The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why

Baker, 2012
ISBN: 9780801013133


Every 500 years, the church cleans out its attic and has a giant rummage sale. Well, not exactly. But according to internationally renowned religion expert, Phyllis Tickle, this is an accurate summary of the church’s massive transitions over time. According to the pattern, we are living in such a time of change right now. Tickle calls it “the Great Emergence”—a time of dizzying upheaval and hopeful promise during which various sectors of today’s church swirl into a great confluence at the center.

If you long to make sense of the place in our world that the church has today—and will have in the years to come—The Great Emergence is your history lesson, your sociology experiment, and your field guide to the future. The reading and discussion guide will help you understand, internalize, and live out this extraordinary book, allowing you to bring meaningful practices into our postmodern world.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Key Features

  • Analyzes the social and cultural changes in our era and their relation to previous major paradigm shifts
  • Defines The Great Emergence and what that means for the church in our era
  • Offers a sweeping overview of church history and locates us in a moment of opportunity and challenge


  • The Great Emergence: What Is It?
    • Rummage Sales: When the Church Cleans Out Its Attic
    • Cable of Meaning: The Loss and Discovery of a Common Story
  • The Great Emergence: How Did It Come to Be?
    • The Great Reformation: A Prequel to Emergence
    • Questions of Re-formation: Darwin, Freud, and the Power of Myth
    • The Century of Emergence: Einstein, the Automobile, and the Marginalization of Grandma
  • The Great Emergence: Where Is It Going?
    • The Gathering Center: And the Many Faces of a Church Emerging
    • The Way Ahead: Mapping Fault Lines and Fusions

Praise for the Print Edition

Phyllis Tickle offers a creative and provocative overview of multiple social and cultural changes in our era, their relation to previous major paradigm shifts, and their particular impact on North American Christianity. This is an immensely important contribution to the current conversation about new and emerging forms of Christianity in a postmodern environment—and a delight to read!

—Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and primate, The Episcopal Church

It is too easy to call the emerging movement a new reformation. Why? Find parallels to the sixteenth century, and you’ve got it. It is just as easy to debunk such a theory. Why? Find absences to the Reformation, and the parallel breaks down. That is why the emerging movement has to be explained as its own thing. Phyllis Tickle does just that. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate as I’ve grown older is big theories—and that is what Phyllis gives us. Within a few pages you’ll be wondering if she’s onto something. If she is, then we’re in the eye of a storm.

Scot McKnight, Karl A. Olsson Professor in Religious Studies, North Park University

The Great Emergence offers a sweeping overview of church history and locates us in a moment of great opportunity and challenge. To some, this analysis will come as a rude awakening, and to others, as a dream coming true. My hunch is that this will be one of the most important books of the year, and will shape the conversation among a wide range of Christians for years to come.

—Brian McLaren, activist, author, and speaker

North American Christianity is presently undergoing a change every bit as radical as the Protestant Reformation, possibly even as monumental as its natal break with Judaism. And it’s right on schedule. Tickle . . . observes that Christianity is holding its semi-millennial rummage sale of ideas. With an elegance of argument and economy of description, Tickle escorts readers through the centuries of church history leading to this moment and persuasively charts the character of and possibilities for the emerging church. Don’t let this book’s brevity fool you. It is packed with keen insights about what this ‘great emergence’ is, how it came to be, and where it may be headed. Tickle issues a clear call to acknowledge the inevitability of change, discern the church’s new shape, and participate responsibly in the transformation. . . . This is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the face and future of Christianity.

Publishers Weekly

Product Details

About Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle, founding editor of the religion department at Publishers Weekly, is the author of more than two dozen books on the subject. She is frequently quoted and interviewed in such media outlets as the New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, CNN, C-SPAN, and PBS. A lector and lay Eucharistic minister in the Episcopal Church, she holds the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from both Berkeley School of Divinity at Yale University and from North Park University.


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