Thursday, June 04, 2009
Has Emergent Failed?
Good conversation happening over at Nick Fiedler's blog (of the Nick & Josh Podcast and a forthcoming book from IVP) about his disappointment that the "Emergent" movement (by which he primarily seems to be referring to Emergent Village) seems to have fizzled and hasn't produced the sweeping change in the church he was hoping for. This is in a long line of recent "death of Emergent" declarations all over the blogosphere, though this is by far one of the better, more thoughtful, and heartfelt ones by someone who isn't dancing on its grave or congratulating themselves for being a "hipper-than-thou" post-Emergent. Nick genuinely wants the movement to succeeded and is disappointed that it doesn't seem to be.

Makeesha Fisher has an absolute great response to Nick's concerns, and rather than rehashing everything she said, I'll just direct you there and to her follow up comments there and at Nick's blog. Her main points basically come down to a few things:

1) It was never about just Emergent Village in the first place. Nevertheless, don't count EV out just yet. It is in transition but good things are in the works.

2) If you don't think the revolution is happening fast enough, get in there and get to work, because the "emerging movement" is not some group of leaders, speakers, or authors. It is us.

I'd give a hearty "hear, hear", and also add just a few more points of my own:

3) There is actually a lot more that has been accomplished in the past decade than you might think. Emergent Village might not get direct credit for it per se, but the ripples that started from the rock they threw into the pond have already spread far and wide and taken many different forms.

4) A lot of the folks declaring the "death of Emergent" are themselves emergent types (including Nick). But the emerging church doesn't go away just because you don't want to call yourself that anymore, and you don't stop being what you are just because you take down your "Friend of Emergent Village" blog button. Emergent Village could disappear tomorrow and the ideas, passions, relationships, and communities that it has inspired and participated in would continue to exist. In the end it doesn't matter if people declare the end of Emergent or not, because it is already happening and will continue to happen all around them whether they like it or not.

This conversation has exploded in the blogosphere. You can read some more responses from Tony (I want to especially recommend this one - Tony gives a very good response), Julie, Jonathan, Josh, Drew (Part 1 and Part 2), Makeesha (part 2), Jonny, Matt, Jim, Jules, John, Paul, Andrew, and Carol.

One more thought too. It kind of sucks that so many people are wanting to pull the plug on Emergent Village right when so many women and minorities are just stepping up into leadership (e.g. the recent DC gathering). The big white males that these folks have been complaining about so much are stepping aside/making room for these others, and that's when they all decide to leave the party? Kind of ironic, don't you think?

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posted by Mike Clawson at 4:00 PM | Permalink |


At 6/05/2009 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Nathan P. Gilmour

You thought this iteration of "death of Emergent" was one of the better ones? I thought it was petulant and poorly edited.

I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, though. What in particular do you see as worthwhile in it?


At 6/05/2009 07:00:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Well, I thought Nick's post, and his follow-up comments especially, were fairly humble and heartfelt. I also appreciated it because it was by someone who genuinely wants to see Emergent succeed, not someone who was merely trashing the label (a la Andrew Jones), nor someone who was dancing on its grave and bragging that they predicted the failure of us heretics, nor that most annoying variety - the "hipper-than-thou" "post-emergent" types who think things like Emergent Village were just "sooo 2005". In contrast to those, I thought Nick's was pretty good. I mostly disagreed with him, as I said, but that's besides the point.


At 6/06/2009 09:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

Why is the thought out there to shut things down? Is that the impression I have given? I'm far from that. I'm more about being a part of something that brings the beauty of the conversation back.

I think it goes back to the gap between some of us in the converstation. Some want to express it in a church, while others (like me) want nothing to do with it in that context. That is what I was trying to show. However, coming back to the conversation, as I have said else where, I keeping having "WTH!!!" moments.

I don't think emergent should die as much as the label. ;) That is half joke and half serious. Ok, I'm in trouble now. I have one more day of vaK with my someone special. Check in later!


At 6/06/2009 09:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

Oh forgot, I'm actually looking to be at C21! The reason I want to be there is not only inclusion of women, but of one speaker I never thought I would see. :)


At 6/06/2009 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

Jules- no, I didn't necessarily get that impression from you. I had other comments and past posts in mind where people have been more explicit about saying we should just shut EV down. (In fact, even a few of the folks at the recent EVDC09 Gathering were of that opinion, from what Julie told me anyway - and those were folks who were called together to help lead EV into the future!)

Anyhow, I can totally sympathize with the anti-IC folks like yourself that are not interested in being part of a formal church anymore. And I think that's a totally valid option. However, I personally prefer a both/and approach on this. Some people are called to leave the IC and others are called to reform it from within. Both are good and necessary IMHO. What always bugged me over at theOoze though (not from you, but from others) was the militancy of some of the anti-ICers who would just trash those of us who didn't want to just pack up and leave, or who didn't think structure, organization, and leadership (not to mention publishing and conferences) were all bad. Again I like a both/and approach. That's why I really resonate with the second of EV's values - the "Commitment to the Church in all its forms".


At 6/13/2009 12:30:00 AM, Blogger Steve Hayes

I don't know about "Emergent" (referring to the particular Emerging Village community, but the emerging movement is alive and well, to judge by what happened at the Amahoro gathering here this week.