Some folks, most of them with noble intentions, are vocal and vehement critics of Emergent. Their targets have especially been Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Tony Jones. What should the leaders of Emergent do about their critics?
Well, they could strike back; or they could ignore their critics. I’ve always thought how one responds to criticism is a good indicator of character and intention. No one gets it right every time, but patterns do emerge. Time tells. Listening and learning lead both to standing firm or changing in light of the discoveries of better truths.
I’ll tell what you what Emergent leaders did last week, and I was glad to hear about it. Tony and Doug went out of their way to invite some of their most vocal opponents to dinner. Tony invited me, but there were so many at the table, so much noise in the room, and a group of friends wanted to chat with me about a more pressing issue in their own emerging group that I had to excuse myself. We slipped away for more than an hour of great conversation.
What happened in the meeting of Emergent and its critics is that each of these folks met one another (for the first time in some cases), and they saw one another in flesh and blood, and they heard one another’s voices and tones and emphases, and they probably got to liking one another enough that they moved toward reconciliation on some issues (not on all, to be sure). In short, when we see one another as Eikons we have a better chance of treating one another with respect and love.
We’ll perhaps hear in the blogworld what took place, but this sort of meeting might just lead to some reconciliation — which would be good for all of us.