I need to be honest. I don’t really consider myself to be fully a part of what is being called the Emerging Church. Don’t get me wrong: I find a lot of affinity to what that “conversation” (or “movement” or whatever they’re calling themselves) is about. I also think Brian McLaren is a prophetic voice and a wonderful embodiment of real grace. As such, I think he is contributing a whole lot of good, especially in giving accessible ideas, language and demonstration to a new form of Christianity.
So I really enjoyed looking at the PowerPoint notes to a talk he gave at a recent Emergent Conference. I especially liked the Four Values of Emerging Church he presented. This stuff is very cool!
1. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus:
We are committed to doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, as the Scriptures teach. As lifelong followers of Jesus, we seek to live by the Great Commandment: loving God and loving our neighbors – including those who might be considered “the least of these” or enemies. We understand the gospel to be centered in Jesus and his message of the kingdom of God, a message of reconciliation with God and among humanity.
We are committed to a “generous orthodoxy” in faith and practice – affirming the historic Christian faith and the Biblical injunction to love one another even when we disagree. We embrace historic spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, contemplation, study, solitude, silence, service, stewardship, and fellowship, believing that healthy theology cannot be separated from healthy spirituality.
2. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms:
We are committed to honor and serve the church in all its forms – Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal. We practice “deep ecclesiology” – rather than favoring some forms of the church and critiquing or rejecting others, we see that every form of the church has both weaknesses and strengths, both liabilities and potential. We believe the rampant injustice and sin in our world requires the sincere, collaborative, and whole-hearted response of all Christians in all denominations, from the most historic and hierarchical, through the mid-range of local and congregational churches, to the most spontaneous and informal expressions.
We affirm both the value of strengthening, renewing, and transitioning existing churches and organizations, and the need for planting, resourcing, and coaching new ones of many kinds. We seek to be irenic and inclusive of all our Christian sisters and brothers, rather than elitist and critical, seeing “us” we were used to see “us versus them.” We own the many failures of the church as our failures, which humbles us and calls us to repentance, and we also celebrate the many heroes and virtues of the church, which inspires us and gives us hope
3. Commitment to God’s World:
We practice our faith missionally – that is, we do not isolate ourselves from this world, but rather, we follow Christ into the world. We seek to fulfill the mission of God in our generations, and then to pass the baton faithfully to the next generations as well. We believe the church exists for the benefit and blessing of the world at large; we seek therefore not to be blessed to the exclusion of everyone else, but rather for the benefit of everyone else. We see the earth and all it contains as God’s beloved creation, and so we join God in seeking its good, its healing, and its blessing.
4. Commitment to One Another
In order to strengthen our shared faith and resolve, and in order to encourage and learn from one another in our diversity through respectful, sacred conversation, we value time and interaction with other friends who share this rule and its practices. We identify ourselves as members of this growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship. We welcome others into this friendship as well. We bring whatever resources we can to enrich this shared faith and resolve.