Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Emerging Evangelism: What is it?

posted by xscot mcknight

Perhaps a nice place to re-address the question of what “evangelism” looks like and will look like in the emerging movement is to summarize the points made in Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches, chp. 6: “Welcoming the Stranger.”
Gibbs-Bolger (GB) make the following points, with ample anecdotal evidence:
GB focus on the inclusive practices of Jesus; modernity was exclusive but postmodernity is inclusive, and this has lots to do with the old “in vs. out” mentality.
GB then focus on the practices of inclusion in the emerging church movement:
1. Moving the Eucharist to the center of worship in the context of sharing meals.
2. Making hospitality a central practice rather than an ad hoc practice.
3. Turning a welcome space into a safe place.
4. Welcoming those who are different.
5. Moving from perceived arrogance to transparent humility.
6. Shifting from verbal apologetics to embodied apologetics.
7. Changing from having an agenda to letting the Spirit carry the agenda.
8. Switching from salespersons to servants.
9. Moving from changing beliefs to changing lives.
10. Moving from speaking about grace to grace speaking through lives.
11. Moving from a privatized faith to a public faith.
12. Moving from evangelizing to being evangelized.
We’re just getting started on this, but here’s another good set of categories to understand that evangelism, when defined missionally and what Bob Robinson calls an “Immanuel apologetic,” will no longer be the same.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(18)
post a comment
Andrew

posted April 28, 2006 at 6:21 am


There is much I agree with here, especially #1-5. And especially restoring the Agape Feast of the early church. (Although I am not sure that this is part of evangelism.)
The rest moves into the language of “either/or” rather than “both/and.”
The church needs verbal apologetics *and* embodied apologetics. Is Paul in Athens no longer a model?
We need to be changing beliefs *and* changing lives. Is the simple message, “Repent and believe,” which is repeated throughout Acts, no longer relevant?



report abuse
 

jazztheologian

posted April 28, 2006 at 7:20 am


Mr. Mcknight,
I resonate with the Emerging Movement and so much of this post seems right and good to me. What I’m wrestling with is that so much of this is exactly what African-American Christianity is and has been (except for the emphasis on the Eucharist). Any thoughts on why the Emerging movement is acting as if these are “new” applications. Or is the Emergent Church a renewal movement among anglo brother’s that really doesn’t include brown and third world voices?



report abuse
 

Ted Gossard,

posted April 28, 2006 at 8:06 am


I like Bob Robinson’s term “Immanuel apologetic”. I’ll try to find more on what he says on that.
I guess the list here is in terms of emphasis and shift. Not, for the most part, an either/or list, I would think- and hope.
Jazz theologian: your point is good. I caught a little on NPR about the beginning of the 20th/21st century Pentecostal/charismatic movement. The man God used as the pastor or primary leader in that movement at Azusa was a William Seymour (I believe that’s his name), a black man. And the people coming and being impacted were whites, blacks and hispanics. The media was in some shock and really in kind of an upheaval (discomfort?) about this mix. This shows powerfully the evidence of the Spirit’s presence there, not to mention the strong missionary activity that quickly came out of that.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:02 am


Jazztheologian,
You have a great example here; it makes clear that “new” has all kinds of nuances. For instance, the beach at Santa Barbara is “new” to me (today). And please join in because the African American communities of faith have long had a holistic gospel.
I don’t know the history of Afr-American church history, but I suspect that the work of Rauschenbusch and others before him and after him, and around him, and those evangelicals who were working at the same time influenced also the Afr-American holistic gospel. Any help on this one?



report abuse
 

Terry Dawson

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:04 am


The whole of the thing resonates with me. However, I too think, rather than an either/or mentality, the Lord is best served in a both/and vision. Nonetheless, because of the emphasis of much of the church or evangelicalism today, even numbers six and forward carry a sense of refreshment to them as long as, in my opinion, we do not jettison what the Lord wants to do regardless of our biases, past experiences or philosophical leanings. For instance, I can certainly see the need for a shift toward an embodied apologetic, but that shift in vision and emphasis likely need not come at the expense and to the exclusion of verbal apologetics (especially when those are shaped by the embodied, or what I call an Incarnational Apologetic.)



report abuse
 

RJS

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:08 am


Except possibly for #1 I agree strongly with all of these practices for inclusion. Although several (3,6,9-12) should be both/and not either/or.
Maybe I have just been incredibly lucky, but all of these (2-12) have been affirmed by the leadership of, and preached in, every church of which I’ve ever been a part for the last four decades. This despite the fact that most of these churches have been comprised of middle class suburbanites.
Follow through on these practices has been apparent, but far from uniformly perfect of course. Nonetheless these practices have always reflected the ideal.
In agreement with jazztheologian (#2) why does the Emerging movement act as if these are “new” applications? It is as though a caricature of the worst of the past is set up, simply to be knocked down.
On the other hand, the call to act on these convictions needs to be heard again and again and again …



report abuse
 

Cam West

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:19 am


RJS, Scot points out that ‘new’ can be used in many ways (a couple of years ago my ‘new’ car (ie newly acquired) was actually 11 years old). Perhaps there are a number of places that emergents might be more precise to say ‘a fresh appropriation for the majority of evangelicals’. Constantly I meet people whose experience of Christianity has been far richer than mine, though they don’t belittle my attempts to freshly appropriate some of that richness.



