I’ve just finished reading Kester Brewin’s The Complex Christ: Signs of emergence in the urban church.
Where Steve Taylor’s the out of bounds church? Learning to Create a Community of Faith in a Culture of Change, and Eddie Gibbs’ and Ryan Bolger’s Emerging Churches: Creating Christian community in postmodern cultures, both give us snapshots of current experiments in how groups are expressing church, and their reasons for doing so; Kester Brewin writes about characteristics that the church will need to embrace and express. He writes not about the emerging church – a current movement – but the emergent church – church that emerges from the bottom up, not instigated from the top down; that is evolutionary, not revolutionary; that is not yet visible, nor can what it will look like be predicted. [Brewin uses ‘emergent’ in a technical, scientific sense; not to be confused with Emergent, an emerging church movement principally in the USA. While some have expressed frustration at the over-use of certain terms, the fact that different words carry different meanings for different people in different contexts shouldn’t cause us to give up on words.] Where Steve Taylor’s engagement with theory is highly accessible, while successfully avoiding the pitfall of becoming content-lite, Kester’s engagement with a wide range of disciplines requires more work on the part of the reader [this reader, at any rate]: but it is an effort that is well rewarded.
There is much that could be written in engagement with Kester’s book; but I’d much rather recommend that you get hold of a copy and read it for yourself. So I’m not going to convey the themes of the book second-hand; but I do want to reflect on certain points that have got me thinking…
The Complex Christ , church , emergence theory