A year or so ago, Trevin Wax suggested that the Emerging Church was in the early stages of decline, offering a number of reasons for this opinion. I summarise:-
1. The Emerging Church does little evangelism.
It’s not the only segment of the Christian Church that fails in this regard. But it has to be said: The Emerging Church isn’t making many converts. It is reaching young, disillusions Christians, but not the unchurched. And part of the problem is its lack of clarity about what the gospel actually is. If Jesus no longer makes exclusive claims, and hell no longer exists, no wonder that evangelism is no longer a priority.
2. Some Emerging leaders lack clarity on key doctrinal and social issues.
Young unchurched people want answers. They don’t just want us to ‘journey with them’ and admit that we don’t have any answers either. Neat packaged answers offend, but people still seek answers to questions about suffering, about Jesus, and about eternal destiny. People want to know what we believe. Where God has spoken, we dare not keep silent.
3. Many who were initially attracted by the Emerging conversation are now distancing themselves from it.
Many young pastors and leaders who may be ‘post-modern’ in their style of worship are beginning to wake up to the incipient theological liberalism that tends to go along with the term ‘Emerging’.
4. Some aspects of the Emerging Church look faddish and fleeting.
Like the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, the Emerging Church is beginning to look too much like a reflection, rather than a transformer, of the culture to which it seeks to minister.
5. Evangelicalism is beginning to address the good questions raised by the Emerging movement.
The Emerging Church is a protest movement. Now that Evangelicalism has begun to listen to its concerns about ecclesiology, kingdom, incarnation, and so on, the Emerging Church will become less necessary.
The Emergent Church is big on deconstruction, short on reconstruction. It has not only brought down the superstructure, it has also been budy digging up the foundation. In jumping off what it perceived to be a sinking ship, it has found itself in a life-raft with at least as many holes.
The Emerging Church sounds a much-needed wake-up call. Its longer-term future is less certain.