I know we struggle for definitions about what Emerging/Emergent/Emergence is all about, but I think the opposite of whatever it is may be "McChurch." Check out Terry Mattingly's article this week on "Theotainment".

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Comment by Otis on June 27, 2009 at 1:29pm
That is interesting. I think part of what is happening is that because the term emergent does not have a linguistic center so to speak, I was able to imagine emergent and McChurch in the same place.

But even if I use your definition, the problem I have is the hipsterfication of Church. There is actually a "market" out there for the feel of a non-artificial and commercially marketable form of church. Hipsters are always trying to find bands or clubs or whatever that "most people do not know about yet" or are atypical (at least for white people). That is why hipsters really hate it when their neighborhood finishes the gentrifcation cycle because then it means they are just living like everyone else (other young white people) are living. When this type of demand intersects with people within denominations who are trying to find new members and turn to "emergent worship forms" in order to attract people who want a "new form of church" then you have the supply to match the demand. In this scenario, there is a market demand for emergent church and there is a supply created by vendors of emergent church. From there it makes sense that a McChurch could want to participate in that market. Or like one of the mega churches in my area, simply place it in a space "off campus," like in a coffeshop, so that the aesthetics feel "new and fresh" and you do not easily connect the dots unless you know the web of relationships behind the coffee shop church experience.

On some level I may end up indicting myself as I desire to help plant new churches and to make them "accessible" (is that simply an other term for tooling the church plant to a particular segment of the market?) to the "unchurched" and "dechurched." In what way can I determine that I am not simply playing the very same game I am critiquing McChurch of. It begs the question, "What is authentic Church?" which may lead us back to asking "What is authentic life?" I feel only after there is some real content to those questions can we then say whether or not we are simply appealing to the "hipster" portion of the church market, the kind of person who actually does not like the pop nature of McChurch.

In the red pill analogy, my question is if you take it how do you know that you actually got out of the matrix rather than simply going into a deeper level of it. That to me is the question of authenticity and thus the question of what is the emergent/emerging church that you are wrestling to describe.

Comment by Becky Robbins-Penniman on June 27, 2009 at 1:03pm
Otis, I did not know whether to laugh or cry at your idea that one of the many niches on the McChurch campus could be the room with the "emergent" folk in it.

I guess I think of "emergent" more in terms of those who (to use a time-worn analogy at this point, I guess) take the red pill and aren't interested in an artificial and commercially marketable version of life. Maybe I'm naive, but I hope not. Actually, I pray not.
Comment by Otis on June 27, 2009 at 12:44pm
I read this article in horror. The scary thing is I see it happening. I would suggest however that there are people who wish to claim they are emergent as something trendy. In that context I am not sure that one could rule out an emergent McChurch. It could end up being one of the niches on the larger campus. I wonder if a lot of the people who are looking for church these days want to experience something that "feels" authentic. Kind of how people who are hipsters will claim that their neighborhood that they are gentrifying is "authentic" or "real" even as it is apparent that the way that "authenticity" is being preserved is itself artificial and commercially motivated.

Just a thought,




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