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« From Director to Coordinator | Main | Report from the Emergent Summit - Part 3 of 4 »


Wes Roberts

Thank you, Tony! Prayers are with you. Am already eager for next week to read about what comes next. This man supports you, and the developing "crew."

dwight friesen

Thanks for your leadership and for stepping into this new role.
peace, dwight

Tim Bednar

Hey, I'm not trying to be a smart-a**.

But WHO exactly are you organizing or leader. Your recent moves seem to assume that their is a group "out there" that wants to be organized or led? Who are they? Where are they? And how do you know they want to be organized?

Bill Dahl

Let's not forget the voice...it's a chorus, not a solo.

Please move quickly to establish a vastly more robust and responsive vehicle ("fleet") of communication mechanisms that serve to promote the hymn WE are reciting to share with the world.

Let's make sure that auditions remain "open to the public" and are not compromised by some chummy, clubby stuff that restricts access.

May we be guided by the wisdom of the following, as stated by Francis Schaeffer:

"Why do we keep talking to ourselves, if men are lost and we say we love them."1

“Surely, as we look at the book of Acts, we find in the early church not a group of strong men laboring together, but the work of the Holy Spirit bringing to them the power of the crucified and glorified Christ. It must be so for us also.”2

“If they cannot look upon us and say,” These are "real people,” nothing else is enough. Far too often young people become Christians and then search among the church’s ranks for real people, and have a hard task finding them. All too often evangelicals are paper people.”3

“As Christians, by the grace of God, let us act upon what we say we believe.”4

My prayer is that emergent will not fall prey to the notion that a sense or form(s) of arriving has anything to do with being at a destination. Let's make certain we continue to champion the ongoing journey.

Congratulations on passing this milepost.

His Blessings to all,


1 Schaeffer, Francis He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Tyndale House Publishing 1972, p 10.

2 Schaeffer, Francis True Spirituality, Tyndale House Publishers 1971, p 50.

3 Schaeffer, Francis The God Who Is There, InterVarsity Press Copyright (c) 1968 p. 193

4 Schaeffer, Francis True Spirituality, Tyndale House Publishers 1971.p. 125

aaron flores

You guys are doing a good job. Keep it up.


jon myers

hey tim, i've got an answer for you. they are doing this for me and many of my friends who find ourselves "homeless" theologically or pragmatically or both, but still very much involved with the Church we love so very much. people like me find current forms of training inadequate. i/we find current structures for church unsustainable. emergent has been helping me/us for the last few years think differently, but this additional organization will help me/us practically work through this new thinking into a way of church/life/theology that is more sustainable not only for me/us, but also for emerging generations.

so how does tony know i/we want to be organized. well, i have told him and i know other people who have told him or other people on the board or coordinating group. so it's not assumed. it is in fact actual and realized from years of conversation.

hope that helps you tim.

Jason Carlson

Believe me, I consider myself a very cautious fan of Emergent... and I am very familiar with Emergent and its leadership. I guess this recent move still confuses me. One of the things that I thought most appealing about Emergent was that it didn't "feel" like a denomination, structured organization, para-church, etc... it really seemed to be a "conversation". However, this decision is now moving Emergent closer to many of the structures in Christendom that many of us have wanted to see transformed. I guess I just hope the leadership of Emergent is careful and that they're legitimate in their pronouncements against this becoming the new denomination, organization, or para-church on on the block. I hope they haven't already gone too far.


I'll weigh in echoing Jon Myers' comments above: I'm excited to see this development. I've been participating in emerging/emergent conversations since I began seminary in 2001 near Chicago. All the while, I've been reading the Emergent "big names" and I've been attempting to add what I have to offer to the conversation.

While I'm not an emergent "big name" myself, I've taken advantage of the openness of the blogs, etc. to ask questions and "listen in" on everyone else's conversation. I see Emergent's move to add a National Coordinator as a good thing, taking it at face value.

I feel that this move will allow those of us who are "allies" of Emergent, who are, as Jon said above, on the outside of the "traditional" and yet not on the inside of Emergent, to get more involved in both giving and receiving in the emerging conversation.

Peace in Christ -


Tim Bednar

Jon Myers--I hear you. But to be frank there are lots and lots of nodes in the emerging church network where one can participate in the conversation (The Ooze comes to mind with it's eTrek stuff along with Next-Wave). I think Spensor Burke can testify to how hard it is to build an organization from emerging church folks.

And the fact that I don't see any Ooze or Next-Wave partnerships or joint projet is sort of a bummer and makes me think of church business as usual.

What I'm wondering is whether the Emergent "following" is large enough and interested enough to sustain the kind of organizational changes Emergent is now announcing. I ask this because if the thought is "build it and they will come"; the whole enterprise is doomed.

Just like with any sustainable organization, it has to be serving real people with real needs. I see the real needs--but how people work out their journey in the emerging church seems so fractured that I wonder how possible it is to build Emergent into what I see in these announcements.

