Goodbyes to Emergent Village

Since New Years Day, the focus of this blog has been transitioning to something different – locating and equipping missional entrepreneurs around the world that God loves. Its a movement that doesn’t really have a name but its good. I will not be using the emerging church vocabulary and this blog will be more geared to covering the wider mission, church and social enterprise scene as well as resourcing people – like you – to leave a lasting impact on their world. I wont be carrying the emerging church conversation or daily tracking its ups and downs, even though many good things will continue to happen under that label.

Right.

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.

Best memories of Yl/Emergent? See the next post.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

28 Comments

  • Hey Andrew, I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed it. I’m an American living in Europe serving with a mission organization for a few years while also traveling around doing video production.
    What you said in this post really resonated with me – locating and equipping missional entrepreneurs around the world that God loves. I’m young (25) and have a real desire to be an ‘equipped missional entrepreneur’ but I feel like I need a lot of the equipping.
    I’d love to hear some of your thoughts on how to approach that and would welcome any people you could connect me with for some ongoing conversations.
    Enjoying the blog and your thoughts on church and life. Thanks.

  • Andrew, having followed your blog for a few years for the past few months it did seem to be loosing its direction and purpose (maybe even getting a bit stale and formulaic), which is a shame because I think you always have well thought out and interesting things to say.
    Having a wider focus on missiology sounds good to me (probably more so than just looking at those groups who call themselves emergent). Maybe it is more postmodern (and so more contemporary) to be participating in conversation with the whole breadth of the church (what were people thinking setting up all these organisations!).

  • Andrew –
    I wholeheartedly agree that EV can, at times, seem sectarian. I’m curious to hear more explicitly your concerns, particularly those concerning the “new theological emphases.” I think you are right to voice your opinion on these matters, but I can’t help but wonder if publicly denouncing and formally distancing yourself from EV will help unify the church, or only reinforce this burgeoning sectarianism. Can we overcome division with division?
    I hope I’m not being misleading; there are time when one has to make a choice and that might mean a change in “alignment.” I just wonder if admitting to any sort of alignment only reinforces a formal (though unspoken) system.

  • Looking forward to reading the new posts, Andrew. Never easy to disassociate, especially when you have good friends involved. May the Lord richly bless your time and efforts as you redirect them to new passions.

  • Andrew,
    I’m always sorry to see people break ties with others for whatever reason. I know your decision wasn’t made lightly.
    As I’ve said before, (for me personally) the best parts of emergent/emerging/Emergent Village etc. has been the grace and generous orthodoxies practiced by many under the vast umbrella (including your own generous and gracious nature – http://www.casadeblundell.com/jonathan/faith/what-is-emergent-a-generous-orthodoxy/).
    I appreciate what you’ve shown me and countless others along our journeys and will look forward to many more lessons and examples in the future.
    No matter what label we find ourselves under, may it be good for not only us – but those around us well. May it make an impact on the world around us in a way that shows God’s love in real and tangible ways.
    Shalom!

  • T.s.k. I like the blog. It’s nice to read a perspective about the origins of the movement apart from Tony J’s. I appreciate the reservations you have about some of the “sectarian” tendencies of the Emergent.
    The demise of emergent village (at least as we have known it) seems inevitable. In recent blogs Tony J’s rhetoric seems to suggest a distancing between what happened at EV while he was there vs. after his leaving. Reading between the lines of one of his recent blogs (which references Lonnie Frisbee)it seems as though he is suggesting that he (and others?) were the charismatic leaders of the EV and that if it gets beuracrotized that would be the fault of those who took it over. Am I reading this wrong?

  • I very much appreciate the broader view you give sharing the missional activity that is taking place on the fringes that would otherwise go unheard. Please keep up the good work!

  • actually no, you know what, you don’t get to leave. I mean, you might not personally choose to associate yourself with Emergent Village anymore, but you can’t stop the rest of us Villagers from associating ourselves with you. see, contrary to your concern that we are becoming “sectarian”, I see it as quite the opposite. if anything, EV is a big tent, a relational space where people of numerous theological stripes are welcome to participate in the conversation. now, that inclusiveness might freak some of the more theologically conservative types out, and they might not want to “associate” themselves with us because of it, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to therefore stop listening to the conservative voices. as long as you’re still speaking, we’ll keep listening and commenting and all that – so even if you’d prefer to distance yourself from us, the fact is, we’re still gonna show up and crash your parties anyway, because we still value your voice and want to hear what you have to say.
    btw, I said the same thing re: Scot and Dan when they decided to “distance” themselves from non-evangelical emergents with the whole Origins things… they’re welcome to restrict their inner circles to Lausanne-subscribers, but us “heretical” types are still going to show up to their stuff and learn from them anyway, because y’all are still a part of “us” whether you want to be or not. sorry, but we’re not going to just let you go that easily. 🙂

  • i appreciate your graciousness in recognizing it’s simply time for you to put your energy and skill elsewhere. yay!
    maybe i’ll start reading your blog again. the EC conversation became too circular and insular for me. It was a nice fling for me, not EV specific, but the ECM. People are cool, and people are not movements; ideas are. It’s the people I lost interest with, but the ideaology.
    I look forward to seeing what ideas and perspectives and practices evolve here. In the words of a famous Austrian-American actor, “I’ll be back!”

