Giving Up On Emergent?

There’s been a little dust up recently regarding the status of the Emerging/Emergent Church. Nick from the Nick and Josh Podcast voiced his disappointment here. Josh chimed in here. Tony Jones has a response here.

I don’t begrudge Nick or Josh’s frustration but I think the frustrations are misguided. Nick writes:

My friends and I believed that there was a massive tide of change coming. We believed that everything was going to change. We found more and more people reading books by McLaren or others and we thought the interactions with these books would change the world. We knew that there would be this new kind of Christian. We believed that Christianity was on the cusp of evolution.

I can only speak for my group, but we left the church. We didn’t want to be in the reform game and we decided we would let the change come to the church as we gathered outside, if this wave hit the church, we would rush back in and embrace it, but we couldn’t deal with Christianity in it’s present state and these Emergent Conversations were our only way to hold on to Jesus at all.

We didn’t want Emergent to become the new club, but we wanted it to organize so that through gatherings, cohorts, and online social networks it could create it’s own grouping and lovingly force some voices out into the open. That happened a little. But it seems that recently we have lost hope in the Emergent movement. It took it’s hits from the conservatives and instead of coming out stronger for it, it sort of fizzled.

So with that out of the way, Nick and I had a little video chat about it all and here it is:

I really appreciate Nick’s willingness to chat about it and I’m really glad we were able to do this rather than just me writing about it.


12 thoughts on “Giving Up On Emergent?

  1. Thanks for doing this, Zach. One of the problems with the Interwebs is that it gives the mic to woefully uninformed persons. EV didn’t give event insurance to someone?!? What? There’s just a lot of rumor and innuendo in some of Nick’s comments.

    And he says he’s no longer interested in being involved in emergent at the national level, but as far as I know, he never was. It’s strange that someone who’s never volunteered for or given money to the national organization would be disillusioned with it.

    Regarding the critique that EV is too church-focused and not enough intentional-community-focused, I don’t get it. First, I could point you to many non-ecclesial communities who have affinity for emergent, and second, there are probably 10,000 churches in America for every “intentional community.”

    By the way, can we all please stop using the phrase “intentional community”? It’s nothing more than a euphemism.

    Bottom line: The problem for those of us who has led EV is that we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If I’m the national coordinator and we raise money, people are pissed that we’re becoming a denomination and that we’ve sold out for having publishing partnerships. But if we flatten the organization and give it back to the people, then we’re fizzling out and aren’t fulfilling the promise.

  2. But let me also say that, while I probably sound overly defensive in my previous comments, I’ve always liked Nick. I just find this whole meme very odd. It’s like me being really disappointed that Larry Fitzgerald didn’t get the Cardinals a Super Bowl ring, even though I don’t follow the Cardinals and I’ve pretty much given up on the NFL as nothing more than a business that sells sex, alcohol, and violence.

  3. Good chat Zach. I think you’re right about slow change, our world is so concerned with efficiency, e.g. texting and twitter, but the Gospel is by no means efficient. It’s like a mustard seed, it’s slow and patient.

    I nominate Nick as the new coordinator of Emergent. I actually think his passion is exactly what is needed.

  4. I can’t help but notice that no one ever mentioned the Bible at any point in the conversation. I kind of doubt how much Nick or Zach have read the Bible, because to them, Christianity is all about people. This is wrong. It’s all about God. It’s always been about God, and always will be about God. If you want to know what the Christian Church should look like, READ THE BIBLE!!!!! If you want to see the full picture of who God is and what He’s like and how we relate to Him, READ THE BIBLE!!!! The Bible is absolutely true, and perfect, as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Go there for Truth. I don’t give a rip is you’re politically conservative or liberal or whatever, but let’s make God the God of our lives, not us. Church is a place for you to serve God, not the other way around.

    “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’ ”
    James 4:14-15

    • Hey Blaine,

      Do all the women wear head coverings at your church? Do all the congregants share all of their possessions? If not, why not? Haven’t you read the Bible?

  5. Yes, I have. And the women at my church don’t dress like hookers. Because that’s the intent of the verse. Reading the Bible means taking things in the obvious context in which they’re presented. But, hey, I’m a closed-minded Biblical-based Christian.

    • Oh, I see. You don’t do exactly what the Bible says. Instead you interpret the verse to mean something other than what it actually says. You’re playing with fire, Blaine! 😉

  6. Bro, come on. Of course if you take verses out of obvious context you’ll get warped messages. If you even read the verses around it you’ll find that head coverings aren’t the issue. It’s submission to God. People love to site 1 Corinthians 11 when they want to back someone into a corner on doing what the Bible says. I can argue about women’s role in the church all day, but at the end, you’re either a believer who’s going to heaven, or a nonbeliever who’s going to hell. That’s why Christ came. One of my problems with the ECM is that it makes Christ’s coming about fixing social problems. I’m a huge fan of charity, but at the end of the day, if the guy in Africa you helped feed doesn’t accept the Gospel, he’s going to hell anyways and your work was in vain. But we have to try anyways, because we don’t know who God has elected for mercy and who he hasn’t. I apologize for being overbearing in my first message. I’m super passionate about sound doctrine (not that doctrine’s what it’s all about, but it’s still very important), and I let it get the best of me. Because this argument is obviously not edifying and I have final exams to get ready for, I’ll probably not reply to whatever you post. But I will read it.

    I’m not saying I’ve got it all right; if you can prove me wrong on something with the Bible, I’ll gladly change my mind. It’s not about proving myself right, but clinging to God’s absolute truth.

    • Is escaping hell your sole motivation for obeying God and adhering to “sound doctrine”? Isn’t that a self-serving motivation for any kind of meaningful relationship? Is loving God for the purpose of self preservation really “love” at all?

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