Whenever I think about the name we’ve used for the past few years – i.e. “Emergent Malaysia”, in order to gather like minded people or interested individuals, I giggle a little bit. There was nothing grandiose about it in anyway (and that was long before much of the present publicity and even notoriety the words “emerging” and “emergent” generates).
On one hand it has created some curiosity and thus new contacts, on the other hands we always need to pause and explain or clarify ourselves. Which is ok because it does generate conversations. We’re stuck with this name for a little while until the next step for us (which will be interesting indeed).
One thing for sure we are grateful for how this whole “emerging church” * “emergent” conversation has directly and indirectly given us some space to deepen our friendship, broaden our horizons and breathed some confidence in our explorations. But in many ways, we seek to move on and definately not get sucked into debates which we were never part of (or desire to be part of). I REALLY do miss it when many of us were engaged in interesting dialogue very much under the radar. Personally, I’m happy to be called a friend of Emergent (thus the little logo on the right of my blog), I think I’m part of the emerging conversation by choice and initiative, and I found the friendships and conversations thus far healthy as well helpful.
What some of us genuinely hope is not to get distracted and unfairly attributed positions we do not hold and directions we are not heading to. It’s better to invest our energies in the creative, contextual and constructive work that is necessary. As the year is coming to an end, we’ll be relooking at where we are and let’s see what is possible for the future. I strongly do believe the faces and voices of those of us in Malaysia and in Asia need space to express our concerns and constructive efforts. This is a healthy “postcolonial” response … 🙂 I think it’s simply being faithful to God whereever we are located in time and space.
On a more personal end, what I liked about the “emergent”/”emerging church” conversation was that open-endedness, generosity, relational, wholistic, ancient-future, missional, explorative, unfinished, etc. tone and posture which is refreshing. And I’ve found myself learning a lot in terms of reflection, action, and leadership through engagement in the conversations thus far. I think many of the critics perhaps using more “preconceived” paradigms have missed the whole point of the value of giving people such space and how this space is needed for the overall health of the Church in general.
The reality is in our “Emergent Malaysia” conversations thus far, the main agenda has been more of the contextual concerns relating to Christian faith in today’s world, the Church in all her expressions, and our role in Malaysian society which has dominated our time. All this in a wonderful context of friendships which are generative. And on this we have been consistent. The amusing thing is, perhaps due to some of the ambiguity and fluidity of the way we are organized and the conversations thus far, I noticed the alleged criticism or warnings of danger reveals more about those putting energy in this effort than those of us engaged in the conversation. That’s not very nice. But then we live with this anyway. And we try our best to keep the communication lines open. If not silence is a good spiritual discipline.
Perhaps what’s more important is energy is not overspent in trying to “defend” ourselves (which there’s nothing to defend) or “define” ourselves (which has always been an ongoing process consciously), for me energy needs to be given to encourage those who are working through serious issues that affects their hearts and minds honestly to be in a community where growth into maturity is encouraged and modeled. For some of us, it’s been a wonderful journey thus far and we are very aware there is a long way to go. But, before we move further we had to confront ourselves more than any issue before us. And very often, in the midst of trying to engage the issues that bug us – we land up confronting ourselves – and in some “grace-filled” moments – we meet Christ in the process — meet him afresh – which is extremely refreshing.