« Turkey Day Race | Main | Emergent Is...pt.2 »

November 17, 2004



Dear Pastor Bill,

My name is Xhan, I was the one who left the anonimous post in Tony Jones blog, the same one you said was wonderful at name-calling.

I'll do my best to not name-call. (Just my best, I'm not prefect, mind you)

I am sorry I touched a sored-spot. A colleage of mine says "truth hurts, especially if it true."

I understand your passion for the newness God is bringing in groups like Emergent. Been there, done that.
Oh! The great feeling of moving into a new era. The camaraderie of new-found friends who actually understand your disenchantment with traditional church. The release from guilt, when you think of getting a new tattoo. Finally, coffee in church.

My dear brother Bill, enjoy the ride. Take a deep breath. Savor the moment. Sadly, and I wish I could go more optimistic, it won't last very long.

I hope not, we need idealist,Zondervan and Emergent/YS needs people who would continue to buy books and those young people in your church need an example of a mature successful christian.

How long will it last? More than the Jesus People? More than Promise Keeper? 40 days? (of/on purpose)

I know you will feel teh urge and might reply to this comment. You might say I am not proposing a solution, it is well known I do not like easy candy-coated solutions. I let some of the emergent gurus do that.
You have a good one.


Xhan Again, sorry, after this, I am done.
Bill, you are invited to be my friend and better yet, you don't have to pay anything.
See I am saving you the $50 Emergent Village is charging you for their "friendship."

Oh, better yet, use that money and buy some groveries for someone in your 'hood, who is in need.


I'm not going to worry about how long it will last for the moment. The point is, will it or will it not bring about change? Is it or is it not something God is working through and something God would have me be a part of?

I might not have been involved in, or cared for, some of those movements, but that does not mean they didn't have their place. You seem to think that if something doesn't last forever, then it's worthless.

If you read the article I linked to, you will see an attempt to describle emerging, itself, as a value. If you don't share that value, fine. Stay the same. Others of us believe in change. Will this organization called Emergent bring about actual change (i.e. emergent growth)? I can't say for sure. That has yet to be seen.

As for the $50, I haven't actually ever given them that money. Perhaps I should feel ashamed. I certainly have no problem with giving it to them. Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is and there's nothing wrong with asking for it.


P.S. Don't stop commenting. I value dialogue.


Man, Pastor Bill, that was faster than I thought. You must be the faster shooter in town.
Oh.. well, I hope I am wrong, but I did not felt much grace in your reply.

>"If you read the article I linked to, you will see an attempt to describle emerging, itself, as a value. If you don't share that value, fine. Stay the same. Others of us believe in change."<

I'm glad Christ would not repond to me that way. (Don't worry, I would not let your parish know.) You have not been paying good attention to your reading, we live in a pluralistic society, so the fact that I don't agree with the Emergent groupies does not means I am not willing to change. Humm... that sounds so modern, "you don't share our value, therefore you are condemn to stay the same."

Dear Poet in Motion, "emergent" people like to say that the medium is the messege, the emergent medium is sending a clear messege, but not of Jesus.

Well, maybe the church will pay for your "friendship" with Emergent Village.


I will admit that I tend to be rhetorical in my comments. I was just trying to say that the concept of change is something that is at the heart of "emergent" thought. I am not necessarily talking about personal change here. I am talking about change in theological outlook, if I can put a simple label on it.

I'll have to work on that grace thing some more! ;-)


Honesty is so refreshing and so rare among believers.


Wow, looks like I popped into the middle of an exciting debate. Sorry I'm late. Xhan, I have read through your comments. I find it interesting that you have zeroed in on the $50 emergent accepts as a donation. Are you involved in a ministry? Do you have any sense what it takes to run a ministry. Many of us, myself included, have donated untold hours to emergent and groups like it because of our love for Christ's Church. It is interesting to me that you lump us, who have been prophetic voices against the consumeristic church, in with many of the other easy-believing movements because the emergent village site accepts donations. I find your comments to be graceless and not at all like Christ.

