Emergence Christianity – Cultural Changes, Technology, and Religion
Is it a new program for church renewal and revitalization? Is it a “how to” guide to create new forms of liturgical expression? Is it a “cookie-cutter program” to bring “young people” back to church? These are some of the anxiety-laden questions some folks ask, as they witness the shifts in everything all around us. Maybe when we speak of Emergence Christianity, the most important question we should ask, is a very basic one– “what exactly is this movement?” Many say that Emergence Christianity is a conversation manifested out of the overarching cultural, economic, political, technological, and deeply transformative shifts in our culture. Phyllis Tickle, and many other leaders today are naming these peculiar, unprecedented times, in which we find ourselves, the “Great Emergence,” and the resultant streams of new Christian community, “Emergence Christianity.”
The many books, conference, blogs, and tweets found today on social media, shine a spotlight on the cultural shifts emerging all around us–and because of these changes, everything, including religion, is changing at light speed. The recent gathering, at which I attended in Memphis, TN, provided many of us with a glimpse into this complex and often misunderstood upheaval. Phyllis Tickle, is one of the wise, prophetic voices trying to make sense of all this complexity, and in her book, “The Great Emergence” she points out some signposts and draws some historical parallels that makes many of us, do a double take– so, “ Hang on folks, times–they are a changin’.”
Here are a few of those sign posts of change: 1) There are five times more words in the English language than when William Shakespeare crafted his great works; (2) Wikipedia is now claimed to be more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica; (3) In 1900, there were 8000 cars in the U.S., now there are 8000 cars in any given small neighborhood; (4) Every ten months, technology changes. (For even more examples of rapid change, checkout this link)
It would seem, that if we are living with eyes wide-open, we will admit that we are living in very different times, and the rate of change, faster than many of us can even attempt to keep up. With the rapid and mind-blowing advances in technology alone, and with its overwhelming influence on how we connect, communicate– and with social media, how we create and sustain community–all of us, must realize that religion is being nuanced, shifted, and effected by this change. The impact on ecclesiology, theology, missiology, and any other “ology” we can name, is being reviewed, reframed, and re-imagined, as the lenses through which we see life, re-focus.
In my next blog post, I will continue to share my reflections on the Emergence Gathering, and offer some thoughts on “What does all this have to do with Church?”