Posted by: minnow | February 16, 2008

Am I Emergent?

For the past couple days I’ve been reading the iamjoshbrown blog.  (Lots of great stuff BTW).  Lately he’s been defending the Emergent movement against the most common criticisms that have come against it.  I will not elaborate here (Go to the blog and check it out.) because my summaries would not do the conversation justice.  It has, however, given me some food for thought–big chunks of juicy medium rare tenderloin (How un-PC but hey I am from Montana and belong to the over 40s that do not know we are supposed to be vegetarians.)–that I do plan to address. Two piggyback points Josh made were that the Emergent movement was not a denomination and that the leaders in the Emergent movement do not want it to become one.  My response to Josh was somewhat along the lines of: “So the leadershipdoesn’t want Emergent (a verb) to become a denomination (a noun) because they are already busy being pastor and writers and speakers and the ones that are already pastors are not denominationally connected.   Yet, they visit groups as invited speakers, write books about their mutual philosophies, and hold conferences to promote how best to “emerge” spiritually, socially, and politically in a post modern world.”  The point I tried to make with Josh was that people like me sit in the audiences, buy the books, and attend the conferences because we want to know we are not alone in feeling out of sync with traditional Christians who mostly seems content to look alike, sound alike, and sit quietly in their pews.   Some of us have even split (physically or emotionally) from a building-based form of Christianity that we no longer understand or recognize or want to.   And, many of us join the Internet conversation because we long for a sense of community that we have not found locally (which is not at all the same as saying we are looking for a legalistic denomination). 

 Those of us who watch from the sidelines (popping in every now and then because we have questions but not entirely sure–for whatever reason–that we are invited) hope that what we see in Emergent is a gathering of people who not only give voice to the idea of being Church rather that going to Church but who practice what they give voice to and then come together (for the sakes of a larger community they might not even realize exists via blogs like Emergent Village and iamjoshbrown) to share and encourage one another (and maybe even us) to do the same.  We hope, at least I hope to see (and hear about) folks who are not just talking about important issues from a Biblical/life perspective like: poverty and world hunger and HIV/Aids, but who are taking small (and larger) steps toward making a positive difference in those areas.    And finally, I hope to find out I’m invited to join the party even though I do not yet belong to some local expression of Emergent (which is not supposed to be a noun anyway).



  1. nice post. Poor Emergent. Its public practitioners like the money and attention but their struggle is that if Emergent becomes too formal, they lose their rebel status…along with the glory and speaking engagements (it’s still about church and i’m still cynical).

    Anyway, we’ve found that since leaving the formal church our spiritual life has become the very thing we were taught to shun and that our conversations about faith cut across a wide array of new friends based on connections which transcend the congregational setting. We are still finding our way. I still fear that church was right and that we are hopelessly lost. At the same time, this life has merits that church as we knew it couldn’t touch.

  2. Hello minnowspeaks – I have read a few of your posts and enjoyed your blog. I too am part of the over 40’s, left church in severe diillusionment , am a seeker on the sidelines of the emerging church conversation and comment occasionally.
    I look foward to reading more on you blog!

    I love your name of minnowspeaks! I once posted a series of comments on the academic chuch and pomo site as ‘man in the pew’


  3. minnowspeaks–

    i think, after reading the responses of tt, jugulum and tu…ad over at reclaiming, that two things motivate them (fundamentalists) that they don’t want to talk about (elephant in the room, so to speak). one, they wish to be regarded as wise teachers, and post-modernism rejects wise teachers’ conclusions without a personal story. the only way for them to be regarded as sources of wisdom is if they tell rich stories (in my opinion). and two, there is a security in authoritative systems, regardless of your position in the foodchain. authoritative systems are suspect in post-modern thinking. this threatens, at the very heart of things, security of fundamentalists.



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