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emerging church

Being Jesus in Nashville

My friend Jim Palmer likes to color outside the lines of modern evangelicalism and to make a long story short, his last book was controversial enough that his publisher tossed him which for me, makes me want this book to be published.  He is publishing it independently and needs your help.

I set out to disentangle Jesus from the religious machinery of Christianity and discovered a profound and unexpected answer to the question, "What would Jesus do?" I devoted more than a year of my life to live as Jesus and learned that Jesus was special not because he was more divine than the rest of us, but because he was courageously more human than most. Unfortunately that message didn’t go over well with my publisher.

I don’t know if this book is theological sound or not but many books in the history of Christian theology were seen as heretical when they came out.  Even if Jim is wrong, it adds something to the conversation of praxis and how Jesus would live today.

I’ll embed the video.  I hope it’s okay but I can’t hear it.  This ear thing really sucks.

Fringe Expressions

Fringe Expressions

Andrew Jones has launched a major new project called Fringe Expressions.  As he calls it.

We are going to partner with leading mission organizations and denominations by helping them start 50 new church/mission structures around the world that will act as role models for church planting in the toughest parts of the world.

As well as being highly effective fresh expressions of church and mission, these new communities will bring a lasting, holistic impact through these 3 strategies:

1. Through social enterprise and mico-business they will move their ministries towards long-term sustainability.

2. Through social justice ventures they will touch the needy in their cities in measurable ways – ie, a spiritual, social, financial and environmental impact.

3. Through social media streaming they will contagiously share their story to leverage their experience and compel others to follow their examples.

Sneaky . .  huh?

These 50 new communities will be fresh expressions of church but, also, because they will intentionally position themselves to impact those on the fringe, we will call them "fringe expressions".
By fringe, I mean the cultural fringe (alternative, non-churched, victimized) the economic fringe (poor, needy, vulnerable) the geographic fringe (church-unfriendly areas and countries) and the spiritual fringe [NOT your father’s old-time religion] where traditional church efforts make little progress.

Or in other words, they will go where no fresh expressions or missional communities or emerging churches have gone before.

If it’s something you want to support (and believe me, you do), check out the full post out for more information.

Soularize 2011

This came from Spencer Burke of TheOoze yesterday.

Soularize 2011 in San Diego, CaliforniaIt’s been almost 10 years from the first Soularize in Seattle, and we’re exciting about hosting another learning party in 2011. As usual, this event will unite both traditional and non-traditional teachers, artists, theologians, thinkers, and social activists.

This year – sunny San Diego!
October 12-14, 2011

Save the date and plan to join us for one of the most unique experiences of your life. If you’ve been to a previous Soularize, don’t miss this 10 year reunion event. If you’ve never been before, you won’t want to miss it.

We’re partnering with an incredible church in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego to put on an incredible event that will cultivate a thought-provoking and spiritual experience while introducing a wide variety of ways to connect and grow with others on the journey.

Didn’t Soularize start a year earlier than that in in Los Angeles?  Whatever the case, San Diego in October looks inviting.  Update: I am planning to be there.

Losing My Religion

A lot of you have asked why I have stopped posting about items of faith and Christianity here and the reason is pretty complex.  First of all after reading around 5 books a week for 15 years or so, I no longer have the time or the desire to read that much.  Much of that reading was theological or about church life and what has been said on the topic for me has been said.  I still get probably 100 books a year to review and most of them are just rehashing what has been said and said and said again.  On the occasional time when I can force myself to enter into Scott’s Parable, I see the same book, just written by different authors.  I know I am taking some shots at some friends here but it seems like a lot more reflection and a lot less publishing may help everyone.

It goes for me as well, if I don’t have anything to say, I am not going to log in and write anything.  To paraphrase a good friend of mine who used to joke, “If you want a better sermon, get Max Lucado to write better books”, so in other words, if you want a better blog, write better stuff for me to link to.

The more serious reason is that I struggle with the distance between neighborhood/community and the church.  I have read and heard pastors say that they need to vision cast (what a geeky and churchy phrase) or sell their church on the idea that they need to be a part of their community.  This is a phrase I have heard for years but I never realized how strange it was that the church had stopped being part of the community.  Now of course with more and more churches wanting more real estate, they are literally moving outside of their cities and towns so they can create more programs that compete with and pull people away from the communities they are apart of.  The fact that we have to “vision cast”, sell, manipulate, or coerce our congregations to be part of the community, in fact, we had to come up with new church growth terminology to describe what should be our natural reaction as human beings… (I’m missional, your missional, we are all missional) that is our responsibility to make our local communities a better place for everyone to live in. 

