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The (Adventist) Church Emerging

A little over a year ago, Ryan Bolger, associate professor of Church in Contemporary Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, and an observer and writer on the emerging church, asked if I would write a short piece about how, in my experience, emerging forms of church are taking shape within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. My essay, “From the Margins: Engaging Missional Life in the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” is one of eight recently published in the Fall 2008 issue of Theology News & Notes. In the introduction to this issue, guest editors Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs give an excellent overview of what they see across the world when they talk to emerging church leaders. But a question kept coming up in the United States.

“When we wrote [Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Culture] in 2005, most of the U.S. communities we interviewed were church plants…. Invariably came the question in the United States…, what about emerging churches within American denominations? What is happening there? From what we observed in 2001-2004, very little. What we did find on emerging denominational life we offered in the book. However, much has changed in the last three to four years. We see emerging initiatives within traditional churches as the next horizon for the spread of emerging church practices in the United States.”

My article, which you can read in its entirety here, will not give you definitions of emerging church, Emergent Village, or missional church. You will have to discern those from the context. But it will explain, from my vantage point (which is the only one I have) how the Adventist Church in the U.S. is emerging in our time and how I’ve been a part of that for the past 8 years.

In order to grasp the larger picture of the emerging church landscape I highly recommend Gibbs and Bolger’s introductory essay in this issue of Theology News & Notes, as well as their well-researched 2005 book, Emerging Churches: Creating Community in a Postmodern Culture.

For more about re-church, click here.

Correction: Footnote 4 in my article, “From the Margins,” incorrectly states the publication date. It should be Spring 2005.

Since we have several articles and reviews up on the new Emergent movement, we’ll be turning the comments off here and focusing the Emergent discussion in the book review section, click here to comment.

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