A few years ago, I became interested in the Emergent Church
movement, which represents (among other things) an ongoing experiment with cross-traditional
liturgical and formative Christian practices.
has also shown interest in this young movement, since it may be instructive for
their own efforts to reach out to these missing generations. In other words we United Methodists believe that
if it works for the Emergent
Church, we should try it
There is an ongoing conversation
between the UMC and the Emergent
Church movement. However, are these conversations subject to distortion
by the influence of the consumer market?
Read how one leader describes his emergent community: “Individually,
each [member] adopts what practices they [sic] want and asks for help. Some do
the Book of Common Prayer, some the divine hours, and some the Eastern Orthodox
prayer book” (Gibbs/Bolger p.230). Such
practices are offered as new programs that will hopefully awaken interest and stimulate
growth in a dormant church.
Could this be a subtle form of what Michael Budde describes as the “appropriation of religiosity?” By appropriation of religiosity, Budde means offering
religious symbols and practices (extracted from their respective traditions) in
order to attract new members (or consumers?). While the search for a greater catholicity in
the life and practice of the United
is good, United Methodism is by no means insulated from the drive of the market
that seeks to appropriate these traditions in the interest of seeing its churches
be more successful, relevant and popular.