Emergent Echoes

Yesterday it felt good to send in a article entitled “A Quest for Authentic Faith & Community in the World Today: Eavesdropping on the “Emerging church”/”Emergent” conversation” to a local Malaysian Christian Publication. I will post it up after they publish it 🙂

Being excited I sent it out a “sneak preview” to see if there would be any responses. Here’s some edited versions of what they said and my immediate (slightly unrefined) reply. I’m posting up these conversations between us Malaysians to give a glimpse on themes and concerns (their words and questions in bold):


Are the words used to describe Emergent movt and Emergent churches ours (i.e. Malaysians speaking that same language)?

Some of us find “resonance” with the words used like missional, conversation, friendship, and the characteristics mentioned in the Emerging Churches book. But I can only speak for myself and some of us (which to me is a minority). Thus, I don’t “see” this movement here (as compared to the cell church movement, etc) .. it’s too early to tell. I would suspect that some of us might find some convergence with the themes discussion in the more theologically oriented Emergent Village related conversations … (cf. McLaren, etc). At least I do, whether or not postmodern is used. I talked about it in my book review on the Church on the other side here years ago (before Brian was making waves and facing with criticisms)

Personally, I don’t like the term “emergent churches” (sounds too much like a brand) .. I can bear with emerging churches as a descriptive term (in short I don’t like branding)

I did not hear you mention what words some of those at the Emergent Malaysia might use to describe why they came together.

good question .. we tried to hint at it here and there in the last part .. an article is always limiting. I’ll try to send an email to the Yahoogroup and see some response.

I think it would be good to get a local perspective – local stories / narratives of the issues people are having about their churches. If not we still follow a trend began in the US or in the West and so may be seen as being Western-influenced.

I think we are slowly working on this .. but with caution – because we want to handle with care some of the stories … and allow some space for constructive processes to take place .. so when the stories are shared, some angst have been worked through.

Like it or not, because of how we are already so influenced … it’s not suprising, we have similar results with what is happening in the US and west. One person did comment to me .. our “angst” is more respectful 🙂 and less deconstructive.

Personally, I have consistently insisted right from the start … using the phrase “conversation partners/friends” to differentiate that we are NOT merely “following a trend” imported from the west (cf. in contrast with “whole sale imported” programs?) I think this distinction is important.

Anyway good piece to get people thinking about it. Now will they begin to look at themselves and their churches and learn to be self-aware and self-critical? May our Lord move us to reflect Him and not ourselves.

Thanks, I had the impression people wanted a kind of primer and intro about it. and then a little on any thing in Malaysia 🙂 Appreciate your participation in one way or another.


Thanks for the preview. I have enjoyed reading the article. It will be a good introduction to readers on what the emergent church and movement is all about. It will also introduce readers or even make known that there is Emergent Malaysia. Good work.

That was what I think was expected so, we went along that drift. Notice, we never used the term “emergent church” in the piece. It was quite deliberate. Persoanlly, I don’t like the term (because it’s tends towards a branding mentality I’m uncomfortable with). I’m still ok with emerging churches, and Ray Anderson’s use of “emergent” theology (see attached excerpts from what I think is his useful contribution theologically to the whole jazz – here (preface) and here (chapter 1)). In my mind, I think I would generally follow Anderson’s way of seeing the whole phenomena and what is possible.

At this stage I don’t “see” an emerging church movement in Malalysia (cf. compared to what we felt through the cell chruch movement for example) and it’s very much still a conversation amongst a small group of us. I may be wrong.

If I may offer some comments … you have not adequately addressed the issue why so many mainline churches are wary of the emergent church movement. I know you have touched on it briefly. As a reader, as I read your piece, it sounds as if the emergent movement is the coming revival. Then I would wonder why so many church leaders are worried about it (and it is not the generational gap).

Perhaps as one who is not an “objective” outsider, I can’t hide some of the excitement because of how being part of the conversation has generated for me personally. But I’m not sure “the emergent movement is the coming revival” was what I intended. I think it’s a needed conversation, I think we need to allow for some space for it.

As for critics, if you read the 9 Marks link .. I think the authors there have articulated themselves pretty clearly. It’s interesting to read the one Bio datas of the authors.

it is not so much from mainline churches (e.g. Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran – in fact according to Diana Bass she is welcoming of the developments) One of the early participants (and still is) of the emergent village USA coordinating group is Rev. Karen Ward (who encouraged me to blog by the way) She isl inked with the Lutheran and episcopalian denomination in church planting. I see the emerging church movement and emergent conversation (notice we try to distinguish it a little without dividing it) as part of the bigger move of the Missional Church emphasis (which I STRONGLY feel has relevance in a contextual form in Asia)
This link captures the deeper theological currents underneath (Emergent is mention at the end of the article).

Where did the initial definition of the emergent church (the not flattering one) comes from?

I think you have brought out a good point (an earlier draft included it – maybe I should have put it in) – but the piece was getting longer. It’s mentioned in Brian’s Book A Generous Orthodoxy. But Dan Kimball tells us about it here and here

The article reads a bit choppy. The flow is not really there

Perhaps we were trying too hard to sqeeze too much in there. And then again, it might actually reflect reality of our “choppy” conversations 🙂


“… The problem I have is that in this conversation, I am just learning to speak. I have not spent enough time to make any comments of significance in terms of trends and the thoughts of writers. so sorry, I can’t comment much on the academic aspects of the article.

However I must say that if really pushed for why I would then want to align myself with a “conversation” that is generally badly maligned and misunderstood, it would simply be the attractiveness of the godly spirit in which the whole “movement” is set and the generally uncharitable spirit in which other camps which fight for truth seem to have.

… people are more receptive and open simply becasue they know you genuinely respect and love them – even if you might disagree with them strongly etc.”


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