What is the Emerging Church?
This is hard to define, and perhaps even impossible to pin down precisely. It is like saying "what is a regular church?" In a nutshell, it is seeking to communicate the Gospel of Christ to an ever-changing culture. Usually, it is applied to a new style of church atmosphere and service that seeks out young people and the disenfranchised of our culture to share the impacting Gospel with them. Francis Schaffer was keenly interested in this movement and now we seek to reform it. This is a movement with many voices, faces, and plans; from conservative God-honoring to the ultra liberal anything goes theology—all with the same label. Usually, it is a form of outreach including contemporary worship with a more creative bent.
Every generation of Christians has this problem of learning how to speak meaningfully to its own age. It cannot be solved without an understanding of the changing existential situation which it faces. If we are to communicate the Christian faith effectively, therefore, we must know and understand the thought forms of our own generation.--Francis A. Schaeffer (Escape From Reason, Introduction)
This emergent or postmodern or Emerging Church is fairly new as a movement, yet is has shadows all through church history as everything has been new at one point including the Church itself. Perhaps this emergent church is a spinoff of the "Jesus Movement" in the 70's, an inspirational application of Schaffer's influence, a journey to new things in order to catch others for the faith, or all of the above. It is a "youth church" or a "Gen X Church. It is as different as any church in any denomination is with the same name on its sign. Perhaps a definition would be this: "providing new wineskins" for His Wine. Our Wine, Who Christ is, His work, role, purpose, and precepts remain the same. But sometimes we need new "skins," a new container to display His Wonder to a confused, searching generation who feels betrayed by the mainline and conventional, religious, institutional church.
Since I have been in this emergent ministry, training emerging leaders, and being one myself for thirty years, I picked up some pointers mainly from my failures. It was my uncle, Francis Schaffer, who was keenly interested in this movement and pushed me into this; I was a part of it even when I would not admit it.
Are you willing to do unto others what Christ has done for you? What about others you fear or do not like? What is your call in this? The call during the Reformer's day was to point the Church back to Christ and His Word and away from bad traditions, false teachings, bureaucracy, pride, and apostasy. Now...
Building any successful church is not about seeking some fad or trend. It is all about seeking Him first, finding His Truth First, and then finding a way to communicate that effectively in life with passion—being creative without disrespecting Christ. Remember, He is Holy!
This is about the legacy we leave when we pass on, into heaven and God's wonders, rest, and rewards—how we live and then hand down hope by the way we lived and how we touched others. As this is also about building a successful church with a legacy of hope that impacts His people in the world in which we live...
Remember, this is not just about new ways of origination and structure or how to tell His story. It is about bringing Christ to people in a real way without concession of His Truth and precepts. Our God is timeless! Our culture is ever changing. The Gospel is the same and our Lord is the same; the only difference is how people see and perceive. People's experience of the Truth of our Lord may change—Its application is flexible—but He remains the same. Thus, we are to communicate His Treasures and create a new package for His Truth without compromising the Contents so others can see it.
Do not be a stingy church; rather have your heart in Christ and things will go well for you!