Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Emergent Services: Does "Contemporary" Still Work?

1. Coming into view, existence, or notice:
2. Rising above a surrounding medium, especially a fluid.
3. Arising or occurring unexpectedly
4. Demanding prompt action; urgent.
5. Occurring as a consequence; resultant:

One of the first things you'll hear in a speech class is how bad it is to open your speech with something from dictionary. There's wisdom in that - the dictionary bit is kinda' tired. However, in the case of "emergent services," I think its wise to look at what a word really means.

Don't get me wrong, I like resources. I like reading about techniques and tips what certain "ideas" look like. But as with any case of church marketing, we can get misled. We get fed the idea that an "emergent service" has to include...

  • Candles
  • Songs from the 15th century
  • Ancient Liturgy by way of Modern day technology
  • High emphasis on the arts (especially the more abstract ones)

But look at the definitions of emergent - couldn't it be argued that a service is emergent as long as it's attempting to stay aware of what's rising in the hearts of the congregants? Additionally, how different is that from the term "contemporary?"

The church has got to be careful about wasting time on words. The church has got to start to taking these rather abstract terms and seeing how they fit into local ministry. I'm not even talking about what futurists or authors or consultants say (although they are often great resources.) What's emerging in your backyard? For my church, we've recently found that are people are hungry for change in the following areas

1. More expository preaching
2. Better flow of worship/atmosphere (specifically through lighting and sound)
3. More events to connect with people from other services/walks of life

Yeah, we use candles. We like it. But that's not being emergent. Being emergent is asking God to help you find ways to connect with people so that you can share the truth in a way that's sincere and applicable.

I don't have anything pierced. I don't lead from electric guitar. I don't have a giant cross with me up on stage. And you know what?

I'm still just as about as emergent as they come.


Robert said...

Call me Anti-Mainstream or whatever but I have never really liked the term "emergent". It reminds me of the Fashion scene. You've seen all those fancy fashion shows where someone says "This is what is hot!". But to me it all looks like poo poo anyway.

Emergent seems like a term that visionaries grabbed onto to explain all the stuff they do that noone likes.