Emerging Church Debate Battled in Posters

Some are calling it the "Emerging Church Poster Wars."

A group of "PyroManiacs" bloggers recently posted a series of what they called "Motivational Posters for the Emerging Chaos" which were denounced by some as mockeries.

The posters featured several themes, each including a saying and image to go along with them.

"Relevance: Tell me what I want to hear or else shut up and go away," states one poster picturing a young man with long hair, his eyes closed, and his hands cupped over the headphones he's wearing. "Truth: It's an adventure, not an axiom. A story still unfolding, not a tale already told. The journey is what counts, not the destination. Right?" states another poster with an image of desert sand and a man lying face down after a long trail of footprints.

Mike Clawson, who describes himself as a "postmodern" Christian and pastors Via Christus Community Church – an emerging church in Yorkville, Ill. – and was surprised by how the series of posters mocks the emerging church.

"I found most of these posters rather sad (in a "I can't believe how badly he's misrepresenting us" kind of way), and some even offensive," Clawson wrote on his blog.

Staff at Relevant magazine, a bimonthly Christian publication for twentysomething Christians, criticized the PyroManiacs bloggers as "hard-line fundamentalists" who are "anti-emerging everything."

"It's so frustrating to me when people on both sides just continually take shots at each other. It just looks ridiculous to the world," said Relevant staff in a July 27 podcast. The staff further called for intergenerational dialogue to understand where the other party is coming from and denounced criticism based on assumptions.

They noted, however, that it wasn't so much the posters in particular that is the problem, but that the posters are a "reflection of the problem" of debates over the emerging church, or what some prefer to call "progressive young church."

Ken Silva, pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church in Claremont, N.H., and president of Apprising Ministries – a non-profit that specializes in apologetics rooted in orthodox Christian theology – said the core issue and what's at stake is the Gospel itself.

"It grieves me that the evangelical community by embracing this (at best) neo-orthodox movement will now find itself arguing for, and having to defend, what should have been its most basic beliefs," he commented.

Some conservative evangelicals criticize the emerging church movement for rejecting Christian orthodoxy and for its openness to alternative lifestyles.

"Tolerance: Let's celebrate our differences and diversity even though you are clearly wrong," states a poster picturing a large Dalmatian dog facing a small Chihuahua. "Apologetics: Orthodox? Heretical? Who cares? Let's find some 'common ground.'" reads another poster with a glass mug of overflowing beer.

In response, a different series of posters was posted on a blog site called Emerging Grace ( which provides a whole new outlook on postmodernism.

"Tolerance: Grace for those who are different," says one poster with a girl who has multiple piercings on her face; "Relevance: What is good news for this person?" states another poster picturing a naked man curled into a corner; "Apologetics: Live your faith. Share your life," says a poster with a black person's hand and a white person's hand embracing; "Truth: Plain and simple – Jesus is the Truth," states a poster featuring a young man holding a "One Way" traffic sign pointing upward.

Brett Kunkle, a Stand to Reason speaker committed to equipping students to make a defense of their Christian faith and values, welcomed both series of posters.

"[S]ometimes we (I mean those of us who are theologically or apologetically-minded) are so critical of the church and all of her weaknesses and failings that we forget to paint a picture of what she should look like," said Kunkle on Stand to Reason's blog. "We're good at telling people the 'no' but never the 'yes.' And in a public square where discourse is so often shrill and mean-spirited, a compelling vision of what the Church can be is profoundly refreshing."

Free CP Newsletters

Join over 250,000 others to get the top stories curated daily, plus special offers!


Most Popular

More In Church & Ministries