should be aspirational for all church leaders.
“For the past three years I have been working with a younger colleague at Fuller Seminary, interviewing around 100 emerging church leaders in the UK, the US, and other areas of the English-speaking world in an attempt to answer those questions. Here is our tentative list:
- Their churches are worship-inspired with everyone playing an active role in creating the worship experience.
- They are mission focused, committed to responding to the needs of their community and especially in serving the poor.
- They are shaped by context, i.e. seeking an indigenous expression of church that is culturally appropriate.
- They seek to contextualize discerningly, ensuring the integrity of the message and refusing to soften its radical impact.
- They disciple intentionally, which means that they are more concerned to challenge people to live as Christ-followers rather than gathering a crowd.
- Their churches are structured relationally rather than hierarchically. This means that everyone has their place to belong and ministry to which they can contribute.
- Their churches grow organically, which means that they are reproducible, much like a strawberry plant sending out runners that set down new roots and produce more strawberries.
- They network extensively, usually by means of regular contact with the internet, with chatrooms and blogs.
- They gather together periodically the smaller cell churches for times of celebration and re-tooling for mission.
- Lastly, they serve compassionately, in that they are committed to holistic spirituality, rejecting any separation of the spiritual from the secular, which occurred under modernity.
I like it a lot.