The New Conspirators: Emerging Church

31 08 2007
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deconstructed blog banner

the recent blog banner of Andrew Jones, aka Tall Skinny Kiwi, emergent blogger in the UK


Seed Story: Touring the Emerging Stream

by Tom Sine

Skateboard Love As we race into a very uncertain future, the Western Church is facing some daunting challenges: declining numbers and a seeming inability to engage younger people, including many who were raised in the church. In response, God is conspiring with a new generation of creative, risk-taking Jesus-followers to imagine and create new expressions of church. In my upcoming book entitled The New Conspirators: Creating the Future One Mustard Seed at a Time (February 2008, InterVarsity Press), I organize this new generation into four streams: eMerging, Missional, Mosaic (or multicultural) and Monastic. Four of the next five Seed Samplers will focus on one stream of conspirators.

Defining the Emerging Conspirators

I find there is a wide array of understandings around the world of what constitutes an emerging church. Emerging leaders in Britain, Australia and New Zealand tend to be more involved in a conversation about postmodern culture and a post-Christendom church. Others define emerging as the creation of post-denominational and post-congregational forms of church. And for some other young leaders in the US “pomo” (postmodern) churches seem to be simply another way to describe alternative worship. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger took a comprehensive look at this movement in Britain and the United States in their definitive book Emerging Churches. They offer this very succinct definition of this stream: “Emerging churches are communities that practice the way of Jesus within postmodern cultures.” Scott Bader-Saye observes that those in the emerging stream often prefer to define the emerging church as a conversation instead of a movement—a conversation that “is still young, experimental and evolving.” Leonard Sweet sees it as “an ongoing conversation about how new times call for new churches, and the mortar-happy church of the last half of the 20th century is ill-poised to face the promises and perils of the future.” But, however defined, the emerging movement offers fresh expressions of what it means to be the church and do mission, from which we can all learn.

Read the whole article here.


Liturgy: Weaving a Community

Community at St. Aldates

The liturgy this month is from Worship Alternative, a liturgical experiment based at Abbotsford Parish Church in Scotland, written in July 2000. To read the liturgy, click here.


Reflection: The Cathedral Labyrinth

created by Grace, LOPE and Epicentre, alternative worship groups in London

hosted by Youth For Christ

take off your shoes

Reflect here.


Seed Share: Integral Mission in Latin America

by Tomas Yaccino, La Red del Camino para la Misión Integral en America Latina

Cloth and CrossIn Latin America, a small but growing group of churches and Christian leaders are emerging. Their purpose is to live out the gospel holistically in their communities as a sign that the kingdom of God is present in the world.

Over the past several decades, the Church in Latin America has grown. Yet, in spite of the apparent numerical success, the Church has not had a significant influence and impact on society. Countries with the highest percentages of evangelical Christians paradoxically have the highest percentages of violence, discrimination, social and economic disparity and injustice. This inconsistency between the presence of Christ-followers in a given context and the lack of evidence of Christ’s redemptive and transformational power is the impetus behind the formation of the Red del Camino para La Misión Integral en America Latina (Del Camino Network for Integral Mission in Latin America or “DC Network”). The leaders of the DC Network are shaking the very foundations of Christian understanding about what it means to follow Christ in the new global reality and post-modern world with a passionate hope that others, too, will reclaim their responsibility to restore all things through Christ and His chosen agent—the local church.

Click here for the whole article.


