Two people walk into a bar (b/c both believe in drinking) and start a conversation. We will just pretent that they are called B. Mac and Stan H. representing Emergent and the Ekklesia Project. Let’s listen in before they get to drunk to be coherent…
(the question posed by an third party is “What is Missions?”
Stan. H.: “The Mission of the Church is to be the Church!” he shouts out roughly.
B. Mac. responds calmly: “The Mission of God is to save the World.”
Stan H.: “But what are you saving people into when there is no distinction b/w the Church and the World? The Church must be the Church so that the World will know it is the World” quoting one of his own books.
B. Mac.: “But why would the World care what the Church is doing if it never sees the Church and has no affinity with it?” he says with deep concern for the lost.
And so goes the conversation, each, and all their follower, presenting reasons for and ways of reforming the church, one seeking more faithfulness by the Church, and the other seeking more faithfulness to the World.
But the reality of this conversation, if we can speak so flamboyantly, is that this conversation needs to continue, and we need to diligently pursue it. Why? 1) Because in general, the Emerging Church has started as a pastoral movement concerned with issues of culture and evangelism, while the Ekklesia project issued forth as a movment from academia concerned with the Church and discipleship, and therefore will enhance each others discorse, bringing different questions, methods, and concerns to the table. 2) Each movement seeks renewal within the tradition they spring from, which is the mainline traditions for Ekklesia, and evangelical for Emergent. 3) Each is working on the same question but from different ends. Ekklesia from an ecclesiology to missions; Emergent from missions back toward ecclesiology.
So, to position myself (which is always hazardous and better left to you the community of readers to decided), I would say that I lean more toward the Ekklesia perspective, but deeply immersed in the Emerging Church. So generally, when I critique the Emerging Church it is not out of the love of criticism, but for love of the Emerging church, and not as an outsider finding fault, but as an insider hoping to fortify.
And all this leads up to the gauntlet that I layed down yesterday concerning the use of missionary methods in the West, particularly N. America.