Apostolic Travail
Unmasking the "Emerging Church" Divide

Emerging Church Voyeurs

voyeur3"Did you hear what she just said (from the platform)?!? K_e_w_l_!!"

"Hey man, you gotta read this new book by (fill-in name of postmodern/EC celebrity). It's rad!

"So have you decided? Are you going to Emergent or Soularize? Or hey... what about that Postmodern Ministry Summit? I hear it really kicks butt!"

By themselves, conversations like these are both common and harmless. But I fear for many people, this is as far as they will become personally engaged in the work of the emerging church. In fact, for the last 2-1/2 years, I've become increasingly concerned about the growing number of Emerging Church Voyeurs -- men and women who are fascinated with this emphasis, this paradigm, this movement -- but who persist in "watching" others instead of rolling up their sleeves and getting personally involved. In some instances, they are people who lurk anonymously around EC-related message boards. In others, they're the host of people who join book discussion groups and attend workshops and conferences, but never launch out themselves. The Emerging Church experience, for these folks, is tantalizing, titillating, and even addictive. They love this stuff! And perhaps the rest of us are more culpable in this than we realize.

If we cater to or even encourage the consumerization of all things "emerging church," then can we honestly blame people for becoming emerging church voyeurs, especially given the voyeuristic culture we live in? If you haven't read the excellent and insightful post by Jen Lemen, highlighting what she believes might be killing the emergent movement, I urge you to do so. The conversation Jen has spawned there is vitally important.

Religious and ecclesiological voyeurism is certainly nothing new. The modern-era church (especially in the last several decades) has been filled with who those in the real estate business call "lookie-loos" -- people who act like serious buyers, but really have no intention of doing so.

The emerging church needs more voyageurs, not more voyeurs! On the surface, the difference may seem incidental -- but don't be fooled! The (French) voyageur was a hearty explorer and guide (especially cir. 1650-1750), usually through unknown and unexplored territory -- a trailblazer extraordinaire!

May God therefore help us to discourage emerging church voyeurism, and instead -- empower women and men to step out and take risks and be the voyageurs that following generations will thank God for.


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i am a 'lookie loo' - my husband is a youth pastor, so i am plopped dead center in 'seekerville' and don't have a lot of control or ability to do otherwise. but inside - which is all i truly have control over i am emerging, my blog is 'emerging sideways' - and unfortunately i am a 'lurker' in the grand scheme of the 'ec' - but not forever.

i truly believe that at this time i am working toward something - something large and big (for us). a church plant that will allow all of this dialog and research i am doing/reading/lurking around to not go to waste.

if nothing ever comes from this my own personal faith and spiritual growth has been challenged and inspired by you and others who are the voyageurs. you are blazing a trail that i hope to follow in at a later time.

but i don't think either of these things are wasted or wrong. yes, there are many who are here for the 'cool factor', but it won't always be so. god's timing is just that, god's timing. until he says 'go' we will do what he's called us to do in 'seekerville'.

but the aspects of 'seekerville' that we touch are being transformed because of this discussion. we are training teens who are going to blaze trails those in 'ec' haven't even thought of because we've been allowed to lurk and crack the door of possibility for our youth.

does that make me a 'consumer'? i don't know? i do know that i'm not just a soaked up sponge sitting on the sidelines. i am squeezing myself out every week to our teens and using what i've gleened and learned.

i long to be a voyageur, with all my heart - but i know i can't voyage without my husband, that isn't what god has called 'us' to yet. so for now, and maybe forever (?) it will be my call to inspire those teens who will be the voyageurs. does it make me jealous? yes. i was born 2 generations to early for the church. but that's okay. what is burning within me is as you say 'tantalizing, titillating, and even addictive' but it's causing growth in areas of my life that i've never had before.

so please be patient with us 'lurkers' or 'voyeurs' we'll get there when god tells us to 'go'.

I think that you have really hit on something here. from american idol to the surreal world or trading spaces, we what as the action goes on somewhere else. everyone says we live in a post-secular era where religion and spirituality are making a come back, but the problem is that religion has come back as a commodity, living according to the term of the market. Could it be that the Emerging church mostly a "special effect" of the Culture? I hope not, but much of the time i wonder.

Bobbie, I think what matters most in if our hearts are in the right place. There are those who are involved in kingdom work for the wrong reasons, and others like yourself that want to be involved with something else, but their heart is in the right place of serving for now.

Bobbie, I certainly wouldn't categorize you as a "lurker" or "voyeur" -- not at all! You are a learner -- and the very name of your blog speaks to your commitment and values (I LOVE the name of your blog, btw). And in terms of "being born two generations too early for the church" -- I'd encourage you to rethink that. You are and will become EXACTLY what the church needs, and what the younger, emerging generations will need. God is most likely grooming you to become an extraordinary mentor to the trailblazers and pioneering leaders of the coming decades. This is a HIGH calling. So...keep emerging sideways! The emerging church needs you.

thank you for the encouragement!

For three years I was a shepherd in a church with seven other men. Even though I am a boomer (so were the other seven) the emergent church/culture was much more natural and comfortable for me. I attempted to initaite some movement in areas unfamilair to the others. But over time I grew tired of the dismissals statements made by the other seven men and finally submitted my resignation. I tried but didn't have the persistence, mental fortitude nor the staying power.

Now I cast my vision through my writings.

Something important to keep in mind is that most churches do not emphasize the priesthood of all believers enough to encourage the average church member to get involved.

But imagine (and it is imagining, for me) the excitement of a person who's been in a seeker church for years and years, who suddenly stumbles across this emergent movement. Wow. Who wouldn't want to hang around and find out more?

To do more right off the bat would be very, very strange for most people who have never considered themselves pastors. Also, it's easy to be attracted to the shiny-cool features of some emergent churches. Jumping in too quickly could get a lot of people going with candles and coffee but little substance.

"Also, it's easy to be attracted to the shiny-cool features of some emergent churches. Jumping in too quickly could get a lot of people going with candles and coffee but little substance.

Whoa, Justin! This is SO true.

The Church has always had its voyeurs...lol...I mean pew warming laity.

Really, though, it's hard for the average person sitting in the pew to imagine that he/she should be doing anything other than warming the aforementioned seating device. When the show is up front and limited to a few professionals, saying "everyone is a minister" rings a little hollow. I think the issue is structural more than a matter of personal laziness.

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