I thought I would post a few more thoughts on the recent Emergent Gathering. Here are the Conversations that I attended:
5pm What the bleep are we here for??? w/Mark and Damien: a broad discussion about what's emerging in the world, how it's affecting us, and how our tribe fits into this story.
This was a fairly interesting Conversation. It was my first introduction to Mark Scandrette who I very much enjoyed. My main take away was that there are many who are disgruntled with the institutional church (duh!). I made a pitch for church planting as the bridge between the IC and emerging communities. There was a good comment about the high failure rate of church plants, which started discussion about the definition of failure. What I have seen and heard over the years is that church plants "succeed" or "fail" based on leadership. Any discussion about church planting statistics has to involve a discussion of leadership. However, I failed to make that point at the Conversation! :-)
10am The Multi-Job Pastor w/Doug P.: A discussion about $, jobs, and pastoring in the local community. Other options than the full-time pastor? What are the real-life implications of this?
I arrived pretty late to this Conversation. In fact, I missed most of it. But my gut tells me that the more that the "church" moves in the direction of organic missional communities, the less likely it is that the traditional role of FT Pastor will continue to exist. Small, loosely organized groups focused on relationships and community do not usually generate finances on a scale that can support traditional church notions of Property, Personnel, and Programs (PPP). So it seems to me a foregone conclusion that bi-vocational pastoring is going to play a larger role in the future.
3:30pm Experiencing God Holistically: beyond trinity w/ Michael Toy
This was a fascinating discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Michael and hearing his thoughts on the trinity. He had a very interesting point of view regarding the trinity as a sort of vending machine (I am paraphrasing from memory, please forgive me Michael!) where each "person" is a dispenser of particular items. For example, if you want forgiveness, you ask Jesus. If you want healing, you ask the Holy Spirit. If you want protection, you ask the Father. I agree with Michael to a large extent on this point. It seems a bit contrived, but unfortunately we often do approach God as this compartmentalized entity where each part gives us different things, instead of having a holistic "oneness" approach.
10am Utopianism, Isolation, and Communities of Justice w/Mike Clawson: Discuss what emergent engagement with politics and justice should or could look like in coming days.
I definitely enjoyed meeting Mike as well. In the past I have been very careful to avoid being explicit about my political views, at least in regard to party affiliation. I have usually found that once someone thinks they know your political views, then they feel comfortable dismissing your views in general if they happen to disagree with your party affiliation. For example, if someone is a democrat, then perhaps you would not be willing to truly listen to their views on poverty or welfare because you would assume they are just spouting democrat rhetoric. Even if their views are valid. Politics is such a divisive topic. And this conversation was essentially dominated by fairly liberal points of view, but it turned into some very lively debate and discussion with the conservatives in the group. Of course, much of the content revolved around Iraq ("It's the war, stupid!"). It reminded me of a classic song by The Clash...
Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble.
And if I stay it will be double.
So come on and let me know.
1:30pm Emergent Women's Discussion:
I loved this discussion perhaps most of all. This is an area where I have definitely been shifting over the last several years. It was amazing to listen in on a group of women discuss their experience as second class citizens in church. I heard so many stories of how the church had hurt them by making them feel that they had less to offer than men. Leslie, an Episcopal priest who was part of the discussion, made a comment regarding her recent participation in a Doctoral program at George Fox University as being "trapped in the bowels of the patriarchy". It was such a good comment, because I think there is so much unconcious and unintended discrimination against women in the church that we don't even realize because we are trapped by it. Being an Episcopal priest I think helped Leslie see it better, because she is not usually surrounded by such blatant male dominance.
3:30pm Art Walk w/Damien: Visit Santa Fe Art Museums...
I had a great time on the Art Walk. Santa Fe is AMAZING! Some of the galleries there are world class. I just recently read an article about the Top 10 streets in America for art, and Santa E is on the list. We got there a little late, so I didn't get a chance to see all the galleries, but what I did see was wonderful. I think the Santa Fe arts district is a slight step above anything we have here in the Portland area. Don't get me wrong, I love Portland arts, but Santa Fe was something special. If you get a chance, you should definitely make a trip!
Ok, those are my thoughts for now. I am in the midst of a spiritual journey regarding public prayer and will be posting on that when I have some clarity. Right now it's a big muddle of conflicting views in my head. Stay tuned!
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church
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