  • Andrew, I realize that we’re susceptible to American blind spots, and I know you’re not making this decision lightly – it’s been a long time coming. I’m sure there are ways that North American Emergence, and EV in particular, have made your life and work difficult with some of your peers.
    With that said…I echo Mike Clawson’s frustration. I mean, was it okay in the late 1990s and early 2000s to say that fresh winds were blowing in global Christianity, that technology and new attitudes were completing the dissolution of the old authority structures that began dissolving with the technology of Gutenberg during the Reformation – that today’s Christians were rethinking the methods and message of their baby boomer forbears…? Was it okay to joyfully trumpet these trends back when you thought that the next generation/pyschographic of Christians were going to enjoy that freedom and create fresh new expressions, back when you thought the next gen would basically tow the line of Christendom’s articulation of ‘orthodoxy’?
    I didn’t think of you as a shill for Christendom – I still don’t – but maybe all those years wrangling with Carla and Silva and company have changed your thinking a bit? Would you say…this is an honest question: That for all your heralding of total, systemic change coming with postmodernity and technological revolutions and fresh missiological emphasis, that at the end of the day you’re more comfortable with the missionary evangelical maxim “The methods change, but the message stays the same”? I can understand if this is ultimately where you come down. But please understand that from this observer’s perspective, it’s you who’ve changed, then, more than us (north american emergers).
    Here’s where I think a mutual breakdown in understanding and goodwill has occurred: Missionaries in brand-new (to them) cultures have a lot of freedom, right? They get a lot of latitude from Mother Church to do everything from commission translations of Scripture into the Mother Tongue, to figuring out the most culturally-appropriate way to share the Gospel. In this process, a wonderful alchemy happens: The Changers become The Changed. The missionaries begin to learn from the natives.
    In the case of the ever-evolving Emergent Village, postmodernity has undboubtably changed us in our encounter with it. Not all in the same ways – there truly is theological diversity within the Village – (and a lot more ethnic and gender diversity these days. And most of the new leadership is under 35. I hope you don’t write them off just yet, Andrew – they might surprise you.) but yes, there are those of us who have questioned everything from the nature of Christ’s atonement to the extent of Christ’s salvation to the place of Other (be they homeless, of other faiths, or ‘queer’) in God’s grand cosmology…I know that for some, this can feel like we’re slip-sliding off a slippery slope, doing a Bishop Spong two-step off the precipice of Christ the Solid Rock, into the Devil’s playground.
    But if you feel this is the case, well…we need your voice more than ever! Because orthodoxy – whatever this term will come to mean in our hyper-fragmented, hyper-diverse 21st century – will not be maintained by institutional fiat, nor will it be maintained by scornful disapproval voiced on heresy-hunting blogs. No, I think the purity and integrity of Christ’s Church will only be maintained by mutuality and relationality – by the voices of those who have relationally earned the right to be heard as mothers and fathers and elders, and concerned sisters and brothers.
    So – while I joyfully release you (for whatever that’s worth) to take your blog and life-calling in bold, fresh, vibrant new directions, I would hope it doesn’t continue to be articulated as a binary either/or with regard to pernicious emergent types. Maybe this is soooo pomo of me, but I hope it could be both/and. Like Mike Clawson, I’m going to still be listening to you – unless you block my IP, you can’t stop me! : )
    If 1999 was the birth of ’emerging,’ and 2005 (as Stephen Shields once said) was when the outside world began to notice and heresy-hunt, I feel like 2009/2010 was the year the nascent emergence began to be hit by friendly fire. May we not continue the depressing larger Christendom trend of shooting our own. Peace?

  • mike clawson – just LOVE your comment. and dont worry, when i hit seattle you will still be buying me a beer in USA one day soon.
    i am still very much connected to a whole lot of people in ev and that will stay the same.
    and the conservatives vs. non-conservatives is a divide i never really saw so much because its always been a mixed group
    but my involvement with EV has been minimal. apart from helping them in an advisory role and a little work behind the scenes (A Response to our critics), I actually only did 2 events with them – back in 2005 in new mexico and 2006 in geneva. maybe i popped in on an london event but really, that was it.
    all those hundreds of events and parties and meetings you read about on my blog, although they have gone under the emerging church label, they have not been associated with EV.
    I have been working in almost 50 countries and you can imagine the huge diversity of theology, methodology etc i have discovered.
    most leaders i have been working with have never written a book and would not assume that a conversation about the EC would necessarily involve USA.
    even my 89-09 question was looking at the global scene and about 50 networks and groups. emergent village, who often acts like the paris hilton of the emerging church movement, has a habit of reading themselves into every ec conversation
    but there are some great things in usa also and i am excited about Transform under Steve Knight.
    an official break with EV will add clarity to what i am already doing and not doing, but my friendships with people will continue.

