Responding to Pomo
The Emergent Church is a loose affiliation of churches which are part of the “emerging church” movement. The movement as a whole may be described simply as churches which are attempting to use contemporary strategies to reach primarily younger audiences who otherwise find traditional churches unappealing. The Emergent Church is one sector of this movement, and affiliates typically share several things in common.
- Creative worship: new styles of worship, often incorporating more of the arts, independent and original songs, sometimes use of older worship elements such as liturgy, candles, incense, religious statues (icons), etc.
- Mystical spirituality: prioritizes the experience of God that is often beyond rational or theological expression; frequently ancient figures from church history who also may be termed “mystics” are seen as spiritual guides for today
- Flexible theology: open-ended on many theological issues; willing to entertain possible “tolerance” on things like how much of the future God knows in advance, the exclusiveness of Christ for salvation, beliefs about hell, the authority of Scripture, etc.
- Socially active “missional”: much more engaged than traditional evangelicals on issues such as racism, sexism, world hunger, communal living, environmental concerns, etc.
- Narrative & experience driven: preferring well-told stories about people’s lives, authentic living, and bluntness in describing “life as it is” over propositions, theology, and discourse; they tend to accumulate unique experiences (e.g. travel) rather than possessions
- Unstructured: against organizational, administrative, and denominational hierarchies, usually avoid the word “church” in their name
- Non-legalistic: accepting and embracing many behaviors formerly frowned upon by conservative Christian (dancing, smoking, drinking, body piercings, tattoos, etc.); non-judgmentalism is seen as preferable, and essentially anti-rules
- Subjective interpretation: tend to read the Bible with everyone allowed to have an equal right to his or her own interpretation; meaning is not fixed by the text, but determined by each individual.