Emergent Village Shifts
October 30, 2008, 12:56 pm
Filed under: emerging church

For the record, I’ll probably hate myself later for even blogging about this, but here goes anyway . . . Yeah, so this morning, like many others, found this letter on the Emergent Village blog, which discusses some changes in focus and direction for the organization.  They plan to “decentralize” their organization, phase out the employment of their National Coordinator, and focus on helping facilitate regional cohorts, etc.

I’ve not read any of the comments on the EV blog, or any other commentary on this.  I’m sure lots of smart people are saying lots of smart things about this.  Me?  I must say I greet this news with essentially the same ambivalence that I greet any other news that comes out of EV.  Here are my opinions, in no ranked order of importance:

1. The phasing out of the National Coordinator position is a good thing.  I never actually thought that position was necessary in the first place.  For an organization that has always billed itself as a group of “friends” and a “conversation,” I never could figure out the need for a coordinator.  I have tons of conversations all the time with lots of different people in the so-called emerging church, and never needed a coordinator for that.  No conversation I’ve ever had in my life has needed a press release to announce its presence.

2. I don’t think EV should have ever “centralized” in the first place, so their efforts to decentralize don’t particularly impress me.  Again, in my opinion, the hiring of a National Coordinator, and the centralizing of an organizational identity may have been helpful in a few limited ways.  But it also served to give the critics of this movement all the ammunition that they needed to justify their misunderstanding of what the emerging church really is – a scattered, but like-minded band of Jesus followers who are trying to strip down a lot of Christendom baggage in order to pursue the missio Dei in their local communities.  The identity of EV gave critics the impression that “this is what the emerging/emergent church stands for.”  That was never the case, but it’s not hard to see how the critics arrived at that position.

3.  Emergent Village has been better for the outgoing National Coordinator than he has been for EV.  Book sales, speaking engagements, big fish in small pond status.  Never terribly impressive to me.

4. Emergent Village is STILL not the voice of the emerging church movement.  It’s always been A voice, but never THE voice. 

Maybe now that EV has seen fit to give us all the “permission” we can go back to what we were before the machine was started – a scattered, but like-minded band of Jesus followers, who intuitively know how to connect with each other through blogs, meetups, conferences, phone calls, and old-fashioned friendships.

To wrap things up, I realize that what I’ve written here is awfully crabby sounding and negative.  Those are just my opinions, but I promise, I’m not cranky about any of them.  The truth is, I really believe that everyone that’s served at EV, including the National Coordinator, love Jesus, and are driven to make things in the post-Christendom world better.  I appreciate their efforts, even if I’ve found some of them to be misguided. 

I also reserve the right to be wrong in some of my opinions.  It’s possible that once I take the time to surf the blogosphere for commentary on this stuff, I’ll be enlightened by one of the smart people, and come back here with an apology.  It’s not like that’s never happened before.


2 Comments so far
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d00d, speak for yourself… You say, “Maybe now… we can go back to what we were before the machine was started – a scattered, but like-minded band of Jesus followers, who intuitively know how to connect with each other…” I sure don’t.

EV hasn’t helped much, mind you. 🙂


Comment by Angela Harms

I read the post today too and I thought their moves were interesting.

The movement as a whole has always been so ambiguous and fluid.

I tired to write a series on it once, but I really just ended up writing about sociological trends.

Comment by coldfire

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