I am looking forward to giving a seminar on ‘The Emerging Church: What is it, and Why Does it Matter?’ on Monday 18 November, 1-2 pm, for the Study of Religions Department at University College Cork, the O’Rahilly Building, Room G27.
This seminar is based my forthcoming book with Gerardo Marti, The Deconstructed Church: Understanding Emerging Christianity (Oxford, April 2014). It will describe and define the Emerging Church Movement (ECM), exploring examples of Emerging Christian congregations, collectives, pub churches and neo-monastic communities from the USA, UK and Northern Ireland.
The ECM is a reform movement within Western Christianity that seeks to overturn what Emerging Christians see as conventional and destructive interpretations of the Gospel, to transform religious institutions so they are less hierarchical, and to reorient Christianity from inside the walls of church buildings to serving others outside in the “real world.” The ECM is significant from a sociological perspective because of the ways it resonates with the wider trends and values of our age, resulting in a distinct religious orientation that encourages individual autonomy and deep commitments to relationships with others. This religious orientation also includes common beliefs (around the nature of truth, doubt, and the nature of God), and practices (innovations in preaching, worship, Eucharist, leadership, etc). These characteristics make it stand out among modern Christian traditions and identifications as appealing to a ‘spiritual, but not institutionally religious’ self. This matters because it means that the ECM will persist and even thrive not only as a viable religious identification, but also as a challenge to and influence on traditional Western Christian denominations well into the future.
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