ere's a snippet from a footnote in a chapter I've been writing for an upcoming book. Read it and talk amongst yourselves:
ne genuine contribution the [Emerging Church Movement(ECM)] has made is in its analysis of the many failures of the contemporary evangelical mainstream. The ECM critique of the evangelical movement is for the most part right on targetespecially when Emerging critics decry contemporary evangelicals' infatuation with everything frivolous, superficial, and self-centered. As a matter of fact, one major catalyst that seems to be propelling young people into the ECM is their loathing for the unbridled shallowness and self-absorption of modern evangelicalism. The publisher's ad copy for Russell Rathburn's Post-Rapture Radio (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005) expresses a typical sentiment: "Frustrated with the shallowness of the American Evangelical Movement of the past few decades, and seeing that many of his friends wanted to have nothing to do with Christianity, Russell . . . decided to create a church that his friends would want to come to."
Rathburn and friends are absolutely right in their negative assessment of contemporary evangelicalism; but their solution could hardly be more wrong-headed. Redesigning the church to suit one's own cultural or generational preferences (as opposed to seeking a biblical approach to church order) is the very thing that caused the evangelical movement to run aground in the first place. It has already bred a completely differentand perhaps more dangerouskind of superficiality in the ECM, too.