The Metissage of The Church

this map does not represent countries that i’ve visited. it is a map of the origins of the people that make up my daily life, people that i know by their first names, that are my church, are welcomed into our home and my family into theirrs; people that I actually see and talk to every week if not every day.

i live in a richly multicultural world and i love it. sometimes i wonder how i can possibly even do my job, having never visited africa and the “younger churches” of the Southern Hemisphere. it will happen soon. i really must go.

i’ve received serveral e-mails lately asking me to jump into the conversation on the “emerging church”. if you browse some of the many blogs on the subject you’ll quickly find a hot and bothered discussion among insiders trying to “define” the so called “emerging church” movement…or not. i must admit that this discussion represents my country of origin, but it’s not where i live and work today.

it seems to me that the “emerging church” discussion has essentially grown out of a cleavage between sub-cultural expressions of the church within Anglo-Saxon cultures. i suspect that the usage of the word “culture”, as in the “emerging culture”, springs from an essentially monocultural world view and actually means “subculture”. anyway, the “emergent culture” seems to be an essentially english-speaking, white boy’s world (sorry girls and the rest of the planet). it seems these boys don’t want their “father’s Oldsmobile” anymore (yes, girls and boys, i’m provoking you). i must agree with this much: someone has disengaged the parking brake on this shiny relic, the “modern, western church,” and has sent it coasting driverless (even purposeless 😉 toward an eminent and brutal collision with a post-modern present. I’m not claiming to even know what post-modern means (before you do, read this), but i do agree that the shift is real, radical, and sprawling.

However, I don’t find much in the “emergent” conversation that helps me to understand the multi-cultural suburbs of Paris, as “post-modern” as this context is or might be. I have to go to Africa for that…or at least talk to my neighbors. It seems to me my “emergent” cyber-friends could also learn something about what God is doing in the world if they looked South (and I’m not talking about New Zealand) or simply opened their eyes to the “ethnic” churches springing up all over western urban centers and their understanding of “post-modern” phenomena.

I’m especially surprised that the “emergent” voices from London don’t have more to say about immigration issues and the multicultural landscape of that city. The younger, Southern churches may not be emerging from post-modern, anglo-saxon cultures but, be assured, they are overflowing into them at a rate that no one will be able to deny for long. Can’t you see ?

Take off your Oakleys, dude, and maybe you’ll see the emerging metissage of the church. There’s a whole world, a real world, going on outside your blogoshere.

The center piece of our epoch in church history is that the vital center of global Christianity has moved to the Southern hemisphere. This phenomenon has been called the “browning” of the church. I am precisely interested in the point of contact between Christian Africa and Post-Christian France, the place where I live and work everyday. Can anyone help me? .

In church history, the weak, the foolish, the poor and the marginal have often shamed and overcome the wise, the strong, the rich, and the popular. In Jerusalem, they asked, can anything good come out of Nazareth? In Paris, we ask, can anything good come out of Africa? What is God up to today? I want to learn. I want to see..

Jonathan describes himself as “a California boy in Paris, following Jesus everywhere”.

The original version of this article first appeared on Jonathans blog: