Emergence Christianity: Time To Look Forward


This will be my last reflection on the Emergence Christianity event that I attended two weekends ago. The event was put together to celebrate Phyllis Tickle‘s newest book, Emergence Christianity. We met to hear Phyllis give some keynote talks, had a couple panels of some of Phyllis’s friends, and then had some opportunities for PechaKucha presentations by other speakers.

For Phyllis’s talks at Emergence Christianity, she did kind of an overview of Christian history, showing all of the threads of emergence Christianity that have been leading to the place that we find ourselves in the church now.

But if I’m honest, I have to say that I never really liked history. Maybe it’s some bitterness that I’m holding on to because I only got a 2 on the AP US History Exam that I took my junior year of high school, I don’t know. But history classes were always my least favorite in college and in seminary. History just bores me.

Now, please don’t give me any of that chronological snobbery stuff…or lecture me on the merits of knowing our history so that we don’t repeat it. I get that. I intellectually understand the importance of knowing history, it just bores me. So, unfortunately, while Phyllis is brilliant, engaging, funny and is able to lecture for hours without any type of notes or prompts (which I find amazing)…I wasn’t really very engaged for her presentations.

I loved the PechaKucha presentations, which is where I think we finally got to see some glimpses of emergence Christanity. And I think the panel got into some more interesting conversations as well. But I did hear others, as well, share about how they’re done talking about the past, the history and spending so much time discussing “how” we got where we are. People are ready to look toward the horizon and talk about what we’re going to do now that we’re here.

This is something that sounds exciting to me, and part of why I did my PechaKucha presentation on Theology Pub. I had a lot of people coming up to me, very excited about that type of ministry, and I think that people are hungry for those types of practical examples of what might be emerging.

So I’m guessing that in future events (especially ones organized by my friends Tony & Doug of The JoPa Group), that we’re going to see a shift in content from talking about history to talking about the present and the future. From describing what the past church looked like to thinking creatively about what this new emergence Christianity actually looks like today, and for future generations. And that’s what excites me about the future of this conversation, no matter what you call it: emergent, emerging, emergence…something is changing, and hopefully we can be a part of those who are helping to usher that change in.

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