Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Worship Leader Sidebar

Worship Leader Magazine asked me to write a short sidebar for a lengthy upcoming piece by Chuck Smith, Jr. on Emergent. Here are their three questions and my three answers:

What is emergent? Emergent is a fairly loose gathering of pastors, artists, missionaries, church planters, songwriters, bloggers and others who are engaged in a quiet revolution within the church. Disaffected with the reified structures and theologies of both the Protestant "Left" and "Right," a dozen of us began meeting together in the late 1990's, and as our work has become more public, many more have joined in. Currently, we are forging friendships with church leaders around the world, all of whom are on a similar quest of rediscovering the gospel in their contexts.

Why are you engaged in this? Personally, I became involved with Emergent (formerly Young Leaders Network, then TerraNova) because I longed for a place to talk about these issues while in ministry. While getting my M.Div. at Fuller Seminary in the early 1990's, I was introduced to postmodern (a.k.a., postfoundationalist) philosophy and theology, and I really thought it held a lot of promise for a renewal of the gospel mission in the lives of people. When I was a youth and young adults pastor (1997-2003), it was hard to find people who agreed with me. But this group did.

Seeing as one of the emergent values is missional, who is your mission? At the very beginning, the terms of the emerging church conversation were about how to reach young adults with the gospel. Then it was about how to reach people with a "postmodern mindset," no matter their age. But now the conversation has changed again. Rather than "who is your mission?", I would answer "what is you [UPDATE: your] mission?" The mission that we are trying to recover is the Kingdom of God, with which Jesus (and, to a lesser extent, Paul) seemed to be obsessed. Thus we are trying to develop churches that are able to respond to the missional call of the Kingdom of God, however the Holy Spirit chooses to bring that call to us.


Blogger EL MOL said...

very nicely said Tony . . .

7:59 AM  
Blogger Bill Arnold said...

Yes, well said.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Gman said...

Almost sounds Restorationalist and their pleas at least from a Campbellite.

10:08 AM  
Blogger John said...

I completely agree that it isn't an age thing. But I do wonder if this is something that we say as we age--so not to get left out or marginalized by age specific movements. Just wondering.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Phil Hull said...

You are a better man than I am. If I were asked to write something in Worship Leader magazine, I would just write about how dumb worship leaders can be. But as I have stated before, I don't have a very good opinion of worship leaders.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Bean said...

Who hasn't done an Emergent article? Though I must admit that while serving as a worship leader (only half as dumb as Phil thinks t.i.c.) I probably read WL a lot more than CT. Heck, I hadn't even heard of Christian Century.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

hey tony, now that you're a worship leader, can you come to my church and lead worship...you know singing hip songs about jesus where we all raise our hands at the same time and get loud at the same time? oh i forgot that we have to close our eyes and look up to the ceiling at the same time too. peace bro.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Fajita said...

There's another Restoration-guy reading this BLOG? The spirit of Emergent reminds me of the spirit that launched Restoration Movement - and that is precisely what bothers me. It was supposed to be a movement that was post-denominational, although they didn't use "post" so much in the 1800's. However, after a terrific movement got started with so many questions, challenges to the existing abuses of authority structures, and a desire to just be Christians, it degraded into a denomination when they answered all those questions, developed their own authority structures, and forged a certain kind of way to be Christian. After that they just spent their time making sure then next generation knew the answers to questions that generation had never asked. Their goal was met (so they thought) which was to restore the New Testament church. When they restored it (they answered all of their questions), they were good to go.

Their kids were not so good to go. I hope Emergent never quits emerging. When emergent becomes emerged, we're in big trouble. And there are lots of forces inside and outside of emergent that would like to see it emerge, and be done with it already.

If emergent ever arrives it will fail. Arriving is something that makes sense if time stops.

And I like the post on the sidebar for WL.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

Thanks for this post Tony. I feel "included" in the "quiet revolution" bit as well as the "forging friendships with church leaders around the world, all of whom are on a similar quest of rediscovering the gospel in their contexts." segment.

On a personal end, I too resonate with "Disaffected with the reified structures and theologies of both the Protestant "Left" and "Right,"

Merry Christmas from Malaysia. And I'm planning to post later a glimpse of our simple "emergent malaysia" christmas party last Saturday our second more organized gathering. We even had a surprise guest Joel Vestal from Servlife International whom I discovered was involved in Soularize and Ooze events before.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

You'll see Joel Vestal in one of the pictures here http://sivinkit.net/archives/001304.html and a quick glance at our little Emergent Malaysia Xmas party

7:27 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

Dear Tony,

Nice post, thanks. I like what you said about the Reign of God and how this emergent conversation has shifted from how to “evangelize” the youth to how to “live out” our calling as Christians. I believe this is the question that must confront us—how can we be about ushering in God’s reign here in our world? Like you said, this is certainly something Jesus seemed obsessed.

I was talking to a blog friend the other day and he reminded of a story that my NT professor told. There is the old saying about the finger pointing to the moon; instead of looking to the moon we began to worship the finger that points to the moon. I like Jesus too, but for too long it seems that many have had our focus on Jesus and not the “way” Jesus pointed. It is amazing to read the synoptics and then turn to Acts and notice the striking difference between Jesus’ message and the message of the early church.


8:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Doug -

I would answer "what is you mission?"

We are still not sure Tony can write.

Nice work though, I am sure they will put a good editor to you contribution.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Mitch said...


I like that, "I hope Emergent never quits emerging", "When emergent becomes emerged, we're in big trouble", "If emergent ever arrives it will fail"

It's saying that we should never stop chasing God; that we will never have all the answers.

That's where I am personally. Whenever I feel like I have the right answer(s) I should kick myself in the butt.

2:46 PM  
Blogger John Wilks said...

Thank you for this. I understand the misgiving some have about the Emergent movement- but for someone in my context (a young United Methodist stuck in a seemingly never-ending denomincational civil war) the ideals of Emergant theology and praxis offer both a breath of fresh air and a possible way for young UM pastors and seminarians to move past/through/around our current dead-lock and into holy community with one-another.

At the very least, I have found in much of the Emergent liturature, especially books like "The Post-Evnagleical," a sense of God moving us out of the "mainstream" (whatever that is) and into the flow of His eternal fellowship, which is relevant to all ages and cultures, but confined to none.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Jeremiah said...

To Gman and Fajita-
Having just finished an extensive independent study on the Restoration and currently working as one of those stupid worship leaders :) in a Restoration church...I certainly see a different church than what the Campbells had in mind. But, I think Restorationists are in a unique position to minister in this Emergent movement because of their heritage.

For those who don't know what it this is about:

"Where the Scriptures speak, we speak. Where the Scripture is Silent, we are silent." --Thomas Campbell

The jest is this. Creeds (doctrinal statements) should not be used as a test of fellowship. Only where the Bible provides a "thus saith the Lord" does the church make a declaration.

Ultimately, it never got to this point, but maybe its something we should revisit as part of the emergent conversation. Brain McLaren's dealings with Restorationalist thought in his recent "Generous Orthodoxy" seemed to have missed this founding principle.

9:32 AM  
Blogger geoff said...

i really liked the last bit, tony.
"..churches that..respond to the missional call of the Kingdom of God."

this is the direction i'm hoping the emerging-conversation heads. i just spent much longer saying the same thing at http://theashram.blogspot.com...
should have come here before posting it.

thanks for keeping the 'm' word in the conversation.

1:51 PM  

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