Archive for the ‘Emergent Village’ Category

Over the last 9 months Jeromy and I have been leading a emergent cohort.  It has been a fascinating exercise in listening and learning.  Both Jeromy and I simply wanted to create a safe space for people to discuss their questions, comments, stories and experiences within the church and in following Jesus.  We wanted to practice a generative dialog.

Creating this space was deeply valuable.  It gave both Jeromy and I the space to work through our own questions, mostly in the car rides to and from the cohort, but also within.  We talked about every possible conversation you could imagine from heaven to hell, salvation to conversion, following Jesus to walking away, and homosexuality to women in pastoral roles.  We explored McLaren, Pagitt, Jones, Scandrette, and many other authors.  It was awesome.

But over the last month or two we began noticing a trend.  People stayed for about 2-3 meetings and then disappeared.  And as much as we loved the conversations, many of the same questions were being asked by everyone.  “What is the point of the group?”  As Jeromy and I wrestled with that question over dinner this past week, we began to really ask if it was simply to ask and answer questions?  Is the point of the group simply dialog and generative conversation?

In the beginning it was.  But now we were no longer sure.

We recognized that the one thing that held us together was this fascinating person called Jesus.  Anything we changed would likely need to center on what it meant to follow in order for us to want to participate on a regular basis.

And as we explored the idea with those in the cohort we saw an idea began to emerge (no pun intended).  What if we as a group explored what it meant to practice following Jesus together.  Each month would essentially be about hearing the stories of the experiments from the previous meeting and exploring the next experiment.

Our first experiment is to practice being love to our neighbor every day until the next cohort, or about 30 days.  We defined “neighbor” as anyone we would come into contact with.  It was simple, brilliant and inspiring. We’re going for tremendous courage and tremendous grace.  If someone sees an opportunity, we’re going for it.  If we fail to remember we’re not beating ourselves over the head.  We’re just living into the life of Jesus for those around us.

I have to admit that the idea got my heart racing: practice love on a daily basis and to do it with people looking for something more?  Big ideas raced through my head at the simplicity of it all.  I was diggin’ the new direction.  This was something I could show up for.

We started a Facebook group if you would like to join us in the experiments.


Read Full Post »

A machine that builds itself.  Why do I feel like Terminator is around the corner.


Peter Rollins, excellent as usual, on why we don’t need early Christianity.


There is something unique about this video.  It’s about fighting for the soul in a Fight Club kind of way.


Bill Easum’s response to Tony Jone’s as part of the month long blogologue.


Tony responds back to Bill for the conclusion.

Read Full Post »

If you live in Sacramento and want to join our cohort for an early evening of drinks tomorrow night in Roseville (Monday: 4-6 PM) with Mark Scandrette, feel free to join us.  Go here for info.  You need to RSVP with Jeromy.

Read Full Post »

Bill Easum and Tony Jones are participating in a blogologue about the emerging church this month over at Emergent Village. I think this will likely be one of the more important dialogs for people to listen to regarding the Emerging Church movement.  Much love to Bill for engaging that dialog with Tony.

The purpose of the blogologue can be found, in the words of Steve Knight,

“So we contacted Bill and asked him if he’d be willing to participated in a little “blogologue” (short for “blog dialogue”) with Tony Jones, discussing the questions/issues Bill has raised with Emergent. He quickly responded, Yes, and so here we are.

Easum’s first post can be found here.  It is interesting to read a clear and concise perspective from someone who sees himself outside of an Emergent perspective and looking in.  He makes a a surprising observation that I found fascinating and a few assumptions about Emergent that I didn’t agree with.

Easum’s New Metaphor: Easum offered a new metaphor for understanding the transition that I thought was brilliant.  He essentially calls the modern world the National Park and the postmodern world a Jungle.  I think this metaphor is one of the best I’ve seen.  One suggests control while the other is wild and free.  The first thing that came to mind when I read this is that as much as we want a National Park to live in, in doing so we inevitably tame God and lock Him up in a cage for people to gawk at.  He becomes something we study, dissect, make assumptions about but inevitably think we control.  The jungle metaphor appealed to me because God was likely around the next tree waiting to pounce on me like Aslan.  He isn’t safe but He is good.

