I’ve been considering reformation and emergence lately… partially in “reality check moments” but also partially in the general musing of how things fit. I understand that some have started referring to a change in wineskin, or church structure as the third reformation, the first being in theology and the second being in spirituality. Of note is the fact that these reformations are not the product of a single person or event. Sure, Luther gets top billing…. but Calvin, Zwingli, and others were in the thick of things and it wasn’t like they just cooked up the whole idea with Luther one night over a few pints. The same thing is probably true (if you’re going to go with the three-reformation thing) of the recovery of spirituality. I think it’s definitely true of the emerging church today, a subset of which includes changes to church structure.
This leads me to believe that when it’s really, really important, God tends not to send a 900-foot Jesus with the message, but rather to simply instigate something in more than one place with people who may not otherwise have been connected. In other words, this is far too important to leave up to just one human being. This to me is one of the hallmarks of credibility for the emerging church concept. Although I saw him referred to as “The Godfather” last week, not even Brian McLaren can be held responsible for this phenomenon (or are they phenomena?). Real change is measured at the grassroots, and when the masses “get it” you have real change. When a few leaders have an idea and keep pushing it and trying to crank it up to fruition, you end up with astroturf.
All of which brings me around to someone else’s thoughts the Vertical Slender Kiwi is compiling a series on the emerging church around the globe, starting earlier this week with Emergent Vocabulary and Countercultural History.