Trevin Wax on Five Reasons Why the Emerging Church is Receding
I've discussed Em-Church Burnout before.
Emergent fatigue is setting in. Trevin's claim that the em-church most appeals to younger believers disgruntled with traditional evangelicalism is a strong one.
For all the good that "conversation" is, the one thing that is very difficult to do is orient a movement around a conversation. A conversation is not cohesion. There is not a coalescing unity in willingness to talk. Willingness to talk is good. It is godly. It is a sign of charity and humility. We should talk with everyone.
But: A guy who believes in the triune God and believes in the bodily resurrection of Christ can and should talk with a guy who believes God could be a She and that Jesus only rose symbolically, but the two of them can't forge a new evangelical identity together. Unless one changes their mind.
I also agree with Trevin that the em-church pioneers have really misread the spiritual longings of young adults.
Yes, many young adults are spiritual "mutts," but again, you can't forge a movement with conversation and creedal disunity. The young adults most passionate about the gospel of Jesus and his kingdom like answers, like plain talk, like the "meat" of tradition (as opposed to the aesthetics of tradition).
Is the emerging church movement receding?
I don't know. I think so.
"Missional" already seems to have replaced "emerging" as the buzzword du jour. The emerging guys appear to have been co-opted into some bizarre pastorpreneur, seeker megachurch hybrid conference devotee mutant sort of gurus. The timeliness of the movement seems to be going, as Lewis says, "where all times go."
The new emergence appears to be of the gospel-centered Driscoll, Keller, Acts 29, younger Calvinist variety. Maybe that movement is replete with its own problems, but doctrinal murkiness and a dispassion for the gospel are not among them.
A couple of fellows at the Boar's Head Tavern have discussed this post and its subject, so I thought I'd respond to some of their statements in case anyone linking here through them are interested . . .
My good friend Michael Spencer seems to think this post is about Calvinists believing they're taking over the emerging church.
It's not. I don't say anything about taking over the emerging church; I'm talking in fact about the same thing Trevin Wax was talking about, which is that the emerging church movement is fading into (gasp!) irrelevance. The closest I came to even saying anything like what Michael assumed is when I mentioned "the new emergence," by which I only meant that the movement emerging in younger evangelicalism that is aiming at renewal is of the gospel-centered blah blah blah variety. I stand by that. Most everyone else is jumping ship or reinventing the wheel, as BHT fellow Jason Blair mentions in his post.
Blair writes of a host of different movements and groups, each of which is an example of a movement or group writing off evangelicalism or trying to reinvent it. None of them are trying to take over, much less reform from within.
Blair writes, "The problem with the whole idea of taking over the EC is that there isn’t an organization to take over," which I completely agree with. It's just weird that I have to respond to the notion of taking over the EC when I wasn't suggesting any such thing.