I have to admit I was thinking a lot more about the emergent church and alternative worship 4 years ago when I labelled this blog than I have been since. During my life as I've been writing this blog over the last 4 years I've spent a lot less time thinking about the emergent church. Partly this is because I've been going through the motions to become a Unitarian minister. I've needed to spend a lot of time learning about the Unitarian community, learning about the way things work, learning about the way things are done in traditional church. And that's been important.
But now I feel the need to begin to think about new forms of spiritual community and new ways of worship.
What is the emergent church? Browsing YouTube I came across this video from an US American Evangelical persective.
Although clearly speaking from his own perspective this seems a pretty fair summary.
Clearly using Driscoll's category I would want to be closest to the Emergent Liberals. One difference would be that the emergent stuff is not coming out of Evangelicalism but mainline denominations in the UK. In the UK a good deal of emergent stuff is Church-of-England-liberal.
But actually I would want to go further than emergent liberals. For example Brian McLaren seems to refuse to answer one way or another about gay inclusion in the Christian community. This video shows some rather stuffy looking old guys criticising McLaren for refusing to answer the question about gay inclusion and I kind of agree with them. I don't want the kind of liberalism that refuses to takes sides. I want a much stronger liberalism, or radicalism.
So I think it's right that I describe this blog as radical emergent. What do I mean by this? What I mean is that the church needs to develop in new ways to become missionally relevant to British culture in the twenty-first century. This includes a questioning of both practices and theology. Typically liberalism is more comfortable questioning theology and conservativism is more comfortable questioning practices. The radical emergent approach I'm advocating questions both. What I consider more foundational is an ethical commitment (it's a bit deeper than the word "ethical" but I can't think of a better word at the moment). In other words, all that Sermon on the Mount stuff.
The church needs to break out of a culturally-bound ways of working. It needs to change from institution-maintainance mode to missionary mode. The mission becomes primary. Not as a way to attract people to church, but rather as its rasion-d'etre. The classic way of saying this is that the church does not have a mission, but the mission has a church.
What this means in practice is an open question but I'm going to be thinking about this a lot more in my ministry from now on, and blogging about it.