Yesterday I wrote the introduction to this post, which ended up being about as long as the next bit that contained the important stuff I wanted to say, so I split it up. Feel free to start yesterday, then continue on below, which is about the whole mess of misunderstanding over networks that are not called Emergent.
Perhaps I’ve said my share already as I’ve seen the comments that others have been making about the shift — for some — away from using emerging/emergent terminology. Having had a couple of my posts picked up and linked around, I thought I’d be done, but it turns out I’m not — even if it turns out I’m saying more than my fair share. I’ve been pondering the bigger picture of it though, and late last week something clicked as I began to see the whole matter from a different angle, and I’ve decided there’s an alternate interpretation to be applied. This post, I think, is my most important observation of the discussion, and one which I hope time will prove to be accurate. And as I’ve said before, language is important to me, even if others tire of the talk of words. Eventually I do as well though, so hopefully this week will wrap up all that I feel I need to say about this battle of words. And anyway, I’ll point out that it’s not about words anyway, nor is it about people de-friend-ing one another.
It’s gone so far now that we’re blogging about how we’re tired of talking about the topic we’re blogging about. Again. Oh, don’t worry — I’m no better. So here we go again, but this time it’s Scot McKnight posting on the latest bruhaha with some new info, or new perspective on old info. I bring this up not because we need to say it once again that there’s discussion about the continued use of the term “Emergent,” or for that matter, “emerging.”
Since meeting Alan Roxburgh last year and attending Allelon’s missional order gathering last October, I’ve been gradually becoming more familiar with Allelon and their work. Recently, I’ve been looking at Allelon’s Mission in Western Culture Project based on some of the material they’ve published on their site. While I was out of town, Alan Roxburgh published an update and appeal concerning the project and their meetings this August in Zambia (coincidentally where Todd Heistand is right now).
Back in August-September of 2007, I did a series on defining “missional.” I spilled a lot of virtual ink on this question, never really feeling that I’d exhausted it. A complete listing of the posts in the series appears below — when I wrote the last of them, I expected to return to it earlier, either with further posts or in published form. I’m still planning to rearrange the material for publication despite not having touched the project for a few months, as the thing that set me off on the project in the first place hasn’t gone away. Fundamentally, there is a lot of misunderstanding of what constitutes “missional” in the church at large. People are either afraid of the word because it represents some liberal emerging church idea or they adopt it completely. The term that is, not the ideology — existing programs are commonly being relabeled “missional” without actually engaging the ideas behind mission-shaped church. The word “missional” came to have a rather slippery definition — and if you followed the series at the time, the image at the top of this post will make sense.
Where have I been this week? Well, with a major site relaunch (don’t miss the Seabeck video), I was short on browsing/blogging time, but nonetheless…
Advent — Stuff from folks besides the Johannine Advent Bloggers:
- The Old Bill: prayer of Mary the refugee
- Rachelle Mee-Chapman: Nativity Tales for Children
- Father Jake: Advent Begins
- Ron Cole: Advent…creating quiet space…waiting
- Advent at Mars Hill
- Advent Waiting: “This is a space set aside for some Parents looking to jump with our young kids into the story of God’s justice coming near as we wait for Jesus’ birth.” (via)
I’ve been pretty much too busy to read or write for the past …almost two weeks now. As my friend Bill Kinnon mentioned, the project that’s had me snowed under for that period of time has been the redesign of the Allelon website. There are a few bits and pieces yet to come and some small tweaks to be made, but there it is in all its glory! I came into the project at the 11th hour when most of the design was done, but as Bill mentioned it’s been a large amount of work by a small number of people. The new site is much easier to navigate, and I found all sorts of things that I’d never seen on the old site… and that’s without even browsing through all the articles. We updated some site content today, including a new article by Sally Morgenthaler and a video report from Seabeck and our Missional Order conversations this past October. You’ll find me talking in the video… but that’s not the best part of the eleven-and-a-half minutes. Bill spent a lot of time editing today, and he did a great job… he left me asking, “So, when is the next gathering?”
