Although The Holy Observer article, Frightened Black Family Flees Pomo Church, is obviously a satire, like they mention on their site [“Satire is an appropriate way – and maybe one of the better ways – to comment on the state of Christianity as it is believed and practiced today.”], there is obviously some truth to how the emerging/PoMo church movement is being viewed by others.
I attended the ’03 Emergent Convention in San Diego, and was pretty new to the whole discussion and ideas concerning postmodern thought (I didn’t even know who Brian McLaren was….). As I sat through seminars, purchased books and talked with others, I resonated with many ideas and began just soaking everything up. I think I’ve read every emergentYS book since, been to all the right sites (The Ooze, Vintage Faith, Ginkworld, Relevant Magazine…) and I still have my goatee. However, I realize that many of us who are intrigued by and hoping for an “emerging” church are guilty of simply throwing around names, and using certain emerging buzz words, i.e. liquid, ooze, organic, alternative, missional, authentic, McLaren, journey, sojourning, etc. I noticed this as I sat with a group of people at a recent gathering of missionally-minded church planting types. It seemed as though all of our stories, while the details were different, were carbon-copies of each other: “Hi, my name is _____ and I’m emerging from a church I’m pissed at. I’m a missional sojourner: it’s not the destination that’s important, but the JOURNEY. I’m searching for an organic and authentic faith that resonates with my pomo-ness, something liquid.”
Recently in the blogworld, the emerging church movement and all-things-pomo have received much criticism from bloggers like The Evangelical Outpost and The Reformation. Are some of their critiques a bit harsh and spiced with a bit of a “This-is-how-it-is-so-there” flavor…yes (but so have posts I’ve written). But I suppose as any new movement grows (and puts on conventions, publishes books, etc.) there will be criticism and resistance, which is probably a good thing too.
I think we should not leave the criticism of this movement to others, but we should always be looking at where we are coming from, where we’re going. I think it’s important to make sure we’re not simply creating yet another denomination (sure you can call yourself a Non-Denominational church, but in doing so, you’ve simply created the Non-Denomination Denomination; do we really want the 1st Emerging Church or 2nd Church of the Postmodern). I think we need to ask ourselves why the EC movement tends to consist of a whole heck of a lot of white males [myself being one of them]. I know that Emergent has gotten more females speakers this year for the Emergent Convention [the lack of females was something many mentioned as a criticism of the last convention]. These are questions we must be asking ourselves.
If we truly are set on the idea of doing church in a new way that works for people today, in a postmodern age, then let’s do that. Let’s leave the old arguments and theological biases behind us (i.e. problem with women in ministry). Let’s have a little less angst – and a little more compassion (my, this is beginning to sound vaguely “Rodney King”ish). I think it’s time we all stepped back a bit and re/examined where we’re headed, what we’re against, what we’re for, but most importantly: who we’re following…