Is Mosaic part of the Emerging Church?
I rarely pay any attention to rants against “into the Mystic…” The editorial early last spring by Brannon Howse was no exception. But, in light of the recent Calvary Chapel statement distancing themselves from the “emerging church”, I thought I would finally make a little comment about Brannon’s piece. I admit, Brannon’s piece made me chuckle and some of the comments made by some of Brannon’s posse have made me laugh out loud. In a weird sort of way, It was fun.
Brannon’s piece received an honorable mention here at “into the mystic” back then when it was written. You can read my full and complete response to Brannon’s piece at the bottom of my post dated March 9, 2006 and titled
ORIGINS – the MOSAIC leadership experience.
However, rather than dismiss Brannon’s piece en toto, I felt I could use it as an instructive guide for us all. Brannon’s editorial was originally called “A Worldview Weekend Special Report: Bethel Seminary and University, The McManus Brothers, Mysticism and the Emerging Church.” To his credit, Brannon changed this misleading title by deleting “Bethel Seminary” and substituting “A Christian University” but he didn’t alter much of the misguided content of his opinion piece. This article doesn’t seem to be online anymore, but I have the PDF and may post it later.
I agree with some of what Brannon writes, but before I get to that, I need to clear up a couple of things. Brannon utterly fails when he seeks to equate Bethel University with the so called Emerging Church Movement. He totally misses the distinction between the “Emerging Church” and training “emerging” leaders.
Dictionary.com describes “emerging” like this:
eÂ·mergÂ·ing adj. Newly formed or just coming into prominence; emergent: emerging markets; the emerging states of Africa.
“Emerging” is a perfectly good word, a useful word. The term “emerging leaders” is a way of speaking about “new” or “young” or “future” leaders. Training emerging leaders is something all seminaries and universities have been trying to do for a long time. But, it is true, that we sometimes use this term today to capitalize on the “media” momentum that the word “emerging” has at present. So let’s give Brannon his due. He isn’t blind to everything with regard to the topic of his article. He sees this clearly. There’s definitely a media creation out there called for lack of a better term, “The Emerging Church.”
Those of you who know me know that I have for years explained that Mosaic is not an “emerging church” [or a “postmodern church” for that matter] in any sense of the word. Mosaic is an established mission with seasoned missional leadership and gobs of experience in effectively taking the gospel to some of the most challenging fields on the planet. No “emerging” happening at Mosaic except for the fact that we 1] have trained for decades now and continue to train younger, emerging leaders, 2] continue to learn and grow ourselves, 3] continue to innovate and break new ground in mission.
Recently a Los Angeles Times reporter was given the assignment to write an article on the “Emerging Church.” In doing her research she called me to talk about Mosaic. After she did her research and wrote the article, I spoke to her about why she chose not to include Mosaic. She had concluded from her research that Mosaic was not an emerging church because emerging churches tended to be “small, white and inward looking.” [Of course, this is not true of every church that self identifies as “emerging” and, what’s more, I see a future for small missional teams of whatever ethnicity, but we’ve got to lose the “inward looking” part]. Sometimes, the secular press gets it faster and deeper than the “Christian” news sources.
What’s more, Mosaic is different from the “Emerging Church” not just in terms of ambition, ethnicity, and mission, but also in attitude and thinking. Many of those who take on the mantle of the Emerging Church seem to me to be burned out Church leaders who needed to bail on a Christianity that offered pat but empty answers. I consider this a good move. But, in contrast, Mosaic is more like a convert who is full of enthusiasm, joy and hope. The new convert moves with speed and intentionality towards Jesus, towards the scriptures, towards Christ following community, and towards the world in service and mission.
Brannon doesn’t “feel” these distinctions. Yet.
So, Mosaic is not an emerging church. Brannon “misses the mark” by equating Bethel, Mosaic and Erwin with the “Emerging Church Movement.” It is true, however, to say that Bethel Seminary, Mosaic and Erwin are quickly becoming the reference points for “emerging” [i.e. “future,” “young,” “potential”] leaders. No doubt about it, they are hot, hot, hot and I highly recommend them all. [I hope it’s not too immodest to add here that “into the mystic…” has also become a quickly growing reference point for emerging leaders. Thanks to all of you for helping me spread the word.] I will continue to use the terms “emerging” and “emerging church” because truthfully I’m just not freaked out by what self-identified “emerging church” leaders are up to. In many ways, I “feel” them.
But I don’t want to be all negative. So let me finish this first installment on a positive note. Brannon also states in his editorial that the kinds of things I write about here at “into the mystic…” are “weird.” Here Brannon and I agree. This is weird. Brannon is not completely off after all. If we’re open, I guess, we can learn from anyone.
see you in the mystic…
Coming Up at “into the mystic….”:
The Emerging Church -Part 2
The Birthing of Human Machines