Beginners Guide

A to Z of the Emerging Church

In Genesis 2 – “adam” is invited to name creation. The desire to name the emerging church could thus be part of our God-given ability to use language to describe and understand. While “adam” named creation, yet no companion was found. “Adam” remained incomplete. A certain humility is therefore intrinsic to naming. To name is not an act of limitation, but an act of partiality, part of a search for completeness.

We seem reluctant to name the emerging church. Perhaps our naming yet lacks an alphabet. We need some A, B, C’s before we can spell the word. So in a spirit of Genesis 2, and in partiality;

A = artistic, and so the emerging values the creative, the visual, the non-rational as essential to communication and being.

B = blogging, and so the emerging tell stories and learns from the stories of others. We listen, we ask, we grow through the wires of the internet

C = culturally sensitive, atune to the rationalising tendencies of modernity, we speak of a new landscape, a new missionary terrain in which God wants to be enfleshed as the Body of Christ

C= community loving, and so we thirst for deep, honest, emotional, vulnerable relationships with God and each other.

D=DJing, and so we are re:mixing God in a postmodern world, learning to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land

E=experiential, and so we create worship that engages the senses

F=fashionable and so we speak of our music and review our books, talk of our latest video mixers and web browsers and exchange notes on software and RSS feeds

G=global, (in a Western sort of way) and so we link from the US to the UK, we click from Canada to Kiwi, with a nod to Australian friends and partners

H=hyperlinked, and so we are inspired by a worship trick from here and an insight from there

I=intuitive, and so we don’t know where we’re going and we don’t like we we’ve been, but we’re sure it’s not logical and it definitely has no 5 year plan. But it is a journey and it will embrace mystery and contingency

J=journey. That word again. We are emerging, partial, tentative and that’s OK. God is here.

K= (I don’t know, this is written in a spirit of partiality)

M=middle-class. Sorry but we are. It’s a sociological reality. Can’t change it. Don’t beat yourself up over it. But don’t stay there will you. It is a journey. It’s time to partner with the poor.

N=new map. No-one before us has had to incarnate God in a video culture, or speak of faith in a world of post-……

O=open ended. We don’t even want to define ourselves. We’re not even sure we are a movement. Let’s keep things … open.

P=participatory. Gone is the pulpit and in is the discussion. Comments are essential to websites, to teaching and to preaching.

Q=questioning. Got lots of those. Faith is mixed with ambiguity and juxtaposed with inconsistency.

R= random – images, words, thoughts.

S=seeking. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for, although some of us seem to know what we’re reacting against.

T=textual. The Bible. A mission manifesto for our future.

T= tactile. Whole bodied, multi-sensory.

U=under-resourced. Mr Jones can’t even buy his kids birthday presents and he’s our guru. Enough said.

V=visual. Images. Please.

W = white and western. Sorry but we are. It’s a sociological reality. But let’s not stay here. It is a journey. It’s time for genuine partnership.

X, Y, Z = 3 blanks. This is, after all, partial. A first attempt at an alphabet.

Steve is a founder member of Graceway Baptist Church, New Zealand.
This article first appeared as part of Steve’s blog: