What Do You Think Happened to the Emerging Church?

by Michael Patton

It has been years sense I have seen a book or a blog on the Emerging Church. Last week, I asked a large group of people at the Credo House both young and old, “Who has heard of the Emerging Church”? Some of the older people raised their hands and virtually none of the younger people did.

It was just about a decade ago that the evangelical world was ablaze with this issue. Blog were started with with this, thousands of articles were written about it, book publishers were looking for anyone to write on the subject, and emerging seminars were being held all over about it. Names like Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Mark Driscoll, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Pyllis Tickle, Andrew Jones (the “Tall Skinny Kiwi”) and others made their names during this era. Except for a few, none of them are heard of much (except in their own respective choirs).

Death Announced Many Years Ago

Its death was announce in the late 2000s by many. Url Scaramanga wrote an R.I.P. on the Emerging Church in 2008, Anthony Bradley wrote a “Farewell to the Emerging Church”  in 2010, Susan Gosselin writes that it was an eleven year movement, John Piper said that the emerging church “is a fading reality” in 2010, and even Tony Jones had to explain its demise back in 2013.

I wrote an obituary to the emerging church in 2009. In it a few angry emerger told me to rethink my position and to consider the emerging conferences that are still going on and the works of the emergers that still have growing influence. I did not see it then, and I don’t see it now.

One thing is for sure, at least the “name” emerging church is no longer a threat to conservative evangelicals and no one is publishing anymore about it. This is to say that the emerging church as a “movement” has passed.

Why is that? What happened to the emerging church? Let me give you a few reasons why I think it has passed…


What Do You Think Happened to the Emerging Church?