But this loss of control means letting go of some of our historical assumptions about the way we operate and engage mission.  We’ve been a National Park for way too looooooooooong.  But to simply live in a jungle after operating that way for centuries is very hard to do.  Easum’s metaphor hopefully will make that transition easier.

Easum’s View Of Emergent’s Message: Easum offers an interesting view of what he thinks Emergents think. He says,

“Emergents will speak with passion and urgency but never with certainty. To them there is no certainty, only what one believes today, at this moment, in this locale.”

I think a better way to describe this is that Emergents are aware of our own limitations as human beings.  Our own brokenness affects the very information we receive and perceive.  We recognize that we live in language, are cognitive beings and that what we think today is based on limited information.  This awareness leads to faith, which is holding onto the idea that God is really in control (a jungle) and to step away from trying to control the message (the National Park).  The problem isn’t that truth exists but that certainty closes us down to learning and humility.

Easum also asks an important question.

“Is the message of the Gospel actual reality and eternally true, or is it nothing more than a construct of our own language within the community of faith at this particular time in history in this particular place with this particular community?”

Answering this question, I would hold, is central to understanding a postmodern, even an Emergent faith.  That there is “no truth” is one of the great myths about the Emerging church movement.  The answer is, “Yes, there is a truth.”

But the problem is that own humanity significantly taints that truth because we are cognitive and perceptual human beings.  We were never meant to “judge” on our own.  We were always designed to be in relationship with our Creator, as in the Garden State.  The Tree of Knowledge was a judgment process.  Humans became, “like one of us.”  This wasn’t a good thing because humanity trusted in its own capacity to judge effectively.  And we sucked at it.

The problem isn’t when we get it right, as in the disciples following Jesus.  The problem is when we get it wrong, as in the Pharisees, the very one’s who were certain, who couldn’t see God standing in front of them.  The Emergent movement and the postmodern world is coming to terms with that reality.  We’re humans who filter truth.

History has been an unkind teacher in some ways.  She has unfortunately revealed us when, where, and how we got it wrong. The Internet has allowed us to speed up that conversation, connect with like minds and discuss these issues.  Blogs have allowed us to process new ideas, alternatives and possible new scenarios in lighting speed.  What took ages before now takes minutes.  And for some this shift seems disconcerting because they are not used to such a seismic shift.  The truth is that we don’t live in an Intel 386 world anymore.

What is ironic about this whole point is that Emergents are the ones who are leading the conversation about coming to terms with our own humanity.  This process of admitting our own limitations is essentially repentance and it is central to our own restoration as followers of Jesus.

Relativism: Bill comes very close, but to his credit doesn’t cross, the common excuse of pulling the relativism card.  The temptation within this dialog is to simply excuse those in the Emergents as relativists, a cheap move from my perspective.  It dismisses any further dialog because it excuses the other party from having to continue.  But I would offer Bill that what is relative is not the truth but our perception of the truth.  The evidence of this is obvious in science and in history, but apparently not in the church.

The evidence of this can be found in the points Bill is making.  His judgments of the Emerging movement don’t resonate with me.  Are they true?  Yes, in that they are his judgments.  Yet, they are not true for me because I don’t share his conclusions.  Does that make us relative?  No.  It makes us human.

Easum on Methods: Bill does share a concern for how we move forward.  He says,

“I agree with the authors that we can’t come on to postmoderns like gangbusters with an elitist attitude as if we have THE truth. I agree with them that the four spiritual laws no longer work. I agree with them that if we lead from the big story we are dead in the water. I agree with them (and with Frank Viola) that the distinction between clergy and laity is not biblical and shouldn’t exist. I agree with them that the new world sees everything in shades of gray.”

