Leadership Network Spawns Emergent Church
Do not be deceived. The “emerging church” movement did not spontaneously erupt. It was a well-funded and well-organized movement from its very inception. It appears to have been fashioned by a handful of corporate business leaders who wished to create a counter-cultural evangelical movement. The intended purpose appears to have been identifying and recruiting potential young leaders for comprehensive indoctrination. One of the chief outcomes has been the further degradation and deconstruction of traditional Christianity.
In 1998, Mother Jones magazine ran an article about the Emergent Church as it was in the process of being formed. The July/August article by Lori Leibovich was entitled “A look inside fundamentalism’s answer to MTV: the postmodern church.” This article contains some interesting factual material about the 1990s history of this movement. Keep in mind that this article comes from the political Left and therefore it mistakenly (and ludicrously) lumps the emerging Emergents in with fundamentalists.
The author visited Mars Hill Fellowship,
“a self-described ‘postmodern ministry’ founded in 1996 by 27-year-old Mark Driscoll. It is one of approximately 150 such ministries that have sprouted up around the country since 1992 designed to do nothing less than rescue a generation from an un-Christian fate.”
The Mother Jones article continues with an interesting description of the early Emergent Church, calling them “postmoderns.” The author then notes that the “postmoderns' relationship with the baby boomer megachurch movement. . . is somewhat like a young adult desperate to be independent from Mom and Dad—but still relying on them for rent.”
The author then details who is paying the “rent” :
“Postmoderns receive crucial support—financial and otherwise—from the megachurches. These postmodern ministries are loosely organized by the Leadership Network, a Dallas-based umbrella group for many of the nation's megachurches. It's the Leadership Network that keeps Driscoll's bohemian Mars Hill ministry in touch with the fast-growing, but more traditional, University Baptist Church in Waco by holding conferences and seminars. For the past three years the network has sponsored national conferences that bring together postmodern leaders. The first one attracted nearly 300, the second 500, and the next one, this fall in New Mexico, is expected to draw 1,000.
“The network also helps arrange necessary seed money, for example, setting up key contributions from megachurches for the University Baptist ministry in Waco. ‘We target young, innovative ministries because they are the future of the church,’ says Doug Pagitt, 31, of the Leadership Network.
“So what's in it for the megachurches? Reaching a new generation, says Pagitt. Eventually, churches like Mars Hill will continue their growth and splinter, with younger leaders taking over the job of ministering to twentysomethings. Ideally, this pattern will continue over and over again. . . .” [http://tinyurl.com/cdpfa] [All emphases added]
This piece of information is particularly interesting because of the extensive influence of Bob Buford and his Leadership Network. Buford was mentored by business guru Peter Drucker. Buford is one of the leading “change agents” transforming the church by bringing in the psycho-social business philosophies and practices of the corporate world. Buford’s Leadership Network was Peter Drucker’s main outreach into the “private sector,” that important third leg of Drucker’s societal stool which needed “transformation.” Through the active involvement of mega-church leaders such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels, the Leadership Network gained widespread respectability and influence.
Additional in-depth information on the Emergent Church can be found at http://www.emergentno.blogspot.com/ (particularly the post on January 16, which relates more information about Mark Driscoll), and http://apprising.org/, which contains a number of well-written articles critiquing the movement theologically.
“There is a generation that is pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Proverbs 30:12)
More documentation on this topic tomorrow!