Friday, July 18, 2008

...the latest trend in the emerging/emergent culturally irrelevant church growth movement

Top ten signs that you are visiting
a Submerging Church:

10.) The usher asks if you prefer the smoking or non-smoking section
9.) Regular attendees earn cash bonus points to local brewery
8.) Sunday School has been replaced by contemplative-walk-abouts
7.) Baptismal tank has a wave-maker machine
6.) Fifty dollar cover charge at the door (featuring open bar and local dance band - woman must wear red)
5.) Pew Bibles are The Message
4.) Sign out front has latest pastors name written with dry erase markers
3.) Chris Rock humor from pulpit mandatory to be considered missional
2.) Worship team performs their favorite Zeplin medley; altar call is "Stairway to Heaven."
1.) Banner across front of sanctuary reads, "Today's Worship Service Brought to You by Chevrolet."


Jeremy Weaver said...

How about, sign out front reads 'Special Guest Speaker Today, Bob the Tomato.'

Carol said...

This is hysterical.
It's nice to know other Christians who God gave a sense of humor to.

Good luck with the blog!

Andrew said...

LOL! Thanks for the good laugh.

Jeremy Weaver said...

You hear more than once, "Anyone got a song to sing?"

The title of the Hymnbook is "The Mull's Singing Convention, volume 98"

The number of baptisms for the year is 25 more than members on the roll.

jc said...

Sled Dog,
What's a wavemaker?

Sam H. said...

Bro. Steve,
funny--but also somewhat sad--was at a "church" one time--they opened with Kansas "Carry On My Wayward Son", and used "Stairway To Heaven" as the bumper music for the teaching elder's message. He referenced it as he preached a gospel message entitled--you guessed it--"God's Stairway to Heaven."

Like the blog...

littlegal_66 said...

Boy, this kind of post is right up my alley! I held off my comments, because I was hoping there would be some others who would add to the list, in addition to Jeremy. (By the way, Jeremy, Bob the Tomato can't make appearances in churches, as his schedule is full due to he and Larry the Cucumber's appearances at "Purity Dairies Faith Nights" at the Nashville Sounds' baseball games)."

Anyway, since no one else volunteered any items for the list, I came up with ten more. What do you think?


10. Pews replaced by individual Lazy-Boy recliners, complete with heated shiatsu massage.

9. TiVo's installed in sanctuary allow you to pause the minister and his sermon, so you may view it later, at your own pace.

8. Overflow wings equipped with treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical trainers, aerobics instructor, and closed circuit television, so you can fit in a quick workout during praise and worship time.

7. New attraction in parking lot features a simulated virtual reality ride with Elijah on his chariot.

6. Stained glass windows replaced by bank drive-up windows, so you can deposit your offerings directly into the church's account.

5. For $50, you can pre-order an internet webcast of the Easter Musical, and view it without leaving the comfort of your home.

4. In conjunction with a 12-week sermon series on discipleship, the first 100 people in attendance receive a free promotional bobble-head of one of the 12 disciples.............collect them all!!

3. Timer installed at sound booth automatically shuts down the sound system at 12:01 p.m.

2. Tithe payments can be set up on a convenient monthly bank draft--sign up now, and get your first two months free.

1. Visitor's packet includes coupon for 20% off your first counseling session with a member of the ministerial staff.

Also, I wanted to make a suggestion on the $20 cover charge. How about: $20 cover charge gets you in the door, but communion elements are extra.


Tak178 said...


I know this was supposed to be amusing and funny, but I have to say this about The Message.

When did this become a "Bible" that is acceptable for worship? My church uses Dr. Petersen's translation from time to time, but it's not a Bible. Why do people persist in using a study guide as an official version?

I don't know how many conversations I have had with my pastor, my brothers and sisters in the church. It really is insidious, and people don't understand what they are inviting into the house of God.

Should I translate the Bible myself and sell it to the highest bidder too? I can regale them with other versions that were translated by one person:

Joseph Smith Version
New World Translation

Ring a bell, anyone?


SJ Camp said...

You are making my point precisely. That is why I chose The Message as their pew Bible, because in reality, it is not a Bible at all. It is a running stream of consciousness by Peterson.

I was speaking tongue in cheek. :-).

Deb_B said...

" you can fit in a quick workout during praise and worship time."

Well, come to think of it, littlegal, you'd probably need the workout somewhere like Lakeland after 3 hours plus of hypnotic "praise and worship" ... if only to keep you from throwing a clot after all the sedentary hypnosis.

[::tongue planted firmly in cheek, but of course::]

Deb_B said...

WoW, SJC, with my newly prescribed (and delivered) reading glasses, I just discovered there's a little trashcan after all my posts so I can delete them if I need to, I never realized that, go figure. Really.

How blind can you be, eh? I knew I was overdue for an eye exam ... But, as usual, I digress.

So THAT's what kept me from being able to read the pew Bible and thusly submerging with my fellow pew mates. Hmmmm ... there must be some redeeming spirituality to be found if I likewise reschedule my dental check-up as well (like maybe for 5-10 years hence).

