I realize that my criticisms of the EC can make it look as if I am a curmudgeon when it comes to the movement, and that I have nothing good to say about it. While I have plenty of concerns, which you can find at any one of my other EC posts, I feel like it would be good form to post some of the areas in which I agree-all of my agreements and disagreements are mere opinion anyway. Not only will this aid in any discussion that is generated on this blog, but it will help me formulate and express a more charitable view of some of my fellow pastors and church leaders. Regardless of what this list does for any reader, it will benefit me and my future formulations.
Keen Grasp of the Pomo Culture
Whether people like it or not, postmodernism really does have a grasp on a sizeable chunk of our society. The EC movement is keenly aware of the moral and religious relativism that results, and is bent on reaching these people for Christ. Understanding our culture is key to reaching it.
Strains of Worship Renewal
I have always been a fan of the Ancient-Future movement, which is sometimes seen as a sub-movement of the EC in general. There is in this wave of church thought the drive to return to a Christ-centered worship that emphasizes the glory and centrality of God over the individualism that is sometimes rampant in the evangelical church. The move to a more liturgical form of religious observance recognizes the benefits in ordering our lives according to our faith more than our consumer culture, and that can only be a good thing for the souls of American Christians.
One piece of McLaren’s writing that I have appreciated was an article written to worship leaders and song writers that appears to have disappeared from the net (at least when I returned to the links I knew of, it had been taken down). In it he challenged song writers to refocus their attention on the greatness and glory of God and take it off of our emotional wants and needs. He recognized in his article, and rightly so in my opinion, that most of the songs that get sung in the average evangelical church simply don’t give appropriate place to God.
Critique of the Consumer Culture
This is an extension of the last two points, but the attention that it is given in the EC movement deserves notice. Consumerism has a way of disconnecting us from the deepest and most important needs of our souls by filling us up and blurring our vision with a million smaller, and much less important, things. We are far too able to buy our way out of feeling a need for repentance, redemption, and so forth. The EC movement recognizes this and is making a stand against it in the evangelical church. We need our prophets to stand in and outside of our culture at the same time and warn us of where we are going wrong.
This is a short list, I know, and it is this way only due to my own time constraints. I have written in the past that there is a “battle” for the Emergent church, and since then I have been formulating what might be considered a constructive contribution to the fray. If I have a chance to put down something that is substantial and helpful, then I certainly will do so out of my desire to see the future of the evangelical church, whatever the label is, succeed.