Thoughts on the Future Church

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On a global scale, the Church is growing at an exponential rate.[1] However, in the United States, the Church has moved from the center and towards the margins of culture.[2] As a result, a new generation of thinkers and practitioners have arisen for the purpose of helping the Church navigate the environmental uncertainty of religion in America and abroad. On the surface, this is not a bad thing. After all, the heart behind the so-called emerging, missional, mosaic, and monastic movements respectively seems to be a return to the Christian-ideal. Simply put, the aforementioned appear to have a motivation that centers on a desire to know Christ and to make Him known. Yet, it is what lies beneath the surface that may be problematic, especially with the now-dissipated emerging stream. By definition emerging churches or the Emergent Village are “communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures.”[3] It is important to note that the Emergent Church is not always synonymous with emerging Christians.[4] The former refers to a group of like-minded Churches while the latter refers to any Christian who explores alternatives to traditional ways of “doing” church.[5] It is also important to note that “traditional” for the emerging church may refer to contemporary evangelical orthodoxy and orthopraxy.[6] The emerging, missional, mosaic, and monastic models of church have caused many to rethink what church should look like while calling the church back to an important biblical proposition: the Church is first and foremost a “who” before it is a “where.” However, the reactionary nature of these movements may inadvertently lead the Church away from biblical truths regarding homosexuality, biblical authority, and the mission of the Church.[7] Is it possible to balance the best of these movements while maintaining faithfulness to the Scriptures? My experience says yes.

Here’s to the future of the Church!

[1] George Barna. Futurecast: What today’s trends mean for tomorrow’s world. (Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011), 183.

[2] Steven M. Studebaker and Lee Beach. “Friend or foe?: the role of the scholar in emerging Christianity.” Theological Education 48, 2 (2014): 43.

[3] Tom Sine. The new conspirators: Creating the future one mustard seed at a time. (InterVarsity Press, 2009), 318.

[4] Steven M. Studebaker and Lee Beach. “Friend or foe?: the role of the scholar in emerging Christianity.” Theological Education 48, 2 (2014): 43-44.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Tom Sine. The new conspirators: Creating the future one mustard seed at a time. (InterVarsity Press, 2009), 363-364.

[7] Ryan P. Burge and Djupe, Paul A. “Truly Inclusive or Uniformly Liberal? An Analysis of the Politics of the Emerging Church.” Journal For The Scientific Study Of Religion 53, no. 3 (September 2014): 636-637.

 

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