The Wacky Emerging Church: Reason #38
March 7, 2008, 1:50 pm
Filed under: blogging, emerging church

O.k., let’s get started. I’ve titled this post “Reason #38,” and not “Reason #1” because I’d hate for this series of posts to be taken as a ranked order. It’s all quite arbitrary, I assure you. With that in mind, I’d like to add one important note to my introductory remarks: these posts are directed toward both everybody and nobody in particular – if what I say resonates with you, cool, if not, cool. Also, much of what I critique will be disgustingly true of my own life, so please know that I’m calling myself out as much as anyone.

Reason #38: We’re not all that, and a bag of baked, all-natural, certified organic chips

Some of us need to get over ourselves. Often when we talk about emerging church experiences, ideals, and culture, we do so with a smug, self-congratulatory attitude. “How very smart of us to have figured all of this out!!” I swear, I couldn’t count the number of conversations I’ve had that sounded like the college freshman who’s just become the world’s expert on the political dynamics of Central America, simply because he just finished a 101 level cultural anthropology class. Look, I’m really glad you’re excited about having just read “A New Kind of Christian” or “Resident Aliens” or “Blue Like Jazz,” but have you figured out what you’re going to do to walk this stuff out in your time and place in the world? I’m glad you’ve begun to deconstruct the church pews, but have you gotten out of them and into your community yet? Thank you for sharing your enlightenment regarding Christendom and the ways in which North American evangelicalism has perpetuated power structures . . . please tell me, now, what are you doing or at least preparing to do to subvert them?

Believe me, I understand the value of having people that you can talk this stuff out with. There was a long time when I was trying to process these conflicting thoughts in isolation, and it was tough. It actually is exciting. But don’t kid yourself – it’s highly unlikely that nobody in the world has come to the same conclusions you have. There’s just not that much original thought in the emerging church. This is especially the case for emerging church people who have come up out of conservative evangelicalism. Much of what I found “new” and “fresh” has been going on in mainline and Anabaptist and <gasp> Catholic thinking for a long, long time.

We’re refreshed by the fact that we can approach theology outside of just systematic structures, and that we can be the church in ways that are more sustainable and genuine than the ways we may have inherited. But that’s not the point. When we believe that it is, we get into thinking that we’re the important thing. Living into and announcing the present reality of the Kingdom, the missio Dei, is the point.

So many of us in the emerging church went through times of questioning, deconstructing, and regrouping . . . many of us continue in that mode. But in all of our newfound freedom, refreshment, and energy, let’s not make the mistake of looking down on “those poor souls” who have yet to wake up to the things we may have. In reality, we’re not as far along as we should be, anyway, so it’s not like we’ve got much to brag about. It’s too easy for us to take cheap shots at others that are in our family. Let’s continue to critique, to challenge, and subvert any empire that sets itself up in place of the Kingdom – but let’s be prayerful and civil about it.

Thank you for your attention. That is all. Comment at will.


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