Just Me

Well - I went to the "emergent Church" website you provided in your article and I'm so confused.
1. I agree with Will that there is a consumeristic element to the church out there - but MANY of us are not just consumers; so for him to claim to speak with a "prophetic voice" - calling out I presume from the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord - strikes me as insulting to so many involved Christians.
2. You say, Bill, that you are talking about a change in "theological outlook," not a "personal change - but I don't see how that is "missional" at all. Doesn't "missional" involve you getting "personally" involved in God's mission?
3. I understand that organizations/ministries do indeed need funds to operate, but I think that Xhan is on to something with the suggestion that the $50 - or another $50 - be taken and used to purchase groceries for the needy, that's the practical kind of loving your neighbor that God calls us to. Each person/Christian being a part of change - a change agent - should be the goal, I would think.
And - finally -
4. I "feel" - and I may be overreacting seriously here -that the "emergent movement" is trying to tell me that if I am not on board, if I do not clearly see the need for change, if I don't reject what is in favor of the proscribed change, then I am somehow less in tune with God, less spiritual, certainly not the kind of Christian that can/will impact the world for Christ - for God's kingdom. A quote from a text I studied for a course on effecting change sums up what I am feeling: "When those who have the power to manipulate changes act as if they have only to explain, and when their explanations are not at once accepted, shrug off opposition as ignorance or prejudice, they express a profound contempt for the meaning of lives other than their own." I realize that the emergent church movement does not strictly have the "power to manipulate change" but ... I also feel that my desire to stay and work within the existing church would be looked down on by the "emergers." Tell me, please, where I am wrong.


Just Me,

1. I think what Will was saying is that emergent people have spoken out against the consumerism involved in some of those other movements. I don't know that he was talking about particular churches. Prophetic

2. I wasn't saying that personal change isn't important to people who are a part of emergent circles. From my perspective, it is. I was simply zeroing in on what I had been talking about (I believe it was on a different blog) versus what Xhan was talking about.

3. First of all, you and I both know that it takes money to run the organizations who eventually help those poor people you're talking about. Second of all, helping the poor is important, but shouldn't be expected to be the only goal of Christian organizations. The goal of Emergent is to help bring change to the church. Some people (i.e. Tony Jones) feel strongly about the idea that that can't happen by trying to work with existing organizations. I think he may be wrong. At the same time, I probably would not choose to move on to another existing church and expect to bring change to it. I would rather start a new church geared to people who would resonate with the same values that I have. Either that, or just affect change outside of the church, meanwhile being a faithful part of an existing church (and of course, hoping to have a positive impact on it).

4. It's difficult to know how to respond to this one. If people have a superiority complex, then that's bad. And I'm probably guilty of it all too often. At the same time, it's not wrong to truly believe your "organization" really has some fresh ideas that could change the world. I personally believe, as I said in an earlier post, that Tony Jones has been too dismissive of criticism. But he's only one person.

I personally don't think there's anything wrong with a person who decides to work within the existing church. From what I've seen, there are plenty of "emergers" who still believe in the possibility (or necessity) of doing this. As I said, I'm learning that that might not be the best choice for me personally.


Agreed Will!


Dear Emergent Bill, (I would have say Emergent Pastor, but someone else already had that little name)
I must say you must be happy, to be getting such traffic here. Isn't it cool to chk you inbox and find that there are some comments left on what you full of passion wrote.
If I can bring some good feelings to your pastoral life, nice. I might get a piece of heaven, oh no... is by Grace alone, or Grace + Faith, I guess it depends to whom I'm speaking.

I just took sometime to ck your wish list (no, dont dream I don't have a crush on you, I was just curious). Mark Noll's The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, is excellent. it could be mind blowing. So watch it. It you lived any closer I would even be tempted to let you read mine (DO NOT UNDERLINE MY BOOKS), but I guess you will have to find an emergent friend to do that. Or you will ended up buying it.


It's definitely cool to get true dialogue going.

I'm interested in Noll's thesis, but probably already agree with what he's saying. I'd still like to read it, but have a lot of other books on the list first.


And what do you think Noll is saying?


Please forgive my ignorance. I have been trying to follow this converstation and to be honest I do not know a lot about the Emergent Church or the Consumeristic Church. I understand that there us need for change from time to time and I feel its important to spiritual growth, but from the outside looking in I think we are missing the point. Isn't it our job as Christian to reach the world? Wouldn't it be more important to reach the unchurched than the churched? Yes, I know that there are churches out there that call themselves churches, and they are not preaching the gospel. People are just attending them because its the "political thing" to do or because their family has always gone there. We do need to help those churches, but if a church is reaching the lost; training and equipping Christians to walk the Christian walk; and to reach others for Christ do you need a big change? Is it a change for the sake of change or is it truly a change for the betterment of the family of God. Cause isn't it all about the one lost sheep? Just some food for thought.


Dear Bill,
I was tempted to reply to Rob's comment, but you have been nice enough to not delete my comments (I was sad when mr. Will did) that I will not, I'll have some common courtesy and let you explain to Rob about changes, ancient-future practice and the rest of stuff. After all this is your blog. I will leave a comment late.


Good questions, Rob. I think it is hard to jump into this conversation and a large part of Americans are still unaware of it. Unfortunately, those who are hearing about "emerging" this or that might not be getting the whole story.

