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Reminds me of 'always reforming'.
Still think it's not really helpful in the long run, though. Methodism was fire and brimstone, society changing stuff once. Stick a brand on something, you've chiseled away a little at its headstone.

I agree in that labels are generally for the sake of others... to categories, charicature, dismiss etc. especially when it comes to the ECC. Where I agree with Richard is in the 'loss' of a term that implies an incompleteness, something not yet fully revealed, something that cannot be defined in a moment etc (why I have always prefered 'emerging' to 'emergent'), something that reflects some of the paradigm shift that is the cultural context i.e. the emerging culture and something about indigenous community, i.e. not designing something which may look fresh to us (in terms of church) and offering it to the 'masses' in an attempt to attract/draw in, but enabling church, as a community which is seeking to be Christ incarnate in it's own culture (similar to the Hebrews, Galatians controversy) to model its OWN expression of community, worship, theology etc..

See, this is what I don't get about all this, tbh. There's loads of stuff under the umbrella of emerging that I think is fab - and loads that is just as fab that wouldn't have a clue what I was blathering on about if I called them emerging.
I find most of the theology mind-numbingly incoherent and unhelpful - particularly to the man on the street. If theology isn't accessible to my dad, for instance, it's just elitist bobbins.

But the rest of it - properly touching local community on a day to day basis rather than an 'event' mentality, not conforming to the culture, but shaping it just by being Christians in our everything - this I love. But surely it's just 'happening'. Just gently teaching Christians truth, rather than a set of things to conform to, seems to be more lasting approach.

I mean, I agree that if we're just talking about linguistics, emerging is marginally better than fresh expressions, but to be honest, it sort of reminds me of the argument in The Life of Brian about what to name the People's Liberation Front of Palestine et al.

fair enough Libbie, I do understand what you are saying (I think ;) ) I agree with part of what you are saying, part of what has become known as 'Emerging Church' is to do with an incarnational, missiological DNA... which you ask " But surely it's just 'happening'." I wish! Maybe if it were "just happening" we (the church) wouldn't be in the mess we are in! " if the traditional church could ditch its focus on "my tradition" and start seeing church as for the other, if the charismatic church could ditch its obsession with 'getting blessed' and start trying to bless the poor, if the conservative/fundamentalist/reformed church would stop worrying about being/getting it right and start sharing life not legalism, if the modern church would stop being concerned with rationale and being slick/attractive and would start welcoming vulnerability etc. etc. and if the 'Emerging Church' would stop worrying about the others and just live its instincts... maybe then it would just happen!

No problem with the following "Just gently teaching Christians truth, rather than a set of things to conform to, seems to be more lasting approach." To me that is exactly what the 'Emerging' Missional church is/should be about! I.e. not promoting a model/ecclesiological orthodoxy but living by the sermon on the mount and 1Thess2.

As for the theology, sorry about that but, part of re-engaging with the world is deconstructing the modern paradigms of Church (just as Luther et al had to deconstruct the medieval church) what it has attached to the gospel; dualism, rationalism, platonism etc and what it has abandoned (perhaps for good cultural reasons at the time); mysticism, creativity, contemplative spirituality, monasticism etc.... and lets not believe that any theology is accesible to the 'man on the clapham omnibus' (Try explaining about double predestination or even the Trinity to someone in the queue at Tescos without resorting to reductionism!) bit of a straw man that one!

I guess one of the frustrations for P-M's like me (not my choice, just my culture) is that we don't see the terms as labels, cohesivness is imposed on them by others (I suppose that is why the phrase 'emerging church conversation' arose) I mean, if you read Bolger and Gibbs, you will not be able to miss the diversity that comes under the umbrella 'Emerging Church'... for me EC is far more a descriptor than a label (expressions of missional community/church emerging from and in emerging culture)... however if we have to have a label I would much rather have one that is explicitly about movement, journey and incompleteness than one that pretends to have it all worked out.

