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Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures Paperback – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801027152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801027154
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Mention "emerging churches" around a random selection of today's church leaders and half will have no idea what you are talking about while the other half are busy trying to plant one. This book informs the uninitiated while also helping overeager planters understand that these unique communities, as their name implies, emerge gradually, many times without the help of the institutional church. Fuller Seminary researchers Gibbs and Bolger spent five years collecting data in both the U.S. and U.K. and interviewing 50 leaders—most under the age of 40—to uncover important patterns among emerging churches. They emphasize the life of faith as Jesus demonstrated, employ a "going out" attitude toward the world rather than expecting people to "come to" their communities and consider all of life sacred. Also, these communities prefer relationships to meetings, so there may be no set worship gathering time or, indeed, no fixed place to meet. The authors paint emerging churches as attractive, hopeful and ever-evolving, populated by some of the most vibrant, open-minded and service-oriented young Christians. Readers who are attached to "church business as usual" will be shaken up by this book, while those ready for a change will find it energizing. (Dec.)
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About the Author

Eddie Gibbs (B.D., London University; D.Min., Fuller Theological Seminary) is the Donald A. McGavran Professor of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of several books, including the critically acclaimed Church Next, winner of a Christianity Today book award. Ryan K. Bolger (Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of church in contemporary culture at the School of Intercultural Studies and academic director of the master of arts program in global leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Customer Reviews

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People may say this or that about this book, forget it!
Jonathan
I highly encourage and recommend that this book be read by any person (Christian or not) to hear what the heart of Christian leadership really needs to be.
Billy Jackson
I found it to be one of the best books I've read on a difficult and challenging topic.
David Robertson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By John Frye on March 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger's *Emerging Churches: Creating Community in Postmodern Cultures* (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005) is a much-needed book.

For all the antagonism and/or paranoia about the Emergent Movement or Conversation or Churches, Gibbs and Bolger give a 5 year researched-based presentation.

Guess what? Their book gives scant attention to Brian McLaren or any of his books. Shock of all shocks! What? I thought Brian McLaren WAS Emergent?? You mean there's more people involved than just Brian?? Over 50 leaders are interviewed and quoted and it's hard to find Brian McLaren among them. Shock of all shocks.

The nine (9) core practices of emerging churches are well-defined and illustrated with comments from those who are "practitioners" of contextualizing the gospel of the kingdom of God in the postmodern world.

The nine (9) core practices are:

1. Identifying with Jesus (and his way of life)

2. Transforming secular space (overcoming the secular/sacred split)

3. Living as community (not strangers in proximity at a church service)

4. Welcoming the stranger (radical and gentle hospitality that is inclusive)

5. Serving with generosity (not serving the institution called "church," but people)

6. Participating as producers (not widgets in the church program)

7. Creating as created beings (this is a great chapter!)

8. Leading as a body (beyond control and the CEO model of leadership)

9. Merging ancient and contemporary spiritualities.

"Emerging churches destroy the Christendom idea that church is a place, a meeting or a time. Church is a way of life, a rhythm, a community, a movement" (236).
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ed Cyzewski on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Gibbs and Bolger set out to present a series of qualities one may find in an emerging ministry. The reader looking for a critical evaluation of these qualities will be disappointed. While Gibbs and Bolger are clearly sympathetic to the emerging church and its task to embody the Gospel contextually, they are far more concerned with letting the 50 emerging leaders in their study speak for themselves.

The time will come when critique of the emerging church will be warranted and needed, but Gibbs and Bolger have provided the necessary first step in defining the emerging church and giving its proponents and critics some handles. Many critics of the emerging church would benefit by reading this book before leveling any charges at emerging groups. More than anything, the reader has a chance to encounter the leading thinkers behind the emerging church, the theology and philosophy behind their practice, and their ultimate goals in contextual ministry.

At the heart of the emerging church presented by Gibbs and Bolger is the missionary character that many such congregations embody. Instead of simply changing the format of meetings to include new trends and technology, the emerging church is deeply concerned with embodying the Gospel and taking the church to the streets. "Rather than extracting people from the world, the church should empower members to engage more effectively in the ministry and mission that God has already entrusted to them in the world. Members should serve the world through their vocations rather than through church-administered programs" (142).

Though funding limited the project to research in the UK and USA, one is struck by the diversity of the emerging ministries.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Lee on December 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
After reading the chapter titles and the endorsements on the back of this book I was as excited to read it as a kid on Christmas morning (thought I'd go with the seasonally appropriate metaphor). So as soon as I bought it I dove in expecting to love it, and there is quite a bit worth reading in it. One of my favorite things is the way the authors highlight how emerging churches are focusing less on church as a primarily Sunday-focused, geographically-located activity that includes singing and a sermon. There is much thought given by emerging leaders to how our actions can communicate that the church is a body of people, not a building, rather than communicating that primarily through words. This is a foundational piece of changing how "church" is done thoughtfully and not just adding candles.

That said, I have two primary gripes with the book. First, and more importantly, it seems to be uncritically accepting of anything that flies under the flag of emergent. I know that I even have tendencies toward this, but there were a couple times when I was wondering whether the authors were more taken with the kingdom of God or with churches that do different things and call themselves emergent. The only reason I don't answer the latter with certainty is because I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt. The most blatant example of this is when they rationalize seductive bikini-clad dancers from an emerging church at a European festival because everyone else at the festival was doing it. They also insinuate that everyone at the festival was taking Ecstasy, so you wonder if they think this emerging church group should do that as well.
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