Emerging Church and Mission


What I wrote in yesterday’s post (9- 2-06) is mostly aimed at the church in its traditional, modern setting.

But what about the “emerging” church? How can those within these creative, emerging expressions of the church who have a passion for the world beyond their own communities be effectively stifled? What could be done to straight jacket what God wants to do with them?

1. Believe that the necessity for such workers and such ministry is passe’, doesn’t exit, or is “too modern for us.”
2. Be so enamored with social justice and a holistic gospel that we fail to embrace the clear commands of scripture regarding the evangelistic mandate or reject such categorization out of hand.
3. Have a lack of appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of spiritual gifts and be unable or unwilling to help identify those emerging leaders who may be gifted and called to ministry across social, linguistic or cultural barriers.
4. Convince them that just because they are enjoying life as a missional community in one cultural milieu, they can then duplicate the same forms of community in another.
5. Help them buy into the theological and historically naive concept that structurally the church in its local expression is the same as the church in its cross-cultural missionary form.
6. Encourage them to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the past 500 years of missionary activity and missiological understanding. Write it all off as modern, institutional or non-organic.
7. While astutely helping them apply missiological eyes to their own mono-cultural settings much better than their modern brethren, simultaneously fail in helping them to apply the same understanding to the international and cross-cultural dimensions of the missio dei.
8. Embrace a theological posture that says only “presence” is necessary for kingdom influence.
9. Consider hell a repulsive, outmoded concept for the postmodern mind and work to erase any motivation that could stem from the biblical reality that people without Jesus risk eternity separated from God.
10. Be like many of those committed to the radical discipleship movement or the Anabaptist tradition who have been so concerned for the purity of the church and living counter-culturally that they are rarely able to engage contemporary culture and instead, remain irrelevantly on the fringes.
11. Encourage them to read, think, write and blog about being missional but don’t empower them to do much in practice.
12. Write off mentors from the over 50 crowd as out of touch and irrelevant.
13. Inculcate such an anti-institutional bias and suspicion of authority that they become useless in a neo-monastic or sodalic ministry context which will require discipline, followership and sacrifice.

7 Responses to “Emerging Church and Mission”

  1. Bobby Says:

    Wow Sam! This is a great list full of wisdom if any of the younger crowd will listen to the old bald prophet. This should be the outline for your second book challenging the next generation to carry on the cause of mission to the world! Preach it loud and strong!

  2. Zane Anderson Says:

    Do I detect just little sarcasm? Good. Write on, brother.

    Seldom have I seen so much truth on a single page. What a needful antidode you have provided. Will we take it or will we die forgotten on the fringes after all the endless talk about being authentic, missional, and relevant?

    Dear Lord, give us more elders as this.

  3. andrew jones Says:

    i dunno, sam. what side of the bed did you wake up on?

    a lot of these criticisms are washing off my back as i read them and i wonder which expression of EC you are referring to.

    yesterday i preached on matthew 13 – 7 parables of kingdom – and spoke about the fiery furnace and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    yesterday i responded to a comment by someone who asked one of my best readers and contributors was alive in teh 70’s. i told her that he (Futurist Guy) was over 50. And there are quite a few people on my blog over 50 – as well as teenagers – its hard to tell these days and age doesnt seem to matter as much as mindset and worldview.

    the other thing that happened yesterday was, after a baptism, the church came over to our new-monastic style community but it was so seemless that nobody knew –
    i am sure you criticisms fit some new angry expressions of EC but i rarely encounter these in my travels.

    peace and blessings to CRM team in SoCal. Hope to see you sometime in 2007.

  4. Sam Says:

    Yes, this post has some bite as did the one prior to it.

    I think both are motivated in part by a knawing sense of frustration, evidenced in what I wrote on August 7, about missional needs such as Beirut and our inability to find those men and women –in the existing church or the church that is emerging—who can or will “lean in.” Both posts (9-2 and 9-3) vent some of this frustration as I have observed barriers which keep such engagement from happening.

    Of course Andrew is more widely knowledgeable regarding the emerging church and I would never pretend to his breadth of exposure or understanding. This organic movement of the Spirit we call the “emerging church” is multi-faceted and incredibly diverse and none of what I write is a critique applicable to all by any means. Such a critique should not be applied universally and there are many, exquisite exceptions.

    However, in the emerging milieus of which I am aware and from the growing body of writing that give it definition and shape, I believe these may be some of the unique pitfalls that could stifle the kingdom potential latent in the movement.

    Andrew, I wonder if you may be an aberration of sorts because of your cross-cultural experience, perspective and sensitivities which would naturally make you and yours immune to some of my observations. And perhaps my words are over the top for the emerging venues in which you circulate. If the shoe doesn’t fit, please don’t wear it. My apologies to you or others for characterizations that may not apply.

    Also, Andrew, blessings on your “blog-fast” for September. May it be the time of renewal and perspective you are seeking.

  5. andrew jones Says:

    sam – i realize my travels have exposed me to a lot of good examples . .. but i might also have blind spots and short memory in regards to the bad examples

    and i value what you witness and how you respond – and i do take it seriously – thanks for letting me lean back a little on what you have said

    i think its great that you have the freedom to blurt out what you are feeling and thinking

    instead of just what you are thinking

    great that you can take a risk and throw some emotionally charged thoughts out into the blogosphere – keep doing it. it certainly get more milage and has more credibility. you could say these blog posts are ‘love at first bite” . . . he he he . ..

    now i will go back to aug 7 post re: beruit to see if you had any contact with 24-7prayer.com and their ministry in Beruit

    btw – met a lovely emerging church guy from beruit who is now blogging at inthemindofasam.blogspot.com and giving the skinny on what is going on there

    peace out

  6. Sam Says:


    Thanks for your gracioius response. Appreciate your encouragmenet for me to “emote” which I desire to do appropriately and yet prophetically as needed.

    Will definitely follow-up on the 24-7 prayer movement in Lebanon and the guy from Beirut. Thanks for the contact!

  7. Heidi Aanderud Says:

    Sam! I enjoyed reading this particular post.
    The irony inspires a lot of thoughts in my mind.
    Thanks! :) -HEIDI

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