I’ve pretty much decided that I am going to attend the Emergent Gathering this October in New Mexico. My ex-roommate Rusty is doing his youth ministry internship in Roswell, NM and told me that he could probably get us some free lodging for the event, which would be baller. I’m really looking forward to it and I hope that this deal doesn’t fall through. Ever since I heard of emergent, I have resonated with their mission. When I came into John Brown University as a freshman, my faith was shattered and challenged quite a bit and I began rethinking first of all about how to “do church.” Later, I realized that my desire to “do church” differently was a result of a shift in my theological focus and understanding. However, this shift in my theology, especially my ecclesiology, was quite frustrating. I felt like there was nothing that I could do to make the widespread changes that I thought obviously needed to be made to conventional methods of church.
Fortunately, I found out about emergent. I don’t even remember how. I read The Emerging Church by Dan Kimball my freshman year, but I don’t think that I really knew about the whole emergent “conversation” until some time later. I think it was through the web somehow. Maybe a blog? I guess it doesn’t matter. And now that I seem to be a little more acquainted with emergent, Kimball’s book was a decent intro, but it focused a lot on the practical ways of doing church (if I remember right; it’s been too long since I’ve read it), and emergent is much bigger than that. While different worship styles are part of emergent, I am more interested in the focus on theology, social justice, and diversity/unity. Needless to say, I took to the emergent conversation quite quickly. I keep up to date mostly through blogs and websites, but I feel like I’ve got a decent handle on many of the influential people behind it and what they stand for. I’m still undoubtedly a neophyte and wish to eventually become a significant contributor to the conversation, but for the past year or two now I have simply been lurking behind the scenes, trying to educate myself and make sure I don’t look like too much of an amateur once I attempt to get involved.
So, I guess it’s time to come from out of the woodwork and really see what this emergent thing is all about at the Emergent Gathering. Before I go, I’m trying to read a few of the books they suggest to read to get a handle on the sorts of people that have been influential in emergent’s thinking. I’m reading Practicing Passion by Kenda Dean right now and hope to read some Leonard Sweet and Brian McLaren before the actual event. I figure that although I’ve been keeping up with blogs lately, it’d be a good idea to read some of the more “polished” texts (aka books) associated with emergent thinking.
Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be a good experience and Rusty and I will probably have some interesting conversations about who knows what.
One thing I haven’t figured out in all this is when to capitalize emergent. Maybe that should be my goal when I go to NM.