In response to a request for an Emerging Synchroblog that all bloggers involved in church life (whether conversants in the Emergant Village or not) write about the question, "What is Emerging in the Church?" here I go...
I think what is emerging in the church is inclusivity. I say that not because it is what I hope for (though I do), but I say that because finally the church and believers as a whole are generally moving towards a more inclusive theology of God.
Like Jonah before them, many Christians are digging in their heels and even swimming out to sea to avoid sharing a pew with a black man, a pulpit with a woman or communion bread with a homosexual, but it's happening.
While women were leaders and preachers in the early church, somewhere along we way, we as Christians lost our bearing. Even early abbesses were ordained in the 2nd century whereas now they're only blessed. But, in 1974, the church I'm in began ordaining women as deacons. In 2006, I became the 6th or 7th female they'd ordained to the ministry (with three more coming after me). A few months ago I was the "token woman's resume" in a Dallas church's search for a senior pastor. And while that royally pissed me off (I found out later they'd already chosen their candidate but needed to say they'd "looked at" a woman's resume), my current pastor and mentor reminded me that I could be the "token female" for future generations of women. He's right. And one day we'll see women priests in the Catholic church and we won't think twice about whether or not to hire a woman pastor for our church...
In 1948 Carlyle Marney began the difficult task of integrating the church i currently attend and also fighting 13 racist bills in the Texas Legislature. In 1963 my church passed a resolution about membership not being exclusive or determined by race. In 1967 they ordained their first "black" deacon. Now, color isn't a consideration when we invite people to be deacons or preach from our pulpit. (And maybe one day we'll have a black senior pastor in addition to a female senior pastor).
In 1976, the Episcopal church affirmed that gay men and women were children of God deserving acceptance and pastoral care. In 1992 an American Baptist church in Minnesota called a gay pastor to be their minister and a Southern Baptist church in North Carolina ordained a gay seminary student. Someday it will be okay to be a Christian who is gay and be a member of a congregation. Someday it will be okay to be a deacon who is gay, and someday it will be okay to be a pastor who is gay.
Each of these "issues" I've named (being a woman, being a minority, being gay) began by being labeled as a "sin" or "sub-human" or "not holy enough to matter" by a people group in the majority and in control. And each of these types of people, through the grace of God, has been seen for what they really are - a unique expression of the diversity of God - and their oppressors exposed in their own judgmental sin.
And Jonah went to Nineveh. And Nineveh was invited into covenant with God.
Inclusivism: God's all inclusive love. God's reckless adoration for all of humanity regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or you fill in the blank. This is where God is leading us and this is how I think the church is slowing emerging. The church is emerging from a worldview of exclusive "God only loves people who look and act and think like me" to God loves everyone and maybe even has planned for me to learn and grow from these people that I once considered "other."
Thanks be to God...
(P.S. If you want to read what other people think is emerging in the Church, a full list of participants in this write-off can be found at One Hand Clapping.)