I like what Tony Joneswrote for the Worship Leader Sidebar about what is Emergent?, I think we can be seen as part of “the friendships with church leaders around the world, all of whom are on a similar quest of rediscovering the gospel in their contexts.”
Emergent is a fairly loose gathering of pastors, artists, missionaries, church planters, songwriters, bloggers and others who are engaged in a quiet revolution within the church. Disaffected with the reified structures and theologies of both the Protestant “Left” and “Right,” a dozen of us began meeting together in the late 1990’s, and as our work has become more public, many more have joined in. Currently, we are forging friendships with church leaders around the world, all of whom are on a similar quest of rediscovering the gospel in their contexts.
About 18 of us met at my place on December 18th Saturday. Quite a number of new faces this round. Sadly, the pastors all couldn’t make it except me (due to a variety of understandable reasons). And Alwyn missed it the last minute. Joel and Elise Vestal were special surprise guests who gave us some input and personal sharing on their journey and ministry which was good to avoid this turning out to be just about us Malaysians!
Of course, we started late … but with food. There was quite a variety from chicken to duck, Pringles to fruits, curry to pasta, etc. Nice that everyone (most at least *smile*) brought food “offerings”.
We did have a simple ice breaker just to introduce ourselves and sang a couple of Christmas carols. It’s Christmas season! Why not? We mustn’t take ourselves too seriously until we can no longer sing, right?
The flow from the start was good .. people laughing, and saying “I’ve been reading your blog” can be disarming. 😛
Then we got into something more serious and yet broad enough to get the brain juices flowing and some “conversation” going … a simple question: “What do you think is important for Malaysian Christianity to wrestle with?” (something like that) and then we tried some more personal questions like “what are you passionate about (possibly hoping you can contribute to Malaysian Christianity)”? The questions were general enough to start the ball rolling. I’m sure we are not the only ones asking them or have asked them but the dynamics and the flavour of the discussions had some “Emergent” flavour I suppose (i.e. more systemic, cautious of a quick fix, very conversational, etc).
We had three groups … a decent mix of men and women. Our youngest was 17 years old (he just finished his high school exams!) our oldest was eh-hem people in their early thirties! It was interesting to take note our many of us got introduced to what is now called the “emerging church” or “emergent” conversation through different concerns from the need for more holistic experimental woship to more conversational evangelism, from reading Brian Mclaren’s books to reading one anothers blogs.
After individual groups shared with one another, we had brief reports with others chipping in. Everyone had a chance to listen what others had to say and ask questions.
I have the Mah-jong paper with me and took some digital photos of the input from these guys and gals. All the answers were in very lay-human and grassroot lingo. Nothing ivory tower here. I joked that some of those present can complicate the language a bit and send it to our Asian theologians for comment.
After the “official meeting”, many still stayed back for more “conversations” which usually unearthes other goodies.
so it was not just about food and fun … all came bringing their contributions. The contributions in the “conversations” were most precious of course, then new connections in relationships as well as insights. More in another post … time to pick up son and wife!