The "emerging church," a late 20th-century movement, has roots in both mainline and evangelical circles. While the movement is not well defined, it tends to refer to churches begun by young pastors in urban settings; these churches may be fairly traditional in terms of theology, but progressive in style of ministry and on social issues. Emerging churches are comfortable experimenting with a wide variety of Christian traditions and practices, and attempt to engage the larger context of progressive Christianity with creative reform, reconstructing the faith in ways that they hope will appeal to changing expectations of the 21st century. Many emerging churches may reside within a denomination, but freely work with other denominations.
This ecumenical attitude stems from a post-World War II willingness to cooperate in common endeavors. In 1950 the National Council of Churches was founded. Made up of thirty-five Christian denominations, they sponsored the revised the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. They also provide money for development and disaster relief around the world. A similar organization, the World Council of Churches, operates on the international level. Also founded in the wake of World War II in Amsterdam, it is now headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
1. Have Protestant churches experienced growth or decline in contemporary society? Explain.
2. What American movements resisted the rise of liberal theology?
3. What is the emerging church and how is it revitalizing mainline Protestantism?