Seeker Church vs. Emerging Church

Kyle posted some comments/questions about my Launch Conference notes that I think deserve being addressed.

First of all, I need to confess that I definitely don't have all the answers. I never have and I don't think I ever will.

I'm drawn to the postmodern/emerging/incarnational approach to ministry. And I wish I could say I was 100% there because I think that this movement really is meeting the needs of people in my generation.

At the same time, I've begun to discover that there's still value in some of the older approaches to ministry (funny--by older, I mean 25 years...). There are millions of people in this country who would get a little freaked out by the idea of becoming part of an "intentional community." I, personally, understand the value of that kind of community, but for many people when someone says "Community," what they hear is "Commune."

Anyway, I say this because over the last year or so I've realized that it's not that "seeker" is "out" and "emerging" is "in." Both are "in," depending on the context and the culture that a particular church is trying to reach. Heck, even old-school, mainline, traditional is "in" for some people.

So, let me address Kyle's comments/questions:

1. Yes, the Launch Conference definitely came from a "purpose-driven, seeker-attractive" perspective. In fact, Nelson Searcy was open about the fact that he used to work at Saddleback with Rick Warren and continues to use the purpose-driven aproach with The Journey Church.

2. I, personally, am not planning on planting a church in Northern Kentucky. I am considering planting a church in another metropolitan area in another part of the country. But that's still up in the air. I'm also in talks with an established church. I had three reasons for attending the conference: 1) Learn about church-planting (in case that's what I do), 2) learn some things that will hopefully be transferable to an established church situation (in case that's what I do), and 3) get some clarity on whether or not I'm called to church-planting (which I'm still wrestling with).

3. It's true that there will probably be a different kind of spirituality in a "seeker" type of church than in an "intentional community" kind of church. But I think one of the reasons is because of the people that each type of church attracts. Regardless of what you believe, "intentional community" kinds of churches attract a certain kind of person. Likewise, "seeker" kinds of churches attract a different kind of person. And regarding a "core" vs. a "launch team," one of my upcoming posts will explain why they suggest going with a launch team rather than a core.

Like I said, I'm still on a journey. I'm still trying to figure things out. And I think that's why I still like the word "stretchychurch." The church fits all kinds--emerging, seeker, traditional, mainline, protestant, Catholic, conservative, liberal, fundamentalist, evangelical, etc., etc., etc.

The question isn't, "Are they doing it right?" The question is, "Are they helping people become followers of Jesus?"


steve-o said...


I've been reading your post on the Launch conference sorta laughing to myself. I ordered the book on Amazon and read it in a couple of days last week. Looks like the guys just made the book into a conference. Could've saved you the trip, but it was probably worth it. NYC rocks.

As someone in the trenches now, allow me to say a few words about these three points:

1) Of course, the Journey guys are advocating a "seeker-type" approach to planting right now. Who isn't now adays? I bought Launch because the cover seemed to imply theirs was a different approach. It wasn't; it just like all the other ones, focused on the launch. Ironically, some of our country's most influential churches weren't started this way.

2) There's no need to defend where you want to start the church, even if it's in Northern Kentucky. There's always room for another church in a community. If you look at the number of churches closing their doors everyday, we're still way behind numerically. Sure, I'm inclined to think that some locations are more needy than others, but I'm just satisfied that people are willing to begin new works.

3) No matter how much you desire to rage against the machine and be "organic," you'll always use certain attractional aspects in your new community. You can pretend you don't, but you do. So why bother with putting a label on your work? Just be the pastor that God has called you to be and He'll provide you with what you need.

In our endeavor, I've discovered that their are endless ways in which to start a church. I've found mine. You'll find yours.

Markus Watson said...

Steve, re: your bottom line: Amen!

DGH said...

Yeah i still agree with Jason Clark, Bryan McLaren, etc... about their ideas of "deep church".....church is so much bigger than just this way of being or that way of being...it is larger and more complex than anyone gives it credit...and therefore there is room enough for all kinds of understanding of "church"...and yours just so happens to be not as effective @ transforming lives, ha ha ha just kidding...they are al valid and all transforming lives by the help of Holy Spirit and Christ centered Kindgom community!

Markus Watson said...

You're a punk, D.G.!! ;-)

DGH said...

I am what I eat! no wait...I mena..uh...well....crap!

Kyle said...

Thanks, Markus, I appreciate your responses. I think we do have to be honest that there are different "paradigms" that continue to flourish in this culture for good or for ill, and that no matter how much I'd like to sound the death knell on "seeker sensitive" stuff, that's getting pretty far ahead of what's really going on.

I think you're dead on: as long as we're saying this -

The question isn't, "Are they doing it right?" The question is, "Are they helping people become followers of Jesus?"

- we're going to be alright.

Cheers, good presbyter. Have you checked out the "thinspace" get-together?

Johnny said...

Hey. I love the blog. I'm a pastor/planter of a new church in Independence KY (close to you) and we are having some of these same conversations about our mission and old models of church starting- its been a real struggle for us to try to be organic to our community, to think missionally, and to make a place for people who are considering faith. Coffee? email me...

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