This summer I did a lot of reading about the "emerging church" movement. I'm so encouraged by what I've been learning about it. For the most part the leaders are younger Christians who are passionate about the gospel and who are tired of the consumerism of much of the megachurch movement. Here are some themes that kept popping up: 1. A focus on beauty--in art, in nature, in humanity. 2. A focus on "the kingdom of God" rather than just on atonement. There is an emphasis on the life of Jesus (as well on as his death) and on God's larger purposes in Christ (as hinted at in Genesis 1-2). 3. A focus on community--truly entering one another's lives toward healing and holiness. 4. A focus on mission and witness--rejecting the consumerism ("Here's how we can serve all your needs") so common in megachurches. 5. A focus on justice--living right with the poor, with other nations, and with the environment. 6. A focus on simplicity. One of the leaders said a better name than "emerging church" might be "the organic church." Want to know more? You might want to start with Dan Kimball's THE EMERGING CHURCH. Mike Yaconelli's STORIES OF EMERGENCE and Robert Webber's THE YOUNGER EVANGELICALS will inspire you. And don't miss out on their guru, Brian McLaren. Start with A NEW KIND OF CHRISTIAN and THE STORY WE FIND OURSELVES IN. Then maybe move on to McLaren's MORE READY THAN YOU REALIZE (a great book on "evangelism as dance in the postmodern matrix"). For helpful websites, check out Emerging Village, Ecclesia Church, The Ooze, and Dan Kimball's Vintage Faith.