But he also says,

“But I do not agree that Christians must feel they have to be two steps removed from the reality of the Gospel in order to reach this new world. In fact, I think it is just the opposite. The clearer a leader is about the reality of Gospel and the direction of their calling, the more likely that person is to lead a growing and thriving community of faith.”

And this is where I see Easum perpetuating the myth that we are removed from the Gospel or that we don’t hold a Gospel.  In fact, my wife and I have come to the conclusion that much of the dialog within the Emerging church movement is simply asking for a more wholistic approach to following Jesus and being the church…because we’re tired of this thing we grew up with called, “doing church”.  We’re tried of simply being passive observers in the Christendom food chain.

To say that there hasn’t been problems in the past is to ignore the reality of the issues we face today.  We are in this space because the church has ignored the road it went down.  When more than 12 million people have left the church but not God the problem simply can’t be ignored.

Easum on New Organization: Bill states one thing that I found very sad because when I read it, it seems like a shout from the cheap seats.  If he wants to be honest in the dialog, I would suggest he lose this conception.  He says,

“They don’t even believe in planting churches in order to reach more people, nor do they believe in doing things to get people to come to their church. They plant churches only to save themselves, whatever that means.”

Again this is a myth.  I personally know people who are taking very serious looks at what it means to be the church and organize around following Jesus into mission.  The experimentation phase is just beginning.  And many of these ideas are still in the birth, or even the infant stage.  To say they don’t produce fruit yet is natural, but to say they don’t exist is to perpetuate a lie.  And these ideas likely won’t look what we have right now and thus the myth will continue to be perpetuated. This leaves us in the Emerging church movement the task of coming up with clear, creative alternatives and seeing them to maturity.  Nice.

Easum ends this section with a surprisingly honest assessment of where the church is at.  He says,

“The Emergent movement is providing a marvelous conversation for all of us. They have revealed the naked truth—the emperor has no clothes. The established Christian church is basically dead and in need of A Second Resurrection.”

This is from a man who has spent his life studying the church.  Right on Bill.

Bill does ask a series of question for the Emergents, which I will answer in the next post.

Much love to Bill for beginning a great dialog and I can’t wait to hear Tony’s response.

PS: Both Bill and Steve Knight responded in regard to my comments regarding what is essentially Tony’s quote from his book.  I have responded in the comments that I got the context for this quote wrong, but I don’t like to edit original posts even when I get it wrong.

Read Full Post »

If you live in Sacramento and want to meet the guys who helped really fuel the Emergent conversation, put June 18th on your calendar. You don’t want to miss this. Unfortunately I will. I was supposed to be there but the guys pick a day I am on vacation.


My cohort is hosting . Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, and Mark Scandrette will be bringing an old time Gospel Revival Roadshow to our town. Consider yourself officially invited and yes, this is an open event so feel free to invite others to join you.

  • Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2008
  • Time: 6:30pm – 9:00pm (with possible meet-n-greet at Streets of London Pub afterwards)
  • Location: Lakehills Covenant Church
  • Street: 7000 Rossmore Lane
  • City/Town: El Dorado Hills, CA
  • $10 door charge (volunteer helpers free).
  • We are needing 5-10 volunteers to help with set-up/tear-down, book tables, and greeting. Email Jeromy at jeromyj@sbcglobal.net if interested (dinner will be included for volunteers).
  • Please see the Facebook Sacramento Roadshow Event. You can also RSVP there as well.

Visit the Roadshow Site.

Read Full Post »

In the spirit of the new book, Why We’re Not Emergent, the accompanying website, and this post, I thought I’d present the Top 50 Possible Reasons Why You’re Not Emergent.