After all, bottles and pacifiers don't require healthy teeth anyway ... but what IS that stuff the submerging church is putting in my ba-ba? If I had an inquiring mind, I'd want to know, but I'm a proud submergent, a mindless constituent ...

Carla said...

Not that your list isn't already accurate enough... but...

10.) The usher requests in a soft-spoken tone that you not call him an usher but a Transformational Gathering Coordination Facilitator.

9.) Regular attendees earn Frequent Spiritual Journey points to be cashed in at the local new age/mystic/religious book store, for terrific discounts on all the hottest selling titles.

8.) Sunday School has been replaced by an open Hookah Bar/Breath Prayer Hour. Oxygen tanks on standby for both events.

7.) Baptismal tank has an optional Surfer Dude setting.

6.) Fifty dollar cover charge at the door (featuring open bar and local dance band - women must wear red - men must wear a goatee and express emo poster boy expressions at all times).

5.) Pew Bibles are The Message, but are entirely optional since the message for you may not be the message for me and truth cannot be defined in such a constrictive, narrow way. Multi-colored crayons are supplied for crossing out all the verses and passages you don't like.

4.) Sign out front has latest pastors name written with dry erase markers (and this week she's preaching from Titus 2 and it's being youtubed!)

3.) Chris Rock humor from pulpit mandatory to be considered missional. If you don't get the humor, you'll be humiliated and mocked (humbly, of course) publicly by the pastor until you give up and become one with your inner foul-mouth.

2.) Worship team performs their favorite U2 medley; altar call is a performance art piece with travelling Eastern Mystic dancers doing their interpretation of Habakuk. (Dancers are available for hire for your next event, please see the notice in the foyer).

1.) Banner across front of sanctuary reads, "Today's Oozing Spiritual Experience Brought to You by His Essence Jesus Scented Candles."


Tak178 said...


I know it was meant tongue in cheek. :)

I just really get frustrated when people refuse to see that the translation of one man is even usable in this way.

Deb_B said...

"...and this week she's preaching from Titus 2 and it's being youtubed!"

Oh, MY! That's positively vaporous, almost ethereally nonexistent! Goodie, another vat of nothingness to submerge in this week!

Is this a preview of this week's forthcoming submergent message:

Oooooh, the vapors, I got the vapors. Sister Carla, where did you say that oxygen tank/mask are stored? You have a sister in need over here. Could you bring me my pacifier with the dose of oxygen ... cause I'm hyper-ventilating really, really bad after sister Maricopa what's-her-name's YouTube blessing.

Jud & Amber Epting said...

someone needs to make an emergent road atlas. Each page would be blank and have a spinning arrow anchored into the center of the page.

rosemarie said...

I think the #1 sign your church is submerging should be that your pastor was purchased from eBay. Even if he comes with a PayPal hassle free purchase agreement. No, I am not kidding. The link to his ad is on my blog.

Robert Minto said...

Very funny! But I have to admit my laughter was bitter and sad, because ultimately this post was very depressing... Thankyou.

Deb_B said...

Somebody see if this fine fellow is available as the opening obligatory act for our submergent church's Titus Two message. He's wonderful at leading self-aggrandizement and self-esteem choruses and it'd polish off the whole You-Tube presentation!

Must see:

Brian said...

I go to an Acts 29 church that doesn't practice anything close to this.

Seriously, generalizing the movement doesn't do anything other than promote narrowmindedness towards it. Your critiques are meaningless because they miss a lot of those who consider themselves as a part of this movement. I've been to a SBC church that used the message, but my church Acts 29 church uses the ESV and preaches expository sermons.

I know it was supposed to be humorous, but generally it's good taste to keep your humor aimed at your own people.

Brian said...

*sbc church that used the message for a sermon on job*

Brian said...

*sermon series on job*

my bad

PuritanReformed said...


I guess somebody has a guilty conscience here. I didn't see Acts29 churches mentioned here, did you?

Deb_B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deb_B said...

"I know it was supposed to be humorous, but generally it's good taste to keep your humor aimed at your own people."

Actually, it was satire I was aiming for, with a wry twist. Frankly, given the overwhelming plethora of examples recent research has uncovered, it's difficult not to occasionally let satire out itself for a bit of respite.

It seems to be offensive to you and to have perhaps likewise angered you.

However, since you bring "Acts 29" up, if SJC gives it his okay since it is of course his blog thread, let us have a systematic theological discussion on Acts 29.

Here is the presupposition I bring to the discussion, should it come to fruition here: I believe Scripture, including the Acts 29 passages to which you allude, must be interpreted in its own light, always in prayerful consideration with God, the Holy Spirit's understanding. Which is to say, Scripture interprets Scripture. That is, "what sayeth" the contextual, accumulative evidences of the entirety of Scripture.

Psalm 36: "For with Thee is the fount of life; in Thy light we see light."

