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Posts from September 2008

Ed Stetzer on the Emerging Church

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Dr Stetzer has an outstanding paper on the American emerging church just released on The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry [Download PDF]. Well researched and worth the read. There are not many examples of Baptist emerging movements but it is still a superb effort and reflects some of the diversity of the conversation. A few quotes of mine feature in his article. If you would like to discuss them further, or have some thoughts on the article, please eave a comment below.

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Debbie and I are in Tahoe, Nevada (Incline Village to be exact) with about 30 people who are doing various forms of missional work, art or social enterprise. Most are working in USA but there are others here doing incredible things in Nepal, Uganda, and even a snowboarding ministry in New Zealand.

We are staying in a nice hotel and getting spoiled. Meetings are informal and friendly and Debbie is having a really great time. Julie from Houston is watching our kids in Scotland and I think its been about 3 years since Debbie and I have got away together like this.

Francis DuBose on "Missional" Video

A few months ago, I was a participator in a 50-blogger synchroblog on the word "missional" - a word that is now in common usage to describe the church's role as sent into the world. The word was coined in the 20th Century by Dr Francis DuDose. I used to direct the Page Street Center in San Francisco, under Dr DuBose, a ministry now run exceedlingly well by Eric Bergquist.

I took some video of Dr DuBose on Tuesday. He's in his late 80's and he looks GREAT.

Eric Bergquist and I had lunch with Dr DuBose and his wife at their retirement village [Dr DuBose calls it a "hotel"] at The Avenue, San Francisco. Dr DuBose was the missions professor at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the strongest voices to encourage the focus of ministry towards the inner cities of USA. He first published the word "missional" in his book 'God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest for Biblical Mission' in 1983 and since then, the word has gained international acceptance.

God Who SendsWant to explore the book?
Baptist missiologist Ed Stetzer has done much to reawaken and employ this term and his research has created a trail that leads back Dr Francis DuBose. Stetzer points to some online summaries by Brad Brisco.
"Brad has done an excellent job summarizing God Who Sends by Francis DuBose, the first book I can find to use the term “missional.”
God Who Sends: A Fresh Quest

Being Sent and the Pentateuch
Being Sent and the Historical Books
Being Sent and the Prophets
Being Sent and the Gospels
Being Sent in Acts & Epistles

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Be a spring, not a well

Diva Marketing Blog liked my session at Blog World Expo and the idea of blogs being springs and not wells. Cool - I am honored! I was talking about the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. We, and our blogs as extensions of ourselves, should be dynamic springs and not stagnant wells.

"My big take away from Andrew's talk (slides) was ~ A blog should not be a well. It should be a spring. ~ Although Andrew put it into a religious context, his concept makes perfect sense to me not only for blogs but for social media in general. Think about it .. a well contains stagnant waters. Stagnation occurs when there is no new flow of water. Blogs, social networks, wikis and all the other tools/tactics allow for and encourage fresh water or new ideas to flow." Diva Marketing Blog


Another thought:
Sometimes wells are used to just store things. In Genesis, Joseph was hidden in a cistern by his brothers because they didnt know what to do with him. Eventually some merchants came buy, purchased him as a slave, and hauled him off to Egypt. Some blogs are like that - old articles awaiting a publisher, old thoughts awaiting an entrepreneur, old memories awaiting someone to hear them. Better to be a spring - a reticulating dynamic source of life that comes from God and constantly streams out to whoever needs it. A spring that never runs out. Oh . . what streams may come?

Now that we have stopped emerging . . .

In June 2004, I wrote a post called "When we stop emerging". It appears that time has come.
ButterflySome churches have matured and are no longer "emerging".
Some have ventured away from the inherited church and have come full circle to rejoin it.
Some started and died and restarted again. Others went back to the mother church.
Some emerged and replicated all over their country and even overseas to become networks and movements that are shaping their worlds.
Some are just carrying on with the job but are ceasing to allow the term "emerging church" to describe them.
Some are still using the name and are not even aware of this conversation because they live and minister in either Latin America, Africa, Asia or Middle East and they will keep on using it, as the church has been using it since 1968 to describe the new forms of church in the emerging culture.

In R.I.P. Emerging Church Christianity Today posted some thoughts about the death of the emerging church. In his response, Scot McKnight points out that the movement is still going strong but the term "emerging church" might be dead. Forgotten Ways have also responded.

I thought a blast from the past would be appropriate today so take a look at my 2004 post called "When we stop emerging" and especially read the comments, which are much better than the post. I have pasted a few of them below.

