This really does trip us up so often.
Anything with the word ’emerging’ in it seems to connote images I do not find helpful and seems to start fights that I really can’t be bothered with.
Perhaps its just been my own learning curve the last few years, but these days I am using ’emerging missional church’ less and less (ok – not at all) and replacing it with ‘missional incarnational community’. From where I stand (today) this seems to be the most accurate descriptor of what I am involved with and what I dream of seeing created around Oz.
Simply put ‘missional’ refers to the sending impulse (from latin ‘missio’) and incarnational refers to the ’embedding deeply’ in a local community or people group – being the gospel ‘enfleshed’. I am happy to use the word ‘church’ as I believe we can redeem it from its bad press, but I choose ‘community’ because it is a broader term and allows for some ‘churches’ that would not be considered churches by some to be given legitimacy. On the flip side it also allows some established churches to ‘play’ too because it removes the need to conform to what is ’emerging’ and focuses on a more theological framing.
Of course this isn’t language I use around the street here in Brighton, but when speaking with others about the nature of our work it helps me to sharpen the focus and move beyond what is trendy.
Some would say this is merely semantics, but when language gives shape to everything we do then it actually becomes vitally important!
What do you think?
Has your own terminology / language shifted?