EMo Meeting … Crossroads …6 Hats

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*Updated (especially Kia Meng’s section to reflect his statements and feedback from the floor) and check out a nice youngest (?) perspective from Doulos*

Thanks to Alwyn for inspiring me to revisit de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats to try to capture a pretty good emergent Malaysia open (eMo) meeting.

hatwt.gif(covers facts, figures, information needs and gaps)

Thanks to Pastor Raj from CLGC for the usage of Crossroads Community centre at SS2, PJ.

There were 17 of us, from 8 different churches. 4 ladies and the rest gentlemen 🙂 3 Pastors, 1 Seminarian, 1 Future-emerging-on-the-way church planter(?)

Basic flow of the meeting was as following:
– I welcomed everyone & we went round introducing ourselves … sorting chairs here and there to include those who came later 🙂
– I scribbled a basic “agenda” that would keep us along the same track … everyone said ok …
– Then with a smile I shared a little bit about how Emergent Malaysia fumbled into being, and what’s been going on thus far. I went on then highlighting what hooked me into the “conversation” – “Emergent is a growing generative friendship among missional Christian leaders seeking to love our world in the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

The topic for the morning was “Emerging Concerns & Possible Solutions in Malaysian Christianity” (which I mentioned was kind of inspired by an upcoming Dialogue with Prof. Hans Kung organized by the Council of Churches Malaysia)

Then I went on and shared my report from my participation in the recent 7th National Christian Conference organized by the Christian Federation of Malaysia with the theme “National Integration and Unity”.

The main plenary sessions I mentioned were …
(1) Harmonous Co-existence in Religious Pluralism.
– Interesting to note how some see improvement in co-existence but an interesting counter reaction is that though on surface it may be so but on the grass root level it may not be.
– I shared how I left the session feeling how “not informed” I am and overwhelmed with the information and urgency due to my ignorance as a pastor and as a Christian.
– When a respondent talked about the need for us to speak up and speak up wisely and intelligently REALLY struck me.

(2) Our Journey toward National Integration.
– the phrase “social contract” stood out through out the session for me and what I further was drawn to was how our mindset has changed or have been “conditioned” without even realising it.
– This session made me want to read the Constitution of Malaysia and ask why some amendments were made (an extra question was .. how are we involved or not involved in the process?).

(3) Sustaining and Enhancing Integration through strategies of change.
– the question of what does partnership means was crucial and where are the areas we may have neglected as a church is striking.
– I was drawn especially to the challenge to create space for discussion on fundamental issues.
– of course, “commitment” and “counter-cultural” are still ringing in my head.

some questions and comments emerged after I shared.
– ‘being committed to the country as a church” – what does this mean?
– “our church today is spending too much time within 4 walls, a little time with family, no time with society to build the country…”
– is there a danger of paralysis of analysis…?
– Some words and phrases that cropped up were “heart of God for kingdom”, “ministry of total person”, “holism demands focus on social justice”, “too much energy spent on prayer, overseas speakers, events organized around personality – what about coming together for sake of nation?” “imagination”, ‘organic’… “butterfly-effect” …

Next Alwyn who needed to stand rather than sit to speak shared on his take on the date with the NECF Research Commission some of us were part of.

He mentioned …
– perhaps it’s not very helpful to be overtly focus on distinctives. Should look at how to help the Church.
– does Emergent caters for a particular segment of youth who are “doubtful” of slogans, and “definite” answers?
– he took note of one of those present admitting perhaps the older generation failed to mentor the younger ones …. and yet he was glad that younger people are thinking through such issues and thus challenged the “older” generation to take up leadership.

Feedback from the floor was …
– Continue to engage with NECF. God given opportunities let’s respond.
– the impression of people in NECF Research Commission are quite different from people in the Prayer Commission.
– People might think that Emergent has a unified theology. But that is inaccurate. Probably, methodology is common. (Check out Scot McKnight’s articles)
– Why did NECF invite us? Out of interest to find out. Not so much out of concern of heresy.
– Continue to believe that Emergent has a role to play in Christianity in M’sia. We must BELIEVE it and take ownership

