I just returned from the Emergent Coordinating Group meeting in Minneapolis. It was such an amazing gathering of likeminded people of faith set on reforming our tired and broken church so that God's Kingdom can be on earth as it is in heaven. I just watched the movie, The Patriot, at the end of the war, surrounded, Cornwallis realizes that these farmers and commoners had defeated the British Crown, he says, "Everything will change, everything has changed". He realized that right there on that day, the balance of things had been fundamentally altered. It would take a while to be played out and understood, but that this new thing was replacing the old thing.
Some might not like the "tired and broken" language, but I don't think we would need such passionate progressiveness if the church were anything less. A church that is hemorrhaging like ours where, for example, the people of my community utterly despise it, is a church that is is not vibrant, but tired, and not whole, but broken. I cannot apologize for such language (and I stand in pretty good company when the Prophets and Jesus describe the state of Israel or the church), I can only reform with all of God's strength that he pours through me. (don't worry, I don't take myself too seriously, and I do kind of laugh at my hotheadedness, but oh well, what would the world or the arts be without passion?). Things are set in motion, the church will be different from what it was...but how different it will be, and whether it will be actually better, are still to be decided
Now on to some of my reflections of the gathering: One of the people I was looking forward to meeting was Jaime Arpin-Ricci, a fellow YWAM'er and great writer and understander of emergent. So there he was in the driveway of Doug Pagitt's house, when we returned from the weekend at Tony Jones cabin. We had just dropped Tony off at home, and I drove Jaime over to Solomon's Porch in Tony's van. We had a wonderful time chatting as we attempted to get around Lake Harriet which got in the way of our direct route. So we went around it, and when I felt I had gone far enough I tried to carry on towards the Porch, but discovered that I had driven all the way around the lake and was back where we started! Awesome, more time to talk to Jaime! For an excellent overview of the meetings, read the two posts on Jaime's blog, and subscribe to it, it's a good one.
I went early to enjoy the Summer Institute that Solomon's Porch had the week before. I hoped to connect to some great Emergent's and Porcher's, and I was not disappointed. I have never met such a wonderful, warm, hospitable group of people. I really wanted to move there and live among them. Thanks to Matt Henry and Cory Carlson for their hosting of me in their home, and to Luke Hillstead and the wonderful art group that gave me a wonderful evening at the Walker Art Museum. I will never forget the cathedral bells ringing across the street and captured in the bowl of a field where we stood behind the museum...the sound was mezmerizing.
Then my poor tired weary two and a half years of church planting bones were treated to a weekend on the lake at Tony Jones family cabin. What a great group of guys that went up there and just talked and talked and ate and drank and cruised the lake in the pontoon boat. Mark Scandrette is now one of my buddies and hero's. What a man.
What a journey from when I called Tony last year to see if he or Brian McLaren could come speak at our summer TALK About Church preliminary meetings, and he said, "Well, Brian's sitting here in the car next to me"...and they were driving home from the Emergent Coordinating Group meeting that they had held in the cabin. One year later, and I'm at the cabin. Wow, what a thrill and significant part of the history of our young COTA.
I went to this meeting determined to find a role and carry some of the weight of the work of coordinating this conversation, and being ready to hear and sense when the Lord would transition it to a full blown movment. I sense that transition will take place at different times in different places, and that it will be soon. I did accept a new responsibility within Emergent Village that I will discuss later after I actually begin to do it, and that will coincide with the launch of the new EV website.
Wisely, one of the big decisions was to fully embrace the name Emergent Village instead of just "emergent". It has been so confusing to explain emergent (the organization) is different from the emerging church, and sometimes churches or individuals or the whole thing are described as emergent. So now it will be simpler to just say Emergent Village when refering to the organization.
Thanks to everyone who came and touched my heart, and gave me hope for a future whole and vibrant church where NYC artists and other regions post-Christians can look to the church as the place where they can come to find Jesus. Where the church will be an innovator in the arts and true community will introduce real love to many for the first time.