Kim just left a link to Brian McLaren’s post at Share the Guide. He talks about why he is not comfortable with the term “emerging church” as it is a further division of ‘the pie’.
For those of you who haven’t heard me espouse the virtue of Brian’s book Generous Orthodoxy, go and buy a copy now!! Possibly the most influential book I have read!
I have just read Mission Shaped Church: A Theological Response by John M. Hull and he has some interesting things to say about the missiology of Mission Shaped Church.
Christian Mission is not a mission of the church; but church itself is a feature of mission. The mission is God’s mission. God as Father, Son and Spirit turned toward the world that God has made in mercy and compassion, the world in which God has created life.
Hull obviously comes to Mission Shaped Church with a preconceived concept of church as vehicle of mission as opposed to the results of mission. This is in contrast to MSC’s call to church planting and the building of Christian communities. Whilst I think that Hull is correct in his assertion, the MSC report was a starting point rather than an end point. In that sense it has called people for the first time to examine what it means to be “church”. This was the springboard. The question is will it still be relevant in 25 years time or will it disappear like Faith in the City?
One of the worrying hangovers of the reformation was that many large denominations are based upon a reactionary movement. A good example of this would be the Church of England and its early definition of “we’re not Roman Catholic”. This is seen in the 39 articles of faith as laid down at the time.
Many fledgling movements define themselves as being “not what has gone on before”. This seems to be a trend running through the emerging church movement as it finds its feet. This is especially true when you hear prominent emerging church leaders declaring that the emerging church will “kill off the institutional church. And that is a good thing”. If the church is to be defined by what it stands for rather than what it stands against, how should the emerging church assert itself in the positive?