The Emerging/Emergent Church MovementIn defense of the Motion to Investigate the Emerging/Emergent Movement
Presented by Roger Moran to the SBC Executive Committee on February 20, 2007
One of the most dangerous and deceptive movements to infiltrate the
ranks of Southern Baptist life has been the emerging/emergent church
Not since the stealth tactics of the CBF have we seen a movement
operate so successfully below the radar of the rank and file Southern
Marked by their use of alcohol, their commitment to theological
ambiguity and their embrace of religious rituals steeped in eastern
mysticism, this movement has made its greatest inroads in the area of
“church planting.” And we are now beginning to see the evidence of
what’s to come.
In my home state, the Missouri Baptist Convention is on the brink of
a near civil war—and at the heart of our struggle has been the blatant
dishonesty of those who are determined that Missouri Baptists will
embrace this new postmodern approach to ministry.
The most recent evidence of the clash in Missouri came on January
28th when on the front page of the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post
Dispatch there appeared this article, titled: “Beer and the Bible—It
works for one growing St. Louis church but its got Missouri Baptists
The story is about one of our new churches in St. Louis called the
Journey, which received a $200,000 loan from the Missouri Baptist
Convention and has what the Post Dispatch called a “beer ministry” in a
local downtown bar. Another so-called ministry is the churches’ “film
night,” where secular movies are viewed and discussed—movies that are
often rated “R.”
What makes this all the more significant is that the Journey was
exalted by the top leadership of the Missouri Baptist Convention as a
model for church planting and its pastor is hailed as a modern-day
And while this may sound like a local church issue or a state
convention issue—it is not. It is a critically important issue facing
the entire Southern Baptist Convention.
The pastor of the Journey Church is Darrin Patrick and he serves
together with Ed Stetzer from the North American Mission Board as
co-chair of NAMB’s Young Leaders Task Force.
Interestingly, these two men also serve together on the board of the
Acts 29 Church Planting Network (Patrick actually serves as vice
president and Stetzer as a board member.)
The president of Acts 29 is Mark Driscoll, best known by his peers as
“Mark the cussing Pastor.” Driscoll, who claims to be theologically
conservative, pastors the non-denominational Mars Hill Church in
Seattle Wa, where this past New Year’s Eve, his church hosted a “Red
Hot Bash.” Those who attended were encouraged to dress “red hot,” and
those planning to drink were advised to bring their ID’s.
I mention Driscoll because he is scheduled to appear in chapel at
one of our seminaries, and one or our cherished professors from another
seminary will be preaching at Driscoll’s church later this year.
These “young leaders” are being hailed as the great church planters
in America and through what they call their “Acts 29 boot camp” they
are training you church planters across the SBC. But the question we
need to ask it: Exactly what kind of churches are they planting? Let me
give you a glimpse.
The pastor of one particular Acts 29 church plant in the Northwest
United States stated in an interview with the San Diego Reader.com
that: “Beer is one of our core values. We enjoy it and like to drink
it.” The article continues with an increasingly common argument among
young emergents: “We want to go where people are. We don’t expect
people to come to us. In [Pacific Beach], people are at the bars,
parties, and drinking beer, so this is where we go.”
But it actually gets much more serious. On of our new pro-alcohol
emerging church plants in Springfield, MO recently offered to those
making a contribution to their church a copy of Brian McLaren, the
undisputed leader of the far-left wing of the emerging church movement.
McLaren is best known for his statements calling for a 5 to 10 year
“moratorium” on any “pronouncements” against homosexuality and his
statement rejecting the substitutionary atonement of Christ.
On the website of this new church plant in Missouri, the pastor
bashes the name “Christian” stating that he doesn’t want to become
“known as a bad tipper, judgmental jerk, or a nationalist warmonger.”
He concludes by stating:
By that token, I believe Jesus would be a terrible Christian. I
wouldn’t be surprised one bit if he chose never to show up in church on
Sunday, or had a beer at a frat party, or frequented a gay bookstore.
And you know what the Christians would say? “This man doesn’t honor the
Sabbath” or “This man hands out with sinners.”
In Missouri, most of our people have no idea what emerging or
emergent means. But they do understand the implications of the “CBF.”
And what I have found is that the left and right wings of the emerging
church movement and the left and right wings of the CBF are mirrored
images of each other.
In fact, leaders within the CBF are now saying that the
emerging/emergent movement is a great fit for the CBF—and the CBF is
currently building relationships with the emergent movement. CBF is now
developing four web pages on teir website devoted to the
One CBF leader, a church planter from Atlanta named Jake Meyers, has
noted the best way to describe the emerging church movement is “beer,
candles, and theologian Soren Kierkegaard.” (Translated that means:
Beer; ancient and mystical rituals; and an openness to theological
Interestingly, this CBF leader (Jake Meyers) serves on the coordinating
group of Emergent Village, the far-left wing of the emerging church
movement where Brian McLaren serves as chairman of the board. According
to Emergent Village, they have everything from a Texas Baptists pastor
to a New England lesbian Episcopal priest.
Serving on the board of Emergent Village is Chris Seay, an emerging
church planter from Houston, Texas who was one of the featured speakers
at the Younger Leaders Summit in Nashville, hosted by Lifeway’s Jimmy
Draper in 2005 and by 2006 was led by NAMB’s Ed Stetzer.
And while I am certainly perplexed as to why a board member of
Emergent Village was a featured speaker at our Younger Leaders Summit,
I am equally concerned about the particular group of younger leaders we
seem to be pursuing for leadership positions in the SBC.
For withing this group of young SBC leaders, are: those who strongly
oppose the SBC’s long standing position on alcohol; and those who now
want us to move toward embracing the charismatic practice of speaking
in tongues; and those who are now telling us that CBF really wasn’t
much of a problem; and those who are now calling for a “revolution” to
move the SBC back to what they call the “center.”
Dr. Mohler has stated that: “The Emergent movement represents a significant challenge to biblical Christianity.”
And he’s absolutely right, but the greater immediate challenge may
be to convince certain SBC leaders to stop lending the credibility of
the SBC and its institutions to a movement that is dripping with error.
The seriousness of the emerging/emergent movement and the degree to
which it has infiltrated the SBC warrants a full and thorough
investigation. And I would argue that the investigation needs to start
at the North American Mission Board, and most specifically in the area
of church planting.
As we refer this motion to Lifeway, I would ask that the Executive
Committee express our deep and serious concern about the
emerging/emergent movement and request that Lifeway honor this request
for a full and thorough investigation.