Seed Share: The Emerging Church in the UK – Personal Reflections

by Ian Mobsby, Moot Community, Westminster, London, UK


Rocks from MootBackground about the Emerging Church in the UK

Because culture in the UK is far more secular than that which is general in the United States, there has been an emerging church scene since the late 1980s responding to the gap between traditional forms of church and contemporary culture. In the 1980s, this began with forms of church responding to new forms of community and clubbing in the dance scene, which gave opportunities for new forms of mission and church. This began with alternative worship communities in the first wave of the emerging church, as the first form of models of emerging church. Initially, these did not start off as churches, but became churches as the gap between mission initiatives and forms of church were too wide to bridge. From the 1990s, to the twenty-first century, these models of emerging churches widened to include a number of different models, which now include:

– alternative worship communities

– café church models of emerging churches

– new monastic forms of ‘postmodern’ friaries

– community initiatives that have become churches

– missions to new age communities that have become churches

– youth congregations and churches of a more emerging and evangelical perspective

– youth congregations and churches of a more catholic, Anglican perspective

– new contemplative and anglo-catholic emerging church projects

– new emerging church initiatives instigated by Anglican Cathedrals aiming at interacting with spiritual tourists

– Emerging Church initiatives from the Free Church traditions

– Emerging Church initiatives from post-church groups

– Emerging Churches specifically who are gay-affirming

– Emerging Churches that are specifically multicultural

Click here to read the whole article.


Seed Share: All Things Emerging Down Under

from a conversation with Fuzz Kitto, Spirited Consulting

The emerging church movement in Australia and New Zealand has two major paths. One is the “reactive” path–reacting against the traditional church. The other is the “pro-active” path–focusing more on creating new expressions rather than reacting against old ones. Many mainline denominations are actively involved in creating new expressions like the Anglican Church in Britain. In fact, as you will see from the outlive of examples below, most of the new expressions of emerging church are being birthed by traditional denominations.


Emergent Australia

  • Little Big Ocean is an emerging Baptist church plan in Manly, Sydney, that was started with Michael Frost. They host community events and engage the community around them through arts, a coffee shop, dialogue and the creating of sacred spaces.
  • Northside Community in Sydney is a Church of Christ church plant where an old congregation finished up and a new congregation that had been planted elsewhere moved into the building. They are strongly involved in mission projects in Africa as well as in networking and serving those in their community. THey are also generously sharing their facilities with mission groups like Youth for Christ and Soul Survivor, among others.
  • The Basement is an emerging Anglican expression in Canberra comprised of a group of 20- and 30-year-olds. They are seeking to serve the poor, working with those in public housing and offering cooking classes for migrant women. They also started a coffee house to engage those in their community. They meet together for worship on Sunday nights in an old Church Scout Hall used for storing emergency food.
  • Lalor Park is a non denominational emerging church plant comprised of people who have worked extensively in house-building missions overseas. Their intention is to serve those in the immediate community. Their neighbors often struggle with mental health, or are poor and unskilled. They have community dinners every Tuesday night, which is the expression of their live where they build strong, helpful relationships. Lalor Park emphasizes incarnational faith in action lived with those around them.

Emergent New Zealand

  • Cityside is an emerging Baptist church plant in Auckland that is heavily invested in the arts. This was started by Mark Pierson (co-author of The Prodigal Project) and has grown to be a numerically sizable worship gathering.
  • Opawa Baptist is a traditional Baptist church that Steve Taylor enabled to become a more emerging expression of the church with three different services: Side Door, Digestion and Cafe Congregation. Steve has also started a number of small group churches with people who have little to no church background. They also have great community celebrations and festivals–and excellent coffee!
  • Alan Jamieson at Central Baptist in Wellington is providing resources to those involved in a “churchless faith,” including home groups and other gatherings. They have a staff person who nurtures and reflects with these groups regarding faith of the children, household and mission.


Seed Share: Emergent Village and Full Communion

by Dwight J. Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Mars Hill Graduate School, Seattle WA

This article was originally written for the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches, March 17, 2007, Abilene, Texas

Communion WorshipToward an Understanding of Emergent Village

“Emergent Village is a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Emergent Village began as a group of friends gathering under the auspices and generosity of Leadership Network in the late 1990s, and by 2001 had formed the organization known now as Emergent Village. We formed our organization as a means of inviting more people into our imaginative conversation, which was helping us critically revision what it might look like to follow Christ in our increasingly globalized, post-Christendom, post-denominational and post-modern cultural context(s). Around 2005, we began distancing ourselves from the term “Emergent Church” (although that language is still often applied), because our emphasis is not on the church as much as living into the Kingdom of God. Part of our hope in the name “Emergent Village” is to reinforce an understanding that churches are localized, indigenous manifestations of Christological communities seeking to realize the reign of God, in specific times, places, and narratives.

