The Prodigal Project: Journey into the Emerging Church

In 2000AD an amazing book was published. All three authors just came on to my Facebook post to offer some thoughts. I thought I might bring that conversation over here before it gets lost inside FB.

The book ‘Prodigal Project: Journey into the Emerging Church’ was published in 2000. It was written by Kiwi alt. worship practitioner Mark Pierson, Cathy Kirkpatrick who had a cafe church in Australia and Mike Riddell, another creative Catholic Kiwi. The term “emerging church” was already floating around but this book gave that term some teeth and some traction. I was at the Greenbelt office in London when Director Andy Thornton received his copy. By the look on his face as he ripped open the packaging to see his book, I could see something exciting was happening. I would like to explore the year 2000 and the beginnings of the emerging church movement that lasted, in my estimation, for the following decade. I just ordered that book for the third time.”

Comments from the authors (edited for brevity):

Mark Pierson

I’m rather overwhelmed Andrew and other commenters. To be honest I had missed the anniversary. The process of collaborating with Mike and Cathy, the experiences that shaped it, and the learning that has built on it where and remains very significant for me.
I think the book may have been a bit ahead of its time. And so expensive! i was embarrassed to recommend it.
I think what we laid out in the Prodigal Project and the values alt. Worship was built on are still as important and overlooked as ever. I tried to say this a decade later in The Art of Curating Worship.

Cathy Kirkpatrick

Thanks for this, Andrew. It had occurred to me recently that it is 20 years since The Prodigal Project was published. The year 2000 seemed very sci-fi, as does 2020. The writings came out of the friendships and experiences we’d had together in the 1990s.

Mike Riddell

Looking back on Prodigal Project it seems a hundred years ago. Mark and Cathy and I were all very gung ho about this being the way forward at the time. Mark has been the one who has carried the work forward while Cathy and I have pursued our art outside of church frameworks by and large.


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.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply