This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series: ‘Emerging Churches’ (Gibbs & Bolger)
Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Culture (SPCK) by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger is regarded by many as the most authoritative book presently available on the beliefs and practices of the emerging church. It is based on interviews with 50 leaders in the US and the UK.
I thought that it would be interesting to provide some extracts from the book, in order let emerging church leaders, together with the two authors of the book, speak for themselves.
Here, then, are some extracts from chapter 2 – What is the emerging church?
What are emerging churches?
Emerging churches are missional communities arising from within postmodern culture and consisting of followers of Jesus who are seeking to be faithful in their place and time. (Gibbs & Bolger)
On challenging the forms, not the substance, of Christianity
Emerging churches remove modern practices of Christianity, not the faith itself. (Gibbs & Bolger)
A fragile movement
In many ways, this is a fragile movement that can be marginalised by denominational leaders and killed with criticism by theological power brokers. Whatever reservations people may have, these new voices need to be heard. Many of these innovative leaders are looking for mentors rather than critics. (Gibbs & Bolger)
I am postevangelical if evangelical means American revivalism but not if it means witnessing to the good news of Jesus Christ. (Debbie Blue)
We are evangelical and charismatic and liberal and orthodox and contemplative and into social justice and into alternative worship. (Simon Hall)
What, then are emerging churches?
Emerging churches (1) identify with the life of Jesus, (2) transform the secular realm, and (3) live highly communal lives. Because fo 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. (Gibbs & Bolger)
The emerging church is a quest for a more integrated and whole life of faith. There is a bit of theological questioning going on, focusing more on kingdom theology, the inner life, friendship/community, justice, earth keeping, inclusivity, and inspirational leadership. In addition, the arts are in a renaissance, as are the classical spiritual disciplines. Overall, it is a quest for a holistic apirituality. (Mark Scandrette)
The way of Jesus
What do we mean by “the way of Jesus”? Simply, the life of Jesus and his engagement with his culture, as embodied in community and given verbal expression in the Sermon on the Mount, is prescriptive for Christians. Modern readings of Jesus are prone to dismiss his life and focus on his death and resurrection and are preoccupied with a believer’s interior experience of Christ. In contrast, Jesus welcomed the outcast, hosted the stranger, and challenged the political authorities by creating an alternative community. Jesus’ entire life, including his words, established the way of Jesus, and it is this way that has greatly influenced emerging churches. (Gibbs & Bolger)