Friday, August 29, 2008

August and September city gatherings

Hello good people,

Last week, 5 of us gathered around candles in the air conditioning to discuss the definition of emergence. Two folks were brand new to the group and to the movement and it was fantastic to have them there. As they discussed their experience, they described a church service that they had observed that involved a different kind of worship space with different seating. They quickly followed-up with the question, "Do people who call themselves emergent a line somewhere? How far inter-faith do they go?"

I love questions like this since I get to talk about how there is no way to answer that question. My delight in the movement comes from the fact that the movement's main effort goes into making sure that people at all points of the inter-faith spectrum feel welcome and valuable.

We talked a lot about centered sets and bounded sets, comparing an evangelical picture of the cross being a fixed point on a road to the emergent picture of a well that we wander away from but always come back to.

One of our familiar participants talked about her experience with emergence being a turning away from the "personal" gospel or an abandonment of the compulsion to "save" souls which allowed her imagination to be set free.

It was a beautiful conversation, full of laughter and eye-contact and the gentle pattern of bodies sitting forward to listen and sitting back to hear.

We have our next meeting on Wednesday, September 17 at 7:30. We'll meet at Wicker Park Grace, which is still located at 1741 N. Western in Chicago. I'll send out a reminder before then with a topic for study. If you have suggestions, I'm more than happy to give them precedence. Please feel welcome if you've been every week, if you've come once or twice or if you are completely new to the conversation.

Go Gently,

Friday, August 08, 2008

summary of up/ July 16, 2008

To continue my lessons in the humility of leadership, I learned at this gathering the lesson we learn every four years at the political conventions: people that are drawn to leadership roles often hold more extreme interests than regular people.

In this case, I wanted to talk about diversity in the emerging movement and why some people flaunt the label, while others eschew it or cannot obtain it.

I brought a CD of Dr. John Kinney from the SCUPE conference (available here). Pastor Kinney is an phenomenally articulate African-American man who says the exact same things that many of the phenomenally articulate and visible people labeled Emergent say. Yet to most of the world, he is simply another black preacher.

So, I played the portion of the sermon that was painfully obviously advocating emergent theology about our non-hierarchical relationship with God and how this should manifest itself in non-hierarchical relationships with each other. This was an attempt to back up my argument that folks from marginalized groups don't get a lot of attention from this movement of ours.

With that proof of my premise resounding, I tried to start a conversation about why some people get to be Emergin and other people don't with the group.

But they were having none of it.

They kept talking about the actual theological idea presented and not the process issue that I wanted to talk about.

Oh, I tried to pull them back "on topic" but they kept talking about how best to serve the people that showed up at their churches.

And that's when I admitted to myself that non-hierarchical leadership is valuable for precisely this reason. Folks get to use the group time for discussion that's actually valuable to them.

So, this month, we're meeting on Wednesday night at 7:30 at Wicker Park Grace (1741 N. Western). We'll have a discussion based around the idea of emergence 101 and see where that goes.

For preparation, feel free to check out this blog post by Mike Clawson, Wikipedia, or my excerpts from the Emerging Manifesto of Hope but your individual experiences and studies in this movement (even if you're just a beginner) will be just as valuable.

I look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces on Wednesday night.

Go Gently,

A new kind of tithing

As you know, my emergent church, Wicker Park Grace, is trying to find different ways to financially sustain itself as part of our mission to be welcoming to people who were hurt by churches in their past. We're trying to make it easy for them to get back on the path of moving toward God through Jesus by not parroting the fundraising tactics of traditional churches since that so easily makes people defensive.

Also, as part of our mission to engage the artistic community in Chicago, we've let a Second City student troupe use our space to practice and they're donating a show in return.

These two activites of my church are coming together in a fundraising event on Tuesday night. I'd love it if any of you wanted to come. For $25 you get a Second City improv show, alcoholic beverages and fancy restaurant-grade hors devours. (Fair warning, though, because this isn't your grandma's church, we're comfortable with some degree of adult humor.)

If you can't make it but want to support us anyway, we're also taking donations. Either way, it will really help out my church and the new, non-threatening direction we're trying to take spirituality.

More information about the Sketch Comedy Bonanza and the link to buy tickets online is here.

I consider this to be a new kind of tithing since the spiritual practice of it revolves just as much around giving our time and transforming our relationships just as much as it involves our money.

We're still new at this. Want to be part of the experiment?

Go Gently,