This is bound to be a very messy and incomplete post. My thoughts are starting to gel, but I still have a long way to go. I expect this to turn into a string of posts on this topic.
I've been meditating on the difference between "missional" and "emerging." I'm particularly interested because I live in a place where I don’t believe an “emerging church” can thrive. I live and pastor in the suburbs (or exurbs) of Chicago. My town is less than 25,000 with no university or significant population from emerging generations.
The "emerging church" conversation (that I'm involved in) seems to be about reaching those who have grown up in or been significantly impacted by the culture of postmodernity (however you explain that). Though we have some people where I live who might fit in an emerging church, it’s nothing like more urban populations or university settings.
In my understanding, being "missional" is the conviction and action of being sent by God into culture (incarnation) with the message of redemption (as told and lived). It is not something we "do" along with other things we do, but it is who we are as the church. So by definition every church around the world should be missional. Someone might say that a missional church is simply a biblical church. (I like what Tim Keller says in "The Missional Church.")
If I have it gauged right, then, the emerging church is essentially about being missional in a postmodern context. You could have a missional church in a modern context, or whatever kind of context you can describe…you could be missional in that context. That makes sense out of those terms in my thinking.
So should we strive to be emerging, or strive to be missional which may or may not be emerging? Or is the idea of "emerging" taking missional and expanding upon the idea? Or should every church be at least emerging in part because every church should be missional and therefore reaching the emerging generations around them?
Go to Part 2 > Missional Church: Driscoll & Emerging