Kia Meng then shared while sitting with his notebook on his lap. He was surprised by the circle seating arrangement of the “date” and the informal atmosphere. He then went on sharing his reflection then merely reporting …

o are Youth today shallow? Is those conversing in Emergent an anomaly? [but NECF Research Comm is also an anomaly.] Pastors seem to be more concerned on methods & programmes. Emergent and NECF Res Comm shd look for “common enemy”
o Capitalism/consumerism is a likely enemy…. Hence, lack of time…
o 80-90% of our lives are determined by the economic climate. The kind of Gospel that we preached is det by the current economic climate. Are we willing to destabilize the “wealth status quo”?
o Ellul: Truth in the bible held in tension. God’s sovereignty – Man’s responsibilities.
o Emergent more comfortable with ambiguities
o We need to bring in sociology, psychology & other social sciences. But not to supercede theology.
o Current marketplace forum ASSUMES that everyone wants to be a particular breed of Christian. But how about those who prefer a more altenative view?
o Everything about society is always about techniques/means. Less about the goal.
– felt that his generation is more aware of our limitation to know Objective Truth. Less sanguine about KNOWING the Final Truth We may feel that truth can be oppressive.
§ we must show that Truth (Jesus) is loving, personal etc etc. Embodiment of truth
§ Most mega churches are inculcating a self-interested experiential spirituality (narcissistic) amongst the youth.
§ Common dissatisfaction with modernity (autonomous self as the final judge of truth), consumerism etc.
§ How do we move forward?
· If ppl see truth as oppressive, how do we present the Gospel as freedom?
– Don’t assume older generation already knows the age-old questions & answers.

Feedback from the Floor …
§ Probably we must show that Emergent is more than style; but the key is content
– When The Normal Christian Life (Watchman Nee) was published: not enough people practised it, hence it was perceived as abnormal.
– Emergent did not come with an agenda. Not to sell anything. We are journeying together.

After that we talked about a 3 in 1 party in January 14 Saturday .. post-Christmas, New Year and Pre-Chinese New year thus 3 in 1!

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We broke into two groups with one for pastors and the other for what we called “the rest of the world” (lay leaders). We were supposed to email our discoveries to the yahoogroup.

Some lingered in duets or triads.

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Usually the “lingering” conversations are very valuable and suprising.

After that some of us “sold out” and went to the Burger King next door for lunch and continued until around 3pm.

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I felt happy that we had some new people today. and there were some fun bits here and there … like an imaginary “bell” as a jargon buster for some of us when we ramble with words (we assume people know). Another “bell” to remind us this is a safe place .. so say what you need to honestly.

I was moved to hear of stories on sacrifice and commitment and risk especially before the meeting officially started.

I felt genuine acceptance of people and some humour to help us hear less comfortable remarks. “Ting” this is a safe place!

There was a sense that ideas can be experimented. Complaints are ok-lah! Frustration with abuse of the past and how our histories affected us were evident.

I mentioned if we called ourselves “Rumah Goreng Pisang” whether we would be noticed…. we all laughed!

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(covers judgment and caution)
– we need to be cautious of expecting more on others than ourselves and begin working on baby steps in our own spheres of influence.
– we need to be watchful of not “negating” the good even in models or approaches we are no longer comfortable with or see no relevance
– there may be a lack of confidence at times and a sense of so what can we do?
– we lacked time for the small groups to REALLY work .. time was a factor.

hatyl.gif (covers the logical positive)
I think having some guide or “agenda” was good … we covered quite a wide range of issues.

The “selling out” lunch was good for further more informal conversations.

hatgr.gif (covers creativity, alternatives, proposals, what is interesting, provocations and changes.)
– how about a “agenda-less” meeting?
– what about a safe place for “pastors?
– the “jargon buster” was REALLY a great idea.
– Keeping a “head, heart, hands” paradigm will make us work on areas we may neglecy.

hatbl.gif (covers the overview or process)
Building on current events we participated allowed for some immediacy and relevance for the conversation. Furthermore these were close to heart Malaysan issues. As always, I’m uncertain whether we “lost” the 1st time newcomers (or those who’ve just stumbled in) and perhaps will need to consider how they can be more “included”. and yet, perhaps seeing some continuity from one meeting to another is important to build momentum and interest. Part of the effort to quickly jot down these notes today on the blog is to put things down while it’s fresh not only in my thinking but also in the feeling! And many thanks to Jade and Alwyn for keeping pretty good notes on which I could use the 6 hats thinking tool to help to reflect on the meeting.

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