Brian McLaren responds to an article by Christianity Today called, Emergent Mystique. Read his annotation of the article here.
The author of the article questioned whether emergent was a movement or not. "Only a few emergent churches," despite lots of emergent book sales.
Here is what I think is happening. Emergent is giving people a third alternative. Before emergent, many people felt constricted by either sticking it out in their denomination or leaving it altogether. There was no graceful way to be different. With a strong denominational allegiance, most people just stuck to the partyline or quietly rebelled, living one way and believing another.
Emergent is room. It is space. It is a chance to move without leaving.
I am a child of the American Restoration Movement. With the help of emergent (and some other converging forces), I have been able to start to learn how to be a post-restorationist. I do not have to forsake my history to move into the future. I cannot tell you how liberating that is. It's like saying I don't have to get a divorce to have change happen in my marriage. Yes, it's that big a deal. Who knows, some day I might be in a post-restoration church? Who knows, I might plant one? What I do know is that I am emerging from the Restoration Movement, not detaching from it. This is good news. People are emerging faster than churches are.
Yes, people are emerging much much faster than emergent churches are being created. It is better, far better this way, for now. There is coming a day when church planting will be far more postmodern that it is now, but that day is coming. I applaud the pioneers, the experimenters, and the those on the frontier. Not only will they teach us what's out there, they will teach us how to pioneer, to create, to survive.
What we need right now is what is happening: Emergent People. Emergent Churches are just the next step in the evolution. When enough people emerge, how could churches not emerge with them? People will not tolerate believing one thing and doing something radically different for very long. The church will respond, and I think the churches who respond with an embrace will survive and the ones who respond with attack will die.
For now I say wait if you can, plant if you have to. Right now we're just preparing the soil, working it, tilling it, disrupting it, de-weeding it, feeding it. From emergent people will come emergent churches, both planted and transformed.