Steve Taylor [New Zealand]
"A to Z of the Emerging Church"


In Genesis 2 - "adam" is invited to name creation. The desire to name the emerging church could thus be part of our God-given ability to use language to describe and understand. While ďadamĒ named creation, yet no companion was found. ďAdamĒ remained incomplete. A certain humility is therefore intrinsic to naming. To name is not an act of limitation, but an act of partiality, part of a search for completeness.

We seem reluctant to name the emerging church. Perhaps our naming yet lacks an alphabet. We need some A, B, Cís before we can spell the word. So in a spirit of Genesis 2, and in partiality;

A = artistic, and so the emerging values the creative, the visual, the non-rational as essential to communication and being.

B = blogging, and so the emerging tell stories and learns from the stories of others. We listen, we ask, we grow through the wires of the internet

C = culturally sensitive, atune to the rationalising tendencies of modernity, we speak of a new landscape, a new missionary terrain in which God wants to be enfleshed as the Body of Christ

C= community loving, and so we thirst for deep, honest, emotional, vulnerable relationships with God and each other.

D=DJing, and so we are re:mixing God in a postmodern world, learning to sing the Lordís song in a strange land

E=experiential, and so we create worship that engages the senses

F=fashionable and so we speak of our music and review our books, talk of our latest video mixers and web browsers and exchange notes on software and RSS feeds

G=global, (in a Western sort of way) and so we link from the US to the UK, we click from Canada to Kiwi, with a nod to Australian friends and partners

H=hyperlinked, and so we are inspired by a worship trick from here and an insight from there

I=intuitive, and so we donít know where weíre going and we donít like we weíve been, but weíre sure itís not logical and it definitely has no 5 year plan. But it is a journey and it will embrace mystery and contingency

J=journey. That word again. We are emerging, partial, tentative and thatís OK. God is here.

K= (I donít know, this is written in a spirit of partiality)

M=middle-class. Sorry but we are. Itís a sociological reality. Canít change it. Donít beat yourself up over it. But donít stay there will you. It is a journey. Itís time to partner with the poor.

M= mostly male. Sorry but we mostly are. Itís a sociological reality. So letís not stay here. It is a journey. Itís time for genuine partnership.

N=new map. No-one before us has had to incarnate God in a video culture, or speak of faith in a world of post-ÖÖ

O=open ended. We donít even want to define ourselves. Weíre not even sure we are a movement. Letís keep things Ö open.

P=participatory. Gone is the pulpit and in is the discussion. Comments are essential to websites, to teaching and to preaching.

Q=questioning. Got lots of those. Faith is mixed with ambiguity and juxtaposed with inconsistency.

R= random Ė images, words, thoughts.

S=seeking. We still havenít found what weíre looking for, although some of us seem to know what weíre reacting against.

T=textual. The Bible. A mission manifesto for our future.

T= tactile. Whole bodied, multi-sensory.

U=under-resourced. Mr Jones canít even buy his kids birthday presents and heís our guru. Enough said.

V=visual. Images. Please.

W = white and western. Sorry but we are. Itís a sociological reality. But letís not stay here. It is a journey. Itís time for genuine partnership.

X, Y, Z = 3 blanks. This is, after all, partial. A first attempt at an alphabet.


Steve is a founder member of Graceway Baptist Church, New Zealand.
This article first appeared as part of Steve's blog: www.emergentkiwi.org.nz


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