Big changes at EV, and I heard it first on Twitter, wouldn’t ya know it? “MINNEAPOLIS, November 1, 2008—Emergent Village today announced a major change in structure that will position it less like a traditional non-profit organization and more like a social networking organization.” (from the press release). The Letter from the Board to Friends of Emergent Village has more information, including the results from their survey last year. I really liked this bit as they process their future:
First, we need to be, as our name suggests, a village, which means we need to create and defend safe space in which people can have needed contact and conversation. The “city limits” for the village should be the four values (or rules of the order) that emergent has developed:
A. Commitment to God in the Way of Jesus
B. Commitment to the Church in all its Forms
C. Commitment to God’s World
D. Commitment to One Another
Second, also as our name suggests, we need to be a village about emergence. The timing of Phyllis Tickle’s important new book (The Great Emergence, Baker, 2008) could not have been better in this regard. The space we create must have room for prophetic and provocative input to challenge and resource us for ongoing emergence.
Out of their priorities emerged four decisions, (1) to discontinue the role of the national director (Tony Jones), (2) to increase the role of the website (which increases the role of Steve Knight), (3) to decentralize, and (4) to reconfigure the board in 2009. That’s a lot of sweeping change, but it’s noteworthy that it came about as a result of having achieved their original goals in forming the network. In the process, they have restated some key points about EV:
Emergent Village exists to serve the Missio Dei by creating safe space for conversation. Many religious communities fear, shame, restrict, and exclude people who ask questions, propose creative innovations, or open up new ways of thinking, but since this network began a decade ago, we have been a safe space for open and generative conversation. We don’t care whether these conversations carry the term “emergent” or not. In some cases, it is advantageous to do so; in others, it isn’t. The conversation matters; the name doesn’t.
We aren’t focused on converting each other, but on growing with each other. We aren’t focused on creating a new institution or organization, but on facilitating a needed conversation and generative friendship.
[B]ecause Emergent Village is interested in conversation, learning, friendship, and innovation among a wide array of Christians, we aren’t interested in creating or defending a competitive brand. When people take stands against emergent, or argue about brands like emergent versus emerging church versus missional, and so on, our preference is not to defend, and certainly not to attack. We will be happy when all these terms have served their purpose and fade into obscurity, having injected their positive values into the church and world at large. In the meantime, we’re happy whenever people are growing in love for God and neighbor, as Jesus taught.
I have to say, I really like what’s in this letter in terms of the clarification about EV’s role, purposes, and goals. The notes on language and the emergent term are particularly helpful in light of recent discussions and controversies. Although classified as “major changes,” if anything, it sounds like a renewed and sharpened focus, which is a good thing. Hopefully this will be relationally well-received. I’ll be interested to hear what Tony will be putting some of his extra time toward in the new year.