Again, assuming SJC gives his okay, since you broached Acts 29, why don't you begin the discussion and I'll respond according.

Deb_B said...

Brian, a more serious issue here you raise, methinks:

"'s good taste to keep your humor aimed at your own people.

What? "Is Christ divided?" 1 Corin 1:13

I owe allegiance to my Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed in the canon of Scripture.

Words have power and meaning, often far beyond what we may have originally intended, particularly in this medium.

Hmmmm ... the use of that single phrase may be more telling with grave implications, I do so fear, by far, than our use of satire and humor in this thread. THAT is disturbing to me, deeply so.

I shall await further clarification from you.

In closing, my previous post regarding an Acts 29 discussion still stands, SJC permitting of course.

Deb_B said...


Really, now, what upsets you so much? Please pardon my satire on the mythical "Acts 29". I should seriously be glad to engage you in a systematic theological discussion regarding why you find this so thread so terribly offensive.

Have we attacked you or your Church home?

Come on, if we're one Body in Christ as we claim to be, why can we not set aside differences and come together to seriously discuss these things as unto the Lord, for His glory?


Satire aside, forgive me if I've offended you, my brother, and let us discuss these things in the love of our Lord. Let iron sharpen iron and our Lord be glorified and exalted in all we do and say.

Brian said...

By labeling all the emerging/emergent churches together in one group, critics fail to make the distinctions necessary in order to interact meaningfully with what they find wrong in these groups. My comment wasn't aimed at Deb but at Steve. It was a comment on the blog post. I hadn't even read the other comments.


I guess somebody has a guilty conscience here. I didn't see Acts29 churches mentioned here, did you?

Acts 29 churches are underneath this category of emergent churches. That's why Steve did a debate with Derrin Patrick on the radio recently, right?

And I'm not offended. If Steve has a point to make, he needs to do it without such egregious straw-man argumentation. That's what Arminians do to us Reformed folk and it drives us crazy.

I like Steve, and I like this blog. But being a person who attends a church which is a part of the emergent church movement, reading his blog only shows me his ignorance of what actually goes on within emergent churches.

Deb_B said...


Thank you for your additional comments.

"...reading his blog only shows me his ignorance of what actually goes on within emergent churches.

Campi doesn't need my defense. However, Brian, I want to be absolutely clear for myself and where I personally stand in the matter: what I've personally heard and seen of the emergent movement is a watered-down, broad way and, in several cases, profane presentation of what's left after you gut the Biblical Gospel truth of the most offensive [to the carnal mind] parts.

What I am NOT saying: I'm not saying that is the case in your particular church, Brian.

As Galations 5:9 tells us, it doesn't take much leaven to leaven the whole lump. I'm an avid bread baker. I often choose to bake my sourdough breads with only a wild yeast starter. Some of my starters leaven the dough faster than others.

However, it doesn't matter whether one starter leavens the dough in 6-8 hours, while another of my starters may take 24 hours or so, it all eventually leavens the dough, Brian.

An error, be it large or small, in the foundational tenets of the Gospel truth will eventually corrupt more broadly if left unchecked and not weighed against the balance of Scripture. God's written word is the only absolute truth we have against which to measure all things, you know this, my brother.

SJ Camp said...

What church do you attend in Alton?

I am quite familiar with the emerging and emergent church movements and have spoken to a few of its leadership as well. I have read most everything the movement has produced in books; and have listened to many sermons and interviews as well.

This list is not a straw-man; but generated from real elements within the emerging movement (wave maker machine the exception :-).)

Also, in regards to ACTS 29, though I didn't mention it and it was not included in this parody, it is still part of the emerging church movement. It is pragmatic in nature, inflated in its stats and claims, and is me thinks an attempt by Driscoll to elevate his persona and self-importance within evangelicalism.

Brian said...

Hey Steve,

Thanks for your reply. I'll state up fron that I've never heard Driscoll preach and I'm definitely not a fan of cussing in the pulpit: I sure don't when I get to preach!

I go to The Journey in STL. I thought how curious it was that you debated Derrin last season when I've read your blog for years and I attend his church. I honestly find it hard to see what the fuss is about!

I know that McLaren and folks are ridiculous, but there are lots of Acts 29 churches, all that fall under the 'emerging' movement, that have very orthodox theology and practice. If you came to The Journey, you'd be greeted with a bulletin, worship (hymns and contemporary), brief announcements, scripture reading, communion, and one last hymn. I went to a Plymouth Brethren church at university that had exactly the same service.

My point is that you can't lump all these churches under one name "emerging/ent" and then expect to critique all of them fairly. Some are ridiculous and resemble nothing of true Christianity. Some are full of genuine converts reaching people through Christ centered evangelism.

Lastly, at worst Acts 29 is Driscoll's attempt at self importance. I can't refute that because I would have to know his intentions. I do know that at the two Acts 29 churches I have visited, it's a group of genuine Christians dedicated to church planting in order to see souls saved through the preaching of the Gospel.

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