The Evolution of a Conversation:

All conversations evolve, that’s a given. I mean, everything evolves so it stands to reason that a conversation should also evolve. But I think the question is, “what do we evolve too?” If we look at the “natural” evolution of the Christian faith do we see a model of what the evolution of a conversation is, or should be? Let me explain how I see it.

Christianity started as a conversation in Bethlehem, moved to a movement in Jerusalem, developed into a philosophy in Greece, became an institution in Rome, organized as a tradition in America, and truly needs to return to the conversation and not to the movement stage.

Let’s Talk:
When Christianity was a conversation, Jesus was the key spokesperson for that conversation. Others, while having a voice, were not the guiding force of the faith. Others spoke, and even added to the conversation, but all eyes where on Jesus. Then, after Jesus left, the conversation stopped and the movement started. You see, while Jesus was alive, the movement could never happen – once Jesus left, then a movement could be formed. I fear that if we become a movement, we will no longer seek to see Christ as the center of what we talk about – we will turn to the voices of others to guide us.

When the conversation turned to a movement, the voice of Christ was filtered thought the voices of others. We no longer look at Jesus as the core teacher, and we started to look to people [like Paul] for our faith walk. We took the words of Christ and filtered them via Paul, as opposed to taking the words of Paul and filtering them through the words of Jesus. But movements do that, they replace the founder of the conversation with others who they see as “just as important” and we are on the verge of such action, and that frightens me greatly. Because one of the next steps is to become a “philosophy” and then an “institution” and I am not at all willing to head in that direction.

The Nature of the Beast:
No matter the intentions of the people involved, moving out of the conversation means we will move to becoming an institution. When I look back at the institutional church in my life I see flash back of hurt, pain, greed, selfishness, oppression and judgment. That is a norm for an institution. It must have “guidelines” and if one does not fit, one is not welcomed. If we look at “why” the emerging needs to be a “movement” we see that it’s because of the need to keep things more “centered” and “easier” to get out the word. But is that a reality? What I see is a gathering that sees itself as “The Emerging Church” and others who see themselves as “the emerging church” and how does a movement bring those together? Becoming a “movement” will not bring unity, and moving to an institution will never cause unity. So, how does it happen? I think it happens because it must happen, and I believe that the way it happens is we stay a conversation.

Keeping the conversation as a conversation is the only way it can happen. I think it is done, not with big national events that are smoke and mirror designed to sell books and “programs” aimed at an emerging people. Rather small gatherings of people in areas where the emerging is taking hold – and then spreading to the world around. Small, regional events, not designed to sell book, hype an author, or make money – but rather gathering where people can connect, make friends and learn from each other. When we have rings of interconnected, organic, and self developing small groups we connect with each other a core levels. we have an opportunity to truly be what we are claiming the church needs to be, relvant, organic, connective, group center and expressive.

Possible? Impossible?
I am certain that some would say, this is impossible – and for them it is. Yet, many will say that it is very possible – but how does one do this without people to “put it together?” I think it is simple, and that is usually the best when we think in terms of “organic.”

Vintage 21 in North Carolina is hosting a lunch and is asking people from about a two hour drive to come and talk – no program, no speakers, no “sales pitch” – just voices, sharing vision. 247Connection [the church I am the Lead Pastor at] is also willing to do the same. Now, all we need is another willing to do the same and the process begins.

The Turn Out
While I am certain that this will not make people any money, and the book publishers will not have big gatherings to hawk their wears at – but I could care less. I am not in this to make money, or sell books – I am in this to share Christ with others, and the way that is done in via an honest, open and organic network of conversations – no “guideline” no “definitions” of what it means to belong, or who is and is not emerging – just a gathering of people wanting to share Christ in a relevant way with others.

I truly have been praying over this idea that we “centralize” the emerging church, and I am very uncomfortable with what seems to be the way it is going. I am one voice, loud sometimes, but still one voice. I can only speak for myself and no other – I strongly desire to remain a conversation, and I am fearful of the idea that we become a movement. One thing those who desire a movement need to know, many of us who are in the emerging do not do well with movements and we have been kicked out, ignored or shoved aside in movements. Me in a movement is like a geek in the middle of a jock convention, not going to work :) – we have a very clear and real dislike for the idea of a movement [because it always leads to an institution] and it will not fit for many of us. It seems that we are selling out our vision and call to meet the needs of the book sellers, the organizers, and those who are striving to bring us “back” to the evangelical movement.


stupid is as stupid does

i came across this while i was playing around today, you know, as i was "mindless surfing." it struck me as funny, so let me share with you the story.
i had a long day, and it was filled with things most people don't deal with - well, let me change that - it was filled with the thing we call life. i had just "finished" redesigning the church web [247connection.net] and up-loaded it to get people to look it over so we can "tune it." when i felt the need to do what i call "mindless surfing" - it is where you google a bunch of things and see what comes up - you just type in words, not meaning or reason, and what comes up you visit - it's fun, and as you can tell i was very bored. in this case the search was "poverty, monkey, freak, sally" - and i am not sure of the site address or i would share that with you - but like i said, it is a mindless game - i am not even sure if it was a link off a link [lol].

well, in that search i came upon this pic - and it's a very interesting pic. it shows a "capitalist" with a gun to the head of a "regualr" person. in that is is speaking in terms of being "anti-capitalism" - which is cool and all, but do you see the problem? in their desire to "be against the capitalists" it broke a very important rule - they "trade marked" the symbol :) sometimes stupid is stupid, no matter what.


it's not politics

while i can not call sean penn a friend, nor will i say i agree with everything he has done in the past, i will say that i am greatly impressed with his actions as of late. what am i talking about? let me explain -

over the blogsphere there seems to be a "anti-penn" reality growing. and in the more conservative parts of this community there is a fever of "anti-penn" going around. as i read some of those blogs, i am amazed at the hearts of some who claim to be christian. they are willing to laugh and poke fun at penn for doing something i do not see them doing. radio people, conservative bloggers, tv persons and the like can all ride sean penn for "having a hole in his boat" [not true by the way] but they can not say he was unwilling to get dirty and help people - so, as he bloggers sit at computers at home, radio and tv people sit in offices, sean was actually doing something - and what were we doing?


something interesting

well, a bit before i decided to just let ingrad do her thing and not worry about anything - i created a "new person" and i posted a comment on her blog, after i posted one under my real name and as the new lead pastor at connection - my desire was to see why i was not posted [she approves all first time posts]. well, funny thing - "bob" got posted and i did not :) i think it is because "bob" was giving her props - but she had no idea that i was "bob" and this was a test - and she failed, big time.

Wow, in all my 52 years I have never see so much truth. Thank You
Posted by: Bob at August 31, 2005 10:53 PM

now, i know i tricked her, and that may seem childish, but it does prove a point. i am not 52, my name is not really bob, and her site has noting to do with truth - but i find it interesting - when one agrees, the post is made - but when one desires an honest and open debate, she [like most of those like her] ignors those who can stand-up to her. this i think proves one very big point.