Sunday, October 28, 2007

Summary of the first up/rooted city gathering

Hello emerging world!

Our first gathering of the city branch of up/rooted took place a couple of weeks ago now at Wicker Park Grace here in the city and after that initial inevitable stab of nervousness that no one was going to come, I felt really good about the experience.

Nine of us from the city and Mike from the suburbs sat around a pink-clad table in assorted chairs to eat hummus, apples with caramel dipping sauce, chips and cookies and to drink coffee and an array of tea. Once our kinship as creatures of flesh was established, we got down to the business of establishing kinship as creatures of experience. Mike spent a little time explaining the mission of up/rooted, deferring to me like he was speaking out of turn, but I hope that I clearly communicated that I was very comfortable with him in the role of teacher (he is a pastor after all) and that I am uncomfortable being much more to the group than a facilitator.

I have a degree in English and History because I believe profoundly that stories have power. Usually I engage with them in written form in books or on blogs or face to face with one other person over tea or on a road trip. However, this cohort is giving me a chance to experience people's stories in a new way. We spent almost an hour and a half taking turns widdershins around the table telling our stories of where we have been and where we hoped to go as a result of this kind of gathering.

We had folks from mainline protestant churches, folks in leadership at evangelical churches, folks who don't affiliate themselves with a church at all. Several folks shared my story of having their lives - forgive me - uprooted as they began to see that following God did not have to mean what they had always been told that it did.

As we concluded the evening, we decided that we wanted to continue with this format in the near future as we coagulate as a group, leaving the door open to different formats as time goes on.

We'll be having out next meeting on Monday, November 19. I'm working on a different venue, possibly bLEnd, but the fall back will be Wicker Park. I'll update you all as soon as I've got something nailed down.

I welcome any additions or corrections that anyone has about our gathering. I'm excited about what is forming here. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

up/rooted.west, Nov 26 - Kingdom & Empire

Up/rooted.west will be meeting again on Monday, November 26 for practical/theological discussion of "Kingdom & Empire". We live in a world not dissimilar to the one Jesus lived in - where our lives and imaginations are often determined by the systems and narratives of "empire" (in Jesus' case, Rome, in our own, the "empire" of America or, more broadly, that of global capitalism). If Jesus proclamation of the "kingdom of God" was an explicit challenge to the imperial imagination of his own day, what implications does his message then have for us in our 21st century context? More specifically, what does this mean for how we engage with the systems and powers of government and the marketplace?

You don't have to have read anything ahead of time to join in the discussion and share your perspectives. However, if you'd like to study up I'd recommend this article from the Christian Century for a good overview. Or, for the more ambitious, read Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat or Jesus & Empire by Richard Horsley.

UPDATE: We will be joined by Chico Fajardo-Heflin of Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston who has been studying these issues and living out their implications in his own life for several years. He has graciously offered to help lead our discussion.

We will meet at the Beamer Center at Wheaton College at 7pm on Monday, November 26. (We'll just take whatever space is available when we get there; go to the lower level and just follow the signs.)

See you then!

Mike Clawson
up/rooted.west co-coordinator

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Multiplying Cohorts

up/, our new downtown cohort, got off to a great start last week thanks to Rebecca Murphy who coordinated the evening, Nanette Sawyer, who hosted us at Wicker Park Grace, and all the others who came to share their stories and contribute to the conversation. I can't wait to see what "emerges" from this new network of friendships.

In many ways up/ is the result of a vision that I and many others share for multiplying these kind of conversations in the Chicago area and around the country (and the world). I am convinced that we are at the leading edge of a global spiritual revolution, and as with all revolutions, it begins with small groups of like-minded people gathering to share passions and ideas. Out of this are birthed friendships and networks that can change the world in both large and small ways.

That is why up/rooted exists, and it is why I would like to see even more cohorts birthed out of it. Right now we have groups meeting in the north suburbs, the west suburbs, and down in the city (some steps have also been made towards a south suburban group, but nothing consistent has developed there yet). We have also helped birth a cohort in Eastern Iowa.

However, there is so much more potential for new groups. Right now there are no cohorts at all in Wisconsin and some of you from there have driven down to attend up/rooted. Why not start a Madison, Milwaukee, or Southeastern Wisconsin cohort? We also have folks that occasionally drive from Chicago Heights and even Valparaiso to attend cohort meetings. Why not instead start a Northwest Indiana cohort? Or perhaps some of you are or know students at UofI or ISU or Bradley. Why not help get an Urbana-Champaign or Bloomington-Normal or Peoria cohort started? Or maybe you're not anywhere near Chicago but would like our advice on how start something where you're at. We'd be glad to help.

It honestly doesn't take much to start a cohort. All you need is three or more people, one of whom is willing to coordinate a day, a place, and a topic every one to three months, and then just start spreading the word to friends, pastors and others who might be interested (flyers at local colleges or coffee shops can be surprisingly effective as well). Beyond that, we can lend you the use of the up/rooted website and email list (or help you create your own) so you can start promoting your events on the web. I can also get you set up on the cohorts listing so that others in your area looking for this kind of conversation will find you.

If you share this vision for multiplying the conversation, are outside of or on the fringes of the Chicago area, and are possibly interested in helping to start something in your area, please let me know. Just email me at and we can start talking about the possibilities.

I can't wait to see how this revolution grows!

Thursday, October 18, 2007 quotes

We had a great time at the other night. I'll let Rebecca write the real summary. However I wanted to share a few fun quotes that "emerged" from the conversation:

"We get together, eat, have communion, complain... sometimes we complain centered around the Bible."
- James describing his faith community

"They're all there to find their Christian mate because they didn't get them at Moody."
- Rebecca describing a church she had experienced

"It was a young church, so we had to download the Statement of Faith and sign on the dotted line."
- Rebecca, on this same church

"Methemergent... Emergemeth... Emerthodist"
- Matt and others trying to think of a mash-up name for Emergent Methodists

Brian McLaren Summary

Helen Mildenhall attended Brian McLaren's talk at Dominican University the other night and wrote an excellent review at the Conversation at the Edge blog. Here's her description of the night, and here's her notes from Brian's talk.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Cynicism & Hope Conference at Reba Place

Almost missed this one... Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, IL (north burbs) is hosting a conference entitled Cynicism & Hope: Reclaiming Discipleship in a Post-Democratic Society on November 2-3.

Cost is $40 or $30 for students.

They describe the conference as follows:

How do we live out God's call to prophetic witness in an apathetic and disempowered society?

How can we learn from others who have remained faithful to Jesus' radical call in the midst of failure?

How can art, prayer and other forms of everyday resistance nourish our hope for the kingdom of God?

Join academics, activists and members of our communities as they share their work through the lens of cynicism and hope. Our vision is to provide a space for frustrated, justice-minded Christians who, like us, feel trapped by the current political situation but long to be part of meaningful action for change.
You can see a list of speakers and workshops as well as register at the conference website.

Podcast of up/rooted w/Spencer Burke & co.

Here are the links to the podcast of our event a few weeks ago with Spencer Burke, Neil Cole & Alan Hirsch on "Missional: Has it been shrink-wrapped too?"

Part 1

Part 2

Spencer is also offering a pre-Soularize feedlive event this Thursday, Oct 18th at 8pm CST with Ori Brafman author of “The Starfish and the Spider” at

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Brian McLaren Coming to Chicago

In case you hadn't heard, Brian McLaren will be coming to Chicago next week. You will have two opportunities to hear him speak if you so desire:

The first event is a discussion and book signing for his new book "Everything Must Change" at the Borders in Wheaton on Monday, October 15 at 7:30pm. This will be our up/rooted.west event for this month (though we won't have any personal discussion time with Brian besides the public book signing). Come on out at 7pm to connect with the cohort and then we'll stay for the book signing together.

The second event is the following Tuesday evening (October 16) at Dominican University in River Forest at 7:30pm. Brian will be speaking as part of a special lecture series on the topic of Truth Telling in Christian America: Globalization, Poverty and the Environment. It is open to the public, though tickets are $10 (free for Dominican students, faculty and staff).

Of course, you may also remember that we've also planned our up/ kick-off for that same Tuesday night (Oct 16), at 7pm in Wicker Park. (We set our dates before we knew Brian was coming to town.) If you're down in the city I certainly hope you'll consider coming to that and helping us get off to a good start (if you want to know what Brian will be talking about, I'm sure a lot of it will be in his book.) However, if you're not in the city, or if you really just can't pass up the chance to go hear Brian in person, the Dominican event is definitely a good option too. We hope to make up/ a regular (monthly?) thing, so even if you miss the kick-off you can always join us for future events.

-Mike Clawson
up/rooted co-coordinator