Today I had the opportunity to preach at my church today about some of the changes happening in American Christendom. A good part of the message was from an interview with Phyllis Tickle in regards to her theory on the 500 year reformation.
In essence, shes noticed a trend in the church. About every 500 years theres a major change in the church in attempt to bring it back to a biblical church. Around 500 years ago was the Reformation; and with the way things are changing, it would appear that we are in the next reformation. While I won’t pass this off as gospel truth, it does seem to have some validity to it.
I’m about to hit a topic that is a little touchy: the Emergent. The Emergent church is a newer style church that is shaping and has some pretty radical differences to the typical church we think of today. They are relationship centered and focused. For the most part they are no where near as heretical as some many people pass them off to be. Naturally there are some in the mix that might be, but that’s the case for every church isn’t it? The Emergent group as a whole still believe that Jesus was the true messiah, born of a virgin (some differ on this, but not a lot), lived a sinless life, died on the cross, on the third day rose again, and is now at the right hand of God awaiting His triumphant return.
Emergents practice something called deconstruction. Essentially, deconstruction in this context is someone’s attempt to understand why something is believed or done. The article linked here doesn’t go into that very well, but in this context I think my definition applies more aptly. Emergents are trying to go back to what the authors of the Bible were trying to get across. Emergent churches typically study the history surrounding the text just as much is not more than the text itself; to understand the text in it’s true context.
So is the Emergent movement the new Reformation?
Who know, I for one don’t. There are already several branches off of the Emergent movement that are making a solid stride and a somewhat better name for themselves. The most prominent one that I see coming off is the Missional movement. Missional churches are really a mix of the Modern-Church and the Post-Modern-Emergent-Church. They hold regular church services that include a praise music set and a sermon (typically an exegetical study). However, they focus heavily on making their members understand that ‘they’ (the members) are the church outside of church. That not everything that God does happens in a church building, and the the Pastors/Elders are average people seeking Christ like they are; but that the Pastor/Elders have been called by God (ordained by God) to lead that flock in their walks. Missional churches put less emphasis on church events and more emphasis on the lives of it’s members and their members friends.
What’s the next church going to look like? Your guess is as good as mine. But for now, we have the opportunity and the privilege to see it come and the help in the process.