Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.
Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted. It’s easy to get lost when you’re talking about the future, which is inherently hard to see anyway. But let’s get back on track nonetheless. As I was saying, the emerging church was set to become more mainstream, and it has done so in the past couple of years. This is not to say that the self-fashioned heresy-hunters are happy, but that’s not something that’s about to happen anyway. (Not ever, that’s their schtick.) Evangelicalism, however, has become more comfortable with certain forms and contributions from the emerging church. For those who followed along in the past year, you might think this is convenient, because evangelicalism is dead as well as the emerging church, or they’re at least on side-by-side deathbeds. What a pretty pair they make, gasping for breath to tell you that rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated. The precise meaning of the word “greatly” in this instance is still in some dispute.
I think my blogging mojo must have got up and went. Like I said, my blogging frequency has dropped a bit over the past several weeks so that I’m no longer hitting my daily quota. I realized this morning that I only had one post separating my weekend posts, and yesterday I fizzled on my regular hymn series. I started writing the post this morning, but partway through I decided to hold it for next Sunday rather than publish it right away. It’s part of my Sunday series after all, and this isn’t Sunday. Saturday’s linkage was a bit lighter than usual as well, as I headed outdoors to get some work done in the yard. The new fence looks great by the way — thanks for asking.
I realized I have some 40 draft posts sitting waiting to be finished, and I discovered this one among them. I think it was a sort of epilogue to the series I did a while back defining missional. That means that these links will be to older posts, so if any of the links fail, that’s the reason. I decided to publish it pretty much as-is, meaning it was never polished into a coherent form. The image was already attached to the post, though I don’t remember why… now it reminds me of incoherence. ;^) Essentially the post is a list of background and deep background on missional theology and concepts, probably some notes I was keeping as I worked through the material. Perhaps you’ll find some good stuff here for further reading as well.
This afternoon I watched the online video of a roundtable with Brian McLaren, John Franke, Scot McKnight, Darrell Guder, and Tim Keel hosted by Lance Ford. (Recorded October or November 2008, currently on the front page at Shapevine.com; sorry no direct archive link.) This group represents quite an exceptional emerging/missional brain trust, and the conversation is a good one from which one can pick bits to ponder almost at will. Here’s a bit of conversation that stuck out for me:
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.)
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 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.