Omnibus link guide to Emergent Church resources

Mike, posting at “Rude Armchair Theology” has a reaction to the Virginia Diocesan Convention’s workshop on Emergent Church. His point is that there just isn’t a “quick start guide” or an “Emergent Church for Idiots” available online…

“So my first recommendation for any clergy (or others) seeking more understanding of the emerging church movement/conversation/whatever: please don’t expect to find it on the other end of these links. Unless, that is, your next move after doing this research is to actually reach out to somebody (or bodies) in the movement and establish some kind of relationship with them. It could be in person (invite somebody to your church, or visit theirs, or invite them out for coffee or a pint), online (read a blog and comment, or send an email, or make some Facebook friends), but the first thing you need to know about the ’emerging church’ is that it’s nothing more or less than a web of relationships. There is no unifying organizational structure, no unity of doctrine or practice or affiliation that binds this movement together. The thing that does unite us is relationships – friendships. I unhesitatingly guarantee that you will not begin to understand the emerging church unless you enter into that network of relationships, at least a little bit.”

Having said that, he then goes on to list a number of useful sites for people trying to get their heads wrapped around the movement.

Read the rest and get the linkage here.

Author: Nicholas Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

3 thoughts on “Omnibus link guide to Emergent Church resources”

  1. I share Mike’s frustration that when Episcopalians in the hierarchy suddenly notice emerging church movements and decide they want to know what they’re doing and what this might say to the larger church, they tend not to turn to people who have been involved in the emerging church conversation for years AND who are active in The Episcopal Church, but to bring in outsiders to TEC.
    I’ve been involved with the emerging church conversation since being active in the late 80s/early 90s in the ‘alternative worship’ movement in the UK (which eventually developed into ‘Fresh Expressions’), and am involved in the conversation here as well. In TEC, I’ve generally been allowed to do emerging church-style liturgy with youth and young adult groups (sometimes it seems that nobody really cares what young people do, as long as they’re not bothering adults), but have received no funding or institutional support or encouragement in the process. When I started the U2charist in 2004, it was presented to me as a major NEGATIVE in my postulancy interviews, and while I was made a postulant at the time, I’m in no ordination process at present.
    EDS has wonderful and regular celebrations ‘alternative week’ in chapel, where I’ve done emerging-church-style liturgies. And I’ve done quite a lot of workshops on emerging church liturgy and ways of being church that are also thoroughly Anglican. I’ve done the vast majority of those workshops in ecumenical and mostly non-denominational settings, as it seems TEC conferences usually call in others who have no understanding of Anglicanism, and sometimes say things such as that having a prayer book is a hierarchical and profoundly negative thing (as Tony Jones said last year at a workshop at SSJE). TEC folk then leave the worshop not understanding the diversity of emerging church movements even in the U.S. (and with NO idea that they’re happening elsewhere), and no idea, for example, that in Dan Kimball’s book on how to design liturgy for emerging church gatherings (and Dan Kimball is a non-denominational pastor who has never been Anglican), as I recall, he lists two and only printed resources in his bibliography for emerging church folk to use when designing liturgy: TEC’s BCP and the New Zealand prayer book.
    So here I am, living on campus at the Episcopal Divinity School and designing lots of liturgies for the UCC and non-denominational groups.
    I would say that the first thing that clergy and lay leaders in TEC who want to understand the emerging church conversation should do is ask the people they know whether they’ve involved in it. Maybe as an established EpiscoBlog such as Episcopal Café or SarahLaughed.net to post a brief notice, e.g., “the Diocese of _________’s mission strategy group would like to include the perspectives of Episcopalians involved in the emerging church conversation. If you have been involved in that conversation, please email a note introducing yourself to ________, as we would like minimally to have a series of conversations with you, and ideally to appoint some additional members to the group who have experience in this important movement.” A lot of people would be surprised to learn how many clergy and laity in their dioceses are doing wonderful and creative ministry in emerging church contexts, but who may not be trumpeting it loudly in TEC-specific gatherings, having been discouraged by years of blank stares or even hostile reactions. The funny thing is that a lot of us ’emerging church’ folk in TEC have to be a little guarded in gatherings sponsored by organizations such Emergent Village, as many of those involved in those organizations are ’emerging’ from a conservative evangelical or even fundamentalist context — so while they’re considered ‘liberal’ or even ‘heretical’ by their former colleagues in more conservative movements for thinking that the meaning of Jesus’ death can be read in other ways (e.g., ‘Christus Victor,’ which is hardly news to most who have been through an Anglican seminary in the last 20 years), they’re actually VERY conservative on issues such as those surrounding human sexuality, which makes them rather hostile settings for openly gay people and people who fail to declare that all same-sex relationships are sinful.
    In other words, there’s a real opportunity here for TEC to both learn from emerging church practitioners who can speak fluent Anglican AND to encourage some vibrant and very fruitful ministries taking place under our noses that we have, for the most part, ignored over the last decade or so.
    By the way, Province I has graciously invited me to do a workshop on the emerging church conversation at their gathering on March 7-9. I’m really looking forward to it — and not just because I think it just might be the first time I’ve been present in a workshop that’s taking place in a TEC context and is about the emerging church in which the facilitator was actually an Episcopalian who’s part of the conversation, and not offering observations based mostly on books read.

  2. Wow. That was a long comment. I should probably make it a post at Grace Notes (http://www.sarahlaughed.net/gracenotes/).
    Well, I hope at least that it was informative. Off to work now — teaching assertiveness, boundary-setting, violence prevention, and self-defense to a really wonderful group of women who graduate from their course today — another kind of liturgy (ritual, at least — but I’m putting together a version of the course specifically for leaders in faith communities that will include daily liturgy).

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