Sunday, September 30, 2007

Coming Soon: up/!!!

I'm excited to announce that at long last and due to popular demand, we will be kicking off UP/ROOTED.CITY, our downtown Chicago branch of the cohort, on Tuesday, October 16 at 7pm. We will be meeting at Wicker Park Grace, in the Acme Art Works building at 1741 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60647.

Come join us for good conversation, to share our stories, and to help participate in this emerging revolution of faith. If you are in or near the city then bring yourself and bring a friend. Or, if you are out in the suburbs, then tell a friend who lives further in.

Hope to see you at the kick-off!

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. If you are able to help us advertise by putting flyers up at schools or churches (especially in the downtown area) please let me know and I will send you a .pdf flyer.

Recap: up/rooted.west w/Spencer Burke & friends

Hey up/rooted,

Despite traffic difficulties that prevented a few of our panelists from being there, we had a great time the other night with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole, and Alan Hirsch out at up/rooted.west. Spencer kicked off the night talking about question of whether "missional" has been shrink-wrapped too. Has it become a product, a system, a hip label, a means for church planters and others to earn a paycheck, etc.?

Of course, this led into a whole mess of other questions, mostly relating to the dangers of institutionalized Christianity. Here's just a sample that came both from the presenters and from the audience:

  • Does a desire to earn a paycheck get in the way of actually being missional?
  • Is it bad for publishers to try and make money off a new term like "missional"? What are the alternatives?
  • What happens when Sunday morning is no longer sacred in society, when it's just another day of commerce? Will that change how we do church?
  • Why do we assume that one pastor can meet every need in a church, and even teach to every person (despite age, intelligence, etc.) on every necessary topic (e.g. relationships, money, spiritual growth, doctrine, etc.)? Can we imagine other, less top-down models?
  • Are pastors in imminent danger of being downsized because of the realities of our post-christian culture?
  • (From Rebecca in the audience): Is our concern over this question of missional being shrink-wrapped because we like to think of ourselves as "different", "rebellious", and "alternative"? Are we afraid of our ideas becoming popular and accepted? Is that why we keep inventing new concepts and terminology whenever an old one gets "shrink-wrapped"?
  • How do we keep this missional movement from calcifying and becoming dogmatic? How do we continue to grow, change, "emerge", etc.?

Of course, many other things were talked about in and around these issues. True to form, Spencer was an excellent provocateur, giving us much to chew on and not being afraid of making us a little uncomfortable. Neil and Alan were fantastic as well.

Anyhow, if you missed it we'll have a link to the video webcast shortly. Check back here later.

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

P.S. We have some exciting news about our next up/rooted gathering. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: Helen has a good review of the event at the Conversation at the Edge blog too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Live webcast of upcoming up/rooted

I hope you're all planning to attend our panel discussion this Thursday with Spencer Burke and friends. However, if you just can't make it, you can log-on to a live, interactive webcast at 7pm CST on Thursday by going to

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recap of evangelicalism/emerging panel at up/rooted.north

(This is long for a recap post, you have been warned. And notice the panel gathering this coming Thursday, 9/27 beneath this post. See you there!)

To recap the panel discussion on evangelicalism and the emerging church at up/rooted.north yesterday, I have some good news and some bad news. Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

Bad news is, no podcast. Sorry to all of those who asked for it. It wasn't for lack of effort. In absence of someone who actually knew what they were doing, we set up the mic, turned it all on, fired up the recorder, and two hours later had...a blank CD. Smooth. Minus one geek point, plus one dork point. Our bad.

Good news is, the evening was excellent. A healthy 50 people turned out (at least they looked healthy to me), and a good many of them just asking “What's this thing all about?”, which is part of what up/rooted is all about. Made for some really great discussion.

I can't hope to cover everything here, and a lot of good topics were raised in the questions and answers, but as a synopsis of the topics of the evening I offer these summaries of Scot, Dave, and Wayne's answers to the two questions we asked them to prepare answers to. My apologies if my summary misrepresents some of their finer points (or even their not-so-fine ones).

Question 1: What issue in evangelicalism is the emerging church responding to, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of that response?

Scot: emerging churches are responding to the inadmissibility of doubt in evangelicalism, and therefore exhibit irony in their stance within the faith: they stand within it but also over it and at times over-against it. The emerging movement offers the freedom to ask questions that often cannot be asked in evangelicalism: inerrancy (especially in Genesis 1-11), Biblical authors as humans who's ideas of truth are conditioned in their context, science and evolution, hell and universalism, and coming to terms with faith having an awful lot to do with our social location (i.e. How many of us North American Christians would follow Christ if we were North Koreans?) The emerging church offers space to seriously process these tough questions; they genuinely want answers.

Wayne: the emerging church is responding to consumer and seeker-driven worship, re-emphasizing participatory worship, liturgy, prayer, the church calendar, confession and lament, and (following Bob Webber) worship as God's story of redemption. He expressed concern that this response still can lead to a new and improved “Celtic, mystic, ancient” seeker-worship, with a heightened (snobby?) aesthetic. Wayne also had reservations that the emerging church might think “authenticity” was the solution to the problem, not realizing authenticity is a social embodiment, that often takes the form of “We don't plan what we say and are just informal.” He also offered a very insightful critique that as emerging worship becomes more and more refined for “our” sensibilities, it only reinforces the ethnic and generational divide in the church.

Dave: the emerging church is reacting to a “we're in/you're out” mentality in evangelicalism that accentuates rescue from hell as the heart (totality?) of the Gospel and individualizes salvation. Instead of offering a second hand summary here, I'd invite you to read his blog post on this issue. (Which led to a surreal moment of Dave quoting himself out of a post he had made the day before for this very panel. That's a tip folks...when presenting, publish on the internet first so you can quote yourself!)

Question 2: What doctrine or church practice has particularly benefited from the emerging church?

Wayne: evangelism as community witness, especially in seeking to reclaim the church as a distinctive social community. Wayne did express concern that the emerging desire to be “un-evangelical” (not that guy, as he put it) could trump this reclamation of the Gospel, particularly in a hesitancy to actually speak and tell people the Good News. He also expressed concern that the emerging church could be co-opted by “bigger projects” in a similar way that the conservative and liberal church has been co-opted by conservative and liberal politics, respectively. He mentioned Jim Wallace's synthesis of right and left as a potential threat in this regard, and underscored again the particularity of the Gospel and the church community, which is not a handmaiden of political gains. (If you haven't picked up on it, Wayne is a pretty rocking anabaptist...a tradition I think the emerging church needs to (and often does) listen to closely.)

Dave: reclaiming the church as transformational, communal, and missional. The emerging church realizes the formation of Christians is about more than cognitive development, and shapes its gathered worship and communal life toward forming people in the shape of Christ, through liturgy, mutual submission and other community practices. Missionally the emerging church (at its best) rejects the attractional model of the evangelical church and seeks to minister in the community it is placed in: to live among and serve the neighbors, poor, hurting, and disenfranchised.

Scot: re-establishing a fuller, Biblical understanding of sin. Sin in evangelicalism is often reduced to the distortion of one's personal relationship with God. Scot spoke of how in Genesis 2 and 3 sin distorts humans' view of themselves, of God, of each other, and of the world. The Biblical narrative then, is an unfolding of God's answer to those problems: reconciliation with ourselves, with God, and with each other for the good of the world. And this answer doesn't skip straight from Genesis 3 to Romans 8 or the cross. First God forms a new community around Abraham. The gathered people of God (ecclesiology) is at the heart of God's story. (Scot unfolds these ideas in his newest—and good—book, “A Community Called Atonement.”)

So that's that, apart from the near violence at the end over the role of mega-churches our fearless moderator Geoff had to break up. (Way to go Geoff!) A special thanks to Dave, Scot, and Wayne, and to everyone who came out and joined us.

Jon Berbaum
--coordinator, up/rooted.north

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

up/rooted.west w/Spencer Burke & friends

I've got good news and even better news! The good news is that we will be postponing our up/rooted.west discussion of "How (Not) to Speak of God" until at least late October, which should give you plenty of time to obtain the book and read it ahead of time.

The even better news is that we are postponing this discussion because we have the opportunity instead to host a roundtable discussion with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Denise VanEck, and Ron Martoia on the question "Missional: Has It Been Shrink-Wrapped Too?"

Come hear these well-known authors and leaders in the Missional Church conversation discuss whether the concept of "missional" has already become too much of a fad, gimmick, program, buzz-word, etc., or whether there is still some value to be had in embracing this term.

up/rooted.west will be hosting this discussion at Redeemer Lutheran Church at 1006 Gillick St in Park Ridge on Thursday, September 27 from 7-9pm. The event will also be broadcast live via internet for those of you who can't make it in person. More details on how to access that later.

If you can help us get the word out by putting up flyers at your school or church, please let me know and I'll send you a .pdf file to print off. Thanks!

Hope to see you there!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator

Monday, September 03, 2007

August '07 up/rooted.west update

We had a great meeting of up/rooted.west two weeks ago at Wheaton College. We had a diverse group from all over the Chicago area and even from other states. We spent the time sharing some of the questions and issues that were on our minds and also talked briefly about the vision for Emergent cohorts like up/rooted as connection points for people to discuss these kind of questions.

Our next gathering of up/rooted.west will be in three weeks on Monday, September 24 at 7pm (location TBD). We'll be discussion the theology of the emerging church, using Peter Rollins' book How (Not) to Speak of God as our discussion starter. I definitely recommend picking up a copy and reading it, but don't worry, even if you have not you will still be able to easily join in the conversation.

We will also be discussing several other books for upcoming up/rooted.west meetings this fall, including Will & Lisa Samson's new book, Justice In the Burbs, and Brian McLaren's newest book, Everything Must Change, due to be released on October 2. You may want to pick up a copy of these books as soon as you are able so you'll be ready to discuss at our upcoming gatherings.

Hope to see you soon!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator