There is such a broad variety of people who consider themselves emerging. I've been thinking about what makes a person emerging.
The most basic description of an emerging person would be someone who has a dream for a new way of doing and being the church.
But how does this happen?
It seems to be like a virus. Once someone is infected with the virus, a dissatisfaction for current forms of church begins. This dissatisfaction isn't necessarily malicious.
Recently, a friend of mine was cursing his ability to see things differently and longing for the naivety he enjoyed before he was infected with the emerging virus. It would seem there is no going back.
How does one handle this dissatisfaction without simply being a critic? What do you do when you can no longer be someone who blindly follows? Dissatisfaction is a necessary step in moving away from the status quo.
Like being an adolescent, this is often an awkward stage. You no longer fit the current mold, but you may not be in a position to be involved in something new.
In the time that I've listened to the emerging conversation, I've identified some things that I question about current church structure.
1. I believe that the clergy/laity model hinders church as it should be. I believe that power structures are detrimental to kingdom life.
2. I believe God is grieved with our generous building/salary budgets at the neglect of the poor among us.
3. I believe that our program-driven models produce a separate culture that has little impact on the world we are sent to.
I don't know if I will have the opportunity to be in community (locally) with others who share these beliefs. For now, I simply attend our local church with an acceptance that I see things differently than they do.
It is helpful for me to remember how differently I saw things in my pre-emergent days. When I viewed the church with institutional glasses, I would not have seen or understood any of the emerging conversation. It was simply out of context to my belief system.
For those who haven't contracted the emerging virus, there is no ability to see. It is like color-blindness, in that what is visible to one person, doesn't even register to another person.
The traditional model is so entrenched in our Christian culture that the idea of "coloring outside the lines" is threatening to them. Unfortunately, those who haven't been infected with the virus will either ignore or oppose everything that doesn't fit the traditional model.
I think it is important for us to understand, that many emerging church critics simply have no context to understand or see the things that seem obvious and logical to us. Often, conversations with the critics are as unfruitful as debating color with a colorblind person.
Let's face it, in the minds of those who have not yet grown weary of running on the program-driven treadmill of institutional church, we simply don't make sense.
In the meantime, even if we have yet to see "where we fit," we can be busy allowing God to shape us into the person He wants us to be and trust that He has the ability to place in the Body.