Well, why not...In this culture of consumerism where the mantra is, " I am, therefore I shop ", there should be brands to choose from right. I mean, I have an image to protect. I mean, I might be one of those left brain hemisphere people...I deep thinker of deep things, and a creative spirit that is always outside the lines. Or I might be a doer, sitting down for any longer than 5 minutes is seen as lazy, somehow the kingdom has stopped advancing. And if I teeter in anyone of those directions I should apply the appropriate brand name label to my christian ass.
Okay, I might be exaggerating jus a little bit...but, then again maybe not. But there has been some conversation going around blog-town, on various street corners...Emergent Voyaguers, Blind Beggar and Robbymac.org. They seem to be treating it as a science, using taxonomy in their language, " characteristics of the organism " or characteristics of the " Emergent Brand " versus the " Missional Brand." Then I look at my faith make-up, my christian double helix genetic makeup, and once the mapping has been done...I am taxonomically classified into the approriate brand.
In Jamie Arpin-Ricci's post, " Redemptive Taxonomy in the Emergent/Missional Divide ", he says...
Recently, like many others, I have been noticing an increasing pattern in the blogosphere in which people are becoming more intentional about differentiating between "emerging/emergent" and "missional". Many are even choosing to identify with the latter to differentiate (and sometimes even distance themselves) from the former. As the emerging/emergent church increasingly is more narrowly defined (often, though not always, more closely resembling Emergent Village), some feel that the larger, more general understanding is being lost, thus no longer feel as though they fit. For some it is a matter of politics, for others theological revisionism and others with national/contextual differentiation.
So what do we make of all of this? Is this a schism within the emerging church? For some, it might be, though I would suggest it is too young and undefined a movement to contemplate something of that level. Should it be resisted? Some believe so, while others think it is semantics and yet others who think it is long overdue. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I think you will agree that it is significant enough of a trend for us to spend some time and energy exploring. Many have already, such as an excellent discussion at emergesque, as well as some interesting posts by Robbymac and The Blind Beggar. I don't want to duplicate what is being done at their sites, but I wanted to post just some of my reflections on the issue.
One question that has been raised has been whether the seemingly inevitable discussion of taxonomy when addressing emerging church topics is necessary or helpful.
I would not want to be accused of taking Jamie out of context, so I would recommend reading his complete post. But my response to his post and Robbymac's post was the following...
Pete Rollins of Ikon in Belfast said this recently about the " emerging conversation ", I think he somes up what most of us feel...
While the term ' emerging church ' is increasingly being employed to describe a well defined and well- equiped religious movement, in actual fact it is currently little more than a fragile, embryonic and diverse conversation being held between individuals over the Internet and at various small gatherings. Not only does the elusive and tentative nature of this conversation initially make it difficult to describe what, if anything, unifies those involved; the sheer breadth of perspectives held by those within the dialogue makes terms such as ' movement ', ' denomination ', and ' church ' seem somewhat inappropriate.
Our first attempt to understand this network will often leave us with a certain frustration, as its kinetic and dynamic nature seems to defy easy reduction to a single set of theological doctrines or ritualistic practices. what we are presented with instead is a diverse matrix of relationships that bridge a number of different communities. Even a cursory glance over this network will show that the participants are unified neither by a shared theological tradition, nor by an aspiration to one day develop one. The word ' emerging ' cannot, then, be understood as describing a type of becoming that is set to one day burst onto the religious scene as a single, unified, and distinct denominational perspective ( analogous to a caterpillar that is soon to break its cacon and arise as a butterfly ), or a becoming that can be carefully charted ( like the trajectory of a bullet ).
Pete, is absolutely right...We delude ourselves if we think it is anything more than that. I don't know what it is about North American church culture, maybe it's our consumeristic culture of brandnames...labels of being more value than the actual substance.
I believe every church that has made a conscious decision to move outside of its walls to engage the culture that surrounds it. And remember we can't paint every church with a broad brush stroke...each church finds itself in a different cultural context. In that context, whether the church is conscious or not...they are becoming emergent and missional. If you are really engaging, hands on, speaking, in conversation in the culture that surrounds you...you can't avoid it.
I think when labels are applied, you've automatically opened yourself up to a competion between brands. I would hope here in Canada we could keep the conversation going, learning from one another, sharing journeys...focusing on the real substance of our faith...rather than developing a brand.
I pray and encourage all faith communities to work out your faith in the cultural context you find yourselves...that in the context of generous orthopraxy, with heart and hands that the Holy Spirit would lead you beyond brandname christianity...to nothing more than your community being an absolute reflection of Jesus.
End of Rant...Grace, Peace...in His radical revoltionary scandalous unending Love.