This happens to simply be the first of the set of values about which I'll be writing, not that the order of my list points to a priority. But Unity (there, I've gone and capitalized it) is a good place to start.
The Enlightenment Period was no friend to Church Unity. My close friend Ted has a unique perspective on this, informed by his wife's Orthodox background, and his own travels through the evangelical parachurch, and the institutional church (Orthodox, Anglican, Presbyterian). He likens the last two thousand years -- and its myriad church schisms, splits, plants, reformations, counter-reformations, factions and hatfield/mccoy dramas -- to an auto windshield, dinged by a small rock, and then shattered into innumerable splintering shards. In the Modern Era man got especially good at this. If the church doesn't suit your needs, simply take some of that rugged pioneer individualist and Go Start A New Church. Better yet, go Start a Movement. (we'll talk below about this sentence when we grapple with the so-called Emergent movement and its genesis, and whether Emergent church plants can be agents of unity, or continue the windshield split)
Most if not all of the Christians who stand under the umbrella of the so-called Emergent Church seek to reconnect with the Church as a whole (it was author Brian D. McLaren who called it "trading up our many lower-case 't' traditions for a single, upper-case 'T' Tradition...).
Many of us reared in the evangelical worldview are stepping out into the blinding sunlight, blinking, and for the first time focusing our eyes on two-thousand years of missed Tradition. Missed opportunity. Apostolic and Univeral. The litany of saints, gone before us. We now want to take seriously the Hebraic "cloud of witnesses."
Christ's prayer for unity (John 17) is not bound by time (recovering this 2000 tradition), not bound by denomination (what can I learn from my Methodist sisters? from my Catholic brothers? Croatian Orthodox? Plymouth Brethren?), certainly not bound by gender, race, geography, generations, language, education, ethnicity, paradigms... The word boundless comes to mind.
By Unity, I'm also talking co-laboring, locally and abroad; dialoguing, and not just on one's own turf; opportunities to worship in unity with other believers, and making amends for past wrongs done in the name of denominational, dogmatic, doctrinal posturing. Because we live globally, this means a lot more travel. Pilgrimages to learn from other thoroughly Christian peoples, not seeking to impose our American brand of Christianity.
God-willing: We will learn from these Other brothers; we will adopt and appropriate worship styles, prayers, spirituality, spiritual 'heroes' (again a thought from McLaren), hymns, scriptural emphases that might differ from our own.
Will this bring about institutional unity? Catholics welcoming Protestants to a common table? Orthodox and Roman unity? Maybe. I certainly think we're poised as never before to head in that direction. But it is less important than spiritual unity, a unity which flows from scripture and a shared common creed. For this reason, we will see the earliest creeds (the Nicene creed is a prime example) re-emerge as central to the shared expression of our faith. This laboring to find common ground is not watering down; rather, it is ultimately Christ-like.
As christendom diminishes (both the real and mythological and nominal versions), as Chrsitianity continues its westward and southward circumnavigations, as Christian continents like Europe and North America lose their salt and its churches refine and also go underground (and as pre-Christian continents start sending missionaries our way), we American Christians might finally begin to see what European Christians have seen for a few generations -- that the petty denominational distinctions begin to rightly erode once one looks around and sees fewer and fewer like-minded brethren. As Christians become scarce, we'll head for the high ground of commonality. Of Unity. We'll have fewer and fewer of Modernity's hurdles to stand in the path.
Modernity classifies, distinguishes, taxonomizes and vivissects in order to understand. Post-modernity understands by context, looking for patterns, unified wholes. Just as the former lends itself to fracture, specialization, innovation and discovery, the latter lends itself to healing, community, renovation and recovery. This brings hope to me and many.
Let me take it back to a local level. I talked earlier about church plants. I'd say this. We hope, finally, that an Emergent church plant can indeed effect Unity (and not perpetuate Ted's Shattered Windshield Principle), by the nature of the fact that such a church plant would exist to seek out and live out this recovered ecumenicism -- both a here-and-now co-laboring, dialoguing, co-worshipping existence, and also a historical ecumenicism, capturing the lessons, lives and warnings of this great cloud of witnesses which surround us.