Saturday, April 19, 2008

labelling emerging and emergent

Tony Jones, head of USEmergent, has expressed concern about those who draw lines between emerging and emergent. To which I made the following comment:

Frankly, I think it’s cheeky that you [Tony Jones] can co-edit a book, titled “Emergent Manifesto”, written by Americans only, and now tell us that there is no difference between the terms [emergent and emerging].

Last year I was asked to blog review the Emergent Manifesto of Hope and expressed my disappointment that it was basically an American Manifesto of Hope. Doug Paggitt commented on my blog: “Hey Steve, we have worked hard to keep the Emergent convervation from the US about the US – As you know the other expressions in other countries come under the name Amahoro. So when we in the US are speaking of the Emergent US we are not supposing to speak for the entire world, and ave worked hard to not do so.”

So it take from that comment that Doug is wanting to draw lines around Emergent. US gets one organisation called Emergent, rest of world is lumped in Amahoro.

Or perhaps it’s more to do with Doug wanting to draw authorial lines around the book brand?

If Emergent wants to speak for the world, then they have a lot of work to do, and it doesn’t start by saying “oh, we’re all really the same aren’t we!”

Posted by steve at 11:18 PM


  1. Steve, have you read Ray Anderson’s book “An Emergent Theology for an Emerging Church”? If so what did you think?

    Comment by mark — April 20, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  2. no, have not read it,


    Comment by steve — April 20, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  3. You seem fairly pissed off! Maybe too much time on your hands? At least offer something constructive to the conversation about the topic. Why do you think they make a difference between Amohoro and Emergent? Why are others making such a differnce between Emergent and Emerging? There does seem to be a difference, and I wouldn’t lump Emergent and Amohoro together. If you do begin lumping them together then we Americans colonize everybody even more than we do already.

    Comment by Justin — April 20, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

  4. Sorry Justin if there is one thing you cannot say about Steve is that he has TOO much time on his hands. That was out of line! Also, I think it is fairly clear that Steve has and is contributing constructively to the argument by making these comments, through his book ‘Out of Bounds Church’ and through this blog.

    Comment by mark — April 20, 2008 @ 8:05 pm

  5. I really liked it. It helped me see how any church is/can be a fresh expression of God’s work within a particular culture. In many ways it helped me see the value of the ‘established’ or ‘traditional’ church because an ’emergent’ theology isn’t the sole realm of the ’emerging’ church. In essence what is emerging is a result of God’s work not our innovation!

    Here is a very small snippet from a book review I wrote back in 2006 just before the book was released.

    ““In my view” states Anderson “emerging churches represent a contemporary expression of the church’s existence and mission in a post-modern word” (2006:8)…Emerging church does not refer to a particular style or method of church but rather an emergent theological attitude. The terms ‘emerging’ and ‘emergent’, while sounding similar, have different meanings; ‘emergent’, according to Kimball, “refers primarily to theological change and discussion” where as ‘emerging’ relates to those “who are rethinking church and ecclesiology…””

    Comment by mark — April 20, 2008 @ 9:12 pm

  6. Amahoro?
    did i miss being put in that pot?
    maybe i was too busy doing what God seems to be calling me to here in this wee neck of the woods to notice that i had been boxed…

    Comment by lynne — April 20, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

  7. Hi Justin,

    pissed off? i am carrying a cold. time of my hands …. i wish – the weekend has included 3 services plus doing a wedding for a newish christian couple, for whom faith became important cos of how i took a wedding they attended a year ago! at our evening service, 7 kids from the community came in, poured water on all the muffins we were serving, then split when we caught them. that’s ministry for us in our suburb.

    2morrow i’m off to wellington to talk to 140 Anglican leaders. in order to connect, i will probably have to spend the first 60 minutes saying what emerging is not – not american, not anti-church, not hacked off evangelicals.

    so yes, i am pissed off. the more books get written in the US, the more the web polarises around the US conversation, the harder it has become to talk about indigenous mission here in New Zealand.

    you ask for constructive comments. here’s a few
    1 – make all the books free online. call it the emergenttrainmanifesto
    2 – ensure church communities make more noise than conferences or book tours.
    3 – in light of the power of the american church make philipians 2:6-8 the Emergent manifesto for all engagement with the Other.


    Comment by steve — April 20, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  8. After just spending three frustrating days at an advertising / branding / marketing conference, I’m in no mood to hear about one voice claiming to speak for a broader community. I consider myself part of the global emerging conversation, and refuse to be boxed into the “clearinghouse” mentality exemplified by Emergent(tm).

    That said, I love and respect the individuals behind the Emergent organization, and have spent plenty of time privately explaining to them why (i feel) they’re trying to fit the idea of ecclesial emergence into a dying administrative model – an “old wineskin” if you will.

    Steve’s 2nd and 3rd ideas ring true to me: ecclesial emergence is about servants empowering a participative community via de-centralization and self-organization.

    Comment by John L — April 21, 2008 @ 7:12 am

  9. Good!!! I intended to be offensive with my first comment because your post sounded like whining. Your follow-up is right on the mark. You are busy. You are in the middle of a lot of ministry and it gets hampered because of a myopic and continually polarized conversation taking place here on the web about Emergent. Your three comments are right on the money!
    Personally, I’m really glad that Emergent draws a lot of the fire. I find that it allows me to go about doing really important ministry under the radar while they get shot at. I’m sorry that isn’t happening in your context. It sounds as if you have to apologize for the connections you might have or not have with them.

    So I apologize for my comment (even though I originally intended offense by it). You are obviously very busy and are doing great things… and I have always loved your book. I used it a lot for my master’s thesis back in 2006. Your follow-up comment was right on and I’m glad I was able to draw it out of you.

    Comment by Justin — April 21, 2008 @ 10:14 am

  10. Justin, you are a brave man, a stranger deliberately causing offense in the hope of drawing a desired reaction.

    apology accepted.


    Comment by steve — April 21, 2008 @ 10:26 am

  11. oh, i should also say, the desire for construction is of course antithetical to the dominant postmodern meme of deconstruction. a good whine might well be the most truth a person hear’s all day,


    Comment by steve — April 21, 2008 @ 10:27 am

  12. You raise important questions Steve. What arrogance for someone to suggest that they have ownership over a word and even think that they control it within their country.

    Comment by Andrew — April 21, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  13. You know what I find funny about the term “emergent” or “emerging” for that matter?………..why did it take so long? I mean to say, Jesus did His thing a couple-a thousand years ago…and we….now….are just emerging? 😉
    On the whole, the “movement” grabs me, but I do wish the label could be changed!

    Comment by Rachael — April 21, 2008 @ 1:49 pm

  14. Steve – I love your constructive comments. I’m right with you.

    Comment by Adam Moore — April 24, 2008 @ 3:45 am

  15. Right on Steve…I’m starting to get tired of the Emergent folks packaging the emerging/missional church and selling it with their boundaries upon it.

    I also apologize for American hubris. It’s amazing that we don’t even see it sometimes.

    The future of the Church is beyond nationalism. We go local, true, but as we do so we learn that our first community is one that is bigger than any nation…

    Btw, your book was itself a “manifesto” for me. Thanks.

    Comment by Mark — April 29, 2008 @ 4:11 am

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