The New Christians

The New Christians

Emerging Church Round-Up

Emergent Art Car .jpgThere’s been some pretty good stuff floating around the interwebs recently on emergent/ing church movement.  I wrote about my experience at the Christian Book Expo last week.  Meanwhile, there was an historic meeting of over 900 at the first-ever Catholic-Emergent meet-up in Albuquerque.  Jonathan Brink was the intrepid reporter on-the-ground for Emergent Village:


What then followed really surprised me. We spent almost thirty
minutes in a round table talk. The average age at my table was 50 and
Catholic. It was incredible hearing the voices from those in the
Catholic church on how they saw the Protestant Reformation. Some quotes

1. We’re so worried about abortion that we’re missing the fact that there are wars going on.
2. Our church is being thrown into total chaos over the GLBT issue.
3. Emergence is going from exclusionary to inclusionary.
4. Words of how we feel: hopeful, excited, searching, human, very excited, energized, thankful.
5. We see you Protestants as having been distracted over the last 500 years.
6. (a Catholic) We’re just now discovering we can read the Bible for ourselves.
7. I’m learning to debunk the myths of my own faith.
8. It’s nice to talk about who the central authority is: Jesus.


Mike Todd reflected on the event on the plane ride home:

This emergence Christianity is not another slice of the pie vying
for market share. It’s more like the outer layer of a tree. The
important points here are that the outer layer encircles the whole
tree/pie (sorry–mixing metaphors) and reflects life in the current
weather conditions. We were a gathering of “ring people”.

question we were really grooving to was this: What would happen if we
stopped delegitimizing each other, and instead legitimized, affirmed
and encouraged each other?


Jeromy Johnson chimed in:

But what is happening today in the 21st century is different. Where as
division defined the others (in part), this one will be defined by a
remerging of the “willing” who are found in the camps created by the
previous schisms.

A remerging of the willing. This is how I believe history will define this time.

remerging of those who don’t want to put aside their differences for
unity’s sake, but want unity to be found in recognizing and embracing
the beauty in all of our differences. (Paul’s description of the Body
comes to mind for me here).


A remerging of those who realize
they don’t need to seek permission from the “top” to unite and walk
together in love, but now see that Jesus already gave them permission
to unite and then prayed that they would.

A remerging of those who choose reconciliation, healing, and forgiveness over entrenchment, division, fear, and anger.

remerging of those who choose to toss aside the rules and theologies
that divide, and choose to embrace the healing freedom that really does
exist in Christ.

A remerging of those who choose to let go of
their “inerrant” interpretations and dogmas for the sake of learning
from and alongside the “other”.


A remerging of those who are willing to be killed on the cross of unity, rather than slowly die in the quicksand of division.

A remerging of those who choose to sit at the table and break bread together, and then welcome all others who will come.

A remerging of those who hunger and thirst for God’s kingdom, not our individual kingdoms.

A remerging of the broken.

A remerging of the weak.

A remerging of the willing.

And, in other news, Nadia Bolz-Weber let slip her working definition of the “emerging church.” Before you go onto her blog to savage her definition, let me say that I think that, at this point in time, no one can speak more authoritatively on what is emerging than Nadia.  She’s doing it.

Emerging Church:
communities that emerge out of very particular cultural contexts where
the traditional church is basically irrelevant.  These cultural
contexts are more often than not urban, youngish and post-modern.

Comments read comments(7)
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Dan H

posted March 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

Nadia’s definition sounds more realistic and succinct than any that I’ve heard so far.
I still wonder how much it really is possible to ‘toss aside’ beliefs and theologies–at some point our experiences and our motivations for actions are grounded on beliefs, some more specific than others.
Still, sounds like a really exciting gathering.

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posted March 30, 2009 at 12:24 pm

It isn’t as hard as you think to “toss aside” these things. I grew up in a very charismatic UMC church. At the age of 25 I converted to Catholicism. Over the last 10 years I have had numerous confirmations that this was the right decision for me. Now, when I engage in systematic accountings of my beliefs, I find that I genuinely disagree with almost every core tenant of Protestantism (by which I mean the things which set it in contrast to, and in too many cases opposition to, Catholicism).
I am so disappointed that I was unable to attend the Emerging event at CAC. As a Catholic, it is extremely difficult to participate in the emerging conversation. Too much of the discussion seems to be a debate between Calvinists and Evangelicals which is, in the long run, not substantially different than the debate these groups have been engaged in since long before there was an emergence. The squabbling is unseemly and so much of the acrimony and discord honestly makes me want to disown all of you entirely.
I think Catholics _NEED_ the emerging conversation because we _NEED_ to find a way to not be embarrassed by mainstream Protestantism. But I think this is going to require a more inclusive, ecumenical mindset. Not between Catholics and Protestants, but between the various sects of Protestantism. You all need to learn to get along in love and unity in spite of your differences. I have never met two Catholics who agreed on everything (or even on most things). But its OK! You need to learn to find the place where divorcing each other over theology is just as wrong as a married couple divorcing. You need to learn that purity of theology is not The Good News.
When the emerging conversation stops being a wrestling match and turns back into a -conversation- then I think Catholics will really be able to dive in and welcome you all with open arms. But things are far, far too ugly right now to make that possible in too many cases.
I hope the event at CAC becomes an annual one so that I can be involved in the future.

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Your Name

posted March 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

I attended the CAC Emerging Church conference as a ‘post-evangelical…don’t have a brand name at the moment Christian’. I am emerging from 25 years in the context of the Evangelical experience…and am sstill struggling to understand my current experience and journey.
I felt there was so much of value at the conference and not the least of which was how the body of Christ was represented in the various denominations…distinct…yet amazingly unified and energized in their togetherness. Being part of that felt historic…and beautiful. So much healing was happening.
Most at the conference were proponents of ‘everyone’ getting along…protestant sects as well as mending an often tense Catholic-Prostestant dynamic. How far that ideology would actually play out over time…is unknown…but…for the duration of the conference unity was palpable…driving many to tears.
The final day of the conference we were all invited to share the Lords table together across denominational lines. This was the zenith of my experience all weekend. It was profound and will remain seared in my heart and mind forever. I am not certain that anyone who prefers the overt theological divisions of their particular Christian expression would have felt as excited to be part of such a Eucmenical experience…but here’s hoping that gathering like the New Mexico conference will become viral andincreasingly more accessable to more and more people.

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Albert the Abstainer

posted March 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm

To experience unity requires openness and humility. Start with these and everything else falls into line. It is so easy that a child can do it, and so difficult that an adult stumbles over it.

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Your Name

posted April 10, 2009 at 12:15 am

Nadia’s definition on the emerging(nt) church from above: “Christian communities that emerge out of very particular cultural contexts where the traditional church is basically irrelevant. These cultural contexts are more often than not urban, youngish and post-modern.”
Seems like a new way for folks to congregate around a philosophy that avoids teaching about our sinfulness and Gods’s redemption. If the emerging church rejects Biblical teaching as irrelevant then what does it believe?

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