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Emerging Church South Africa November 17, 2006

Posted by Cobus in Emerging Church, Emerging Culture.

Two questions that are vital to the emerging church movement, I believe, is the questions “What are we emerging from?” and “Where are we emerging too?”. While reading around the Internet, you will quickly find that generally for a whole lot of people the emerging church is emerging from evangelicalism. But is this what we are emerging from in South Africa?

Let me just make something clear, I’m writing from a white Dutch Reformed perspective, I can’t write for someone else, but you are welcome to bring a different point of view to the table. 

We have some experience with movements similar to American evangelicalism. But we also have a history of very strict Calvinism. A history of a church messing around of the political agenda of the country. A church which was literally “state” church, not very different from that which you find in conservative Muslim countries. We’ve seen some very extreme forms of churches being control freaks, everything having to be kept under control. From church organization to peoples personal walk of faith.

It’s been a generally conservative country. Conservative theology, conservative politics. Conservative morals forced down on the community. Conservative ethics preached by the church.

I don’t say that all of this was bad. And definitely to be emerging shouldn’t mean to simply go and do the opposite. That is simple reactionalism (I’m not sure if the word exist,but I’m sure you will understand), not deconstruction. And a lot of this have already changed, at least with certain people.

But what are we emerging from, and where are we emerging to in South Africa? If this is a time of transition for the church, and many believe that it is, then we should start talking about where we want to be when we get to the other side. Any opinions? And if you are from a different part of the world, what will your answers to these questions be?



1. Glenn - November 20, 2006

Hi Cobus,

Here in the Chicago area of the US, we are emerging from “the contemporary church movement”/”consumer church”/”seeker sensitive” church of evangelicalism. Over the last three decades, the influence of Willow Creek Community Church (Chicago) and Saddle Back Community Church (Southern California) has swept the landscape of local churches until a majority of churches look like these two mega churches, or at least, want to. Many have found this church model tiresome, predictable, and inauthentic. It was a response to traditional evangelical churches and was designed for a baby boomer generation now moving into retirement age.

I don’t think we know what we are emerging into. Emergent Village, sort of the “grand daddy” of the movement here describes itself as a growing, generative friendship among missional Christians seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ. There is definitely no road map for we are headed.

The movement is loosely organized, has no prevalent model for church life, tends to hold the teachings of Jesus in higher regard than the rest of scripture, has something of a fluid theology that searches for new ways to describe beliefs, is community service oriented, tends to be more liberal politically than evangelicals, is more open to ritual that evangelicals, and longs to be more relational and authentic.

2. Roger Saner - November 23, 2006

South Africa emerging church-wise…we’ve emerged from apartheid so maybe the following will be helpful: post-apartheid, post-struggle (esp. for churches who were defined by struggle in apartheid) and could I suggest post-rainbow-glow? There seems to me to be growing anger around the country because of a lack of true reconciliation and more people pointing “racist” fingers at others. My own church background (Baptist, Anglican) seems to be doing very little to directly address this. Our challenge as the church in SA is figuring out how to engage politics and government again – keeping in mind the disastrous separation of public and private faith/morality during apartheid.

I see much of mainstream Christianity in SA importing what has “worked” elsewhere in the world, so Glenn – Willow Creek has made its way here…*sigh* Not that they’re bad it’s just…well, I wish we have more authentic local leaders who aren’t trying to copy Americans. Oh yes, and thanks for TBN! :p

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