I disagree about Tesco, m'lad. Not every concept in theology is 'easy' to explain, but if I can't get a basic theological concept across to a reasonably intelligent child, by which I accept I will have to use a different language than I would with you, then the issue is simply communication skills.
There are some astonishing communicators in the e-church crowd, and some horrifically convoluted ones - same as any other section of the church.

I suppose this would be my main bugbear with the term emerging - the assumption that it's not a label that pretends to have it all worked out. Of course it does - you've mentioned in your comment that real church stuff doesn't just happen in tradition settings, or charismatic settings, or reformed settings etc. It has to be prodded into being by those who are emerging.
My position is that this has nothing to do with what kind of existing church way we have - it's a simple human thing to need to be prodded towards living Christ.

It is still appropriate to group emerging theologies together in many ways, though - even though the spectrum is a wide as my waist at the moment. The fact is that there is an emerging approach to theology which may not always produce the same results, but does tend to have the same DNA of 'journey', 'uncertainty as virtue' and the phrase you used of 'not having it all worked out'. But of course it does, because it's decided already what certainly isn't part of the paradigm...

Anyway, combative as this all may appear, I'm very grateful for the chance to natter about this - I haven't really had the time to talk to my emerging brethren properly for a while, so thanks.

A very quick, unplanned response... I certainly don't believe we have it all worked out, nor do I beleive that every other setting has it all wrong... part of me says, it is not about having it wrong, simply not having it right in this particular context... part of me says if they did have it right in their own cultural context we wouldn't be in the mess we are in (interesting that the charismatic renewal and the 'decade of evangelism' had oversight of the fastest decline in church membership ever!) I agree that it is "a simple human thing to need to be prodded towards living Christ." if I want to be combatative it is that the existing church paradigms have failed to do this largely and we need to critique that.. in that context for me the ECC is one means by which many of us are critiquing... although it may also be interesting to note that if their are foundational principles of the ECC one is most definitely ecuminism and catholicism. (a la Bosch) Personnaly I grew up in the charismatic Anglican Church and was witness to the linear nature of the culture... your either Liberal or conservative, charismatic or catholic, blah, blah, and the understanding that if I am right, then everyone else must be wrong (read apostate, heretical etc.) and if you didn't have a certain experience, viewpoint, theology then you were not a 'proper' christian (and it is still possible to read it day in day out on the net) I wouldn't say that it has to be the ECC that has to do the prodding, but that maybe we (all of us) do need the prodding of people like Bosch, Newbiggin, Donovan etc. and our brothers and sisters of other perspectives and 'settings' of church! e.g. there is much that I can learn from all the traditions, Charismatic, Catholic, Orthodox, Liberal etc. etc. TBH it was growing up being denied that that has been part of my 'journey' I do believe that one thing that the 'parents' of the EC (those guys above and others like Phyllis Tickle, Rowan Williams, NT Wright , Taylor, Ricouer, Caputo, Merton etc.) have to teach all of us is that Mission is not one activity of the Church but an attribute of God... here out of illustration is the Mission statement of one of the largest churches in my local...

1. To have worship which is acceptable to God

2. To have worship that reflects the very wide range of Christian experience

3. To have worship that is accessible

4. To have worship which is inclusive

mmmm... not much about living Jesus or Missio Dei there!

I wouldn't go as far as saying uncertailty is a virtue but that we are in place of uncertainty becaus of the paradigm shift etc. and that I would want to rediscover something of the mystics awe at the unknowableness of God (the more I know of God the more I realise how little I do know) and the iminence of God in the world. As for working out what is not, sorry you get this impression, but for me it just isn't true, if anyone is doing that it is the futurologists and sociologists who are describing the paradigm shift... I am simply seeking to share life with those who live within it.