Years ago I listened to a series of podcasts by Todd Hunter and Dallas Willard in which Hunter talked about one of the metrics his church used was how far people were travelling to get to his church without realizing the impact it had on local communities.  While that may represent one extreme of the equation, it was quite similar to what we experience as a family in finding a church in Saskatoon.   There is a pull to be a part of the church community, which church leaders tend of think of as a true or at least superior community which puts us in tension with my commitments to other things that are going on in my geographic community.  While I agree there is a need for involvement in the church, our local communities the need is often just as pressing.  So I have kids clubs that interfere with Mark taking karate, small groups that only work for people who work 8-5 (and definitely not for those who like Wendy and I who are work from 7:00 a.m. when I go to work to 10:45 p.m. when Wendy walks in the door from work).   I have prostitutes on my street, a brothel on my block, guys grinding drugs across from the local elementary school, the Terror Squad working out a local restaurant and bar and I keep hearing that my number one priority needs to be a small group in a church.

I follow some pastors and church leaders on Twitter and I realized it’s a giant irrelevant echo chamber where the tweets and retweets reinforce what they believe.  I haven’t lost my faith in Christianity, I am just in doubt that the church is an accurate representation of what it represents anymore.  I was in a room of pastors earlier this year and they were still talking about media in worship, ancient future song writing, and all sorts of peripheral things about church life with great interest and not one of them mentioned life in their community.  A friend of mine sent me a sermon the other day on YouTube to check out as it would cure what ailed my soul.  The stage looked like it was stolen from David Letterman and I am pretty sure it was meant to be a copy and after watching the sermon, I realized that he was speaking in the same style that Vince does while pitching Slap Chops.  Sadly not only did I used to speak like that in public but so do so many other pastors I know.  I realized while watching this that the church had become a parody of itself.  The Emperor has no clothes.

I realized that I no longer see most churches any differently than Kiwanas or another service club but this one has higher fixed costs.  Are all churches like this?  I don’t think so.  One of the great experiences I have had in life was spending a bit of time with Dave Blondel and the Third Space.   Both Wendy and I have said that we would be quite comfortable attending a church lead by my friends, Scott Williams, Randall Friesen, Pernell Goodyear, Kim Reid or Darryl Dash but those kinds of churches and those kinds of pastors aren’t that easy to find.  The problem for me is when I see the kind of church that is engaged in creative ways in it’s community, it’s awfully hard to go back.  When I was down in Maple Creek, I did some pastoral work with people.  We literally put on some orange Salvation Army vests, went from flood ravaged house to flood ravaged house and chatted with flood victims.  Everyone in that community knew the Salvation Army Corps officers, Captain Ed and Charlotte.  Every last person.  When he was in Saskatoon, he was everywhere in the community as well.  If he can do it, so can other churches and their leaders.  If Wendy, myself, my staff, and a bunch of volunteers can work amongst Saskatoon’s poorest, so can everyone.  What we do isn’t brain surgery (umm, except for my staff, you are all brilliant… underpaid but brilliant) but a compassionate response to the community around us.   Instead I find churches that are isolated and focused on themselves.  Too many times over the last couple of years to hear a sermon on parenting, the need for leadership, church growth or again, church growth.  Did I mention I hear a lot of sermons on the need for church growth.  Sadly I am not alone.  A good friend of mine recently left his long time church and said, “I’ve learned all I need to learn from the pulpit on the need for church growth”.  It’s like the church has lot’s it’s reason for existence and is just looking at how to keep paying the bills.  Yet sadly in a lot of communities, the need for the church and it’s redemptive message has never been greater.

