One of the main reasons for tension concerning Emergence Christianity is competing definitions of the gospel. It may be true that “many of us grew up in a world where you talked about either salvation or social justice” but it seems many new leaders are saying “you no longer have to choose.” Small town churches then, may become emerging congregations through simply breaking modernity’s trend of holding an eschatological (eternity focused) gospel and an incarnational (hands & feet focused) gospel in polarization. The church should ideally embrace both equally.
While many churches are “discovering” the incarnational side of this, I’ve been there for a long time. And, I would argue, the United Methodist Church has been there as well. Our challenge seems to be keeping the eschatological side of this before us. If we don’t then we’re just a bunch of nice people doing nice things. This is where I’ve found Scot McKnight’s “kingdom” language helpful But I think Davis is right in saying that the goal is a more holistic approach