You can read the full letter that describes the new directions here. I appreciate that the group of folks making these decisions have been sensitive to the competing tensions of what people need and want EV to be. They wrote:
So, we need to continue, but not institutionalize. We need to promote self-organizing neighborhoods yet maintain a kind of “village green” or commons for their to be cross-pollination and interaction among these different neighborhoods. We need to provide safe space for newcomers to the conversation and space for new ideas and provocative challenge to be shared as well. The question for us has been how to integrate these inherent tensions, insights, and agreements in a coherent plan.And here are the four things they came up with:
1. To streamline, decentralize, and reduce expenses by discontinuing the role of National Coordinator...
2. To re-emphasize the importance of the website in creating space and supporting the network...
3. To decentralize by depending on friends of emergent—individuals, non-profits, and for-profits—to continue to seize new opportunities. For example, we are hopeful that the Wild Goose Festival (modeled on Greenbelt in the UK) will develop a national gathering that will facilitate and expand the emergent conversation. We are pleased to see neighborhoods, cohorts, and other regional gatherings creating conferences and events for their own regions, denominations, movements, and constituencies. We hope to see local cohorts continue to develop and expand as needed. And we want to continue to partner with professionals and ministries—in publishing, consulting, speaking, event planning, liturgical resources, church planting, seminary training and leadership development, mentoring, etc. Rather than emergent entering into these fields as a competitor, we want to serve any and all like-minded organizations in their work. Whenever possible, we want to serve as a hub to help a variety of self-organizing networks and creative individuals network together so that what is emerging may continue to emerge.
4. To reconfigure the board in 2009. We love Emergent Village, and we are committed to serving our community through this transition. In the coming year, we will seek fresh voices to expand and strengthen the board to maximize its effectiveness for the next chapter in our story.
They also offered some great closing comments defining what they understand EV to be and not be, directly addressing some recent online discussions and controversies. I've highlighted the lines I especially like:
Emergent Village exists to serve the Missio Dei by creating safe space for conversation. Many religious communities fear, shame, restrict, and exclude people who ask questions, propose creative innovations, or open up new ways of thinking, but since this network began a decade ago, we have been a safe space for open and generative conversation. We don’t care whether these conversations carry the term “emergent” or not. In some cases, it is advantageous to do so; in others, it isn’t. The conversation matters; the name doesn’t.
Second, Emergent Village has become an increasingly diverse community. Racial and gender diversity has been steadily increasing, as has ecumenical diversity—bringing together Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, Post-Evangelicals, Charismatics, Roman Catholics, and so on. Conservative Evangelicals won’t necessarily endorse everything a Mainline Protestant says, nor will Roman Catholics endorse everything Conservative Evangelicals say. We aren’t focused on agreement in Emergent Village, but on learning. We aren’t focused on converting each other, but on growing with each other. We aren’t focused on creating a new institution or organization, but on facilitating a needed conversation and generative friendship.
Third, because Emergent Village is interested in conversation, learning, friendship, and innovation among a wide array of Christians, we aren’t interested in creating or defending a competitive brand. When people take stands against emergent, or argue about brands like emergent versus emerging church versus missional, and so on, our preference is not to defend, and certainly not to attack. We will be happy when all these terms have served their purpose and fade into obscurity, having injected their positive values into the church and world at large. In the meantime, we’re happy whenever people are growing in love for God and neighbor, as Jesus taught.
Amen! I for one am as committed as ever to this conversation and these friendships, and I look forward to being a part of these new plans.
Labels: emerging church
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