The other thing is that while I hate the overuse of the concept of “a dark night of the soul”, it has been an extremely lonely time spiritually for me.  God was extremely distant and I don’t really have a lot of people to talk to about this stuff.  The praxis of my spiritual life was solid but there was no connection.  After exhausting my traditional options, I sought out a Roman Catholic spiritual advisor who I spent a lot of time talking with.  He was the one who said, “It’s not a dark night of the soul, it’s a wounded soul that I was dealing with.”  A co-worker once said to me, “We aren’t normal.  We are so desensitized by what we see sometimes, we aren’t bothered by what should bother us.”  I thought about it a lot and realized that my job had changed me deeply and for the worse and I wasn’t equipped for what that has done to me.  As an INTJ, I am already an underdeveloped feeler which at times makes it hard to fully understand what I am feeling.  Looking at life from a rather cold and analytical mind has it’s advantages but it always makes it hard to look at life when the problem isn’t a rational one and as any of the staff that I work with will say, rational behavior can often be in short supply with what we see some days.  Toss in that the amount of violence and death we have seen this summer, it has taken a toll.  It seems like every murder and suspicious death in the city has been connected to someone I know and it’s hard.  The first thing I am doing in the morning is dealing with another one.  Jaded or not, it has had an impact and those add up a little bit.

As my spiritual advisor and I have talked, I shared that when God reveals himself to me, often I feel He was disappointed in me.  I have long that was my biases, insecurities, and self worth issues coming out.  I have come to seriously wonder if maybe God was quite disappointed in me and the reason for the silence, or just lack of disappointment is that maybe He isn’t anymore.

My evangelical friends don’t really get what I see.  It actually upsets many of them when I tell them what I am seeing.  I was talking to one friend about the fact that there are 600 known prostitutes in the city (of course they move from city to city to city) and he was totally freaked out.  Our conversation ended with, “I am glad our church isn’t on the west side, I couldn’t deal with this".  Yet I talk with some of them all of the time.  They are working tonight two blocks down from where I am writing this.  Addicted to drugs, sexual abuse survivors, acquired brain injuries.   They aren’t abstract numbers but real girls with real stories and real families but the church ignores it.  They also ignore the fact that many of their congregants are the ones that are paying these girls to get them off.  While my faith seems as strong as always, I am no longer interested in a religion that is disconnected from the community it is a part of. 

I know there are reasons for that, Lyle Schaller will tell us that the idea of the neighborhood church died with the rise of the car and cheap fuel but at the same time when I hear that people are living in over crowded slum suites because of sky high rents, there are 600 known prostitutes in the city and the vast majority of them are being trafficked, gangs are taking an toll on our kids, and some local elementary schools have had to cut back to 30 minute lunch breaks to stop elementary school girls from working the street on lunch breaks… doesn’t this call people to do something other than giving away some free clothes and serve soup once in a while?  If young grade seven and eight girls losing their virginity to STD carrying john’s doesn’t call us to drastic action, what will?

Over fifteen years ago, columnist Paul Jackson wrote in The Star Phoenix that the church had abandoned it’s role of social services provider – taking care of widows and orphans – to the government during the 1960s and 70s.  As the economies in North America struggled to pay for their new obligations, Jackson felt the church needed to step up again.  It hasn’t happened yet.  In fact most trends show churches walking more and more away from those difficult tasks and instead continuing to move to younger and younger suburban neighborhoods and therefore away from the problems.  It may be great church growth doctrine but what about the neighborhood and that you left behind.  The east side of Saskatoon has twice as many churches per person than then west side does.  Guess which side of the city has the higher concentration of wealth and guess which side has the core neighborhoods in it.  I’ll let you figure it out.

Other by Kester Brewin

Other by Kester BrewinKester Brewin released his latest book Other.  It’s only available in the U.K. right now but if you want to pay the Canadian government a lot of fees, you can get it shipped here (I paid more in taxes and fees for The Complex Christ than I did for the book but it was worth it).

I am pretty excited about this book because The Complex Christ forced me to rethink much of how I saw the world, looked at history, and read the Scriptures.  While Brewin writes theology, his writing extends my thinking beyond where it has gone before.  I rate him up with Thomas Homer-Dixon, Jared Diamond, Malcolm Gladwell, and Steven Johnson as people that have helped constantly reinvent my world view.  I can’t wait until my copy gets here (the fees alone should erase Canada’s deficit).

Jesus Manifesto

Jesus Manifesto Thomas Nelson is releasing a new book called Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. This book will be on special discount from on June 1st, the date of the release.

I got to know Frank Viola a little bit at Soularize in the Bahamas and I have long enjoyed and appreciated his writings since Spencer Burke started to go on and on about his writings almost a decade ago.  Of course over the years Leonard Sweet has influenced and formed my spiritual praxis as much as any theologian.

Theological Debate as a Blood Sport

Jamie Arpin Ricci has some thoughts around the debate on Brian McLaren’s new book, A New Kind of Christianity.  I am going to quote a big chunk of it here but make sure you go to Jamie’s site and read the entire post.