Yes there are themes within the ECC... Bolger and Gibbs do a good job of identifying some of them... but the modern mindset seems to be trying hard to use it's own language to encapsulate a movement and frame it as a denomination... ultimately there is little I or anyone else can do about that. My passion is to keep knowing more of God, realising just how much more majestic and mysterious than I could have worked out God is, exploring what it means to be made in the image of a creator and a lover and to live Christ here are now. That muych we can probably agree on ;)

There is a huge mixed economy which is responding to Mission Shaped Church - I am increasingly applying the criteria which was missing from MSC which - on whose territory as these new expressions finding their home - is it essentially on our territory as church (ie a new format of worship but within the same basic structures etc)or is moving into the territory of those who are discovering faith - looking for a living faith. What is interesting about the growth of the Church in Acts is how it develops in new places and territory - rather than adjuncts to existing religous expressions. Jesus therefore said I "send" you, rather than make sure that you "invite people in". This is more than issues of venue and accessibility but progresses into ownership and new insight.

It may just be a case of quibbling over semantics, but I've never liked the term "emerging church" or "emergent" for that matter.

Call me a traditionalist, but I still prefer "alternative worship". I appreciate that there are problems with that term too (no reference to mission, alternative to what?, etc.) but there are huge problems when you tie a whole section of church to one concept like "emergence", which rather than being a whole outlook, is one small aspect of what goes on under that umbrella.

Fresh Expressions is ok as far as it goes, but feels a bit bland. Like an old woman who's just discovered bungee jumping or something. Wheeee! Isn't this fun!

Mike, I agree there are problems with blanket terms, but Alt.Worship fits less, Emergence can happen anywhere and there are 'churches' emerging out of all sorts of culture that have share no background at all with A.W... e.g. ethnic groups. I have no problem with A.W. as a term for what has grown out of post-charismatic, neo-catholic (blah blah) creative, contemplative groups of Christians... but to me there can be both Churches that are not A.W but are emerging and visa-versa. To me emergence means just that... faith/spiritual community that is emerging from contemporary culture and context... re-theologizing, culturally indigenous and seeking not to seperate itself but to exist and serve within culture (both local and wider), etc. A chunk of A.W. is 'simply' about rediscovering Christian traditions that have been denied by a particular christian sub-culture and synthesising those practises with the media of the age. One could argue that this is no different than the folk worship of the '60s and '70s or the Brass Band worship (reflecting Northern Working Class Music of the time) of the Sally Army... not that I have any issue with that but to me in itself it does not reflect all that 'Emerging Church' could be.

Yeah, I think I'd broadly agree with that, but what I mean about Emerging Church as a label is that it's too closely linked with the concept of "Emergence" (as in the book by Steve Johnson).

If you mean "emerging" as you described it, then fine - don't have a problem. But if it is "simply" about Emergence as a concept, then its just too reductive for my liking - there's more too it than that. Its the point you made about A.W. but right back atcha. The terms are too loaded.

I know what you mean about A.W., but A.W. can mean "faith/spiritual community that is emerging from contemporary culture and context.." as you put it, because that is a viable "alternative" to what has traditionally been offered, which is why I prefer it, personally. Though I usually just call it "Emerging Church" anyway, because that's what everyone else calls it...!

But it's probably just me getting my semantic knickers in a twist. I'm sure there are better things to argue about than what something is called...

100% agree Mike... A.W. can mean that, but it doesn't always... and it kinda assumes a move from traditional to alternative. I also agree that the tersm are a) loaded and b) inadequate... and your also right it is a pointless debate in many ways... in this case it started with a critique of what 'Fresh Expression' reflects... and that for some Anglicans who are part of missional/emerging church/community it has become a millstone! The danger is falling into the consumerist trap... you pays your money you takes your choice... for me it has to be more than that to have any point... so there is a deconstruction of 'Church' without rushing too quickly into reconstruction... with a sense of local reconstruction I guess... not just in terms of worship style, but theology, community etc. too. I guess the argument arises as we try to encapsulate a movement in a static term... for all sorts of reasons; to dismiss it, to create ascoiation, for peer support/learning etc. Trouble is no term is neutral & no label sufficient... Thank God!

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