R.I.P "Emerging Church"; We Barely Knew Ya!

Did you create a mnemonic device to help distinquish between the “emerging” church and Emergent?

Congrats, it will help you with church history.

Several of the leaders of the now defunct emerging church movement have decided to ditch the label that suffered from overuse and a severe lack of definition. They had kept doctrinal definitions theologically fuzzy by design and while this promoted refreshing dialogue between godly people who disagreed, it also allowed for the theological hijacking.

The Out of Ur Blog, owned by Christianity Today, rumors that Erwin McManus, Dan Kimball, and others are looking to create a new network of like-minded thinkers and churches:
As the emerging church rides off into the sunset, where does that leave things? Well, news has been leaking about a new network being formed by Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, and Scot McKnight among others. I understand further meetings will be happening this week to help solidify the group. The still unnamed network has agreed to start with the inclusive but orthodox theological foundation of the Lausanne Covenant, and they intend to emphasize mission and evangelism. They appear to have learned from the emerging church’s mistake—define purpose and doctrine early so your identity doesn’t get hijacked. If they do their work carefully, perhaps the new network can avoid getting “wacked” in every sense of the word.


  1. This information reveals two things to me:

    1) I am now more confused than ever.

    2) I am not a part of this new network, and I'm alright with that.

  2. I agree with Jordan that this only makes it more confusing. When you agree with this ideaology now...how do you describe it? Kimball says "missional" but that doesn't cover everything.

    I will say, that I definitely am on the McKnight, Kimball side of this. This is a good thing to do because Emergent Village has made the distinction too confusing. People who don't know much just assume one is theologically and Biblically liberal if they associate with the emerging church and that needed to stop.

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  4. Thank goodness. I was tired of trying to explain to people what "emerging church" meant. And its lack of doctrine did get on my nerves.

  5. FYI, it's either a mnemonic or pneumatic device. I don't think the word pnuemonic exists, just as the emerging church doesn't.

  6. Honestly, I think it was unfortunately for the group known as the Emergent Village to choose to anchor it around Emergent. The confusion started right there. Emerging church has been a generalized phrase to describe movements through the church and people just couldn't separate the organized "Emergent" from the generalized conversations of "emerging" churches. So I think this will be a good thing overall.

    A local example from my church is that we had a Sat night service called sub-titled Emergent worship. I discovered from talking with him that it was the title given by the search committee way back when, and when I gave him the notes of a lecture given by Scot McKnight about the differences because emerging and Emergent, the next week that sub-title was removed from our signs because our church isn't part of the "Emergent Village" - not that we don't think the Village is good or bad.

    I am glad to see people, like Scot McKnight, comment on the CT blog to show that the movement of people thinking and acting on the church emerging from one place to another is alive and well - like from "4 Spiritual Laws" evangelism emerging to missional living. This type of thinking, discussion, writing, and action needs to continue. It's evidence that scripture is indeed alive.

    I disagree that the "emerging church" lacked doctrine. It is more that it wasn't hindered by a specific doctrine, but rather encompasses many flavors of doctrine. That is what is so fantastic about the general movement, and even the organization "Village". Doctrine is simply a list of beliefs. What is key about the discussion is that doctrine is recognized as human interpretation and everything we think and believe as humans should be available for discussion because nothing we do or think or say is going to be perfect and complete.

    So in summary, I say "Yea!" about finding a new way to keep this movement going without continually getting tripped up over two closely sounding, but not so closely connecting groups.

  7. @ryno:

    You're right. Larry actually emailed me before this was posted to ask me to change it, but I screwed up. It's fixed now...