Text Size: Zoom In

Another Way to Look at Emerging Churches

Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to think of a way to express what I find so disturbing about the “emerging church” debate.

Let me try this. Many of us know that just before the end of the first century our resurrected Lord returned in a vision to his dear friend and disciple, John, who at that time was exiled on the Aegean island of Patmos. The vision began with seven letters to seven fairly young churches located in what is now the nation of Turkey.

In these letters (Rev 2-3), our Lord indicated that each of the seven churches had real and serious issues. Ephesus had sound teaching and a lot of activity, but they had lost their “first love” (probably their first love for Jesus) and were in danger of being shut down. Smyrna was enduring persecution and needed courage in the face of real fear and loss. Pergamos was facing issues of sexual behavior that were as unhealthy for the church as common in the culture. Thyatira seems to have had the sexual scandal of a teacher combined with false teaching. Sardis was a traditional church with a good reputation who was now just going through the motions. The church in Philadelphia was a weak church in a tough area. And then there’s Thyatira that apparently was as spiritually poor as they were materially rich.

In each case the Lord did not ignore their issues. Instead he showed that he loved them enough to encourage them to first look at him, and then work to work together to overcome the problems that were threatening their ability to be light in a dark place.

Now imagine this “what-if.” What if the events on the ground, just before these letters were read in these churches, looked something like this. What if each of these churches had been doing the equivalent of writing books, posting internet articles, and adding to the rumor mill about the problems of the other “six” as if they themselves didn’t have real issues that could turn the lights out at “their place”?

The point is not that others don’t have problems that need to be addressed! All of them had ways in which they were either messed up and in danger. And so are we– messed up– and in danger.

The issue is one of both attitudes and facts. Are we having a conversation that acknowledges that all of us live by the grace and mercy of God? All of us have our blind sides. All of us need to be in the process of constant change and renewal. All of us need to take another look at our resurrected Lord today– and to realize that he died as much for those we don’t like or agree with– as he did for us.

I can’t imagine that all of us who have weighed in on the emerging/traditional church debate don’t need to pray again today for the kind of wisdom and discernment that will enable us to treat one another the way we’d want to be treated– so as to help one another grow in truth and grace– while knowing that our Lord deserves far better than we ourselves have given him.

Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+49 rating, 50 votes)

17 Responses to “Another Way to Look at Emerging Churches”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Mart, you have laid down an excellent comment this morning. I know all too well that sometimes we get caught up in our troubles and forget to keep our eyes upon our true SAVIOR.

    That even while we are emersed in our own problems HE is there behind the scenes working on our behalf. In fact he was already there ahead of us.

    This morning I saw a story on the news where a woman in Texas bought a house at a forcloser auction. Then gave it back to the owner who had lost it.

    In the end, big church, little church, no church, we all need people in our lives. So that Christ can be seen in our works not just in our words.

    For thoes who have kept up with my saga in this post. Last evening my son Matthew was as sad as he could be.He said “nobody cares about me”. He just was dissapointed and lonely……Then one by one over an hour of time 3 different old friends of his stopped in to visit him with their families. His evening was changed in an instant from sad to elated. Somebody cared.

    God bless you all today.

  2. macsisson22 says:

    Mart, I think youv’e hit the nail right on the head. We (I)look in the mirror, put on our(my) face and comb our (my) hair to impress others, and immediately forget what we(I)looked like when we(I) first got up! It’s time to look within and let the Spirit do some house cleaning.

  3. poohpity says:

    “Ask not what God can do for you, ask God what you can do for Him”. I believe that we have to get out of the way and let God do His work and get busy doing what He asked us to do. “The Emerging Church”, I hope it emerges from what we have twisted it into being and go back to the basics. Maybe this generation or the next will choose to follow Jesus not with words but with deeds. I have to take the “I” out of church and put God back in His place in my heart and life. I love Todd Agnew’s song “My Jesus”. He states that Jesus would probably not be accepted in our church today if He were to walk in, that is something to think about.

  4. rokdude5 says:

    Im wondering now if I need to take “to treat one another the way we’d want to be treated– so as to help one another grow in truth and grace– while knowing that our Lord deserves far better than we ourselves have given him” personally. I know I can get a bit wacky at times and if that offended any one, my apologies.

    I know I have my shortcomings which is why I go to church. There I find a pretty good “mirror” of my heart and soul.

    As far as the following statement: “All of us need to take another look at our resurrected Lord today– and to realize that he died as much for those we don’t like or agree with– as he did for us” this so true.

    I have seen visitors at the church I attend wearing “Skin Industries” tee shirts or provocative clothings. While some of my fellow members look at them with disapproving eyes, Im praising God that they are here and praying that He would draw them close to Him so that their hearts will be receptive to His teachings.

