Wednesday, August 23, 2006

looking in an emerging mirror

Anthony Stiffs has produced an incredibly helpful reflection on the emerging church.

Part 1 – What is the emerging church?; Part 2 – Missiological contours of the emerging church; Part 3 – Missiological praxis of the emerging church; Part 4 – Missiological trajectories of the emerging church.

I have some minor quibbles.
1. He claims D. A Carson is one who has studied the emerging church movement by participating in it. I certainly don’t see that in Carson’s writing and I would love to see Anthony’s evidence for this claim.
2. He asserts the following quote to Andrew Jones; A postmodern monastery – Combining authentic, low-budget group creativity with the task of preserving technical knowledge within the rhythms of prayer in order to cross the digital divide and catalyse open source spirituality; when in fact Andrew is quoting me!
3. I don’t think he fully appreciates what I am saying when he quotes my A-Z of the Emerging Church. When I say “W = white and western. Sorry but we are. It’s a sociological reality. But let’s not stay here. It is a journey. It’s time for genuine partnership” I am expressing the same concern he is; that the emerging church needs to be more ethnically diverse.

Anthony has still to post Part 5 – his critique of the emerging church. I am looking forward to that.

Why? Why do I find myself listening to Anthony and not others?

I appreciate the fact he seems to start with an open hand and not preconceived prejudice. I love that he proceeds from a missiological perspective. I appreciate that he uses a wide range of sources – blogs, books and actual communities – and that adds depth to his analysis. I sense a good amount of people caring, wise listening and discernment. And perhaps most important, I sense that he is not pushing idealisms. I might be wrong, but I sense that he too “still has not found what he is looking for.” He comes as a fellow pilgrim, not a finger pointing expert.

Posted by steve at 03:43 PM


  1. You said:
    “I sense a good amount of people caring, wise listening and discernment. And perhaps most important, I sense that he is not pushing idealisms.”

    I am not sure what you mean by “pushing idealisms”. Do you mean he isn’t pushing pie in the sky fluff? That he isn’t just whining about “the way it could be” but doing something concrete? That is fully emersed in the grunge of reality…

    Comment by Keith — August 26, 2006 @ 2:32 am

  2. Steve,
    Thank you for your kind words and for the attatching links brother. I really appreciate it. I am particularly grateful for the kind way you percieved my intentions, the ‘people caring’ you sensed is genuine man.

    The emerging churches have been a wonderful conversation partner, I’ve only entered in a small bit by preaching at one in Sacramento and conversing with some of the emerging church more popular people and a few others. My brother attends one called NextLevel Church in Fl.

    If you sense genuine love in my articles there are real reasons for it 🙂 I have also had a lot of difficulty along the way writting the pieces because much of what comes out of my tradition (Reformed/Calvinist, PCA) is pretty critical and not that constructive. It seems more like a hunt more than a careful and time sacrificing gaze of hope. But in some ways there has been an improvement in tone, I guess the tone still needs an emerging of charity itself.

    Part of my missional labor at my seminary has been to create a conference on the emerging church. Scot McKnight will be there, along with John Frake, and then we have a few people within our own tradition speaking: Mike Horton, John Leonard one of our resident missiologist, Ben Inman a campus minister and Walter Henegar a church planter in urban Atlanta. I will try and post what I can from that conference.

    The length of this comment is too long, in closing I corrected 2 and 3. Thank you. As for 1 I need to go back and look at Carsons fotenotes and and some of my friends with personal connections to the man before I can offer an well requested answer. Thank you for the accountability with my praises there 🙂

    In Christ and in conversation…

    Comment by anthonystiff — August 27, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

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