By now, any church leader who has visited a Christian bookstore or a Christian website in the past few years has seen the term “Emerging Church.” You’ll find lots of definitions, and folks tend to line up as for or against the EC based on their own preferences and traditions. For example, if you use an iPod more than a VCR, there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll be an Emergent fan. (Or else it means you still can’t figure out how to program your VCR.)
Of course, no one is sure whether to call the “Emerging Church” a movement, a conversation, a trend or a reaction. Personally, I tend to think of it as a fever-like syndrome afflicting most major Christian publishers.
But it appears that the Emergent movement/conversation/etc. is not the latest thing. Just the other day I read an article about some seminary professors leading a seminar on the “Converging” church, which appears to be an attempt to produce a convergence of traditions – to bring together some of the missional spirit of emergents, the liturgical idea of mainliners and the covered-dish idea of evangelicals.
I’m not quite sure what a Converging service would look like – maybe a public reading of Brian McLaren’s commentaries on John Calvin? Maybe a liturgical tradition in which the sharing of the peace involves passing along Starbucks gift cards?
At any rate, if we have Emergents and Convergents, it’s only a matter of time before we see the development of several new movements/conversations/etc.:
The Mergent Church – when two or more struggling congregations decide to get together and struggle in a larger setting (see also “Mergent Denominations”).
The So-urgent Church – when the congregation is in a really big hurry to finish the worship service because kickoff is at noon.
The Re-emergent Church – when an Emerging Church congregation decides they are not emerged enough, so they get new, more comfortable couches for worship and replace their previous praise music with something more trendy.
The Submergent Church – when a congregation tries all the latest trends and their people still keep leaving to attend the popular mega-church down the street.
The Unmergent Church – when a congregation splits over some major theological issue (perhaps the well-known acoustic vs. digital controversy), and becomes two churches (see also “Church splits – old fashioned”).
The Dis-emergent Church – when a congregation gets tired of sitting on couches and drinking Starbucks and decides to go back to the boring old worship services they grew up with.