If you click on the link at the beginning of the article you can read more about what Emergent is.

In the meantime, I think the point is that:

a. The existing church will increasingly fail to minister, jive with, whatever you want to call it, our increasingly post-modern society. I'm mainly thinking of Christians here.

b. Ultimately, the lost will not be reached because the church will continue to deteriorate and people will not be equipped to reach them.

I happen to think that the church exists to be transformative in the lives of those who follow Christ or are thinking about following Christ. I think the church sends people out with various "missionary" roles, but I don't know if that's the ultimate priority. I know that probably sounds heretical. I'm not saying evangelism or the "great commission" are not important. I'm simply saying that the goal of the organization we call church is not to go out into the greater community and be a witness to what has and is happening in our lives. That's the job of the individual Christian. Hope that makes sense.


Yes it does help clear some things up. I haven't been able to access the link because I can't at work (the command has blocked political and religious websites) and to be honest when I get home I have other things on my mind (sorry Emma takes up my time).

My next question would be what is the role of the church under the Emergent system when the lost come into ones of these churches?

Thanks for clearing it up for me though. The whole topic has been very informative. Thanks!


Nice answer Bill, but it sounded like you will get a group of people, get them save, give them some tools in order for them to go out and bring some people that are OUT and bring them IN, in order to get them save, give them some tools in order to them to go out and bring tom people that are OUT and bring them IN... (you get my point by now).
Is that all their is? (You see I am been nicer than yesterday, you passed the test.)


Shucks, I thought I was being both political and religious! ;-)

I've believed for long time that people need to experience, first hand, what life in the kingdom is like. By saying that, I don't mean the American, evangelical subculture. Some of the emerging churches that I know of are trying to be true to themselves as opposed to what people think it means to live like a Christian. For example, Dave Tomlinson contrasts holiness with "respectability" in his book "The Post-Evangelical." His point is that being a Christian is not about whether you smoke or chew or go with the girls that do, but instead, it is about a radical difference in living out the fruit of the Spirit (for example).

I hope I'm answering your question. I'm trying to say that the church needs to be a community that welcomes outsiders, takes them into the fold, loves them, and shows them what following Christ is all about.

I'm not quite sure how to answer Xhan's criticism of this. I don't want to have an uhealthy insider vs. outsider mentality, but I do believe God wants me to be a part of introducing people to a new way of living--that life to the full the Jesus talked about. I don't think you have to be a member of a church to experience that life, but I do think God wants us to be in fellowship with other Christians. I'm sorry,but I'll never agree with people who just want to do their own thing.

Part of the beauty of Emergent (or at least potential beauty) is that it may provide a means of fellowship for those who are unhappy (possibly for good reasons) with the existing church.


I am sorry you aren't being blocked. I can look into if for you if you would like! LOL! Thanks for the clarification. I am begining to understand it desires of the Emergent movement. Thanks! :)


I hope I'm doing a good job of explaining. What I think they are and what they are might be two slightly different things! More and more people seem to be claiming that they don't quite have a handle on what Emergent is all about. Hopefully, they will do a better job of clarifying.

For example, there was a big article in Christianity Today about the emerging church and some people think they didn't do a good job of representing us (if I may be so bold as to include myself in on this thing).


>I'm not quite sure how to answer Xhan's criticism of this. I don't want to have an uhealthy insider vs. outsider mentality, but I do believe God wants me to be a part of introducing people to a new way of living--that life to the full the Jesus talked about.<

Billy, nice way to say you don't want something that you actually have. You are telling me that the new way of living Jesus talk about is what I am suppose to find in a church? Man... what a mind job. (just to quote the quintessential postmodern movie for emergent christians)


I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this one, Xhan. I believe the church was established for a reason, that God is behind it, etc. etc. Does it need to change shape? Is it everything God wants it to be? Those are good questions, but just scoffing at the idea that you could have more of the life Jesus wants for us by being a part of a fellowship of Christians doesn't, in my opinion, get us anywhere.


>I'm not quite sure how to answer Xhan's criticism of this. I don't want to have an uhealthy insider vs. outsider mentality, but I do believe God wants me to be a part of introducing people to a new way of living--that life to the full the Jesus talked about.<

Billy, nice way to say you don't want something that you actually have. You are telling me that the new way of living Jesus talk about is what I am suppose to find in a church? Man... what a mind job. (just to quote the quintessential postmodern movie for emergent christians, my dear friend Chris Seay would be proud)


Pastor Bill, of course you belived the church is there for a reason. Are you in paid staff?

The comments to this entry are closed.