5 Streams of The Emerging Church and Convergent Friends (?)

My Friend Jarrod McKenna sent me a link to this article the other, it’s written by Scot McKnight,  professor of religious studies at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago.

The Article is called “Five Streams of the Emerging Church.”

Here is a long quote from the article:

To define a movement, we must, as a courtesy, let it say what it is. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, in their book, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Baker Academic, 2005) define emerging in this way:

Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures. This definition encompasses nine practices. Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because of these three activities, they (4) welcome the stranger, (5) serve with generosity, (6) participate as producers, (7) create as created beings, (8) lead as a body, and (9) take part in spiritual activities.

This definition is both descriptive and analytical. D. A. Carson’s Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Zondervan, 2005) is not alone in pointing to the problems in the emerging movement, and I shall point out a few myself in what follows. But as a description of the movement, Carson’s book lacks firsthand awareness and suffers from an overly narrow focus—on Brian McLaren and postmodern epistemology.

I really appreciate the article, it’s a quick snapshot into how many young churches are doing ministry.  McKnight is respected voice within this group of emerging leaders, and speaks with credentials as a professor of New Testament.  What he offers here in this article is a great starting point for thinking and discussing issues of the church.

I couldn’t help but find that these five streams help to name the many aspects of the covergent Friends sensibilities as well.   In fact, as Quakers we would do well to take McKnight’s five streams seriously, and consider how they fit/don’t fit with our tradition (I would quickly add many more fit than we may first imagine).  The one major difference between emerging churches and convgerent Friends is whereas the emerging church tends to be non-denominational church plants, or groups that have left their denominations (becasue their denominations didn’t get what they were doing), convergent Friends are trying to help progress their tradition.  This is one of the most important commitment within this group of Quakers.  It’s an updating and re-evaluation of our tradition in light of our historical commiments and in light of our current culture.  It in a sense innovative, but understands that the only way to innovate (and have something long lasting) is to do so from within a single tradition.

McKnight’s article helps to spell out some of the major issues that all Christians ought to be asking, and maybe in the long run those questions will provide answers not just for those who tend to be more anti-tradition, as those who fall under the Nietzscheian and Enlightment philosophical influence, but also for those of us who are wholly committed to the ongoing narrative of our traditions.

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