Tony Jones – author, blogger, and church guru – has been a formative voice in the emergent church conversation for many years now. In 2009 he wrote a book, The New Christians, that had 20 dispatches emergent churches commonly have from their previous faith communities.
As we have been discussing the identity of Missio Dei, I thought it would interesting to look back at these ideas and to see how things have changed and are moving forward. Read through them and let’s continue the conversation on who we are as a church and where we see ourselves going in the future.
20 Emergent Dispatches
Dispatch #1: Emergents find little importance in the discrete differences between the various flavors of Christianity. Instead, they practice a generous orthodoxy that appreciates the contributions of all Christian movements.
Dispatch #2: Emergents reject the politics and theologies of left versus right. Seeing both sides as remnant of modernity, they look forward to a more complex reality.
Dispatch #3: The gospel is like lava: no matter how much crust has formed over it, it will always find a weak point and burst through.
Dispatch #4: The emergent phenomenon began in the late 1990s when a group of Christian leaders began a conversation about how postmodernism was affecting the faith.
Dispatch #5: The emergent movement is not exclusively North American; it is growing around the globe.
Dispatch #6: Emergents see God’s activity in all aspects of culture and reject the sacred-secular divide.
Dispatch #7: Emergents believe that an envelope of friendship and reconciliation must surround all debates about doctrine and dogma.
Dispatch #8: Emergents find the biblical call to community more compelling than the democratic call to individual rights. The challenge lies in being faithful to both ideals.
Dispatch #9: The emergent movement is robustly theological; the conviction is that theology and practice are inextricably related, and each invariably informs the other.
Dispatch #10: Emergents believe that theology is local, conversational, and temporary. To be faithful to the theological giants of the past, emergents endeavor to continue their theological dialogue.
Dispatch #11: Emergents believe that awareness of our relative position—to God, to one another, and to history—breeds biblical humility, not relativistic apathy.
Dispatch #12: Emergents embrace the whole Bible, the glory and the pathos.
Placement: Chapter 5, Reading the Whole Bible
Dispatch #13: Emergents believe that truth, like God, cannot be definitively articulated by finite human beings.
Dispatch #14: Emergents embrace paradox, especially those that are core components of the Christian story.
Dispatch #15: Emergents hold to a hope-filled eschatology: it was good news when Jesus came the first time, and it will be good news when he returns.
Dispatch #16: Emergents believe that church should function more like an open-source network and less like a hierarchy.
Dispatch #17: Emergents start new churches to save their own faith, not necessarily to make new converts.
Dispatch #18: Emergents firmly hold that God’s Spirit—not their own efforts—is responsible for good in the world. The human task is to cooperate with God in what God is already doing.
Dispatch #19: Emergents downplay—or outright reject—the differences between clergy and laity.
Dispatch #20: Emergents believe that church should be just as beautiful and messy as life.