At the Geneva event, Brian McLaren spent 20 minutes responding to the increasingly frequent question of 'What is the Emerging Church?'. He used several diagrams from other people (I can't remember who he credited). I'm going to reproduce them here over the next week or so, as best as I can.
I want to start with one that resonated with me the most. I often describe the emerging church as a shared environment all churches find themselves in. It's not just the purview of new expressions of church, but the shared experience of all churches to our changing culture.
Brian likened this to a tree where:
- Growth: The tree shows the Church Catholic, and as it has grown, it forms rings, as the tree grows up and out.
- Environment: The rings represent the response to the outward facing aspects of the church to the environment it was in. Sometimes that environment has been hostile, at others more friendly.
- Shared:Those of us wanting to deal with the exterior environment to the church, have a great deal to dialogue and share with others from other churches, not just the pre-occupation with our own environment.
(now don't get hung up on my diagram and if the proportions are correct for denominations etc...it's a metaphor!).