A funny thing happened on the way to defining a church.

14 Jul

While doing some personal research about how an emergent will learn about God I found something very interesting, comedy_and_tragedy_masksfunny, and sad. One of the sites I will frequent in an effort to learn about what is current in the Emergent Church is Solomon’s Porch.

Solomon’s Porch does not a use the word church. There I would agree. They are, as the subtitle says “A Holistic, Missional, Christian Community. Solomon’s Porch is lead by Doug Pagitt, who is by all means a leader in the emergent movement. He has written several books on the movement and is an authority, which is a contrast in the emergent community. But that is another post, article, discussion.

While navigating the Solomon’s Porch web site using their navigating drop-down list I found an entry for “What Makes a church?”. Curious, I navigated to that page. The result can be seen here.  Go ahead, do it yourself.  I don’t know if this was intentional or not. Usually a web site will have something on a page that is published to the public, so maybe this was intentional. Does the blank page represent the open-minded, broad brush,  emergent definition of church? You draw your own opinion.

In contrast I will briefly mention another web site I frequent a bit more, especially to find info about “What Makes a church.” The web site is 9Marks. They have a couple of tag lines: “Church Matters”, and “Is Your Church Reflecting Culture or Re-shaping It?” The 9 in 9Marks represents the 9 marks of a healthy local church. When I navigated to their page on what a church looks like, I found this. It is based on what is  the ultimate authority for every man, the bible.

It is not my intention to bash Doug Pagitt and Solomon’s Porch. I just found it interesting that they do not have a definition for what makes a church. It is my prayer that Doug Pagitt and Solomon’s Porch update their “What Makes a church” page using the same basis. The bible. It is how we know God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ the son and head of the church.

Some food for thought:

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:9 ESV)

1 Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out. 9 But the wise answered, saying, Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves. 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us. 12 But he answered, Truly, I say to you, I do not know you. 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria


5 responses to “A funny thing happened on the way to defining a church.

  1. Jacob Allee

    July 14, 2009 at 10:04 pm


    That is rather amusing with the blank page, lol!

    Just FYI, the Emergent Church Movement and Emergin Church Movement are technically two different things. I haven’t gone about figuring out how they define themselves differently, but from what I’ve been able to ascertain the “emerging church” is more orthodox and conservative whereas the “emergent church” is more heretical and liberal. Mark Driscoll for instance identifies with the “emerging church” not the “emergent church”. Confusing I know, but I think it’s important to recognize a distinction where one is being made.

  2. barrydean

    July 14, 2009 at 10:14 pm


    Thanks for the pickup. I did not intend to use the word emerging but my fingers typed. LOL!

  3. Doug Pagitt

    July 15, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Dude, it is a broken link, not a conspiracy. and no, there is no difference in emerging and emergent.

    And, if you don’t mind me offering a little advice I think it would be better if the link to our site was opened in another window rather than taking people away from your site, or one has to use the back button to get back to you.

  4. barrydean

    July 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm


    Thank you for responding. I am glad to know that the empty content on the Solomon’s Porch site was not intentional. I appreciate your advice on the links. You will find that the links are now opening a new page. Some folks like to just use the back button but I for the most part the new page is more convenient. I see by your link that you have a new book published. Congrats dude. I may read it. Right now I am reading “How Should We Then Live, The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture” by Francis A. Shaeffer. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend it highly. In the text he considers art in his research of the progression of Western thought

  5. Jacob Allee

    July 16, 2009 at 10:01 am


    There are those who make a very careful distinction between the two words actually. Obviously others, like yourself, who do not. I personally avoid them both because frankly the connotation of the words in connection with theology leaves a bad taste in my mouth because of most (not all) people who use them and what they are teaching. So many in this group of Emergent pastors, thinkers, etc., have abandoned truth for relativism.

    Brian McLaren in his book “The Secret Message of Jesus” attempts to redefine the gospel, reducing “born-again” to being willing to rethink the way you see the world. He denies that this is a new spiritual birth but rather a change of sight. Eternal life is not a reference to, well, life eternal, but to having the fullness of life right now. This is heretical crap!

    Now, again, I don’t pin everyone down in the Emergent movement to agreeing with McLaren, but this is by and large the kind of crap that is coming from many emergent leaders. As for me, I will stick with being a Bible believing Christian. I will not stand for reinterpreting the Bible in ways that make it more mysterious and elussive, but rather I will interpret the text in its normal grammatical and cultural context, and seek to convince my generation to do the same. We can embrace postmodernists without ourselves becoming post-modern.


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