Christian Retailing

Emergent Church Face-Off Print Email
Written by Staff   
Monday, 06 April 2009 11:42 AM America/New_York

altIf you're not sure what the emerging church is, you're not alone. Judging from this lively debate, which took place at Christian Book Expo (CBE), authors Tony Jones and Scot McKnight seem to say it's hard to define exactly what it is. Kevin DeYoung, a co-author of Why We're Not Emergent (Moody Publishers), square off against the two during the presentation, which also includes Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things (Multnomah Books).

During a breakfast at International Christian Retail Show 2008, Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence (Baker Books), seemed to sum up at least part of the movement by saying it's a modern Reformation, changing Christianity from an entirely Scripture-based approach to one that accommodates for some emotion and feeling. Jones' comments in the video support that when he says it would make people “uncomfortable” to know his views on the reliability of Scripture.

I think there's a bit of an identity crisis going on or at the very least a strong resistance to labels. McKnight points out there are more conservative theologies included in the movement and doesn't seem to like them all lumped together. After the debate, I asked author Donald Miller, since his name was mentioned as a leader and he pointed out that he attends a non-emergent church. He seems to refuse the label and being drawn into the discussion. Rob Bell (Jesus Wants to Save Christians), another author frequently drawn into the mix, pretty much said the same thing when I asked him last year.

Maybe labels could be done away with (which we all know isn't going to happen) or perhaps a new set are needed for a group that is a little more diverse and less united than many thought.

As a retailer displaying books by all the authors mentioned, perhaps side by side, how do you direct your customers to what they are looking for and handle the complaints from those purchasing a book they discover they strongly disagree with?

Check the video out here.