"I have never been much of a fan of the phrase "emerging church", it sounds like too much angst or a zit or something". Doug Pagitt

"Perhaps we'll just keep the word emerging and the next group of people will look upon us as old and out of touch" Darren

"I am as happy as anyone not to have a title or tag for what we are seeing, and instead just call it "church". None of us really need a name, nor do we care if it is the lastest thang or not - i am quite sure is isnt." Andrew Jones

"I've concluded that while all these movements and models have some constructive things to offer, when they become "the thing," they become destructive. they are too narrow ... even when they seem far roomier than what came before. . .
go beyond emergent. there is far, far more room to maneuver around in, without going outside the boundaries of Scripture."
Brad Sargent

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Emerging Church: The demise of the term since 2004

For those geeky church historians tracking the huge discussion on the death of the emerging church label, here is a little timeline of its demise from my humble and subjective point of view:

2004- My post entitled When We Stop Emerging stimulated some excellent discussion in the comments regarding the death of the name.

2004 - At the Epicentre Roundtable for Global Emerging Church, that I hosted at Greenbelt Festival, I asked if we should keep using the term "emerging church" or dump it. While a few people suggested the name was problematic, we decided it was still good.

2006- At the Global Roundtable for Emerging Church leaders at Freakstock, Germany, where we gathered 70 leaders from 27 countries, I also asked the question about keeping it or dumping it and even though the Jesus Freaks in Germany did not use the term,[they preferred simply 'church'] we said it was OK.

2008 - In January, Kester Brewin predicts "the collapse of the emerging church as a popular project" during 2008.

2008 - I get asked if "The Emerging Church Fund" would be a good term to use for launching a new fund supporting those working around the world in the emerging culture.

So I ask my readers . .

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State of the Blogosphere 2008

state of blogosphere

Every year I mention it and this year I actually saw and heard it with my own ears at Blog World Expo. Here is the State of the Blogsphere 2008 by the Technorati folk. What people were talking about when it was done, at least in my circle, was the amount of people blogging for money and how much they were making. Monitizing your blog was quite a dominant theme at Blogworld. Of interest is the following quote from the presentation regarding blogger's income.

"The mean annual revenue is $6,000 with $75K+ in revenue for those with 100,000 or more unique visitors per month."

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Reflections on our Silicon Valley Party

The party was great. We were wondering how to integrate the Bilbo and Frodo Baggins theme and also the missional conversation about the web but things manages to composite quite nicely. Each one of the 30 or so guests identified themselves, or were given an identity, and wore their LOTR badges. It was amazing to see the variety of people there - pastors, geeks, software engineers, people working with the poor. It was nice to see them all in the 'Fellowship of the Ring', thinking together.

Brad Sargent was let loose on the crowd with his huge LOTR posters and action figures. Thanks Brad.

As for the question "How can we take advantage of the opportunity of the web" and related questions, I don't think we answered any of them at all. But we met each other and started the process and already began to see huge potential through networking, friendship and common vision. Lets keep the conversation rolling and stay in touch with each other. Maybe we should do this again.


Thanks to Michael Toy and family for being wonderful hosts. Your house is really so much fun. I am staying in the Hobbitat which is built underground in his back yard. You can see the skylight in the back of this photo. What a treat!

Joe Hernandez of CityTeam came early to cook a really wicked BBQ. Those beans were great! Thanks to the CityTeam people that contributed food. You guys rock! CityTeam are initiating a new project called Reaching the Online Generation.

Michael A. asked me to write down some of the helpful books and resources I mentioned. Heres a few:
Wikinomics [on TSK], The Language of New Media (PDF), The Long Tail, Linked, Starfish and the Spider.
For some more of my thoughts on topics that came up, read Reclusing Ourselves to Death and 1024 Window

Bloggers in the Fellowship of the Ring?
Apart from the bloggers already mentioned, there were more. Pastor and Triathlete Dan Perkins has already blogged some thoughts on the party. Jon Reid, who I got to meet face to face after many years of blog-chat, was there. I know there were a lot more bloggers. Joshua Rudd, who has been blogging since 1996 [yes - longer than me] was there with his family. I actually stayed with them on Sunday night.
Oh - Michael Toy reflects on the party on his blog as does Jon Reid.

If you were there and have a blog, would you mind leaving a link in the comments below? Any photos?

Thanks to everyone who came. Lets stay in touch. Lets do this again and next time move it to the next level.

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Emerging Church: The Missing Link


Linda at I Wonder as I Wander has been asking for the missing link to my emerging church series in 2005 so that she can complete the set. Here is the invisible post known as Number 4 - Emergant: New Media Fluency and here is the whole set:

Emergant: The Skinny on the Global Emerging Church - Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4

Don't forget this was 2005 and a lot of movements around the globe were using the term "emerging church" to describe what they were doing without any reference to USA or any knowledge of people like Rob Bell who would be labelled as such. I should also say that movements like Tribal Generation have been growing like crazy and replicating into other countries and the emerging church movement is alive and well but is having to rename itself to win its own identity.

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Speaking of Brazil and Tribal Generation who I discuss in number 2 about the countercultural history of the emerging church over the past 40 years, I have some news . . .

. . Olgavaro just told me that Tribal Generation in Brazil are coming to UK on Dec 13 to "discuss "church planting for the new generation in our society" My friends in Hungary are thinking of coming over. Would any other countries out there want to be involved? It could easily be a worthwhile Europe-wide event if there was enough interest.

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