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:23 am


On “new” — this tells us once again how insular so much of “churching” really is. What is new to one is not brand new but what one discovers that illuminates what the kingdom of God is all about. Many of us in the emerging movement find some of this new in two ways: new ideas for us and new practices never before seen in our groups.
One thing that is clear to me about many of my emerging friends is that they don’t think they are “inventing” anything but discovering the treasure trove of the whole church. Pretty exciting, heh?



report abuse
 

Roger

posted April 28, 2006 at 1:03 pm


I agree with all of that. Would that it were easier to do. Something about that mistrust issue, I think.
“What I would, I do not; what I would not, that I do.”
“for it is God who works in you…”
The church, the whole church. One church, one baptism…
I supposed you could call me “emerging,” although the church I attend really isn’t so much. I supposed I’d call it “conservatively emerging.” I find the treasures of the whole church fascinating. But then, I find Koine Greek fascinating, too.



report abuse
 

RJS

posted April 28, 2006 at 2:26 pm


“One thing that is clear to me about many of my emerging friends is that they don’t think they are “inventing” anything but discovering the treasure trove of the whole church. Pretty exciting, heh?”
Very exciting actually. And very important.
It is amazing though, in every field and situation, how many disputes arise from careless use of words rather than fundamental disagreement on issues.



report abuse
 

Makeesha

posted April 28, 2006 at 6:02 pm


or not even careless use of words but ignorant use of words. Take the word “covering” for example. Very few people I know actually use “covering” in the same way that Watchman Nee did or the whole of the Shepherding movement. But it’s a word that really should be eliminated from the church’s vocabulary because it evokes such visceral responses and doesn’t communicate well the meaning of most of those who use it. I agree that we need to be more intentional in the words we use to communicate our message.
On topic: I LOVE LOVE LOVE #8.
As for whether this is “new”. I think we all know there is nothing new… but when something previously “hidden” becomes more visible, it’s new..ya know? And yes Scot, I do think it’s exciting!



report abuse
 

Matt

posted April 28, 2006 at 9:57 pm


Ryan Bolger is one of my professors at Fuller’s Leadership program, so I’ve asked him quite a bit of these questions as well. I agree with almost all of what is written here and agree so far with the both/and correction as well. However, #9 and #11 seem to need some qualification. In number nine, I would want to define beliefs. Are we speaking of confessing that we believe something in our heads that has not yet reached our gut; or are we talking about our belief systems? Life transformation almost always involves impacting our beliefs; not to mention that Abraham’s was credited to him as righteousness. Also, #11 seems to be dangerous in terms of creating an egalitarian type of culture that has to have group consensus before it can say with confidence that something is true. Again, it seems like any sort of movement towards something life-changing begins with a minority that insists on something that the majority don’t believe. Thoughts or corrections on my assumptions?



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted April 28, 2006 at 10:53 pm


Matt,
Good questions a nd comments.
Gibbs/Bolger have some good descriptive discussions, but it seems again that we are not dealing with an either/or so much as a ranking of what is most important. (The method of saying things so emphatically is called via negative.)
On #11, I’m not quite sure why you are asking about egalitarian. Isn’t it about private vs. public?



report abuse
 

jazztheologian

posted April 29, 2006 at 12:50 am


Your clarification on the meaning of “new” is helpful. You are correct on Rauschenbusch’ role in early Black theology…King was deeply influenced by him. Thanks for the reminder.
love your blog,
jt



report abuse
 

jazztheologian

posted April 29, 2006 at 12:29 pm


Mr. Mcknight,
I’m still left with one of my original questions–”Or is the Emergent Church a renewal movement among anglo brother’s that really doesn’t include brown and third world voices?”
The Emergent movement is beginning the way so many other movements have (leaving out minority voices)…only to come to us a decade later and say that we are desired. If it is a renewal movement among anglos and nothing else then I will pray for it and hope that the Lord brings about his kingdom through it…but many of us will stop trying to be involved. I’m really interested on your take on this. Perhaps the blog is not the best place but you are quickly becoming a leader among Emergents…what are you seeing? Are you seeing a coming together of the body the way Jesus prayed, is this movement truly different?
blessings,
jt



report abuse
 

Scot McKnight

posted April 29, 2006 at 3:52 pm


Jazztheologian,
I don’t think so; I think there is plenty of evidence that the emerging movement is not simply a bunch of whites (male and female, by the way). I could give names. What I think you will admit, though, is that the use of “kingdom” to express its theology lends creative opportunity for greater cross-cultural and cross-ethnic unity. The focus on justice drives a greater unity across the same lines.
Please don’t equate emerging/emergent with those who write or those who speak at conferences or those who have blogs. The real emerging work is done at the grass roots level by all kinds of folks.



report abuse
 

jazztheologian

posted April 29, 2006 at 6:59 pm


Thanks again for your time and thoughtfulness. Yes, I do admit and am glad to see the emphasis on “kingdom.” It is helpful and needed. Your distinction between the conferences/blogs and grass roots is helpful. I spend a lot of time speaking at the conferences and it can be discouraging being the only person of color present and knowing that the only reason I was invited was because of a token effort at diversity.
I’ll trust you that the grass roots are much more engaging and genuine.
I’m grateful for the interaction,
jt



report abuse
 

Makeesha

posted May 6, 2006 at 8:09 pm


Just fyi, in our “emerging” service, we have many people of many ethnicities and building diversity is central to our vision statement. So yes, at the grassroots level, you see many more leaders who are non white. I’m not sure that you can blame the movement for not seeing non white “movement heads”…maybe it’s the whole “which came first…” question?



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.