Alan of Vine and Branches commented here in the thread on "Emerging Churches and Denominations and I think his ideas warrant another conversation.
Alan responded to my comment that there are some hopeful signs of change within denominations in the US, but examples of emerging churches within existing churches are few. He asked why one would be hopeful if existing churches had signs of change? If a person has indeed had a new glimpse of an emerging kind of church, he/she would only stay within existing churches because of fear or money (Alan, hopefully I have characterized your thoughts accurately).
Alan, I agree; I have met many who stay within churches because of fear of the unknown, often expressed in financial uncertainty. However, I have met just as many who feel a deep sense of calling, a passion to see their longtime community enter new life. Indeed, these 'advocates for change' may shift their thinking at some point, as it is a very difficult road they are choosing to travel, but at this time in their journey, leaving their lifelong or chosen community does not present a real option to them.
Alan, I don't know why it can't be 'both, and'. There are those who are called to redeem from within, and those who are called to create new structures. I agree, the vast majority of churches in the US are not ready to make such a change, and so most new understandings of church must be embodied outside of existing congregations. However, some communities with the real prospect of death may be willing to embrace fairly radical change. Why not support these moves?
In England, the Anglican church has embraced many new forms of church, and innovators are not forced out of existing churches as they often are in the US.
My perspective is that all things can be redeemed -- businesses, neighborhoods, clubs, homes, and yes, even churches...our call as kingdom agents is to turn things over, call to life those things to life that are moving towards death...(thanks Doug P for help in my thinking here)
Alan, thanks for sharing your challenging ideas (that is why I quoted from you so much in our book!!).