Make the Emergent Founder Bishop!

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what lies ahead for us as a denomination? how will the election go? who will be the new Bishop? how shall we play our part – in voicing as well as in voting our concerns. This is an important convention for us for it will mark our entry into a new phase of the corporate church life as Lutherans here in Malaysia. Will it be like the picture .. all clear ahead?

anyway, maybe that’s why it was funny when I heard the statement, “make the emergent founder bishop” in the context of whether anything will happen further for as fas as the emergent malaysia conversation is concerned. First, I’m not sure whether the person saying it was refering to me, I suspect he was (anyway, I’ve never seen myself as a founder … I just link people who are interested to talk – that’s why someone asked me to change my blog title to Linking Park rather than a Garden). Secondly, I don’t want to be Bishop … there are people who are up the coming exciting elections! But, back to the subject matter … “Emergent” again … 😛

The word “Emergent” came up the last one week more than usual in some conversations at the camp in Seremban and today at Kairos Office. I think Brian is and has been wise to keep insisting the word “conversation” over movement or “emergent church” … I had some opportunities at least to comment on how I see the conversation so far in USA and UK and more importantly in Malaysia.

I laughed when someone mentioned about the “emergent” view on a particular subject. Because even as the so called “coordinator” of the conversations here in Malaysia – I said I’m not aware of the view. At this stage, we are opening up space to work on how we could think about theology, spirituality and methodology in close relation to church and mission in a more integrated manner – so I don’t see myself and my friends who are part of the emergent conversation (or any theological-spiritual-ministrial conversation) here in Malaysia hurrying too quickly to give an easy answer.

I think that if there is an emergent view or approach … it’s to first pause and re-examine the question, take seriously the context in which the question is asked, refer to historical resources, plunge back into the Gospel of Jesus, consider the way of Jesus, get back to the Scriptural narrative, … intentionally working this through not just personally but also in community … and of course, keeping in mind how all this will be for the good of the world – thus the missional dimension. Now that was a mouthful 🙂

Today, I had a chance to clarify my own thinking even as I tried to “tell my story” how I landed into the emergent conversation especially with friends in USA and UK specifically. And I think I’ve been consistent in this right from the beginning that I DO NOT see “Emergent” as a kind of “we here to come to save the day” – church movement. I don’t even tell people the church I’m pastoring is a sample of an Emergent Church (as if it’s a new brand). With Kia Meng also part of the conversation, in fact much of what we are talking or in “conversation” at our level has already been in discussion perhaps in some academic or theological discussions in the past. So, nothing is new … but it’s new to us and we’re enjoying it and find it helpful 🙂

Being part of this “conversation” no doubt has helped me see things clearer as far as what’s important to me personally, and corporately as a church, and it’s helped me think in more integrated terms. I find myself also enriched by the interaction – sharpened in some aspects and softened in other aspects especially when I’m quick to make judgement. So, I do find some relation there to how I serve and lead and wrestle with all things church and mission in my specific context.

and in addition to that … haging around those in the “conversation” helps me to intentionally keep the rhythm of how theology, spirituality, and ministry dances in my journey.

So as far as I know, for those who are looking for an “emergent” church (as a kind of special brand) in Malaysia I think will be disappointed. But, if you are looking for a bunch of freinds who enjoy engaging in theological reflection which is not divorced from ethical and ministry realities and hoping to do all this with an authentic spirituality … then, I think and I hope they would find that in the so called “emergent conversation”-Malaysian style. And if you are interested … let me know.

Oh yeah … notice … that I have not been mentioned “postmodern” until now :-). I can start with “postcolonial”:-P … but then … we’re all still in the beginning stages of seeing how this journey can be a source of encouragement for those who want be a bit more conscious in our thinking and intentional in our efforts and more integrated in our approach. I think there is a road ahead … more details after the elections …

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5 Responses to Make the Emergent Founder Bishop!

  1. paul long says:

    The picture is still “emerging” 🙂

  2. sk says:

    I think the positioning of Emergent’s identity is very crucial to people’s perception of it. I personally would be very comfortable with the concept of a “life-sharing communal order” (something akin to a monastic order that is well-regulated, and at the same time more communal rather than rigidly formal in nature). In that way, there will be a vulnerable sharing of life within the community. To simply settle for “discussions about…” is never enough, because truth is defined through how a community chooses to embody it (oops, what have I just said?)

    I have always seen myself as an anonymous member of an “order”, haha. The only thing is, I have not found an order within my current context that provides for this sort of contemplative/sacramental spiritual expression. Hence the need for an Emergent “Order”? We could be the Jesuits of the coming century you know! 😉

  3. Sivin Kit says:

    Paul ~ indeed things are still “emerging” and conversations are still in progress. None of us are just sitting around “cooking” all this up. What is important AND I think helpful is that we ARE thinking, living and experimenting … not just critically but also creatively. A little bit of arts and science as far as our life and ministries here in Malaysia is concerned. Thanks for you smile 🙂

  4. Sivin Kit says:

    SK ~ I agree locating ourselves (or in your words “positioning”) ourselves is important. But we are not into spending too much “energies” in coming out with position statements (I need some of that energy poured into my own denominations setting but that’s a different context). Plus, who are we to even speak on behalf of anyone in our Malaysia?

    For now we are merely encouraging “conversations” – and allowing issues, concerns and stories to surface in a “safe” and trusting environment … filled with some level of humor as well as prayerfully a big chunk of humility.

    This is why I like the more “monastic” order paradigm (especially when it’s about life-sharing community – in our case beyond local church and denominational boundaries) or another term with less history probably is “network” (which would have the “discussions” and “learning” bit). Having said that, the REALITY is many of us are connected via “friendship” and relationship – and I think this must be given due recognition. A lot of our interaction has been “generative” – and at least I can speak for myself the insights and ideas shared have helped me “generate” more that helps me where I’m at and where I perceive we should go, And of course, that “missional” word right … it’s not just for the sake of talking and eating dim sum .. there’s a trust that all this will help us become better witnesses in & through our churches, organizations we are part of, people we connect with and live with, etc.

    So, what’s next? Let me try to be “enhancing” to my denomination first (at least through this weekend). Then we’ll talk more … or should I saw we’ll do more.

  5. thewallah says:

    One cannot doubt the benefits of the ’emergent conversation’, in spite of its detractors.

    However, I observe that this ‘conversation’ typically attracts the intellectual and illustrious. Really intimidating you know … especially if one isn’t theologically or philosophically trained … like myself. 😉

    Somehow, I feel that this [complex] ‘conversation’ will eventually have to be digestible to the common man so they too can be involved in its formative and normative development less we risk creating an ’emergent bourgeois’ and ’emergent proletariat’.

    – Language / semantic simplification? (distinction between scholarship and pragmatism)
    – Intentional & created inclusiveness for the ‘conversation’ to take place (embracing the different learning styles)
    – Partnership projects to model ’emergent’ values and questions? (embracing multiple intelligences during the involvement)

    Well … God grant us grace.

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