I attended the gathering that Tony refers to in his blog post linked above. It was a good meeting in Asheville and Tony did an excellent job with his presentation as well. (check out his new book The New Christians:Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier)
I have been involved in what has become the “emergent conversation” for several years now. McLaren, Jones, Padgett, Scandrette, Keel et al. created a network and named the conversation, but it was a conversation taking place across the spectrum of Christian denominations and faith traditions. When we actually saw books putting into words our hunches, frustrations, dreams, etc. it was a total OK-I’m-not-alone-out-here kind of moment. (I remember distinctly asking my wife to read the first few paragraphs of McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian, and she replied back, “Did you write this?”, referring to my own transition from vocational ministry to secular vocation and back and the similar feelings I shared with the character Pastor Dan–”One year from today I will not be in the ministry.” Like pastor Dan, my prediction was wrong as well.)
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Emmanuel Baptist Church (Alexandria, LA) were actually the vehicles that led me initially into this emerging church conversation early in the 1990s. I was employed within the systems of the Southern Baptist Convention and observing the noise and clamor of Baptists fighting from the inside was at the very least disillusioning and more accurately faith-destroying. However, running parallel to the Southern Baptist train-wreck were these two institutions: Emmanuel and CBF. Neither were wowing anyone with anything approaching numerical growth. Both had their own problems. It would have been impossible to go “Pollyanna” about either. However, the community of faith I found in those places felt like home.
This post has gotten WAY too long. I’ll just end abruptly by saying it was very cool to read in Tony’s blog, “thems my people”. It was nice for someone from one side of my family to recognize the resemblance to the other side of my family.