    Loving our Lord is the easy part for me – loving our brothers and sisters who time and time again, hurts us or others is the difficult part. I pray that God will bless them and help me to learn to love them more and more. (Easier said than done but a thought must proceed the deed.) John 13:34-35 and James 1:22

  5. Mart De Haan says:

    Hearing your story really helps. I think that, in another post, I’m going to ask others to do the same…

  6. sitsathisfeet says:

    It’s interesting in my church recently we’ve been studying prophecy and the end times. We spent a year going through Revelation and now a Maranatha series on prophecy and end times. It’s deep, and I am sometimes dizzy from all the things expressed in scripture. However, one thing I came away with is I (we) need to live our lives everyday for the Lord, pray, read scripture, meditate on the Word – and with the Lord’s enabling “do” what it says. And realize that Soon, and very soon the Lord is coming back. I like this song: It Might Be Today Though I don’t see you Still Lord I Love You You’ve given me hope You’ve given me life. Through all my trials Still Lord you’re with me I have your word you’r coming back for me Might be today I look into your eyes Might be today I see your face Might be today You place your wounded hands on my tear stained face Might be today. (sorry don’t know the author) But if we try to live each day as if this were the day, I know it would be to the glory of God. Amen

  7. drkennyg says:

    The church in America has fallen farther and farther from Christ’s teachings. It is for me most evident here in California. We are beginning to think of homosexual couples as a “minority group” instead of just sinners like all of us are. We all need forgiveness and repentance. We need to turn from our sins and follow Christ as is presented in God’s Word. God clearly states that homosexuality is sinful. In California we have before us another Proposition to vote on regarding “homosexual marriage”. We rejected this idea before but our Supreme Court struck it down as “unconstitutional” stating that it was discrimination against a minority group. We now have a new Proposition which intends to restore marriage again in our state as between one man and one woman. Secularly we call this “traditional marriage” but Biblically it is marriage as God intended. So on Tuesday if we do not pass this Proposition by voting yes to traditional marriage then we will sink even lower as a lost and unrepentant society with many of us simply laughing with Satan into the face of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

  8. Mart De Haan says:

    drkennyg, I appreciate so much your participation in this blog. But in the above comment I come away confused. Are you equating the church with our culture and the role of the church with the function of government?

  9. daisymarygoldr says:

    Everything looks perfect, the way it should be with the first half of your writing but the second half… don’t know what you are trying to say…you have doodled all over the place… Sorry!

    Following the example of Jesus, the “traditional” parents should encourage the “emerging” kids to first look at “Him” as it is not about the lights, the music, the clothes or the place of worship. The issue is indeed one of both attitudes and facts. Which parent in their right mind will have their children worship with the lights turned off… that is scary… if this is a “fact”. If they are departing away from His word then it is our duty to show “grace and mercy” by showing them the right way. Simply trying to be Mr. or Ms. Nice to win their approvals and be in their good books will cause more harm than good. True wisdom will always discern and should disturb all followers of Christ when absolute truth is being denied, relativism is being promoted and sound doctrine is lacking.

    Speaking of “treating one another”…I would expect to be whipped and stoned for saying silly things like “Jesus is not the only way” or “Bible is not the Word of God” as this is exactly how I would respond to the above statements…it is “hate me now and love me later” rather the opposite of it. If we all follow Jesus and obey His commandments there is no chance for any one to be “messed up– and in danger” and by diligently doing this we the Church will help each other grow in truth and grace!

    Question about the pic: What is the kitty representing? …hope its something nice… Is that the prison ruins on the Aegean island of Patmos?

  10. poohpity says:

    Again I ask for anyone to show me in scripture where it says we are to conduct the church as we do in the traditional services we have in the US. I believe that what Mart was saying was that we need to have a heart change individually and what was taught to us by Christ as to what His church should look like. I believe I am sick and tired of the politics of a church or what so called believers perception of what a church is. This is the exact reason why I know longer wish to attend a “church” it is nothing but a joke anymore and I for one do not think it is funny, it is so sad.

  11. Mart De Haan says:

    I agree that if someone within any church, either traditional evangelical or emerging, denies that the Bible is the Word of God or that Jesus, who died and rose for us, is the only way to God, they are denying foundational truths of following Jesus and need to be confronted in the appropriate manner.

    I’ll work on another post to try to describe a more subtle process that happens when young (or older) people are asking honest but difficult questions, or what happens when in an attempt to bring others in, they try things that are questionable. In such cases I’m convinced that the elders who respond to them need show not only wisdom, but also the attitudes the Scriptures call for in “evaluative” or “corrective” situations (i.e. 2Tim 2:24-26 and Gal 6:1).

    And yes, if the issue is that leaders are influencing many with dangerous or false teaching, the response needs to be strong, clear, and persuasive. But in all cases, the “elders” who are doing the confronting and correcting need to do so with the attitudes of Christ, and only after checking out their suspicions and facts, so that they don’t do more damage to the faith== in the way they are confronting– than the young/or old are doing in trying to deal with difficult questions or challenges.

    …the picture of a cat was taken by a traveler to Ephesus. Am guessing it’s not weighing profound thoughts on the significance of the site, but is watching a mouse… To see link to source, click cursor on pic…

  12. SFDBWV says:

    There is a little video movie out there called “Time Changers”. Darin McGavin stars in it, some of you may have seen it. The story line is that during the late 1800’s a group of Theologens at a prestigious seminary are preparing to change the way in which Christ is to be taught and presented to “emerging” evangelists and preachers. Keeping up with modern times…

    However, one of their members has secretly invented a time machine and had traveled to the future and seen the results of their “new” teachings.

