nailing jello to the wall: defining emerging church

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Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

nailing jello to the wall: defining emerging church

i’ve talked before on here about my mixed readership. on one hand, many of you read my blog in order to engage with my theological musings, while others of you could give a rip about this whole jesus thing. undoubtedly, most of you fall somewhere in the middle.

for those of you who aren’t theology nerds like myself or for those who aren’t really connected to the church, maybe you’ve been scratching your head when i’ve talked about this idea of the emerging church or emergent. (maybe you were scratching your head wandering who the heck those guys are that i mentioned in this post…) well, you are probably in good company.
the emerging church is much more of a conversation than some kind of tangible reality. it’s an ongoing dialogue about what it means to engage in the story of christ and the way it leads us to interact with each other in community. for some, it’s a radical reshaping of the definition of church and for others, it’s merely tinkering with some of the modes of doing church. either way, i think what’s occurring in the emerging conversation is much-needed and something in which i find myself conversationally engaged.
titling this post nailing jello to the wall was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to some of the common criticism. part of the emerging “ethos”, so to speak, is that there are no definitions. now certainly, that doesn’t mean there aren’t shared values or some kind of semblance of what most would consider “orthodox” christianity (ooh…the “o” word…), but it simply means that emerging types see orthodoxy as an unfolding event that occurs in community rather than a set of static and lifeless (and, generally speaking, culturally meaningless) codes. (yes, i know all you out there who don’t like this whole emerging thing are just shaking your head at that description, but that probably speaks more to your presuppositions than the actual statement…which i’ll get to in an upcoming blog post…)
anyway, i happened across a video that was produced by the calvin college alt worship project that gives a little shape and definition to the emerging church…well, as much as is possible. while i don’t think that this is a complete representation, i do think it gives a varied perspective, whereas you hear from some of the “big names” and then some “regular people” about their views of the emerging church. certainly, every viewpoint on the video doesn’t necessarily represent my viewpoints, but that’s part of the beauty of emerging values: you don’t have to agree with every single person or idea to be friends and be in generative dialogue. another good thing is that you hear a little balance towards the end in the part about criticism.
so, take a look and maybe this will give a little something more to wrap your head around. (note: i edited two videos together and added the bg music….i just thought it was a little dry without it…hope the calvin people are ok with my open source approach…) 🙂

on a related note, just to show you that us emerging types can laugh at ourselves, i thought this was a pretty funny look at various other “mergents.” funny stuff. (my favorite, as a big fan of relevant magazine, is “relevemergent”.)