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July 06, 2006


Shane Clifton

Ahh deb. liked this paper this first time i read it - and i still like it!

In thinking through the label "emerging church", i guess we could say it requires a heuristic definition. By that i mean "em" labels an unknown - X. Our job is then to attempt to identify X (or em) - to describe the set of experiences, symbols, institutions etc. to which that label points. I reckon a swot analysis is an interesting way to do it. - so congrats - and lets see where the discussion leads us.

Ann-Elise Koerntjes

Hey Deb,
The idea that I liked most out of the 'shaping of things to come' is that of incarnational ecclesiology. It is a lived out expression of what Paul says "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." If God could become man for me what am I prepared to become for someone else? How can my church relate to the community around it if I, first and foremost refuse to live an incarnational Christianity that blessess and transforms the community around me? How exactly does that community need to transform to fulfill all God created it to be?
The little that I know about the emergent church shakes the foundations of all I ever thought church to be. But in a good way. If my ideas of church and my traditions (the non-liturgical liturgy of the Pentecostal service) can't stand up to a slight shaking then perhaps they need redefining in order to most effectively impact my corner of the world???

Deborah Taggart

Thanks Shane :)

And Ann-Elise, I too love the idea of incarnational ecclesiology. The incarnation is a major deal in my personal faith - whatever the mess it is I'm going through, it's comforting to know God cared (and cares) enough to get involved.... So taking the next step and applying it to our understanding of church helps us imitate and represent Christ to the world - through proximity instead of segregation.

And a thought from Reuben Morgan would be...
My saviour, redeemer
Lifted me from the miry clay
Almighty, forever, I will never be the same
'Cause you came near
From the everlasting
Into to world we live
The Father's only son....


Good luck with your definition!

My observation is that it means different things on different continents, but to me it is the church that takes seriously the missionary context that is now the western world, and that the functions as a missional community more than simply a worshipping community.

blind beggar

Deborah: I'm concerned that many are making a fundamental error in equating “emerging” with “missional.” Emerging does not equal missional and, as you imply, the definitions are murky.

In general, an EM (Emerging Movement) church is nothing more that a generational church -- one that is more focused on being culturally sensitive to and with a postmodern generation. Many EMs also have a missional heart, but that is not what makes them EM. There are also many contemporary/evangelical boomer churches that have a strong missional heart (I don’t mean missionary).

For a good understanding of what it means to be “missional,” you might want to check out Friend of Missional (

Deborah Taggart

Thanks for your thoughts on definition, guys - trying to classify the emerging missional church was definitely the hardest part of writing this paper! As you say, Hamo, "it means different things on different continents", and even from mind to mind it varies. Your short definition is fab ("the church that takes seriously the missionary context that is now the western world, and that then functions as a missional community more than simply a worshipping community")....but then when I try to explain it to friends who haven't read the books or studied theology, they want to know more - what does it look like?

So hopefully this paper provides some snapshot examples and some generalised reflections on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that flesh out the short answers a little....but still allow EM contextuality and freedom to continue to emerge into what God wants the church to be at our place and time in history....

And blind beggar, I checked out your site and found yet another example of how easily the notions of emerging and missional are mixed - part of your definition of "missional" quotes Kimball's book entitled 'The Emerging Church.

But I really enjoyed reading the lists, some great thoughts there. Other readers of this blog should check it out and be inspired by the ideals the EM church strive towards. But I guess my paper is more of an attempt to describe the reality of EM movement (including the fact that as much as we may try to separate the terms 'emerging' and 'missional' into neat definitions, their thoughts and examples are continually overlapping) - and thus to take into account both the ideal and the real, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

lesley perry

This all sounds really great but probably in the end when you have all finally worked out what you are going to call yourselves, how you are going to do things ,what style etc,etc I hope you are not dissappointed and find you are really just doing what everyone else has been doing for centuries , trying to walk faithfully with God and share the good news with those who have not heard it. Its the inside that matters to God all the outward stuff will burn up in the end.

Amethyst's Upskirts

i'm gonna make my own post about it n

Secretaries Spanked

yoo. 10x for thoughts )

Voyour Peeing

yeah... love this :)

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