  • Mike Morrell – thanks and yes its been a long time coming.It was in 2004 that i asked what happens “when we stop emerging” and i have taken hits for EV that i probably didnt need to
    but what a ride, ay??????
    as for theology. although i dont see the emerging church movement as primarily a theological movement, i still believe that it is impossible to immerse yourself in the new culture, impacted by new media and globalization and new perspectives brought to shore by the challenges of postmodernity, and still be unchanged in how you view the Bible.
    this is part of the reforming and correcting that must always go on.
    i want to be both/and and i want to talk about the church rather than corners of it. i think shifting away from the name will enable that.

  • andrew – amen on both/and – as in corners and centers
    thanks for processing in such a public way
    G_d is big, beyond our comprehension, always emerging and returning

  • I find much value in Jonny Baker’s phrase “loyal radicals,” those people who have their feet in both the institutional church and alternative forms. Seems that both entities benefit from the synergy that this creates.

  • I wonder if anyone can clearly state what the heck is meant in the numerous posts above by the term “sectarian”
    best i can decipher, folks, including this blog owner, are saying that emergent village is sectarian now in generally rejecting conservative/fundamentalist theology.
    is that what you are saying?
    thanks

  • andrew, this sounds way more dramatic than i think it actually is.
    what exactly is an official relationship anyway? you’ve clarified above that the friendships will continue, but what else is there to emergence anyway? anything beyond that is a construction in the mind of anyone who has a stake in the ground or a beef with some small group’s ideology.
    glad to hear that this is more blown smoke than anything. you are appreciated and loved, even though i haven’t actually met you. peace be with you, and hopefully someday we will shake hands in this flat country of emergence.

  • “But if you feel this is the case, well…we need your voice more than ever! Because orthodoxy – whatever this term will come to mean in our hyper-fragmented, hyper-diverse 21st century – will not be maintained by institutional fiat, nor will it be maintained by scornful disapproval voiced on heresy-hunting blogs. No, I think the purity and integrity of Christ’s Church will only be maintained by mutuality and relationality – by the voices of those who have relationally earned the right to be heard as mothers and fathers and elders, and concerned sisters and brothers.”
    I very much agree with this. It makes me think of Doug Pagitt’s statement at the Emergent Convention ’05 in Nashville shortly after Stan Grenz’s death. He was starting his critique of the traditional ways of understanding the Trinity and stirring up a lot of controversy with it, and then he laughs and says “But I’m sure if Stan were still with us he’d be shaking his head at me and saying ‘Oh Doug, I have so much more to teach you.'” And you know what? Doug would have listened to Stan and probably learned from him, because they were friends and they both knew that they were respected by the other despite any theological differences. To me that’s how theological instruction/correction ought to be – between friends and trusted mentors in conversation with one another. I agree with Mike M. that nothing else will really be effective anymore.

  • btw Andrew, I do understand that you have been focusing primarily on the global emerging church, and not just on the NA expressions of it, and I really appreciate that. I am currently pursuing a PhD in church history with a focus on the emerging church movement, so I’ll probably be hitting you up in the next year or two to pick your brain about all the global stuff stretching back over these past two decades that I’m less familiar with.

  • Dear Mike,
    I think in order to avoid the pitfalls of binary thinking TSK

      HAD

    to distance himself from EV (especially the professional controversialist Anthony Jones).
    In TJs book The New Christians he throws out enough binaries to make even the most dyed-in-the-wool modernist blush. Par example: “You can’t be ‘a little emergent’ any more than you can be ‘kind of pregnant.’ It’s an all-or-nothing state, and a half-hearted embrace of these dispatches…will inevitably lead to frustration” (pg. 58).
    Note the binary: all/nothing. This kind of thinking pervades T. Jones’ book, whereby he reveals himself a modern wolf in a postmodern wool vest.

  • Dennis – if you or Andrew have a problem with anything about Tony, then y’all should probably take it up with him personally. Tony is not EV, his writings are not any kind of official statements on behalf of EV, and he has not even been in any formal capacity with EV for over a year now.

  • Brother Andrew
    As you know I have responded some times about the emerging church, and I tell you the truth, i was concern a lot not just for you but also for the Foursquare denomination that I was a part of them also. I remember when you was in conference in year 2004 if I am right in Swiss, you spoke out there about new things, and I know that not just you, but me and all the leaders are hungry for the new ways and new things to reach people for God, and raise up a new generation for the kingdom. Called as you want, It comes to the point called as you want, Denomination, Institutional Church, House Church, Simple Church, Organic Church, or whatever comes to one question are they mission minded?, do they have vision to raise disciples? Are they Christ Centered and are they keeping the truth of the Word in with nothing adding on it, no revelations of man how the church should go, I believe it’s not problem in labels, problem is in faithfulness to Christ, and genuine faith of the people.
    This is what Christ is looking, geniune faith, He doesn’t care where we have church, in the mountain, in the cathedral, in the house, in the shop, in the pub, or factory doesn’t matter, or even in the internet virtually which I have questioned till now recently.
    Lord be with you brother keep up good work and write what do you feel Holy Spirit is leading you to write.

  • well said my brother. I kind of hope the only other card i ever carry in my wallet will just say JESUS on it – the others seem to divide rather than unite.
    Chris Seay

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