Thoughts on Recent Movements in Evangelicalism: Part 1, Post Emerging Church Clarification

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I want to explore recent trends in the evangelical movement and how they are influencing the movement’s direction and identity.

Start an article with the statement “What is an evangelical?” and you are likely to get a healthy mix of eye rolls and frustrated sighs. There are simply better things to do with your time than read the one thousand and forty-eighth article on evangelical identity of 2019.

I get this definition fatigue.

Both a domestic and global movement, evangelicalism can be near impossible to define and therefore challenging to track. If linguists tried to craft a term as ill-defined and ripe for misuse, they would be hard pressed to develop one as perfect as evangelicalism.

As a result, I want to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of definitions to look at broader trends. Taking a 30,000-foot level perspective, I want to explore recent trends in the evangelical movement and how they are influencing the movement’s direction and identity today. Because it would be impossible to look at such trends globally, my focus here (and in the subsequent articles) will be on North American evangelicalism.

I want to start by exploring the legacy of the emerging church and specifically how we seem to living in a period of a post-emerging clarification within evangelicalism.

The Emergence of the Emerging Church

While the emerging church seems like a distant memory to most, for a period of 10-15 years, it was the most talked about movement in American evangelicalism. Pastors and scholars alike were obsessed with the emerging church—its leaders, ideas, methods, and deficiencies.

My intent here is not to rehash the history. Others have done that better and with more details. My intent it to address the impact.

At the beginning, for many the emerging church was a collection of reformers asking questions after the rise of the big boomer …

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