    The new and emerging church they found was hardly recognizable as a church to them. Though the players seen the mistake of changing the way in which Christ was beeing presented to people in the future. The future could not be altered, the Rapture was coming and so was judgement.

    Only a dramatization, but a pretty good demonstration of the dangers of presenting Christ as anything but HOLY.

    I was raised as a child in an old fashioned United Brotheren Church, in the early 60’s it merged with the Methodist Church and became the United Methodist Church. Many of the attendees from both denominations refused to go to church again because of the action.

    I continued to attend the Methodist church and had my own son “Baptised” there. We continued to attend until Problems emerged whereas I began attending The Church of God.

    I personaly find disagreement in many doctrines, presented by various organisations. In talking with many people including some of you here on this blog. I see that one of my problems is that I think sometimes too much.
    We tend to make up our own minds about nearly every subject. The acceptance and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of our lives is as personal as it gets.In our personal relationship with our LORD, we find peace and comfort. And can get quite emotional if we feel that comfort zone is challanged.

    My little brother, who will be 50 this January only in the last 8 years has become a Christian. It was a combination of events in his life and people in his life that brought him to accepting the Lord. He and his family attend one of the new non-denominatioal churches in his area. Hardly recognizable to me as my old fashioned church experiance. However it works for him. It has brought his family into a group of believers.

    Once the acceptance, the heart can be more receptive to hearing that still small voice inside our hearts. The Holy Spirit will grow us and guide us if we open to listening. Some people are “saved” by only reading a short message from a small pamphlet. Some takes different and more dire measures to heed that call.

    I have a few fundemental beliefs. 1. Jesus was born to the virgin by the power of the HOLY SPIRIT. 2. Jesus is the SON of GOD. 3. Jesus died and was resurected by his own power. 4. Jesus is the only way to salvation.
    5.Jesus is in fact GOD.

    Any church or doctorine that disagrees with these fundimentals. I have issue with. Wether new or old churches.

  13. macsisson22 says:

    Mart, was there any reason that you left out the church of Laodicea? I returned today and it struck me the second time through that it was missing; the church that was cited as being “lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot.” As I was pondering this in light of the postings, I thought about how we like the Laodiceans are really missing something. Are we about to be spewed from God’s mouth? It also reminded me of something I read recently in Lawrence O Richards 365 day devotional commentary. He wrote; “Sometimes we’re like them (the Pharasees)when we say ‘Lord, show me what you want, when all along we know that God wants and hope desperately that He will change His mind” (751). Personally I know that I am struggling with how to be a better ‘doer’ of the word.

  14. daisymarygoldr says:

    Mart …“the elders need to confront and correct with the attitudes of Christ”. Agree about being kind, gentle, patient and not quarrel but these are the kind and gentle words that define the attitudes of Jesus:

    – “You have forsaken your first love; Remember; repent, do the things you did at first”
    – “You tolerate Jezebel with her immorality and idolatry. Repent”
    – “You are actually dead. Wake up. Strengthen what remains. Remember what you have received, obey it, and repent”.
    – You are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Be earnest and repent”.

    Please, note that in every letter the Lord repeatedly speaks the truth about their failures with bluntness and uses sharp words of condemnation, rebuke, and exhortation in order to remind them of His promises to overcome. According to Him, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline”. (Rev3:19)

    About “young (or older) people are asking honest but difficult questions” …it is because we are ignorant…because we do not read…because we are not being taught…because we are being lulled into deeper slumber by myths and fables that is causing our faith to diminish and deteriorate to the point of even forsaking it.

    Anyway, am not any “elder” or teacher…merely a little dumb sheep of His flock… will continue to bleat out and butt in because of my love and concern for the fellow sheep…if it is necessary, will not hesitate to lock horns and pull the straying ones to safety…if it hurts then so be it. Will do whatever it takes to avoid having to watch uneasy and painful “cliffhanger moments” due to “damaged faith” within the Church!

    Usually your imaginations run wild about everything, and when it comes to a cat, is it reduced to a mere mouse? No way…“what-if”, she is weighing profound thoughts on the significance of the site. Cool pic… keep up the good work!

  15. aboden says:

    Even within my own brotherhood of churches there are many differences in the way the Bible is put into action.

    I’ve been to many of our congregations throughout the US and find each one to be unique, with its own strengths and weaknesses. Yet we all live by the same spirit.

    We see from those letters to the 7 churches that God speaks differently to each church, according to its uniqueness.

    Also – most denominations started out as an “emerging church” at some point. It seems people are constantly, over a matter of centuries, feeling the need to break off from their church to “get back to the heart of the matter”. Except the forget that their denomination was once that same “emerging church” that was bucking the trend back in its heyday. What changed? What makes a “movement” no longer relevant?

    I think it’s spiritual apathy. It slowly grows roots in a group over decades or centuries. We must continually be renewed daily. Otherwise our once “radical” movements may become irrelevent in the eyes of our children’s children.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.