As I discussed in my post about the Emerging Bug, people who are satisfied in their current churches do not have the context to relate to the emerging conversation. Perhaps they are exactly where they are supposed to be.
In Jim's post, The Baby and the Bathwater, he expresses his concern that the emerging church is taking things to an extreme.
I honestly don’t see where it helps to trash the structure of the traditional church simply because some churches are not doing what they are called to do. To me, that’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
This was my reply to his post:
Overall, I would have to say that I agree with you that it would be a mistake to throw out everything that we have known as traditional church. I believe that much of the emerging church will grow alongside traditional churches and that God will be present and at work in both, if hearts are set on Him and His kingdom.
I think this will require care and respect from both sides. As the emerging people “deconstruct” and attempt to build something completely different, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of devaluing and trashing everything that has come before.
And as the traditional churches observe emerging churches doing things in a way that is foreign to them, they could acknowledge that the emerging churches are also valuable in building the kingdom.
I honestly believe that many of the people who have left traditional churches are following Christ. And their intent is not to abandon the church, but to allow the Lord to develop their expression of church in a way that is authentic for them.
I also hope and believe that many of the values being discussed in the emerging conversations, such as the three in my post, will make their way into existing congregations.
I think that existing churches can be more particpatory and can function at a higher level of one-anothering. I also believe that God will stir in the hearts of leaders to shift their focus more missionally. I believe some of this stirring may come as they begin to hear more about the issues being discussed in the emerging conversation.
A lot will depend on whether their hearts are open to what they hear. I don’t have my heart set on any particular model of church. My dream is just to be involved in what God is doing and to follow Him.
Cindy Bryan hid these excellent thoughts in the comment section of her post about why the spiritually mature are leaving church. The post was a link to a post at Out of Ur called Exit Stage Left.
Offended or not, the institutional church has some decisions to make (not an exhaustive list, just on quickly thinking it through):
1-Either acknowledge the exodus or don't.
2-If it is aknowledged, choose to care or not.
3-If the choice is made to care, then decide whether to vilify or love those who are leaving.
4-Finally, if the choice is made to love them, to reach out and do so tangibly--without malice.
The Institutional Church is under no mandate to care about those who are leaving. But they are leaving, and railing about their selfishness, shallowness, arrogance, etc. isn't going to convince them to come back anymore than going into a crack house and screaming that everybody is going to hell is going to get them into church on Sunday.
The people I know who have left the church, and I talked on the phone with one such person at length last night, are much more concerned about their departure than their critics give them credit for. They aren't whiners and takers. They are givers and servers and lovers of God who are heartbroken they can't find a place.
If we see ourselves as emerging, perhaps more important than making ourselves understood, we should attempt to be understanding. Those who are invested in a traditional model of church might feel defensive and threatened by the conversation. We can be careful to not make this an us vs. them issue.