Friends 2007: QRoH Notes [22]

Friends in Conversation : A Quiet Revolution of Hope

Let me return to some notes … there’s some interesting buzz coming from here on the upcoming event.

Allow me to quote some of the interaction from there.

Mr. D serves …

“The Emergent Church movement has its share of critics. Here’s one http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/june/17.72.html.

Also check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_Church.”

then Mr. B replies with a steady forehand …

“Well, we don’t get the same level of public debate in Malaysia as they do in the States, so it’s pretty easy to get swayed by just one point of view. From what I can see, there is no one monolithic movement known as emergent. There are recurring themes and pastoral issues (less debate occurs on doctrinal matters) that are being discussed and are generally identified as emergent but there’s no one body of opinion forming the agenda per se. Perhaps a read of Scott McKnights article in Christianity Today might give an alternate perspective (the transcript of the full presentation can be read here) :

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/february/11.35.html

Personally I feel we do a lot of honest discussion on issues and challenges facing the Church a major disservice by pre-empting such dialogue when we launch attacks based on certain presumptions like how Colson, Carson and recently McArthur have done. Arguably the most ardent critics may be betraying the extent of their allegiance to modernity (rather than to Christ). Perhaps before we read what folks have to criticise about “leaders” like Brian McLaren, we might wanna know what McLaren himself actually said in the first place. From the horse’s mouth in a manner of speaking :

http://www.necf.org.my/newsmaster.cfm?&menuid=12&action=view&retrieveid=833

My personal participation with the emergent conversation within the emergentMalaysia context is minimal, having only actually attended one open meeting but I have had the privilege of participating in conversations on a personal levels with folks who are unchurched, de-churched, still churched, church workers, pastors et al and I find a lot of what is discussed both refreshing and in some cases crucial for me in retaining my faith.”

Mr. D back tracks a little and does a lob:

“Well, I must confess that I don’t know too much about this movement. At a glance, it does seem very refreshing. It’s like getting down to the brass tacks of just loving God & loving our neighbour in the simplest ways possible. It will be interesting as well as helpful to be able to attend the seminar as there are people there whom I think are definitely “ok”; folks like Ng Kam Weng, Sivin Kit & Sherman, for instance.

The movement is probably too fluid & varied for one to define or even describe with any degree of certainty, much like the charismatic movement or Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do.

Anyway, if the seminar spurs some of our leaders to seriously re-think how we do church & reach out to the unchurched, then it may just be worth the trouble.”

Now, as we take a break … allow me to sing my immediate after midnight reactions are:

1. ” … there are people there whom I think are definitely “ok”; folks like Ng Kam Weng, Sivin Kit & Sherman, for instance.”

Wow … I’m “ok!”

2. “… Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do” .

.. cool! “Miao?”

3. “… I must confess that I don’t know too much about this movement. ”

I think most people in Malaysia would say this … and I think this is a most honest comment: That is why I was asked to write this article (and to bring a Malaysian perspective on this). I’m no scholarly expert, but I’ve followed the conversation for at least 7 years and have been a participant somewhat. At least, I can say I’ve spent a great deal of time reflecting of many of the issues raised by the conversation whether it’s in the UK, USA, Australia or New Zealand … and throughout this time not ignoring the uniqueness of our Malaysian context. At times, I even had the chance to participate in a more global interaction (thanks to the internet). I think I’ve said this again and again on this blog.

4. “At a glance, it does seem very refreshing. It’s like getting down to the brass tacks of just loving God & loving our neighbour in the simplest ways possible.”

this is such an important observation … because the whole way the event is phrase and designed is meant to convey that.

Apart from the word “emergent” mentioned in emergent Malaysia as the organiser. There’s hardly anything directly mentioned about the “emerging church” specifically. And this is a deliberate choice – I know! Because I sat down with the copywriter to write the copy. And as a committee we talked about it together. The whole event was planned not with the mindset of (a) promoting something called “the emerging church” (whatever) (b) evaluating “the emerging church movement” … i think there’s already 101 talks and papers saturating the internet … and we’ll still be happy to talk about it for those who are interested.

But specifically for this Friends in conversation 2007 event, We felt our time and focus is with the help of our friend and guest Brian McLaren and a load of conversations partners to “create space” for those who are interested and willing to engage in conversations and thinking which connects to the realities we are facing. And in it’s simplest (not simplistic) form this is what the event is all about … isn’t this what we should all be about?

In short, can we have an event where it’s not about quick fix formulas, and methods to solve out problems? Can we have a place where a diverse of people can some together and talk in simple human lingo? It seems some are “ok” , some are not “ok” – but that’s hard to decide and would depend on various preferences. But one thing is sure, to me they are my friends and in some cases mentors.. and that’s a good start,. The bonus is they have much to offer in terms of wisdom and insight to the conversation and the shaping our common imagination of what we can be! And yes, I personally mad e a phonecall or met face to face to represent the committee to invite them. Many thanks to them for saying “yes!”

5. “Anyway, if the seminar spurs some of our leaders to seriously re-think how we do church & reach out to the unchurched, then it may just be worth the trouble.”

It’s nice to be appreciated for some of us who are taking the trouble to make this happen and those who are coming. What happens during and most importantly after the event is really up to us. Ok, to be more theologically correct it’s up to how we discern and respond to God’s still small voice amidst some much noise. I really do hope more pastors and church leaders will be present as well as fellow Christian who are concerned about who we are as a church – God’s people – in this time, location and age.

Now the ball is in “our court”.

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