McLaren, who finds himself in a cultural context that is incredibly polarized theologically, politically, etc., has too often been the target of ungodly attack.  This is not to say he is above criticism, but rather acknowledging that he has been subject to indefensible treatment by many people.  In light of this reality, it does not surprise me that Brian would very quickly want to make some distinctions for his readers up front, which I believe was his intention with the cited material.  That is entirely understandable.  That being said, I believe he pushed too hard, writing more for the extreme critics than for those of us who might be cautiously interested.  As a result, I believe that he unintentionally alienated many of his readers.

I am not suggesting that Brian was simply misunderstood, that if we could just understand his intentions, this would all be cleared up.  Of course not.  First, the poor communication is his mistake, one that should be acknowledged.  Frankly. it is a small issue, worth mentioning only for clarity.  Second, he clearly does present beliefs that run contrary to what many of us hold as sacred.  This is not an indictment, but rather an acknowledgment that, beyond the misunderstanding that exacerbated the problem, there are still very real, underlying differences.

I point this example out because it illustrates a dynamic that is problematic.  It seems to me that both sides are so focused on their position, be it defend or attacking, that they continue to talk- yell past each others.  Again, there are exceptions to this rule on both sides, but even they are not saved from getting caught in the cross fire.  I recently read a very gracious critique of the book that one defending blogger (who is a notable voice and who I greatly respect) cited as unreasonable, bashing and even jealous.  Was I missing something?  Can we not disagree on something graciously without resorting to character assassination?

Frankly, I am ashamed.  I am ashamed that on a public platform before a watching world, sisters and brothers in Christ are letting this get so out of hand.  Disagreements within the Church are nothing new and will always be with us.  It is right to be passionate about what we believe is true, even taking to task those with whom we have concern.  I’m not advocating some limp hope that “we can all just get along”.  I am advocating for some grace, self-restraint, humility and- for the love of God- maturity.  Or are we hoping that the world will know we are Christians by our fights with each other?

Without question there are some serious issues at hand.  I have some grave reservations about some of the theology I see being put forth in sectors of the church, be it emerging, missional, evangelical or otherwise.  However, we need to acknowledge the relational dynamic at play here.  For myself, I have seen people who I consider dear friends publicly go after each other, feeling helpless to do anything about it.  I even fear that this post will only fuel the fire.

I have long felt that the American political discourse of hyper partisanship continues to shape the way we discuss theology in the church.  Of course this is a really big issue because it isn’t as if we have a proud tradition of doing this without the influence of FOX News (how many wars were fought during the early stages of the Protestant reformation over theology?).  Add in the time lapse in which we order something from Amazon, read it, and then rush to review or write about it in internet time (often to capitalize in on the traffic that comes from an trending topic) and no wonder why the discussions seem to be lacking.

I was thinking back to the emergence of neo-orthodoxy in the 1930s amongst Barth, Bultmann, Brunner, Tillich, Bonhoeffer and others.  They debated largely in private through letters, in person, and in more thought through essays in journals.  The debates were a lot more private and a lot more measured, partly because there was time for theological reflection.  The net has taken that away from us and has given us immediacy.  We know it has hurt journalism.  Look at how many times NBC has referred to Michael J. Fox when they meant Terry Fox on their broadcasts.  Today I was reading the news online and saw a half-dozen factual errors (not just differences in opinions but obvious mistakes in facts).  In some ways “internet time” is great but in other ways, it has hurt our ability to discuss substantial issues and I think we have to take into account it’s influence.

We also need to take into account what we are doing is in public.  Ever since Google Alerts has come out, I have received mentions of and Jordon Cooper when they are used online.  I have seen my writings misquoted and misconstrued by those worried about those of us in the emerging church.  I have no problems with a difference of opinions, after all you are entitled to be wrong :-) but some of the stuff never represented what I said of believe.  Later on I have had the privilege of meeting the people who have said what they said and they have no idea the impact of the crap they said.

One of the things I love about living in Saskatchewan is that there is only one million of us and we do run into each other.  My MLA goes through Wendy’s till at Safeway.  One of the reasons why I stopped talking partisan politics is that I really like people from both sides of the ideological divide.  When I posted some photos of Flickr that showed a city councilor, I was contacted that day to see if they could get a print because they saw the photos and liked them.  Somewhere along the way we forgot that this stuff is read by the people we are talking about.