50. They’re all a bunch of false prophets. Really, that’s what they told me

49. My mother will disown me.

48. I just don’t like Doug Pagitt. He scares me.

47. I heard from a famous pastor that Emergent is from the debil.

46. I don’t like Rob Bell’s hair.

45. The word Emergent is not in the Bible.

44. It’s just not allowed in the Vanderhoeven family.

43. I heard Calvin would simply not approve

42. Mark Driscoll told me I couldn’t.

41. I’m just not “certain” yet it’s the right way to go.

40. I heard from this guy who knew this lady who had a brother who was Emergent and he went blind doing it.

39. I enjoy being a skeptic.

38. I didn’t learn about Emergent in seminary so I’m not going to start now.

37. I like being on the bigger team.

36. I heard you had to take yoga.

35. I’ve heard from a famous prison ministry guy they don’t believe in the Bible.

34. Where would I be without absolute truth.

33. Tony Jones went to Princeton Theological Seminary…that liberal.

32. They didn’t teach this in Alpha.

31. I’m not white.

30. I’m over 40.

29. I don’t have any cool, black eyeglasses.

28. I don’t like coffee or Guinness.

27. It’s immoral to smoke pipes or cigars.

26. They haven’t yet come up with my denomination of Presbymergent

25. Emergents read unapproved books.

24. I’m allergic to candles.

23. I like Jesus but not Emergent.

22. Brian McLaren’s books are not theologically correct. I’m not sure why, I just know they are.

21. I like my Christianity strong and hot.

20. The orthodoxy police will bust me.

19. I’m not uber-cool. In fact, I don’t even know what “uber” means.

18. I don’t understand it and I don’t want to.

17. If it doesn’t have the letters SBC in it, I’m not interested.

16. All they want to do is love. Where’s the truth in that?

15. I’m a bullhorn type of guy.

14. I prefer Joel Osteen.

13. I just finally bought into fundamentalism and you want me to shift?

12. I don’t really want a generous orthodoxy.

11. I refuse to switch to Apple

10. I can’t. I go to John MacArthur’s church.

9. My friends will think I’m a heretic.

8. I already was a New (Kind of) Christian.

7. I refuse to grow a soul patch

6. Hell fire and brimstone works just fine, thank you.

5. I don’t like loud, rock music at church. It’s a sin.

4. Their hermeneutic of ecclesiology is unorthodox, fundamentally esoteric and meandering. It borders on epistemological ambiguity that is really troublesome. I’m afraid it will lead to heretical uncertainty of the most pernicious kind.

3. But then I might have to really have faith.

2. Brian McLaren is the debil.

And the number one possible reason Why You’re Not Emergent is:

1. The emerging church is so yesterday.


Just in case you were wondering. The answer is yes, this is humor.

Read Full Post »

Emergent Village has a post that profiled a woman named Heather Kirk-Davidoff. The post profiled a dialog between her and a Dr. Forni.

“A story on the cover of today’s Wall Street Journal proclaims “Be Nice, Or What?” and it covers a disagreement in Maryland over Howard County’s “Choose Civility” campaign. The founder of the campaign is Johns Hopkins University professor of civility Dr. P.M. Forni, and the protagonist in this debate is Heather Kirk-Davidoff, pastor of Kittamaqundi Community and a member of the Emergent Village board of directors.

In the article, Heather questions Forni’s “25 Rules of Considerate Conduct” and says, “Community is never made by rules. … As soon as you set up boundaries, you invite people to regulate them. The first rule in my book is, ‘Be curious,’ and the second is, ‘Make room.’””

And when I read this something interesting stuck out to me. When Jesus reduced the law to love he was making a stunning observation about brilliance of love. In the law, we have the fine specifics that require massive amounts of memorization, understanding, contemplation, observations and astute reasoning in the application of any law. We have PhD’s and scientists, lawyers and doctors, politicians and police officers all making attempts at the application of the law.

In love we have an archetype of action. It can be performed by anyone, almost regardless of age, race, creed, nationality, color, sex, and even mental ability. My child can do it and so can my grandfather. It’s not limiting but empowering. It’s simple and at the same time rewarding.

What do I do here? Love.

And what do I do here? Love.

But what about here? Love.

In every case of human interaction we have a specific moral action that is defined by a smart group of people, who are usually trying to help but end up getting in the way, as with Dr. Forni above. Or we have love.

I choose love.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »