Emergent @ CCT, follow-up

A couple of weeks ago I was able to spend a few hours with Christian Churches Together, which is a relatively new ecumenical network in the USA.  I have to say that I find these ecumenical gatherings quite encouraging.  For instance as an Anabaptist (it may be more precise to say that I am an Anabaptist-Emergent-Evangelical) I was free to sit in the same room with reformed leaders without threat of being drowned or burned at the stake.  Or to see Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Lutherans working alongside each other, or Quakers in conversation with Anglicans.   I just find it remarkable the power of sustained conversation.  What was unimaginable a few hundred years ago is now happening on a regular basis.

It gives me great hope for the unintuitive purposes of God through the church in the world.

While with Christian Churches Together I was able to facilitate a two hour conversation.  The title of the workshop they asked me to facilitate was “The Emerging Church Movement.”

One of the primary misconception I tried to address head on was the mistaken notion of the “Emerging Church.”  As I see it there is no such thing as “the emerging church.”  Of course there are local faith communities, pastors/priests, and community members who are influenced and shaped by the emerging conversation, but the emerging conversation is not a church.  The conversation does not have a theology, it does not have an ecclesial structure, no emerging constitution/by-laws, it has no formal authority/accountability structure, does not maintain offices or ordination, no formal member communities, thus it to call it a church assumes a kind of structure that I think is misleading.  I think it is more helpful to remember that every community or person influenced by the emerging conversation is also linked to a larger historic stream within Christianity. So a person or a local community is Presbyterian, Methodist, Mennonite, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, Coptic, Orthodox, Quaker, Free Church, Assembly of God, Congregational, Baptist, or whatever tradition and shaped by by the emerging conversation.

In fact I have found it fascinating that often as people participate in the emerging conversation they find that their unique narrative shaped by their respective tradition becomes even more important to them.  Often inviting deeper study of their tradition’s history, theology, distinctives, contributions and even their liabilities or short comings.  This is part of the reason why the emerging conversation continues to be thought of a as a missional network.



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