Of course we also have to take into account how bloggers get played by the publishing houses.  In exchange for “review copies”, they get to turn us into their own personal marketing whores.  You don’t think Harper Collins isn’t feeling pretty happy for the “buzz” that we generate from their free cheaply produced review copies.  We get to feel like “insiders” when we are marketing pawns, rushing to review the book on Amazon and posting the reviews on our blogs.  Harper Collins (as a division of News Corp.) has an obligation to the bottom line, not to the faith.

I think Jamie is right.  We need to have passionate debate about theological matters but there has to be a better way of doing this than what has been acceptable practice for the last couple of years.  That is a project worthy of some time and effort. 

Why I am still a friend of Emergent (even if we don’t talk that much anymore)

emergent village logo I posted about Andrew Jones’ decision on the weekend and I can respect what he is doing as he has been a person of his convictions and one has to do what one has to do.

He makes a pretty good case for leaving.

Also over is any official relationship I have left with one of those emerging church groups called Emergent Village. EV is a hard group to leave because its a flat structured organization and there is no one to inform that you are de-friending yourself, or getting de-friended, from this "generative friendship". Also hard because there are so many wonderful people still involved.

The EV website stated last year, "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." I wasn’t at Christianity21 but I have been watching as new theological emphases and sectarian attitudes towards church emerge (well described by Wikipedia’s North American Emergent Movement) and it is just not something that I can lend my name to or my time. In the early days, I joined the leadership of the Young Leaders group (that eventually became Emergent Village) because it was more about uniting churches around mission and equipping people to reach the next ‘postmodern’ generation. I hope they can shift it back again to its origins.

I remember cringing when I saw the Emergent Village stating "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." They were right in the fact that Emergent Inc was started back then but the emerging church was taking seed all over the world.  As far as the statement about Christianity21… well Tony and Doug had a conference had a conference to promote and I take that statement as nothing more than that.  Emergent Village’s desire to be a promotional commercial vehicle of a flavor of the emerging church in the United States was a flaw from the start but in the end I think it was a reflection of the entrepreneurial commercial context that seems to define the American church industry.  While emergent talked of this being a global conversation, they never realized how incredibly American they are.  In that way by Andrew saying that he won’t be using the language of Emergent Village and the emerging church may be a good one because while language is really important, the discussion of the emerging church has been more about language than it is has about incarnating the gospel for a long time.

You know what, I am okay with it.  I think that is the reason many of us gathered in Three Hills in the 90s, later some of us started Resonate and why the conversation in the U.K. and Europe is so incredibly different.  We all have our national contexts and it does shape our ideas of church and the Gospel.  While I am friends with many south of the border and I deeply appreciate them, I am also okay with them doing their thing and I’ll pipe in from the sidelines from time to time.

I guess what I struggle with is the idea of removing oneself from a conversation because in the end, you have given up on the conversation as a whole.  Maybe Andrew is correct but I think his ability and unique place as a global missionary is a voice that is needed in Emergent Village, even if the North American church doesn’t realize it.

Of course that for me not talking to the emerging church very much anymore, I think it is comes from the amount of pure crap that has been sent to me to review.  I just got a copy of Dwight Friesen’s new book, Thy Kingdom Connected and it may the only book of 2009 that I want to review and think more about.  A friend of mine used to say, “I’ll preach better when Max Lucado preaches better”.  I find myself feeling the same thing.  When the conversation (and books) becomes more compelling, I’ll start paying close attention again.

Update: January 10th – I am totally okay with accepting the fact that Emergent has always seemed too American because I am too Canadian.  If I can say that I find Emergent too American, it’s also fair to criticize me back so fair is fair.

Right now I am actually more happy with Emergent than I have been in years.  I think having Doug and Tony work (and I really hope they make money as well) as consultants and event organizers through JoPa is good while leaving Emergent to be an organic grassroots expression across the country.  I do agree with Mike Morrell’s comment that the next thing to figure out is the relationship between publishing and Emergent.

Goodbye to Emergent Village?

Andrew Jones wrote this today on his blog

ev3 Also over is any official relationship I have left with one of those emerging church groups called Emergent Village. EV is a hard group to leave because its a flat structured organization and there is no one to inform that you are de-friending yourself, or getting de-friended, from this "generative friendship". Also hard because there are so many wonderful people still involved.

