Top 5 Memories from YL/Emergent

My Top 5 memories from YL/Emergent:

1. Glorieta, NM: National Evaluation Forum or New Edge gathering in 1998. We wanted to allow people to respond to the messages through visual and tactile means. So we set up an art studio in a broom closet and installed a resident artist (Derek Chapman) for the event. My wife Debbie put chunks of clay around the conference center. I had this idea of putting paper all over the walls so people could write on the wall whatever God was telling them or maybe questions they had. Before long there were scribbles all over the place and the chunks of clay were becoming pieces of art. Funny thing was that as we traveled around USA to speak at churches, we kept seeing chunks of clay and other art supplies. Debbie got a buzz out of that.

2. Orlando: Doug and I did a workshop at the National GenX Forum in Florida, 1999, in which I suggested we dont mention the word “postmodern”, which by this time had begun to get worn out. We had a great time and I was laughing so much I could hardly continue.

3. Atlanta: 5 of us were at this stupid big meeting full of show-offs. This one guy, who’s ministry was named after himself, gets up to the stage which had his name plastered on 3 different banners around the stage. Mark Driscoll was next up to speak after this braggart and instead of trying to do one better, he simply bows his head and prays for the entire time a prayer of repentance for our arrogance. Then he walks back to our table and sits down. Sweet! Soooo timely and prophetic. I’ll never forget that one.

4. Glorieta, NM. Innovative Church Conference, 1998. I think Rick Warren and other big shots were there. Lots of Southern Baptists. About 5 of us were invited to share our stuff and it was Bob Hope’s birthday so I thought I would liven it up a little by dressing up in red golf pants and arriving in an obnoxious manner with a bag of golf-clubs on my shoulder, non-seeker friendly, non-postmodern outfit. At least i thought it was funny.

5. Glorieta, NM. Emergent Gathering 2005. Rather than give a talk I made pizza for a hundred people and taught on the yeast of the Kingdom as we made dough. Some of it is on video.


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Thanks for your perspective, Andrew! As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” Your always offer valuable insights, and I appreciate your taking the time to do periodic interpretation work with your retrospectives.
    Some of the most stimulating times are when we are restless, and we see the Spirit moving, with no clear sense of where it’s going and this fresh breeze is as yet unnamed and uncontrollable. There is just an exhilaration to be part of what God is doing, and no idea of where it all might be going or how to interpret it.
    There were many important points in the unfolding of the postmodern-emerging-missional movements of the past 10 to 15 years. It makes perfect sense why you listed Glorietta (New Edge) 1998 as #1. In retrospect, it was an intriguing forum … full of important “firsts” and personal connections. It was filled with off-the-radar (and a few of us off-the-wall) people from around the nation, not just big-name participants. A memorable moment in the history of those swirling early days of whatever this movement was becoming.
    I sensed that one of the most important things that happened was open acknowledgment of thanks to older generation mentors like Carol Davis, who spoke passionately about global missions, despite her having had a serious fever that entire day, and received a tremendous response from participants. It had taken over two years for the anger of the younger generations being blocked by the older ones to diffuse to where this could even happen – another sign of the Spirit at work.
    And the creativity spawned by the clay and paper and arts you mentioned … that was fun, and a sort of first-of-its-kind that the Spirit whisked elsewhere.
    And I believe it was strategic that Steve Rabey (a former Associated Press reporter) was there to cover the conference for a book on what was happening with “postmodern-GenX-New Edge” ministry. (His eventual book – *In Search of Authentic Faith: How Emerging Generations Are Transforming the Church* – is still an important historical document for understanding the roots of the new streams of ministry in the first decade of the 2000s.)
    What will the next 10 to 15 years bring? Seems there is something in the wind moving us in new directions. That can be scary, but faith-building, and I sense a readiness in many of us to move forward in unexpected ways. As Kierkegaard also said, “To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self.” Good things await, despite/beyond the anxiety!
    Meanwhile, I’m thrilled with your forthcoming blog focuses on equipping missional entrepreneurs and reporting on the wider international activities in that direction. And, as always, I appreciate the role-models that you and Debbie and your entire family have been, are, and will be in moving beyond the center to the new edges where the voice of the Spirit is yet unnamed and remains uncontrollable …

  • andrew says:

    thanks brad. seems a long time ago.
    Steve’s Rabey’s book In Search of Authentic Faith: How Emerging Generations Are Transforming the Church was one of the very honest books that came out.i remember he sat down with us to introduce the idea of the book and he said “i want to abuse you – i will get your stories and make money by selling my book.”
    and because he told the truth, we told him our stories. and it was a great book.

  • Jon Reid says:

    Andrew, I am still amazed at the names of the folks who first connected through Young Leaders. Who was the visionary who called this group together in the first place?

  • andrew says:

    That was Doug Pagitt through leadership network

  • Dan Kimball says:

    I have so many incredible memories from those early days. Brad Smith from Leadership Network was the guy who brought me into the emerging church discussion when he was planning the original Gen X forums in Colorado Springs and Mt. Hermon. Without Brad, probably it wouldn’t have excelled to the extent it did as he was the original catalyst in getting people connected in the beginning. My life was changed as a result in so many ways.
    I am speaking at Wheaton College in 2 weeks for an event that is about a retrospective on the emerging church from a USA perspective (and I will sure to be including the pre-USA origins of UK and Australia/NZ). I will blog about it after with what I will be saying.
    But for me, the mission is still going on of why I originally got into the emerging church world. Names change, terminology changes, focus shifted with some. But people in this world still need Jesus and to know the grace, wonder, beauty of a holistic gospel and salvation – and to join in serving Jesus on mission. And that mission is still there and that is what motivates me every day to continue – to take risks, to stretch thinking, to build community with other leaders and people who also believe this so we aren’t on this mission alone.
    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I am so thankful for you and your ministry and your thinking. You have been an incredible resource and voice globally and have been a huge encouragement to me personally and I have learned (and will continue to learn) so much from you and your observations and adventures.

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