Monday, December 06, 2004

Emergent Conference

spent Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Emergent conference (co-hosted by Steve Chalke's Oasis) in London. It was billed as a three day 'conversation' but most of the conversation took place at the front. It was great that they tried to make space for dialogue but it kinda felt like we were observing other people's dialogue rather than taking part in it ourselves (I'm speaking on behalf of the rank and file 'punters' here). There were a couple of slots for regionally based groups to come together to talk but these felt kind of token. somehow i've got to balance that critique with a recognition that i didn't want to spend 3 days listening to people i've never heard of from places like Swindon talk in a group context. i really went to listen to Brian Maclaren (whose books are really helping me to articulate stuff i've been feeling for a while - i say 'helping', it's bloody uncomfortable!). there was some great content from Brian, Steve Chalke (sadly still at the centre of the storm), and Doug Pagitt (whose seminar was one of the highlights of the 3 days - you really should get his book). I guess the overarching theme for the 3 days was getting away from a gospel that is focused on the individual to one that is focused instead on the world - discovering the mission of God in the world and then, as church, learning how to participate in that rather than telling people it's all about them! you know, as Brian says, we have a personal computer, a personal phone, a personal hi-fi, and now we have a personal saviour and a personal route to heaven when we die! we are in danger of re-translating John 3:16-17 into - 'For God so hated the world, that he sent his only son, to save the church, so that the church may be saved and have eternal life. God did in fact send his Son to condemn the world but the church is ok cos it's not in the world anymore'!!!
Steve added into this some good stuff on the Myth of Redemptive Violence but nothing that Walter Wink hasn't been saying for years. people do need to hear that stuff though.
a guy called 'Fuzz' who was on one of the panels on the final afternoon left us with a tantalising thought : what if, after 9/11, Bush had stood up and said, "I'm a Christian, and because I'm a christian we're not going to seek revenge for this terrible atrocity that has been committed. instead we are going to forgive those who have done this, and we're going to pray for them". Can you imagine how different the world in which we live would be if he had said this!!!
So overall, a good few days. nice to connect with people like Jonny who introduced me to a guy called Hadge. I think, though, we need some new models for how to do conferences that preserves the input from those in the know but gets beyond this expert/audience speaker/listener dichotomy. sorry about the long post - well done those of you who have made it this far!

brian and steve


jonny said...

good seeing you...

love the rewrite of john 3:16!

Adrian said...

Did Chalke have much to say about the "storm" that being criticised by the Evangelical Alliance has brewed? Did it seem to bother him?