Saturday, December 02, 2006

Emerging Church

I have listened to many talks on MP3 about the emergent church, ranging from Brian McLaren to DA Carson. Even though there is a lot of talk about conversation, I find that they are mostly talking past each other.

I sense that the differences are largely due to different personalities and different callings. Those on the neo-calvinist side are prophetic/teacher types. They like theological neatness and want to have everything well tied down. As an analytical person, I feel drawn to their approach.

The emergent people are more pastoral types. They just want to draw hurting people in toward Jesus. Getting every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed is less important to them. When I listen to Brian McLaren, I do not agree with everything he says, but I have to respect his compassion and commitment to those who are engulfed by post-modern thought.

The problem is that we have these two groups working against each other. God made both personality types and he needs them working together in unity. Pastoral people cannot fully represent Jesus. Neither can prophetic/teacher types. Only when they are working in relationship is Jesus fully revealed. This is the key point of Paul’s teaching about the ascension ministries. We need all these giftings working and relating together in unity to represent Jesus.

Loren Cunnningham once said the pastors are like wet cement. It oozes into every crack and enfolds everything it touches. He said that prophetic people are like reinforcing steel. They are straight and are place in neat straight lines. A good concrete foundation needs both cement and reinforcing steel. Cement without steel will break and crumble. Steel without cement will not keep the rain out.

We need both personality types and ministries working together in unity. The sad thing is that they often end up in different streams of the church, talking past each other. For the church to be strong, we need people with the theological neatness of the neo-calvinists working together in relationship with others who have the compassion of those in the emergent church. That would be a miracle, but it would reveal the love of God.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...


Interesting thought, and I think there may be plenty of truth in it. I don't know.

I will say from emergent hangouts I've seen, there are all types there. Some are very forceful, and in your face types. And some of the pastoring (NOT neo or any other kind of Calvinists) I've seen that's a part of it, while definitely oozing with concern for the poor and disenfranchised, are also strong and adamant and forceful (not always, but some I've seen) against the status quo of "church".

So on first take (and now), I think you have some general truth. But it does break down.