an introduction to emergent (malaysia)

here’s from the point of a first time new comer to our conversation last Saturday,
“an introduction to emergent”, I manage to put in some comments to encourage further conversation. Ah .. that word again, I was reminded by what Brian McLaren said some time ago .. and I agree with him especially in our context here in Malaysia, “Right now, Emergent is a conversation, not a movement,We don’t have a program. We don’t have a model. I think we must begin as a conversation, then grow as a friendship, and see if a movement comes of it.”

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an introduction to emergent
I was at CPK’s place for a church camp committee meeting on Saturday. Over satay and pizza, I posed this question to him, “How would you describe the Emergent movement in a simple concise sentence?”

Seeking clarity as to what Emergent is all about is a pretty futile attempt. Brian McLaren, the author of the book A New Kind of Christian, resists calling Emergent a “movement”. “Right now, Emergent is a conversation, not a movement,” he says. “We don’t have a program. We don’t have a model. I think we must begin as a conversation, then grow as a friendship, and see if a movement comes of it.” [1]

Despite its seeming lack of structure (at least not one that we normally associate with), Emergent does seem to thrive in exactly what is missing. The absence of formal boundaries does make way for open, honest conversations between fellow believers and friends about the various issues pertaining to the Christian church today.

I had the privilege of participating in one such “conversation” last Saturday at Bangsar Lutheran Church. After breakfast at Taman Tun post-Kiara, we found ourselves drawn to the informal meeting that we had heard about over the grapevine…dirty, sweaty bodies and all. Hopefully they’ll welcome us in, just as Jesus welcomed even the lepers…heheh

After a brief welcoming address by Sivin Kit, the man I understand to be the main contact for Emergent Malaysia, this guy, Kia Meng shared his story and the lessons about his faith that he had picked up along the way. Later, we broke into smaller groups of 3 – 4 to share our respective stories, with the question “What Does it Mean to be a Christian in Malaysia Today?” providing some direction.

Looking around, it certainly looked like many interesting conversations were happening in the various groups. Keith and I were in the same group, together an Ipoh lass going by the name, Wan Ching (Ipoh gals seem to be EVERYWHERE these days!). Coincidently, we all share the commonality of being involved in youth ministry. With that common ground, we shared our concern in seeing the youth in our churches growing up all groomed to be “cultural Christians” (not a term that anyone mentioned that day, but one that I feel encapsulates the idea of being moulded by our surroundings and circumstances), yet not engaging in a real relationship with God.

We also heard some of the other groups share their stories at the end of the session. I think the general consensus was that the world is changing i.e. “the modern, colonial world is coming undone and a new postmodern, postcolonial world is emerging”. [2] The challenge today is for the gospel of Christ to remain relevant to a generation that carries very different beliefs and values, and which requires different approaches, as compared to the generation that lived say, 20 years ago.

To quote McLaren, “Can I still call myself a Christian if I don’t buy the whole package of what many call Christianity today, which includes a lot of modernity and has little to do with authentic Christianity?” [3]

Still, the waters should be tread carefully. I’d better be praying about this.

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References

[1] Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique”, Christianity Today, November 2004, Vol. 48, No. 11, p. 36.

[2] Emergent Village, http://www.emergentvillage.com.

[3] Glenn T. Stanton, “The Postmodern Moment”, Christianity Today, June 2002, Vol. 46, No. 7, p. 53.

jv. made his mark here @ 6:25 PM

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2 Responses to an introduction to emergent (malaysia)

  1. jedibaba says:

    It seems that the emergent conversational group (since it is not a movement — yet) is more reactionary at this point. We are taking a long hard look at church as it is usually done today and we don’t like it. Indeed we fear if it will be able to be a faithful wine skin for the Good Stuff that the world desperately needs.
    Some of us have been burnt by the institutional church and we are very angry.
    Still, at some point we need to move from stating what we are not about to what we are about.
    In fact we need to do that if we are going to have meaningful conversations with friend and foe alike.

  2. MC says:

    People always have problem with things that are not so … easily defined. Fluid. Organic. 🙂

    Darn. I sound like an Emergent brochure. 😉

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