Emergent and Me, Part 1
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tony Jones‘ new book The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier. It’s basically the story of Emergent Village, told from Tony’s inimitable perspective, as well as his thoughts/assertions about the broader emerging church movement. (Yes, he calls it a “movement.”)
I must start off by saying that I think of all the leading Emergent voices (e.g., Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, etc.) Tony is the best writer. I just like his style. I appreciate very much what others have written, but I just enjoy reading Tony’s stuff a little more. And that’s purely an aesthetic judgment.
I might be a little biased though. Tony is, after all, my personal entrÃ©e to the emerging church conversation. His telling of the Emergent story has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own journey and how it intersects and interweaves with Emergent. In the foreword to The New Christians, Tony says that this Emergent Village thing has been going on now for a decade among a group of people committed to being “a growing, generative friendship of missional Christian leaders.” Tony’s friendship is what brought me “into the fold” originally, back in 1999.
It was through Tony, who was a fan of my underground ‘zine, that I was invited to participate in the Young Leader Network’s “Ministry on the New Edge” Midwest Regional Forum in Minneapolis held May 24-26, 1999, at Colonial Church in Edina.
It was there, at the YLN midwest gathering, that I first met Doug Pagitt (who was on his way out of YLN to go start Solomon’s Porch), Andrew Jones, Tom and Christine Sine, the folks behind Beyond magazine, and others.
If I recall correctly, I led a discussion (attended by maybe two people) on using the Internet for ministry—because I had created a few websites at that point, that made me an “expert.”
I remember my first meeting with Doug was playing “H-O-R-S-E” against him
on the in-door basketball court in the Jonathan Edwards Youth Center at Colonial Church (where Tony Jones was on staff at the time). The lesson I learned: Never go against anyone taller than 6′ in any basketball-related activity, unless you want to be humbled severely.
I remember the Sines were great, and I remember thinking, “Thank God for ‘elders’ like this who ‘get it’ and are willing to listen to younger generations and to grow in their understanding and willing to adapt and change.” The Sines really impressed me—and still do.
I remember thinking (after the fact) that I wished I’d gotten to hang out more with Andrew Jones. Oh well, hopefully that will happen sometime in the future …
The YLN regional forums were “designed for those doing ministry among the post-1960 generations.” The stated goals were:
This may have been where I heard the term “postmodern” for the first time.
Later, I started getting these weird email updates from something called “The Terra Nova Project”—I later discovered that this is what YLN had sort of morphed into and what later became known as “Emergent Village” …
I’ll share some more of my journey in a future update. Until then, check out Jason Mitchell’s posts featuring his perspective on “The History of Emergent,” fascinating and hilarious stuff …