Missional, Transformational and Emergent. Lions, Tigers and Bears oh my! There are so many words swirling around the change we see in Christ’s Church. It can be overwhelming. It can be confusing. It can also be to easily narrowed into the type of change we personally have prayed for. “I want less structure! I want change!!” “I want to serve more people outside the church! I want change!” “I want to do Bible study in a bar! I want change!” “I want to sit in a bean bag and play x-box while I worship! I want change!”
Too often emergent Christianity is narrowed down to the concept of change. Many who identify themselves as emergent define it based on the change they want to see. Emergent Christianity, despite what many have claimed, is not a liberal movement. Emergent Christianity, despite what others have claimed, is not an evangelical movement. While issues such as gender identification, poverty and the global water crisis are often discussed by emergent Christians there is not an orthodox emergent answer. While living out the example of Jesus Christ in daily life is a common emergent theme, there is no emergent need to convert the world.
In reality, we are just barely aware of a movement that is historical, cyclical and not yet done with us. In reality, we are grasping at words to name and claim the Holy Spirit’s movement among us. In reality, there is no name or adjective to fully describe that which we can never fully know and at present barely grasp.
What I have come to know is that the generations before me passed on the faith they received in the most effective way they knew. Like so many other aspects of our society in the past 100 years, an institution was built to preserve and protect the faith. Now, we have to unwrap what we have received and use it, then figure out the best way to pass it on. We can’t, like my uncle at Christmas, get so caught up in preserving the wrapping paper that we disrespect or altogether miss the gift. Faith is a precious gift and those who have received it carry a great burden to share it.
Not only do we share our faith, we live in it. We live in faith – unafraid of change. We live in faith – trusting that God has better answers than us. We live in faith – assuming that justice is worth the effort. We live in faith – demanding love and offering grace. We live in faith – knowing that one day we will know and be known beyond words.