Thursday, April 27, 2006

What the emerging church is all about . . . or at least what it's not

Andrew Jones linked me to a podcast (actually it's broken up into three) of a debate between Doug Pagitt and Bob Dewaay regarding the emerging church, which I went and listened to (sans iPod, mind you).

It revealed something I found interesting. Pagitt spoke from a fairly generic perspective and, I thought, did a good job of talking about the emerging church "movement" as a whole. In his responses, though, Dewaay kept firing open Pagitt's books and reading quotes that he found troubling, and going on to say why. Several times, Pagitt had to clarify that those quotes were his own, and not necessarily representative of the emerging church, even though he's a "member" of it. It brought to mind D.A. Carson's Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (as did an e-mail conversation I had the other day with a new friend). In his arguments critical of the emerging church, he kept pointing the the writings of a select few people.

This thing that some of us are a part of had better not be about personalities at the end of the day. Sure, when the visible "leaders" of the movement write books and blogs and speak at conferences, it's easy to point and say, "Hah! That's what you guys all believe." I get that. But what the critics need to understand is that this thing is as theologically and practically diverse as the church being that many are emerging from. As the printing presses pump out the books that chart the course of the movement, we're seeing that diversity play out on our shelves.

Communicating with those who came before us in a respectful way, but sometimes it's frustratingly slow, because we have to continue saying, "Just because so and so wrote such and such in a book, doesn't mean she/he speaks for the emerging church." Are those voices popular (in a big fish/small pond sort of way)? Sure. Have many been influenced by them? Sure. But the emerging church is working itself out at the ground level. That's why it's important to continue defining what it means to be truly missional (and not just some watered down version of mission minded). Interestingly enough, it's also why we shouldn't sit around talking/blogging about it too much (as I'm doing here) before we go find ways of working this stuff out.

Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, and Mark Driscoll have no ability to speak for you where you're working, doing life. You can agree or disagree all you want, and feel free to be as influenced by them as you want, but when you're out there working this stuff out where you live, you don't ask yourself, "What would [fill in the blank] say/do?" I hope not, anyway. It's not about the personalitites, it's about the Kingdom come. That changes everything, and thus, why the emerging church feels the need to change things. We're responding to getting our collective bell rung by the Holy Spirit. Don't miss the point people!

Wherever you may find yourself in this mix, stay on point and get driven by the Spirit. Read, write, surf, comment all you want. But get on with the Kingdom stuff, o.k.? Speaking of which, I'm gonna go do that now.

Peace to you all.

posted by Steve at 5:56 AM
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Anonymous Michael commented at 8:49 AM~  

Those are some valid points when talking about the emerging church (little e, don't want to have to pay royalties if it's captialzed)

Blogger Bill Bean commented at 6:40 AM~  

My thoughts exactly.

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spirit farmer data

I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

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