(RSS readers can click through to this post to view the video.)
There’s one thing from the Seabeck gathering which impacted me quite deeply, but about which I’ve really said nothing so far… the language of revolution. Much of this comes from a brief talk that Al Roxburgh gave on Wednesday morning, but for those who weren’t there, it also features in an article on the Allelon site (Page 3 in particular. It was also part of the subject matter for a walk around the mall with Papa Al and Brother Maynard. (Sara Jane dubbed it, Paparazzi Bill publicized it.) If this post is of interest, I recommend chasing down some of the longer explanations and discussions in the links I’ve provided. In the nature of the zen story which is told and retold orally in part because it is then shaped by the experience and understanding of the storyteller, here, mostly in my own retelling, is what I got, which I relate under the question with which Al opened his brief address at Seabeck: “How do cultures change?”
One day as we were dwelling in Luke 10 at the Seabeck gathering, I stopped on the “70″ — or as some manuscripts report, “72.” One explanation of this textual error is that a scribe somewhere along the line “corrected” it to read 72 instead of 70 because it was associated with Numbers 11, which also features a group of 70, from which two were missing — or not.
I introduced the concept of Shalom yesterday as I was concluding my last post on the missional order. I should take this opportunity to explain that my many musings on this subject over the past week-plus, although they are tagged “missional order”, do not represent the formal outcome of or substance of discussions in our gathering at Seabeck. Many of these themes emerged at one or more points in the discussion, but the thoughts I present are my own ruminations arising in these post-Seabeck weeks. Of course, many of my thoughts go back to much older ruminations, and I’m busy wrapping them all up in this series. A series, mind you, which I never intended to be a series. Nonetheless, I’ve summarized it as such in a sidebar below. Back to Shalom, a concept which also makes an appearance in Luke 10, where a blessing of peace is extended to those from whom the 70 sought hospitality, and the notion of “a people of peace” arises in the reception of the greeting of peace.
I’ve been working up to this all week, and I doubt I can cover it off in a single entry, but let’s see what we come up with, shall we? Just piecing together some themes following the Seabeck Gathering sponsored by Allelon, I have begun to consider The Role of The Rule (and other disciplines) as part of The Subversive Nature of the Ordinary in helping to keep us on the path during a mapless quest or an aimful wandering — a Peregrinatio. Len picked up a theme from me of covenant renewal, which I commented further upon, saying I didn’t plan to hit the theme until today, that I was just foreshadowing. Well, the pressure’s on.
I’ve been thinking about the sojourn lately. At the Seabeck gathering, there was no discussion at all about what to name a missional order, but I was thinking about David Fitch’s Missional Order of St. Fiacre, St. Fiacre being the patron saint of gardeners, and so selected for the metaphor of church planting. The order we were talking about is quite likely to be fashioned as a pilgrim order, being based as it is in Luke 10:1-12 where Jesus sends out the 70 (or 72, depending which manuscript you’re reading). I checked, and discovered that St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. St. Christopher is an interesting character, having been de-canonized in 1969 for lack of evidence not only that he lived a holy life, but that he existed at all. “Christopher” means “Christ-bearer”, which is fitting for a sent people. The question of existence resounds in a question that Rick Meigs asked me as we were dwelling in Luke 10 together. “What were their stories?” he asked, pointing out that we don’t know where the 70 came from or what happened to them afterward. This would be a fitting image for us too, who partake in the journey without want of recognition or pride of place. We merely appear, bearing and sharing the peace of Christ, and then move along. In the account of St. Christopher, it is said that he had taken the place of a hermit who guided travelers. Rather than merely guide, St. Christopher would carry them safely to the other side of a stream. One day he carried a child across the stream, and the weight of the child almost crushed him. Arriving on the other side, the child revealed himself as Christ, who was heavy because he bore the weight of the world on his shoulders. An image for us perhaps of the fact that the task of bearing Christ is not an easy calling. Or sending, if you will.