7 Loving Challenges for Emergent via Mark Van Steenwyk
- We should be careful not to draw lines in the sand–even if “they” drew it first. We should always be VERY careful when we use us versus them language–especially within the Body of Christ. Within the emerging church, I’ve found many folks who, while still technically evangelicals, have decided to use the word “evangelical” as a bad word. That really is a snotty thing to do. And I’ve done it lots. This is like the Vice President who begins to distance himself from the administration after he plans to run for president.
- I sometimes wonder if we folks of Emergent enjoy the controversy too much. Scandal is exciting. But do there REALLY need to be so many darned blog posts about Christians and yoga? Controversy is what makes Emergent grow. It sells books. Where would Emergent be without controversy? And where would we be if we didn’t love it?
- We have too many conferences. And too many of them cost too much money. More learning happens from road trips and visits with friends, so why all the emphasis on “learning parties” and the like? I’m not against going to conferences, but it seems like there are too many. Speaking on behalf of all emerging ministers who can’t afford to travel that much, I say: let’s show some restraint, keep costs down, and figure out better ways of collaboration.
- We need to diversify our public voices. If you DO decide to have a conference, please don’t rely upon the handful of well-known Emergent gurus. I remember the first time I griped to Tony Jones about the “emergentsia.” He told me that they try to share speaking opportunities with folks and include others in things. I believe he is correct. I don’t blame him at all for the existence of an emergentsia. I blame us. We keep asking the same 6 people to speak at events. Let’s drop the razzle-dazzle and find some new voices so that our movement doesn’t become inbred or developmentally retarded.
- Speaking of diversifying public voices, why don’t we invite liberationists from Guatemala to speak at our next conference? Or Pentecostals from Liberia? Or some of the people involved in the Catholic/Mennonite conversation in Columbia? Or an Eastern Orthodox Priest from Palestine?
- We ought to be mature enough by now to avoid the “pendulum swing.” We are no longer pissed-off adolescents. Pissed off adolescents do things simply to be contrary. Like becoming democrats because we hate the religious right. Like getting drunk because we grew up Baptist. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s start thinking a bit about why we do what we do. A religious left is as bad as a religious right. Being a libertine is as bad as being a Pharisee.
- Let’s avoid the trap of the “enlightened bourgeoisie.” These are the folks who meet at the bar and grill and drop 25 bucks per person on drinks while they talk about issues of justice. These are the people who only have other bourgeoisie friends but believe that they are on the side of migrant and the working class. Yes, yes, you can have money and follow Jesus. But you can’t have money, be disconnected from the “least of these,” and follow Jesus.