It's not hard to mock the Emergent Church. By now, this blog post has achieved something like iconic status among Emergent's detractors.
(For the record, I am a white male from the English speaking world who can say "non-Foundationalism" without sneering. But I can also say "Calvinism" without sneering. I do drive a Prius, but there are no bumper stickers on it. I have had a soul patch in the past, but I am currently clean-shaven. No tattoos. I guess I'm one of those lukewarm Emergents.) If this makes no sense to you, then click on the link.
Sure, there's something false about a church where people with body piercings aren't welcome. But a true church isn't necessarily a church where body piercings abound. So one question is, Just what is this Authenticity of which you speak? Faith, hope, love, mutually accountability, and mutual forgiveness are better measures of authenticity than a post-grunge wardrobe.
This begs a second question: Is the Emergent Church just the next big thing? Though it embraces what the Church Growth Movement eschewed, namely, overtly Christian symbols, is the Emergent Church merely a variation on the same theme--that the church's problem is one of style and not substance, and if we get the style right, then everything else will follow?
Third question: The Protestant Reformation's great insight was that Faith justifies, and faith comes from hearing, and what is heard from the Word of God. This led the reformers to simplify worship so that nothing would detract from the preached Word of God. So, is Emergent's embrace of the visual, especially multi-media technology, an altogether healthy trend? Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death is even more relevant now than when it was first published in the pre-Internet 1980s. In it, he argues powerfully that the visual medium inevitably trivializes the content it's delivering.
So what actually happens in an Emergent worship service, especially the more "extreme" forms? Is the Gospel truly proclaimed, edifying the faithful, and leading sinners to repent? Or is something other than the Gospel offered that, while evoking a powerful emotional reaction, serves something other than justification and sanctification?
Again, these are only questions. They aren't meant to be some sort of coup de grace to the Emergent movement. While it's easy to mock the U2 Listenin', Brian McLaren Readin', Incense Burnin' Emergent pastor, it's just as easy to mock happy-clappy Evangelicals or Mainline radical feminists. (For grins, check out this series of light-hearted mysteries set in a fictitious N.C. mountain community. The protagonist is a police chief who's also the music director of the local Episcopalian congregation. The licks it gets in on Re-imagining-style liturgical innovations are deadly and hysterical.)
And drawing the line at PowerPoint won't necessarily save the flock from idolatry, or bad taste. There are plenty of sermons that proclaim "another gospel" than the one that justifies and sanctifies. And they do it in a style not unlike that of dragging fingernails down a chalkboard.
Shoot, people can screw up just about anything. The Emergent Church may have a unique set of temptations, but so does every form of Christianity.