I am often asked, “What are the marks of an emergent church?” To me, they have these characteristics:
1. Rooted in Context and Relationship: Emerging churches are deeply, profoundly rooted in context. Context is the traditions that have made us who we are. Context is also the local situation. So see what’s going on in the culture around you, in your neighborhood, on your campus, among young people. See where community is already forming: coffeehouses, yoga studios, clubs, online social networks. See how God’s spirit is already active, where people are finding meaning and holiness. Enter relationship with the voices on your margins. Listen for where their hunger and yearning is strongest. Then imagine the church’s worship, space, preaching, teaching, leadership, identity, community and ministries prayerfully shaped by those insights.
“[We’re] re-imagining church in ways that are radically incarnational and contextual to embody the gospel and reign of God in today’s culture.” Karen Ward, Pastor, Church of the Apostles, Seattle
“At The Crossing, people dance around the communion table! There is ‘Open Space’ for us to practice the presence of God.” A voice from The Crossing.
“We share our stories, take turns preaching; we hear each other into speech, pray with each other. I’m finding my voice, stepping up for leadership.” A voice from The Crossing.
“When I share lunch with a hungry person, God is there and feeds my soul.” -A voice from The Crossing
Stephanie Spellers is lead priest at The Crossing, the emergent community based at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Boston. An acclaimed preacher, she is the author of Radical Welcome: Embracing God, the Other and the Spirit of Transformation and co-editor of Ancient Faith, Future Mission: Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition.