So far we have looked at the first three “articles” of Emergent Village. Today I’ll take a look at the fourth, and then tomorrow, after looking at the “actions” section at the end of Emergent Village’s charter, make some suggestions about how a statement of orthopraxy might help our up front statements.
This fourth article at Emergent Village’s order may well be a revelation about what the emerging movement form of Christianity is.
4. Commitment to One Another
In order to strengthen our shared faith and resolve, and in order to encourage and learn from one another in our diversity through respectful, sacred conversation, we value time and interaction with other friends who share this rule and its practices. We identify ourselves as members of this growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship. We welcome others into this friendship as well. We bring whatever resources we can to enrich this shared faith and resolve.
*To make an annual pilgrimage to an emergent gathering; to give one another the gift of our presence at annual gatherings whenever possible.
*To publicly self-identify with emergent where appropriate and to represent emergent well whenever we can; to exemplify the best of what emergent strives to be and do.
*To invite others to participate and welcome new participants.
* To seek to be positive and constructive in caring for the emergent friendship. To find some specific way we can help the circle of friends in emergent – by hosting gatherings, by networking people, by recommending good books or other resources, by writing for our website or other publications, by serving in some behind- the-scenes way whenever we can. To honor â€œunsung heroesâ€ among us.
*To stay reconciled to one another. To give one another the gift of commitment not to give up on, betray, or reject one another, but instead, to encourage, honor, and care for one another.
* To stay informed about emergent locally and globally via the website and email updates.
Once again, this is a purple (or deep) ecclesiology for it transcends what we see on all sides today, and it transcends by capturing our relationships with the word “friendship.”
Emergent Village is not the clearing house for an official denomination. Instead, it coordinates the ministry and life of “this growing, global, generative, and non-exclusive friendship.” For my take on this, such a friendship has the makings of a quasi-official affiliation of those who undertake to commit themselves to such a friendship.
Furthermore, I like the use of the term “friendship,” not only because famous essayists have written formidable studies of the concept and not only because Aristotle’s treatise is brilliant, but because the Kingdom of Jesus and the Ecclesia of Paul are essentially socio-spiritual visions of how genuine friendship is to be manifest.
The rest of this article is about commitment to the Emergent way — which is participatory, inclusive, conversational, and loyal. There has been lots of discussion among the emerging folk about the ideas that are direct or indirect here, but I can’t help but seeing here a vision for the Church that is both inclusive but also firmly affiliatory — the Emergent way is an Emergent way of being Christian.
Because it is a conversation, it is not a denomination; because it is a conversation, it can be a movement; because it is a conversation, it cannot be a “church.” The one thing Emergent Village’s comment makes clear to me is that the one thing they don’t want is another denomination or yet another church. It desires a genuine friendship among all Christians — so a purple ecclesiology knows differences but transcends differences through friendship.
Finally, what I most like about this is the sense that the Emergent way is one of friendship. If we can’t be friends, we certainly can’t be missional; if we can’t be friends, we can’t even worship together in unity; if we can’t be friends, we can’t learn from one another, trust one another, or reach our community with the Kingdom vision of Jesus.
“I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father” (John 15:15). Friends reveal themselves to one another because they trust one another and they trust one another because they are trustworthy.
Friends live out the Jesus Creed.