I, Doug Pagitt, am going to Phoenix this week for the FutureGen conference and a few of us are going to get together on Monday night at 8 PM at Aunt Chiladas Restaurant to hangout - if you are in the area come and join us.
Hi, friends -
Grace and I are just past halfway through a trip around the world speaking and networking with people who are part (or becoming part) of the emergent conversation. We began in Sydney, graciously hosted by our friends Fuzz and Carolyn Kitto. The first event had about 180 people in attendance (they had hoped for 100, so this was very encouraging). Guests came from across denominational lines and included a number of denominational leaders, along with plenty of church planters and other interesting folk. Response was very positive. The organizing group - Converse - has an exciting future!
While in Sydney, I had my first day "out of the pulpit" after 24 years as a pastor at Cedar Ridge. (The previous Sunday didn't count because we crossed the International Date Line, passing from Saturday night directly to Monday morning!) It was a completely free day for us. We had an experience that I thought I'd share. Although it wasn't in a church building, it was a truly holy and glorious moment and I felt God spoke to me through it.
We walked down to the "Circular Quay" where the famous Sydney Opera House is situated. Across from the Opera House is a district called "The Rocks" - full of shops, sidewalk booths, etc. It was a perfect summer day, beautiful breeze, blue sky, sailboats filling the bay behind us. A jazz group was playing on a stage in a courtyard, and we got something to eat and enjoyed their music. A middle-aged couple got up and started dancing - they were amazing! Then an old lady got up, then an old man, and soon there were half-a-dozen people spontaneously dancing to this beautiful music - blues, swing, etc.
Near the stage, I noticed a five or six year old boy who appeared mentally handicapped. He was absolutely entranced with the music. He put up a fist to his mouth as if it were a trumpet and pretended to play it with his other hand. Soon, without realizing it, he had moved out beside the stage. His eyes were closed and he was playing his heart out on his imaginary trumpet. The sax player noticed this, and the hopped off the stage and stood beside the young guy. When he opened his eyes, the sax player started dancing around as he played and the little boy followed his lead. Then the trumpet player saw them, and he came down. The little boy in between the two musicians ... "playing" and dancing in an obvious state of ecstasy - the audience started applauding and I know my eyes were overflowing with tears to see something so beautiful and spontaneous and glorious.
Then I looked back to where the boy had been, and his grandfather was standing there in obvious delight to see his grandson so happy. I leaned over to Grace and whispered, "It's a glimpse of the kingdom of God."
It was a perfect end to our time in Sydney, and that scene will stay with me as a reminder that God is at work everywhere, if only we have eyes to see.
From there we went to Melbourne where we were hosted by Mark and Robyn Pierson at the Urban Seed headquarters. Fantastic organization and people! Mark arranged a number of gatherings - with pastors from the Uniting Church, with pastors from the Baptist Churches, and with a variety of people at Tabor College, an interdenominational school with Pentecostal roots. Each event was full of interested and gifted people, and I left very much encouraged by the response.
Our time in New Zealand was equally good and rich. Mark Pierson accompanied us and treated us royally. We spent the first weekend in Aukland. I spoke for a conference there, then at two Baptist churches. We then travelled south to Palmerston North where there was another one-day conference plus a lot of good conversations with some very sharp young leaders. Next we flew to Christchurch where we stayed with some wonderful artists, Peter and Joyce Majendie, who do installation art (Stations of the Cross, Christmas, etc.). We did a one-day conference plus two church services and had lots of worthwhile private conversations and dinners.
Then we flew here to South Africa. Mosaiek Church, led by Johann and Wilma Geyser and a tremendous team, has helped create a wonderful network (MissioNet) which brought together 120 leaders, twice the size of their previous gatherings. These were really thoughtful and committed leaders from a variety of backgrounds - pastors, church planters, theologians. Emergent Africa helped promote the event. Then today I spoke at Mosaiek, one of the warmest and most talented and hopeful churches I have ever visited.
At most gatherings, Grace has been able to bring together some amazing women leaders. The tide is turning and doors are opening, although all of us wish the progress was faster and farther along.
Through all this we've had great meals, met phenomenal people, heard both inspiring and heartbreaking stories, and grown in our awareness that something important and far-reaching is indeed happening around this conversation about emerging, missional, post-colonial Christian faith. I sense that we are very near a "tipping point" - and my concern is not that this emerging global movement won't fully emerge, but that we won't be fully ready when it does. Something to pray about - and prepare for.
Of course, each locale is unique, but I'd say that the similarities among the events, churches, and leaders are more striking than the differences - both the similar problems and the common sense of hope, both the shared obstacles and the uniting dreams for better days for the church and for our holistic, integral mission in God's world.
Thanks, everyone, for your prayers. From here, we go to the East Cape, then to Capetown, then home. In the meantime, wherever you are, be assured that you aren't alone, and that thousands of people around the world are sensing a fresh wind blowing with new possibilities and challenges, undergirded with the faithfulness of God.
Brian and Grace McLaren
The Emergent Podcast is now available via the iTunes Music Store (for free, of course), and will be available via other podcast servers soon. You can also subscribe to the syndication feed on the lower left corner of the blog, and there you can also listen to the recently released Podcast 002 (the continuation of the conversation with Miroslav Volf).
Many thanks to Tim Bednar for his help on this.
The former Emerging Women Leaders Initiative and EES (The Evangelical Education Society of the Episcopal Church) announce the publication of ef·flo·resce, a one-time, free print publication to encourage women in leadership. The publication - composed of articles, quotes, and original artwork, will be available mid-April for no charge. To sign up for a copy of ef·flo·resce, please click here by March 20. For more information about this project, please contact Holly Rankin Zaher at happydaydeadfish at gmail dot com.
(Please be aware that while the registration software states that you are signing up for an event, you are indeed contributing your address so that you will receive a copy of this journal. There is no event. :))
Tom and Christine Sine and Mustard Seed Associates are dear friends and partners of Emergent. They will be hosting a conference entitled, "The Church Has Left The Building" April 28-29 in Seattle. Click here or on the above link for more information.