emerge |iˈmərj| verb [ intrans. ] “move out of or away from something and come into view”

There was an interesting question that I ran across on the emergent village weblog several weeks ago. It actually arose on Andrew Jones’ blog, Tall Skinny Kiwi: “Emerging Church–does the hat still fit?” The responses range from yea to nay. (funny how that usually works) Some of the “nays” seem vaguely similar to fans of an underground band screaming “SELL-OUT” when “their band” makes the big-time. Sort of a “it-was-great-while-this-was-my-little-secret-club–but now-that-everybody-does-it-I’ll-trash-it…” kind of thing. Others seem a little more legit in that they are frustrated with the marketing of the term among many who simply misunderstand what’s going on as merely “the next big thing.”

I think as long as “emerging” was a verb, it was a helpful term for those of us whom it described. We were “moving out of or away from” institutions, cultures, religious structures, etc. that we were finding increasingly inadequate or problematic. What began to “come into view” was the number of people who shared our discomfort and relationships began to form. Where the word began to become uncomfortable was its evolution into a noun: “Emerging Church”, “Emergent Service”, and maybe even the early clamor heard when “emergent village” was formed and events, books and other product “emerged.” I do not necessarily have a problem with the “noun” expressions of emerging faith. I’ve bought many of the books and attended several of the events. Most of these nouns have broadened my spiritual imagination and provided new motivation to continue my journey following God in the way of Jesus. As long as the missional verbs continue to drive the institutional nouns, this will continue to be a helpful place, and a helpful term (at least for me).

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