It may be self serving but I am encouraged when I see others speaking out for a post emergent future for the emerging church. Here is a snippet of a review from a talk given by Jason Clark titled The Emerging Church: Another Dead-End or the Hope of the Church?
First, it must become a deeper church by valuing old, new and even Christian faith.
Second, following the example and work of such theologians as Stan Grenz, Jon Franke, Scott McKnight, and Ray Anderson, it must become a theological church by developing a theology robust enough not to be either threatened or co-opted by postmodernism.
Third, it must become a Biblically-informed church by reading and re-reading the Bible as the church- and culture- critiquing set of authoritative texts that it is.
Fourth, following the ancient church on the road to depth, it must become a creedal church, checking the individualistic impulse towards fashioning the church in the image of ourselves.
Fifth, it must become a confessional church, not to celebrate sectarianism, but to show the richness and vitality of a deeper church. “Maybe then,” says Jason, the emerging church’s legacy will be that it was “the response of the church catholic to our emerging culture … known for it’s vibrant ecumenical depth, with a life giving theology, rooted in a new Biblicism, growing counter to our individualized culture, as it affirms the creeds, with a plurality of local confessions from communities growing in faith, with new Christians handing their lives over to the way of Christ.” We can only hope the emerging church will have such an impact.
I couldn’t agree more with Jason’s assessment of an emerging future for the church. His observations address the tendency of many in the emergent conversation to act as it they are inventing the church all over again. Furthermore that re-invention tends toward the image of those who are doing the re-inventing that is to say white, liberal, male and academic. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that it has not created space for the richness of the church which comes from its history and the diversity of its members.
That has unfortunately caused some to step out of or beyond “the conversation” having become frustrated with perceived the intransigence of the emergent hierarchy, (yes there is a hierarchy) around these issues. Thanks to Jason for being a bold and prophetic. Maybe his voice will be heard and stimulate where others have not.