Friendship, Perepeteia, and Emergent Village 2.0
Several months ago Emergent Village sent out a survey to capture the rumblings in those places where signs of life were emerging. The survey was about the future of Emergent Village. A leading voice in what many folks call the emerging church movement. Months later an email/newsletter went out announcing a gathering of EV participants in D.C.. The weekend before last 26 people converged on D.C. to dream, dialogue, and listen about the future direction of Emergent Village. I was honored to be among this group of kingdom co-conspirators. The gathering would be facilitated by Pam Wilhelms and Dwight Friesen. We were taken through an interesting process called the “U”. This was more than reaching a consensus. It was digging deep for an innate collective wisdom that we all shared as a group. It was collective discernment regarding the future of EV. We went through a fairly intense process of exercises, dialogue, and testimony. And when I say intense…I really mean a good spiritual, emotional, and intellectual intensity that I’ve only experienced a couple of times in my life.
It was great meeting folks I’ve only dialogued with on the web. Putting names to faces. Oftentimes in these kinds of meeetings its like you’ve known a person for a long time. I won’t recount blow by blow what happened. Many other EV bloggers have done this. I’ll post their links at the end of this post.
My thoughts during this process:
Friendship. This word was used a lot. As it should. EV has always described itself as a generative friendship of missional Christians. During our gathering we talked alot about friendship. And what I witnessed was the beginning of many life-giving friendships. This aspect of EV I hope will never go away. I was refreshed and encouraged by the rich diversity of friends present. My hope that the diversity of friends will become a harbinger of things to come for EV. Diversity of race, gender, and Christian traditions. My thoughts would go to Aristotle’s notion of friendships of virtue. Good friendships, we are told, encourage virtue. Of course, in the kingdom of God we know that true friendships does encourage good virtue but it also brings one in greater unity with God’s Spirit…good friendships do this I believe.
Perepeteia. In every good story there is a turning point. EV has a story. We talked about this story. A good telling of it you can find in Tony Jones’ recent book The New Christians. We recognized that our gathering represented a turning point for EV. Which gave all of us pause. When one considers the story of emergence that Jones narrates in New Christians humility is the first posture required when venturing into these waters. There were no elaborate concrete projects planned for emergent. But there was something new that emerged. What that is will be coming out in a more collective voice than I could represent here on a personal blog. I’ll say though that EV will be more localized than before. I believe there will be more of a harnessing of life from the various nodes spread throughout emerging church culture than we’ve seen before. In other words, I believe we’ll see more of a public grassroots movement emphasis than we’ve seen before. But these are my observations. I could be wrong. As far as turning points are concerned that’s a major one I anticipate.
Emergent Village 2.0. Expansive, more localized, more prophetic , more provocative, and definitely more diverse than before. With this upgrade I believe it will be hard to make the case that Emergent is a gathering of white 20-30-something Mac-users. There was a beautiful diversity in our gathering. But it was a harmonius diversity…I didn’t detect any scent of tokenism. There was a shared ethos present which made it easier to discern the collective wisdom in the room. 2.0 will be more diversity or at least the diversity already present in Emergent will be more public than before. To be honest I had this sneaky suspicion that EV was going to die. Which is partly true. Something did die during our gathering. But something also emerged. A more diverse, prophetic, organic, kingdom collective voice emerged to life. We shall see.