The EV website stated last year, "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." I wasn’t at Christianity21 but I have been watching as new theological emphases and sectarian attitudes towards church emerge (well described by Wikipedia’s North American Emergent Movement) and it is just not something that I can lend my name to or my time. In the early days, I joined the leadership of the Young Leaders group (that eventually became Emergent Village) because it was more about uniting churches around mission and equipping people to reach the next ‘postmodern’ generation. I hope they can shift it back again to its origins.

Perhaps the best response was from Rick Bennett

The Emerging Church, the controversial Christian movement that inspired many to plant churches, leave behind their faith and question authority, died in her sleep Thursday following a short illness. She was 21 (according to some sources).

The cause was cardiac arrest, according to spokesperson Steve Knight. According to police, foul play and suicide have not been ruled out at this time. According to person of interest, Andrew Jones, she was ready to die and beyond any life-saving treatment.

Resonate 3.0 (beta)

Well Resonate is back online with a new look and feel and the website is now powered by WordPress.  You can check out what Resonate is up to as a community, find out information about church planting, and also a listing of some of the emerging churches across the country.  The RSS feed and Twitter account is also working.

Laid off

Andrew Jones was laid off by Church Mission Society today which is a difficult blow at anytime but especially during this time of global economic duress.

The Tall Skinny Kiwi, Andrew Jones Anyway. Its a hard thing to receive a redundancy letter, despite how nice your employer has been about it. Its like getting dumped by a girlfriend. Its a blow to your ego. It whispers insulting challenges to your accomplishments, It highlights the ‘dunce’ part of ‘redundancy’ when you say the word too many times in the same sentence.

You can support his ministry and the Jones family over on his blog and of course pray for God’s provision for them and their continued ministry. via

Disappointed with Emergent Village

Last month Tony Jones blogged about the criticism that he and others who were apart of Emergent Village have gone through.

He starts with

First, some historical perspective (that a young buck like Nick lacks): there have been fallow times in emergent before this. For instance, in 2001, we left the auspices of Leadership Network, Andrew Jones had moved to the UK, and Mark Driscoll jumped ship (or was pushed overboard, depending on whom you ask). A group of us met at Tim Keel’s favorite monastery outside of Kansas City. For two days, we parceled out jobs — events, website, writing, networking, church planting — and left with a great deal of energy.  And then…nothing happened. No one did anything they’d agreed to.  Why? Because everyone was doing emergent at the margins of our lives, and so it wound up on the priority list below family, work, friendships, and many other things.  It wasn’t until the Emergent Convention in 2003 that we gained any real steam, and that was only because of the energy of Mark Oestreicher and Youth Specialites. To be honest, I pretty much throught he thing was over until that convention.

Second, none of us signed up to start a movement, so your disappointment is misplaced. You wrote — and others have recently — that you hoped that emergent would revolutionize the church in America (in 5 years?!?), yet you dropped out of church and toured the world with a book contract under your arm. Meanwhile, every one of the founders of emergent is deeply engaged in a community of faith, doing the hard and private work of maintaining personal relationships and dealing with the messes that are inevitable when people live in community.

He adds this

Fifth, many of your commenters bemoan the fact that the leaders of emergent have “sold out” with book contracts and paid blogs. Since you are under contract to write a book, you know that there’s very little money in religious non-fiction writing, and the money is getting less. And I don’t know to whom they’re referring other than me. For the record, I make $5 per day blogging for Beliefnet. I’ve made less than $1,000 on book royalties so far this year. So everyone can stop casting aspersions on our finances.

I really wasn’t that interested in the discussion between him and Josh until recently but I came back to it a couple of days ago when I was answering some personal criticism over why I wasn’t committed to the bigger purpose of the emerging church any longer.  I defended my involvement and my passion but here are the facts.

I come into work between 8 and 8:30 every day.  Some days I leave within 8 hours but other days it is 10 or more.  When I am at home there is also work to do that is related to poverty and homelessness issues in Saskatoon and Canada.   Some of those projects I don’t feel comfortable doing on work time.  While our family is in a bit of flux right now, there is time spent with Mark as he studies or just hanging out and Oliver needs some form of supervision as he is now into everything.  We joke about taping him to the back of the dog but that never works.  Speaking of the dog, if she doesn’t have the Frisbee tossed to her at night, she calls her attorney.  The joys of management means that I am on 24 hour call which change the best made plans.  The same 24 hour Centre also needs the occasional shift covered which means that there have been long days here and there over the last couple of years.  It’s just part of the job.

