Phyllis Tickle – Beyond Denominations, the Hyphenated Church
If scholars are right—or even in the ballpark– by 2050, emergence Christianity will be the largest group among church cultures, says Phyllis Tickle in an interview with ThinkFwd host, Spencer Burke. That means larger than any particular denomination, and this change is occurring fast. Phyllis says she became aware of the “emergence church” only about two years ago, and the phenomena of emergence-, emergent-, emerging-church has only been around about four years. But Tickle believes that traditional churches have only about 18 months before the window of opportunity to reach out to emergence churches changes into a door of urgent, mandatory response to the changing paradigm of church as we know it.
The emergence churches that are coming out of the various protestant denominations are called “hyphenated” churches: Presby-mergence, Bapti-mergence; Luther-mergence, etc. Phyllis recently participated in the first gathering of hyphenated church leaders, who came together to worship and share experiences and then broke off into their own denominational/emergence groups.
Tickle is asking—what will be the interface between the emergence and the traditional? How will they come together, or will they, can they or even should they?
She likens the interaction—which, granted, has great tension at times—to the Biblical churches of Jerusalem and Antioch. The Jerusalem church is like the traditional denominations, and they wrestle with the emerging church in Antioch—sending scouts to check it out, to see what it’s about, and to ultimately extend a hand of faith and support to them.
Protestantism brought universal literacy, along with the divisiveness of split upon split within denomination. What gifts will emergence Christianity bring to the faith? Spencer and Phyllis agree that it remains to be seen and they’d like to meet up in five years and see how the hyphenated churches have grown and developed, and how they’ve interfaced with their traditional roots.
- How can I learn from the beauty of multiple points of view and traditions, while retaining the best of my own?
- If the hyphenated church is the latest emergence in the west, how do you think an emergence of eastern, southern, African Christianity could influence your future outlook?
Small Group or Staff Questions:
- How could we approach the church “beyond denomination” or a hyphenated church, if we are likened to the churches in Jerusalem and Antioch?
- If we have an 18-month window of opportunity, how can we bring out the best of our tradition AND support the emergence of the hyphenated church?