Monday, January 07, 2008


As the researching and writing of my ThM thesis continues, I will be posting some "thought bubbles" for the purpose of critique and clarification. Questions, comments, and corrections are welcome.

The first chapter of my thesis is, "Defining the Emerging Church." Here is a Venn Diagram I've developed upon which I might hang some thoughts.

Comments? Corrections? Adjustments?

NOTE: This is a rumination ("1. The act of pondering; meditation. 2. The act or process of chewing cud." American Heritage Dictionary) in search of synergy ("1. The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.")


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  1. Anonymous9:49 AM

    Hi Laura! Rachelle here, emergent pastor and contributing editor for rel/spir at

    Great thesis topic! I wish you well in defining the murky land of EC! :-) Just one comment on your list of churches...I'm not sure what your defining criteria is, but we local yokels in Seattle do not generally consider Mars Hill an emergent church. It's a fundamentalist bastion masquerading in progressive tshirts. Although Mars Hill Graduate School -- not related to the church -- is an excellent EC insitution and also in Seattle. COTA, on the other hand, has got it going on in the EC world and is doing excellent ecclesiological work as well.


    Rachelle Mee-Chapman

  2. Thanks.

    On Mars Hill...I realize that MHC is in no way emergent (just ask Driscoll), but (and I realize there is chaffing at this) Driscoll does claim to be emerging* and has been included in at least one EC book. Further, MHC fits (in their own reformed, fundamental way) the emerging-missional paradigm. So...they're in.

    One of my tactics is to get as broad a scope as possible in a small enough sample group to cover in a 150-page thesis. If it's any consolation, COTA's section is 16 pages and Mars Hill's is about 6. COTA definitely has excellent stuff and much to say.

    Thank you for the reminder about Mars Hill Graduate School. While they won't be included (as they are not a church), I may scour the site for insight. :-)

    *Confessions of a Reformission Rev, p 22

  3. Hi Laura,

    Are you still working to something like the draft criteria on your 12 November post?

    My impression is that an important part of the EC is the de-institutionalised part. Those who have deliberately left the church that is visible by virtue of its buildings, high-end web presence, pastors, paid staff and organization.

    For example those who are church following Frank Viola and Gene Edwards ideas. Those who are meeting in homes or pubs. Those who are not working to the "build and they will come model" but who are being the Body of Christ at the grass roots, with their neighbours, on the street. Those who are already on George Barna's 'Revolution' statistics.

    Is there not a risk that if your focus is on institutionalised forms of church a lot of the really interesting EC will be under your radar?


  4. Andrew, there's quite a bit of variety in the churches I've chosen. COTA, Moot, and Exiles are either outside the traditional, institutional model or are currently moving outside that model. The remaining seven run from fringe institutional to fully institutional.

    Four issues are driving this. First, as I said in the previous comment, I am attempting to cover some of the breadth of EC. Second, I am writing the thesis primarily for the faculty of Talbot School of Theology, most of whom have very little knowledge of EC AND what they do know has been put into unfortunate us-versus-them boxes (no offense to any profs who might read this:-)). Third, I am attempting to find the commonalities by which we might be able to recognize specific churches as emerging and recognize ECs as church (something that is an issue in my circle). Fourth, monetary and time limitations mean that information must be easily accessed with little expense. If I had a grant and a sabbatical (though staff don't get these...bummer) I would love to do some research on emerging house church/alternative church ecclesiology. But alas, things are what they are.

    Hopefully, I have added enough style, culture, "denomination," and size breadth to mitigate the risks.