Thought we began meeting because many of us were growing disillusioned and disenfranchised by the conventional ecclesial institutions of the late 20th century, our experiences and hopes for the present/future Kingdom of God compelled us to lean into our ecclesial concerns. The more we gathered in conversation, the more we discovered others who held similar dreams for their lives, their communities of faith, and for the world. Along with Emergent Village, the avant-church–a broader “emerging church movement,” including a variety of renewal movements, simple church movements, neo-monastic groups, and intentional Christian communities–has been growing, and we in Emergent Village are endeavoring to resource the theological imaginations and holistic-spiritual lives of all those who consider themselves a part of this broader movement. Emergent Village is varied, dynamic, and relational, thus no one person, board or committee can authoritatively speak for us; we are striving to remain egalitarian and amorphous. Even writing this brief paper on behalf of Emergent Village feels somewhat inconsistent with our “flat organizational” values, for truly there cannot be one Emergent Village perspective on Full Communion.

To read the whole article, click here.




Tom’s Book List

  1. Gerard Kelly, RetroFuture: Rediscovering Our Roots, Recharting Our Routes (IVPress, 2000).
  2. Mike Riddell, Mark Pierson and Cathy Kirkpatrick, The Prodigal Projec: Journey Into the Emerging Church (SPCK, 2001).
  3. Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey (Jossey-Bass, 2001).
  4. Leonard Sweet, Andy Crouch, Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Michael Horton and Frederica Matthewes-Green, Church in Emerging Culture, Five Perspectives (Zondervan, 2003).
  5. Johnny Baker and Doug Gay, Alternative Worship: Resources From and For the Emerging Church (SPCK, 2004).
  6. Stuart Murray, Church After Christendom (Paternoster, 2005).
  7. Steve Taylor, The Out of Bounds Church: Learning to Create a Community Faith in a Culture of Change (Zondervan, 2005).
  8. Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Baker Books, 2006).
  9. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Zondervan, 2006).
  10. Kester Brewin, Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church That Is Always Organic/Networked/Decentralized/Bottom-Up/Communal/Flexible/Always Evolving (Baker Books, 2007).
  11. Dan Kimball, They Like Jesus But Not the Church (Zondervan, 2007).
  12. Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything (Thomas Nelson, 2007).
  13. Ian J. Mobsby, Emerging and Fresh Expressions of Church: How Are They Authentically Church and Anglican? (Moot Community Publishing, 2007).
  14. Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones eds., An Emergent Manifesto of Hope (Baker Books, 2007).
  15. Mark Scandrette, Soul Graffiti: Making a Life in the Way of Jesus (Jossey-Bass, 2007).
  16. Leonard Sweet, The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living With a Grande Passion (WaterBrook Press, 2007).
  17. Scot McKnight, “Five Streams of the Emerging Church,” Christianity Today (February 2007), accessed August 19, 2007 at


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The Seed Sampler meets the Blogosphere!

29 08 2007

Coming on Friday, for the very first time, MSA’s monthly e-zine, The Seed Sampler, will appear on this blog! We’ll provide links to articles, resource lists and the ever-popular Reflections from Christine Sine and others. And of course, there will always be the opportunity to subscribe to the free e-mail version that includes everything.

Come back on Friday to read articles from Tom Sine, Ian Mobsby and Tomas Yaccino!

16th Annual Celtic Prayer Retreat

21 08 2007

We have just completed our 16th annual prayer retreat on Camano Island.  What a wonderful time of fellowship, prayer, meditation & worship.  Read more