Emerging Issues for the Emerging Church -- By: James King

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 09:2 (Fall 2005)
Article: Emerging Issues for the Emerging Church
Author: James King

Emerging Issues for the Emerging Church1

James King

Professor of Missions
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

The Issue

America is in the midst of a massive change in cultural norms and worldviews. While this is not a new phenomenon in the history of our nation, it does create a sense of unsettledness within various institutions and organizations. The things which were once held as absolutes are now being called into question. The old moorings are shifting, and many feel very much adrift in a sea of uncertainty. Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey present results from a demographic study concerning shifting American worldviews:

American Demographics magazine, summarizing a demographic study done in 1997, noted that there has been “a comprehensive shift in values, worldviews, and ways of life” that so far affects about one-fourth of American adults; but this is the New Class, or what the article called the “Cultural Creatives.” They embrace a new “Trans-modernist” set of values, including “environmentalism, feminism, global issues, and spiritual searching.” They often have a background in movements for social justice, civil rights, feminism, and New Age spirituality. Thoroughly postmodernist, they are skeptical, if not resentful, of moral absolutes. They “see nature as sacred” and emphasize self-actualization and spiritual growth. But they tend to be antihierarchical and embrace a public philosophy that is decentralized, democratic, and egalitarian.

This new world view is emerging against the backdrop of two already existing world views, the study noted. The first is Traditionalism held by 29 percent of adults, labeled “Heartlanders.” They are often “country folks,” holding to “a nostalgic image of small towns and strong churches.”

The other existing worldview is “Modernism,” held by 47 percent of adults. They value technological progress and material success, and they tend to be politicians, military leaders, scientists, and business-people. They are pragmatic, comfortable with the economic establishment, and less concerned with ideology and social issues.

Most significant, however, are the demographic projections. According to this study, the number of Traditionalist and Modernists is in decline. The average age of Traditionalist, for example, is fifty-three, and they are dying faster than they are being replaced. By contrast, individuals in the fast-growing Cultural Creatives group tend to be young, well educated, affluent, and assertive. (Interestingly, six out of ten are women.) They are on the cutting edge of social chang...

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