Almost 5 1/2 years ago, Presbymergent was born when a group of PCUSA pastors met in Louisville face to face to discuss The Church.
Although we had connected digitally for a couple of years, it was the first time that many of us laid our eyes on each other up-close-and-personal. And after a fruitful and inspiring meeting, we did what churches did – both then and now:
- We created an Executive Board
- We left with great plans
- We came up with a logo and a website (Thank you Adam Walker Cleaveland.)
This was before NEXTChurch was established, before Rob Bell left for California, before the works of Brian McLaren and Phyllis Tickle and Diana Butler Bass became must-reads in every traditional church library.
But – because we were better idea people than organization people – Presbymergent fizzled as an organization, except to open our arms to more and more Loyal Radicals.
So here’s my question: What’s Emerging Now?
Churches – even growing churches – still have pews and worshippers spend most of their sanctuary time sitting in them. Hymnals are still commonly used (and we Presbyterians even have a new version.) Many Sessions (i.e. boards of elders) still spend the majority of their time talking about Attendance, Building Management, and Cash (or the lack thereof.)
In 2007, to be an Emerging Christian involved loving Sufjan Stevens and candles. A lot. This article from 2008 speaks to this.
Just two years ago, another article tried to finish the sentence: You Might Be an Emergent If . . . . We had discovered The Wild Goose Festival and noticed that there are more females at the table.
But what is truly emerging for the PCUSA after that memorable February in 2009?
As far as the original Presbymergents go:
- Some of us have left parish ministry to serve in non-profits, at least one seminary, and even a couple of Middle Judicatories in The Midwest.
- Some have moved into intentional/neo-monastic Christian communities.
- Some have been installed into pastorates in very traditional churches where we may not have imagined ourselves five years ago
- All are still hungry, visionary, and hopeful as far as I can tell.
And today, thanks to organizations like NEXTChurch, more mainstream mainline churches are involved in moving us forward into the 21st Century. But what is it that we see emerging?
I see traditional worship done well with some creative additions. I see an increasing urgency as many churches still don’t get that church culture must change. I see that context is increasingly everything and we cannot force a culture that is not there. I see that it’s too late for too many congregations to change. (Because they waited too long.) I see many congregations that do not trust their pastors to lead them. I see disturbingly too few pastors equipped to lead a 21st Century Church.
And I hear way too many parishioners declare that “You can change everything – after I die or move away.”
What do you see and hear?
Forever grateful to Adam Walker Cleaveland, Troy Bronsink, Tim Hartman, Chad Herring, Eric Ledermann, Tom Livengood, Nanette Sawyer, David Parker, John Vest, Neal Locke, Landon Whitsitt, Jud Hendrix, Karen Sloan, Seth Thomas, Ryan Kemp-Pappan, Carol Howard Merritt, Jenny Warner, Shawn Coons, & anyone I accidentally omitted. In the words of JV: “Want to get the band back together?” Image Source.