Friday, November 16, 2007

Village Idiots Part Two

As I confessed in a previous post, I once considered myself a part of the "emerging church movement." I hung around in coffee shops discussing books by Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Marislov Volf, etc., dissing "narrow minded evangelicals" and cussing up a storm.

I, like Mark Driscoll, now realize that I was a part of these "cohorts" because it felt trendy and different = more "authentic" because it is "mine." In other words, it was pure arrogance. As far as I can see, the overwhelming majority of "emergents" still fall into this category.

I also used to believe that the "emerging/post-conservative/post-liberal/post-modern" church was THE future. Rob Bell's success in Grand Rapids and Tim Keel's success in Kansas City seemed to confirm this belief.

Well, that was then and this is now.

Outreach Magazine's latest "101 Fastest Growing Churches" list was published last month (thank you, Mike Peters for the head's up) and not one "emerging church" made the list. Four years ago, Mars Hill Church was near the top of the list having grown from 3000 to 12,000 weekly attendees in about 5 years. Now Mars Hill has not only fallen off the list but appears to have lost roughly 2000 members as its pastor, Rob Bell, continues to embrace every theological fad that blows through seminaries and "spiritual" book stores.

This has occurred while many conservative (even Reformed) churches have exploded. The most impressive may be the church that Jerry Falwell built in Lynchburg (Thomas Road Baptist) whose membership had slowly eroded sadly along with the elder Falwell's health. His son, who is just as conservative, has ascended to his father's puplit and led the charge to increase its attendance by roughly 4750 over the past year.

Most impressive, according to missiology guru Ed Stetzer, is that many of these churches are reaching the unchurched while Emergent Cohorts continue to "explore" heresy and recruit angry Christian kids who never got the chance to properly rebel in high school.