Heres are the highlights of my one day in Amsterdam.
I had a fantastic dinner at the home of Phil and Laina Graf in their classic Amsterdam home. Their house even has a cellar in the basement which was used for hiding Jews during the war. Which might be quite normal for the Dutch but I found it interesting. The food was incredible - wild mushroom soup with truffle oil was the best. Laina gave us her food business to come with her husband to help start new churches in Europe with a Netherlands based mission called Christian Associates - a mission group which received some good press in Prague the same day of the meeting for the new emerging church there [HT: Sasa Flek who there (preaching) has more info on their first gathering]
A great group of people came for our "meeting". You can read about them all on Ro's blog OurJourney which is where i stole this picture. Not mentioned in Ro's account was Gerard Almighty Kelly, whose early book on emerging church (RetoFuture) is a classic. Gerard left UK to give leadership to Crossroads Church in Amsterdam.
Ro Bos is a Dutch web designer and the guy that started Next-Wave.org - which, we decided that evening, was the original, and longest lasting Emerging Church on-line magazine in the world. Charlie Wear had the idea for it originally and still leads it today with Bob Hyatt, but it was started by a Dutchman. In fact, Next-Wave is having its tenth anniversary right now and the January issue is a big one. I was asked to write a quick ten year history but have not been able to get it finished in time. He is now working with a Dutch Reformed Church.
Thanks to Andrew Perriman of Open Source Theology for organizing the meeting. We discussed his excellent new book in the car. Its called Re:Mission - Biblical Mission for a Post-Biblical Church and I am half way through it. I like the way Andrew thinks and how he approaches the Scriptures, looking at them with a missional framework and asking the right questions.
Digression: My first visit to Amsterdam was in 2000, the same week as Billy Graham's Amsterdam 2000 event, a massive affair in which I heard a number of famous speakers, none of whom realized I had snuck into the event without an invitation. The security people on their hi-tech scooters, however, noticing that I had no identifying bracelet, despite my attempts to cover my naked wrist whenever they looked, were polite and gracious in showing me the back door. Derek Chapman was also there and he lasted a few hours longer than I before they threw him out. Obviously his kung-fu was stronger. Gatecrashing Christian conferences is an art-form and requires years of practise. They don't teach you these skills in seminary, you know.
Our whole family flew in to Amsterdam with backpacks and sleeping bags and we set up our tent in a campground beside the city. The bread and the chocolate was wonderful. This photo was taken of myself and my son Samuel, taking a public whizz on the streets of Amsterdam.
Ahhhh. They don't call it a PUBLIC toilet for nothing. Would any other bloggers care to show their public urination photos. Hello? Al Mohler?
But back to the emerging church meeting. My biggest regret for the evening, apart from not getting a third helping of that mushroom soup, is that the legendary Curtis Sergeant had to leave early (Curtis, Lee Behar and I came over from our meeting earlier) and could not tell us some stories about the incredible movements that have been happening in China.
Very humbling to be around Curtis. And quite intimidating to submit my report for a funding grant to him and Lee Behar (they both work for a foundation that supports mission) knowing that Curtis has been involved with a movement that started a MILLION churches in Asia (probably a low estimate) and things in Europe move so slowly and are often very unimpressive.
Really enjoyed meeting two young guys [Hetnetwork] starting an emerging church and Nico-Dirk [Post-gereformed] (pictured on left) who has been reading up on a lot of theology. I asked him for a list of the Dutch thinkers who have impacted him and he reeled off a lenghty list and I wasn't sure if these were Dutch theologians or if he was just clearing his throat. I recognized Kuyper and a few others but there is a lot more out there - not all translated into English. Great to see people reading the writings of old Dutchmen to gain perspective on whats happening now in their own context.
And lots of other great people that i caught up with (Gea Gort, Martijn, etc). Ohh . . and Andrew Last, son of missionaries Scott and Terri Last [Scott was part of the original Calvary Chapel in the early 70's when it was a tiny chapel] Anyway, great to be in Netherlands again. I love that country. The EC scene has really changed since I came here in 2003 at the request of Roland Van der Molen and the Assemblies of God to do a creative training event for 50 young church planters. The emerging church scene in 2008 seems a lot more stronger, confident, and diverse.
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