For me, the day starts when the alarm goes off at 6:30 a.m. and I find some time for myself at around 9:00 p.m.  which gives me a bit of time to listen to some music, read a bit, or watch some sports highlights.  As a diabetic, depending on what I ate and how much I walked and exercised, it decides how long of a day I have.  For a lot of people I know, that’s about a normal days for them as well.

Yes there are conferences to go to but I have three weeks of holidays a year.  Telling the boys that I am leaving them to go away is not a lot of fun and then telling them that the time I am gone will also mean less time we can spend at the cabin together would generate a cool response as well.  When Mark was small and didn’t need his dad around in the same ways he does now, it was easy to drop and go and speak.  A couple of years ago I realized that others can do it and I didn’t need to do it anymore.  It wasn’t paying any bills, plus I miss the family when I travel alone.

When I was working in a church, I had a lot more flexibility in my day.  I had times for reading, private time, time to go for retreats, and other learning opportunities.  “Balance” was the key word which meant that it was okay to take long lunches, retreat days, and days off whenever you wanted to as long as you sounded spiritual.  Now I need to do that on my own time, just like everyone else does.

I think you could toss in a lot of the criticism that Tony gets under that category.  People have the ideas but no one is providing the money or the time to do any of it.  Not only that but my priorities are not always others priorities and you have to make decisions on what is important.

I like Josh but I found myself laughing at the idea that there needs to be an unemployment insurance system for pastors who get fired for their theological beliefs.  Who decides who gets it and who doesn’t?  Would we need an alternative welfare system for pastors who got fired for their theological beliefs and then were rejected by the theological unemployment insurance system?  Who is going to pay for this… there are a lot of unemployed clergy out there that have told me that they were “too radical” for their old church when in fact they were lousy pastors with tin ears and self serving hearts.  Have fun determining that one.

My point is that there was a world of expectations on Emergent but there wasn’t the people or cash to make all of that happen.  Also the leadership was flawed.  I consider many of them to be friends and most of them cared deeply about the emerging church around the world but most of them cared more about their local communities and that’s not a bad thing.  In other words they cared deeply about the ideas but they also cared about seeing them come to fruition in a local context.  Again, I am not sure why the criticism is there.

I am not sure why people like Brian, Doug, and Tony get criticized the way they do for not doing what we should be doing.  When they were out in front all of the time and we disagreed with them, we distanced ourselves and said they were not spokesman for the emerging church and Emergent is just a conversation.  Now some of the same voices are frustrated because they didn’t do more.  That criticism seems to come more from us defaulting back to our old expectations of hierarchical leadership than Emergent’s purpose of bringing like minded people together.  Maybe in the end the biggest failure was the failure to get people to understand what a growing, generative friendship really is.

Some of the criticism that Emergent did really bugs me because it isn’t in the context of what was accomplished which was significant.   If anything they proved that vision, sacrifice, the web and creativity can overcome a lack of resources, people, and time.  So instead of jumping on the bandwagon of critics, I’ll keep trying to change the world in Saskatoon.  More than before it is the global communities that will change the world, one neighborhood at a time.

Kester Brewin

is back blogging.

TheOoze.TV launches

Spencer Burke at TheOoze launched a cool new project called TheOoze.TV.  It’s a high audio, video, and HD podcast.  The first one features Shane Claiborne.  Here is the RSS feed.

Tall Skinny Wish List

Photo of the Jones family and their Overlander by Jonny Baker

Andrew Jones is blogging about what he needs for his pilgrimage around Europe in a 4×4 Overlander. 

  • A really good 24 volt fridge so we can keep Abigail’s insulin cold. We were given an old one but the doctors told us it was too risky for our 12 month’s supply of insulin.
  • 2 big windows for the side (bigger the better) and a small one for kitchen. We were kicked out of our last camping ground in Edmonton [Lee Valley] because the owner said our vehicle "didn’t look right". Windows will probably help.
  • 2 solar panels have been offered. We could use 2 more.
  • 2 leisure batteries
  • Extra diesel tank
  • 2 new tires on front. 22.5 and off-road capability. Rear tires are old but plenty of tread.
  • Some mechanical genius to figure out how to raise the roof
  • An awning big enough to host meetings and tall enough to fit our high vehicle, or plenty of canvass and poles.
  • A woodstove light and strong enough.

If you can give away any of these parts (or cash to purchase them), please send an email – tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com.

(photo credit: Jonny Baker)