Emerging Fractures & the Great Emergence

roadsign.jpg I’m reaching back a little with this one, but I’ve had a partially-drafted post on this for a while and wanted to finish it up and publish it rather than just delete it and let it go. The topic I think is an important one currently.

Mark Sayers’ much-linked post “The Emerging Missional Church Fractures into Mini Movements” now has a followup, “The Emerging Missional Church is Greenwich Village — More Thoughts on Fracturing.” In the sequel, Mark offers some further insightful thoughts on the emerging/missional movement and the fragments thereof. He says, in part,

Early Thoughts on a Missional Renaissance

missional-renaissance.jpg Monday morning after logging my menu selection and discussing Bosnia with my waitress, I began to dig into Reggie McNeal’s Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church. I’ve not had much time with it this week, so I’ve only ingested the introduction and chapter one… but I found myself jotting down an inordinate number of notes and quotes for so brief a sample, and yesterday when I tweeted “Those who miss the missional renaissance will find themselves rendered irrelevant to the movement of God in the world. — Reggie McNeal” it proved to be good retweet material. (Paraphrased from p.17 for the sake of a 140-character limit.)

Tiring, isn’t it?

bored-dog.jpg There’s been something of a general malaise going around lately… people tired with blogging, tired with the emerging church, tired with missional, or tired with “the conversation.” People accuse these conversations of being the “same old, same old” or a number of other things, including being exclusive or exclusionary or being made up of people who only talk and don’t ever do the things they talk about. Perhaps you can call to mind a recent post or two or five that runs along these lines — I know I can. I’m not linking them because I’m not specifically responding to them… I’ve had similar conversations and emails and read comments along these lines as well. And of the posts we can both call to mind, there are some folk who I highly respect and who (ironically?) are an important part of the conversation… even if they tire of it at times. And some of what they say in these posts is correct. On the other hand, one reply in a group email thread this past week discussing this phenomenon said simply:

The Gifts of Protestantism?


A more long-range benefit of the Reformation’s placing ultimate authority in Scripture was that, when coupled with the principle of the priesthood of all believers, sola scriptura required absolute and universal literacy if it were going to work. The Protestant imperative toward every believer’s being able to read Holy Writ for him- or herself excited the drive toward literacy that in turn accelerated the drive toward rationalism and from there to Enlightenment and from there straight into the science and technology and literature and governments that characterize our lives today. There were, of course, some disadvantages.

The most obvious problem of universal literacy is that if one teaches five people to read and then asks them each to read the same document, there will be at least three different interpretations of what the five of them have read. While we may laugh and say that divisiveness was Protestantism’s greatest gift to Christianity, ours is a somber joke.

Missional Conspiracy

My fellow co-conspirators of the Missional Tribe have instigated a little collection on behalf of Andrew Jones, aka the Tall Skinny Kiwi. Or TSK.

JonesFamilyMobileHome.gif The Kiwi & family are going walkabout, sorta, in a big old truck named Maggie that they intend to drive pretty much around the globe. Europe first. As they go, they’ll be doing what they do along the way. (Hit the foregoing link or read how Jonny Baker tells it to get the full skinny.) In order to facilitate getting video updates from the Jones clan, the Tribe wants to get people to chip in (see the widget?) to get them some video gear for the trip. More info on the Tribe site. And do toss in a few bucks if you can, just to help keep Andrew’s blog interesting while he’s on the road. Otherwise you’ll be stuck reading me and Bill. See? It’s a good cause.

The Upheaval of Emergence


When Christians despair of the upheavals and re-formations that have been the history of our faith–when the faithful resist, as so many do just now, the presence of another time of reconfiguration with its inevitable pain–we all would do well to remember that, not only are we in the hinge of a five-hundred-year period, but we are also the direct product of one. We need, as well, to gauge our pain against the patterns and gains of each of the previous hinge times through which we have already passed. It is especially important to remember that no standing form of organized Christian faith has ever been destroyed by one of our semi-millennial eruptions. Instead, each simply has lost hegemony or pride of place to the new and not-yet-organized form that was birthing.

The Tribe of Those Who Don’t Fit In

stand-out.jpg Jonny Baker has some good thoughts on the gift of not fitting in, which is an interesting turn of phrase of itself. And as anyone who has this particular “gift” will know, it often feels more like a curse than a gift. This “not fitting in” describes more than simply those who are “different,” the non-conformists conspicuous for their external similarities. What makes these people not fit in is far more fundamental — it’s a way of thinking, an outlook. The thing that makes them not fit is that they look at things as everyone accepts them to be, and they not only ask why they are this way, but why everyone accepts them to be this way. In asking the question and beginning to imagine an answer, they begin to imagine an alternative, and to see a way to change. Sometimes they even begin living according to the alternative way, clashing in the process with the accepted way of things.