I’m a little late with this, but some of you may not have watched the segment on NBC Nightly News featuring the emerging church movement (more detailed interview with the pastor can be found here). Tom Brokaw (my oh my is he looking old!) did the segment, and after watching it, I have some thoughts and issues. Some others have weighed in on blogs as well: Ed Stetzer, Tadd Grandstaff (pastor of Pine Ridge Church, the church featured), Brian Baute, Andrew Jones and some interesting comments over on the Emergent Village blog.
Tom & NBC: Do your research
First of all, Pine Ridge Church is certainly no “emerging church.” And this is not just my elitist attempt at being able to define what an emerging church is. Pastor Tadd Grandstaff wrote the following on his blog:
“The are only two issues I had with the interview. First, was being lumped with the â€œemergingâ€ movement. In fact the word â€œemergentâ€ was never even asked or mentioned in any of the interviews that were taken. I DO NOT consider us an emerging church.” [link]
Despite Tadd’s outright refusal to be lumped into the emerging church movement, there was that great shot of him with Jerry Falwell. I don’t mean any disrespect to the late Falwell, but that is not an image I often associate with the emerging church movement. Pine Ridge Church is trying to be an edgy, contemporary church – a “candles and coffee” church; not an emerging church. I find it especially interesting that Tadd says that the word “emergent” wasn’t even brought up in the interview. Very sneaky NBC.
It’s not a youth movement
Also frustrating is the constant definition of emergent as a “youth movement.” Emergent is not youth group for grown ups, or 20/30-somethings. Sure, there may be some younger people who are drawn to emerging churches, but there are also plenty of emerging churches that exhibit a diversity in the ages, and are clearly not “youth churches.” Brokaw’s careless reporting (or whoever on the NBC staff did the reporting for him) and use of language (calling emergent a “youth movement” and referring to young evangelicals as “young evangelists” at the beginning of the clip) is just sloppy.
Hopefully in the future, there might be some better research being done. Oh, you know. If NBC is doing a story on the “emerging church” – perhaps choose to highlight a church that might consider themselves part of said movement…