Commentary by Roger Oakland


Dan Kimball is the author of The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations and founder of a church called Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California. Kimball made the following statement in the introduction of his book:

I believe with all my heart that this discussion about the fast-changing culture and the emerging church must take place. While many of us have been preparing sermons and keeping busy with the internal affairs of our churches, something alarming has been happening on the outside. What once was a Christian nation with a Judeo-Christian worldview is quickly becoming a post Christian, unchurched, unreached nation. New generations are arising all around us without any Christian influence. So we must rethink virtually everything we are doing in our ministries. [1]

It is a fact that the spiritual climate has changed radically over the past few years just as Dan Kimball has stated. Kimball used the term “post-Christian era” to describe the days in which we are living. He sincerely believes that the Emerging Church and the experiences it provides will be the best way to reach the postmodern generation driven by experience.

One of the arguments for promoting the Emerging Church in the post-modern era goes something like this: while the seeker-friendly era was successful in bringing a generation of “baby-boomers” to Jesus, that time is past. Now we need to find new innovative methods that will reach the present generation for Jesus.

Michael Slaughter, in his book Unlearning Church: Just When You Thought You Had Leadership All Figured Out describes the move away from the seeker-friendly-non-offensive style of Christianity towards a mystical-experiential brand in the following way: 

In the seeker age, the church tried to make its teachings and its services more user-friendly, practical, and accessible, and to market them to the un-churched. In the post-seeker age Future Churches are not as concerned with marketing services for unbelievers or entertaining believers as they are in ushering people, believers and unbelievers alike, into the presence of God. Intentionally, they do not water down their teachings or ratchet down the intensity of the service to make it more appealing to unbelievers. [2]

In order to “appeal to believers and unbelievers” and “usher them into the “presence of God” a number of innovative ideas are being promoted by Emerging Church leaders. Kimball devotes a portion of his book to these ideas, some of which include the following: “Overcoming the Fear of Multi-sensory Worship and Teaching” [3] “Creating Experiential Multi-sensory Worship Gatherings” [4]

Note the emphasis on “multi-sensory. What does that mean?

One thing is for sure. You won’t find it described in the Bible.

The Emerging Church has swept around the world like a tsunami and continues to bash the shores of every continent. While some have tried to change the terms (emerging, progressive, authentic, etc.), nothing has changed about the beliefs behind this emergent spirituality. On May 21, 2006, Pastor Chuck Smith, concerned that the Emerging Church was invading Calvary Chapel, sent out a “Parson to Parsons” letter to all pastors in the Calvary Chapel Movement stating that Calvary Chapel would not be embracing the Emerging Church. Not only that, he invited any pastor who embraced the movement to leave the fellowship. This letter, which is no longer available on the Calvary Chapel web site, is available at the following link:


There is now evidence that Chuck Smith’s edict sent out in 2006 fell on deaf ears. For example, “Creationfest”, a Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa sponsored event held each year in the UK, promoted “strobe-light” worship, an Emerging Church technique, in the summer of 2012 at Cornwall England. Please see evidence below:


So will the new generation of Calvary Chapel leaders, seeking after new innovative methods to reach the postmodern generation, defy Chuck Smith and follow the teachings of the Emerging Church using Emerging Church multisensory experiences to manipulate young people into believing they are getting closer to God?  

Time will tell, but for now, unless something is done soon, there seems to be evidence this is the direction that at least part of the movement could be headed.

I am Roger Oakland. This has been a biblical perspective to help understand the times.


[1] Dan Kimball, pages 13-14.

[2] Michael Slaughter, Unlearning Church: Just When You Thought You Had Leadership All Figured Out, p. 38-39

[3] Dan Kimball p. 127

[4] Ibid p. 155