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September 16, 2005


Kyle Essary

Very insightful post...thanks for your thought and effort.


Great thoughts Ryan...I'm really glad you emphasized the fact they give rise to many expressions. This is what makes it difficult to give a definitive definition of an emerging church. Too many folks want a rubber stamp...or label. What I like is the real emerging identity seems to grow out the character of the community.

roy donkin

good stuff here. I just posted a piece on my blog where I hint at comparisons between the base community movement in Latin America of the 60's & 70's with the emergent church today. It seems that they owned all of the inovations you mention except perhaps the one about creativity in worship...
I do find your differentiation between emerging churches and GenX/Y churches to be very helpful.

Ryan Bolger

Roy, I agree -- I think there is a convergence -- also with some of the growing house churches in China and the African Indigenous Movement...
Thanks for your post

christian scharen

Hi, Ryan. So you deleted my first post on your blog. That's okay, as long as it doesn't become a habit. After all, it was a business post, left here to let you know I'd found your blog. Sorry!

This post is great, very helpful to me both from a scholarly perspective trying to teach about the church, but also personally as I try to describe what is so NOT compelling about experiences in traditional mainline congreagtions.

One question, among many I that came to me in reading this. I love the idea that leading is seen as a verb, action given over to those with gifts, rather than a noun, given over to the charismatic or politically effective person. the ec, therefore, and ec congregations or gatherings or house meetings or whatever are not fixed around a single leader a la rick warren or bill hybels or joel olsteen. but outside pressure (from publishers, media, etc.) and scholarly description of the ec could push single leaders to emerge like Tony Jones or Doug Pagitt or especially Brian McLaren. Is this a danger? Is it too late to reverse? Does it matter internally to the ec if externally it is viewed this way?
Keep up the good work and I look forward to interacting with your blog more.

Ryan Bolger

Christian, I agree, our economic powers do push for individual leaders to become marketable entities. However, if emerging leaders settle around the practices of empowerment, facilitation, types of consensus, and spiritual direction, the church may be able to weather the storm. Alternative Worship and its offspring in the UK have modeled a different type of leadership that has not yielded to outside pressures. But I'm afraid you are 'spot on' (as the Brits say), the temptations to move to subtle forms of controlling leadership for the sake of finanical reward will increase in the years ahead.


this certainly reflects much of my own experience in the area.

it seems much of the US is quite different from Oz in the em ch area, but these thoughts do resonate clearly.

Mark Edward

Are you all really this blind? Can none of you "intellectuals", with all of your self-satisfied intelligence, discern that what is at the heart of the EC is simply a digression into the untethered heart of man, which the BIBLE (remember that?) says is "deceitful above ALL things, and desperately (incurablly) wicked" (Jer. 17:9). It is this heart that prompts us to imagine all sorts of humanistic, "brotherhood of man" notions that SOUND ideal, but lead away from God and His wisdom ("There is a way that SEEMS right to man, but the end thereof is death" Proverbs 16:25). The reason behind the dissatisfaction with traditional church models is due solely to the abandonment of a deliberate, unwavering emphasis on the preaching of the Cross (the TRUE Gospel), which allows the wicked heart to stray from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Inviting and encouraging it to wander into EC methods and "missiology" may FEEL like an improvement, but this is the "deception" of man's wicked heart, because emerging chuch proponents--yourself included--have committed the SAME error of the churches they left: abandonment of the preaching of the Cross.
May God have mercy on your misguided souls. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] for further enlightenment. This dialogue is of apocalyptic importance, and SHOULD be a priority at Fuller and among all serious (and true)Christians

Fred Wolfe


My name is Fred Wolfe, a Pastor at an "emerging church" in Largo, Florida. I would like to submit my blog to you for your review and possible listing. If you have any questions, please let me know.



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I do find your differentiation between emerging churches and GenX/Y churches to be very helpful.

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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...

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