Okay, Emergent has a sort of track record, convention and selling some books and some speaking/consulting gigs. I still do not see this great crowd of folks who are "asking" Emergent to lead or organize them. In this case, numbers actually count--there needs to be enough to become sustainable and not fall into the PBS trap where they are always saying "we're member supported" expecting that everyone should care.

Basically, yes Emergent is right to see that whatever this phenomenon is--it is building and has momentum. But is it actually sustainable (think Promise Keepers and they had even more buzz and critical mass, etc.)

I just want it to succeed that's why I'm asking. I wrote more over here,


Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Through out the history of Creation, people have been sincerely seeking to follow God, individually and collectively. It does not take a historical scholar to see in this history that the people of God have been right where Emergent is today.

Has any "conversation" or "movement" lasted the test of time without falling prey to the inevitable force of humanities capacity to spoil things? Not that I can think of.

In the end, is that really what's important? Here we have a group of sincerely faithful, selfless and trembling women and men of God who are trying to facilitate a giant they have had some hand in creating. How easy it is to cast stones when we have so very little at stake!

Undoubtedly, this move is crucial- positively or negatively. However, to suggest that this choice is unequivically wrong before it has even been tried is unfair and lacking in trust for these servants and faith in our God.

I have always been deeply comforted that Scripture includes "administrator" within the list of spiritual gifts. It reflects the wisdom that the "fluid" work of the spiritual and the "conversations" of that time (and ours) requires the guidance, facilitation and, yes, even direction.

As Tony isn't even functioning in this role yet, the accusations of heirarchy, institutionalization and denominationalization are premature, unfair and unfounded. Let's stand behind them. If they've made a mistake, I have every confidence they will rectify it accordingly.

Lucas Conner

In this little conversation about these recent moves, we're hearing from those who are not comfortable about the recent organizational moves and also from those who thrilled about the moves. To be honest, as I read these comments, I see the validity of all of the concerns and all of the praises. The danger we face right now is not from the organization of Emergent, but from our own potential to become divisive over this issue.

I'll admit, I squirmed in my seat a little when I read about Emergent becoming a little more organized and structured, because (and this is coming from someone who is a part of a denomination himself that is currently pushing for structural changes that give more power to the top leaders and less say to the peons like me and my church) I am uncomfortable myself with the organizations and corporations we all have seen largely try to process the people at the bottom of the food chain into resources for the group to exploit and push around for the glory and success of the organization...

At the same time, I am excited about the possibilites of this move as well. As they have repeated over and over again, this move was not a "power play by the hierarchy" but a necessary restucturing to be able to include a lot more leaders in active roles in this conversation, and to better network us together. For those who say this is not necessary, I must beg to differ, as I, and many like me, have had only minimal interaction with this converation/revolution and we would like to be more involved and networked. Living in the Southeastern US, in the Bible-belt, where modern Evangelicalism in some of its strictest forms is extremely dominant, emerging can be a very lonely and difficult process for a guy like me who has hardly anyone to talk to about it outside of a few conversations on the ooze. People like me are really looking forward to the possibilites of actually "belonging" - as opposed to just listening in and watching it happen everywhere else...

The possibilities of this move can either be disastrous, leading us back into the "dark ages" of corporations and hierarchies, or be an important move that helps us all make a greater impact, be a greater blessing, and perhaps even move us to see a more beautiful glimpse of what authentic community looks like on a global scale. It depends heavily on many things, and here are just a few things I can think of right now:

- We really need to pray for the leadership, that they make the right decisions and that the Holy Spirit continue to work through them and in them.

- We need to continue to believe that Emergent is into transforming organizations (as Jason Carlson mentions) and not just start casting stones because they are trying to become more structured. Just as theology is in the process of changing because of those like us, it is entirely possible that this move can help Emergent become an example to the rest of the world of an emerging organization that is still fluid and committed to those of us at the grassroots.

- We also need to remember that we are still surrounded by the "us vs. them" mentality, and it is so easy for us to slip back into it when it comes to something we don't all agree on, especially with such a volitile issue. Let's all avoid that and treat one another (and that includes the way we look at the leadership) with the love and respect that we all deserve being God's precious creation and being fellow partners on this journey together.

Anyways, with all of that said, we've all gotta make our own decisions about what to do from here. No doubt, some will probably jump ship for fear of being caught up and crushed in the machinery of another behemoth organization, that is totally understandable. But for those us us who decide to stay, commit ourselves to one another, and really desire to see this thing make a bigger difference in the world, let us all join hands together and venture futher into the great unknown...

Ryan Poe

Please forgive some of us for being concerned with the recent developments of EmergentVillage. I am sure you understand that while we want to see the conversation grow and develop we are also afraid of seeing a line get crossed. So many of us have fled from institutionalized structures and found solace in the EmergentVillage. I am assuming that a large number of us have been burned by those structures and now we are somewhat jaded and skeptical of anything that begins to resemble what we have just escaped.

I am beginning to see this conversation split in a number of ways and I think we might be forgetting the commonality that brought us here in the first place. Regardless, of structures, styles, and 4-year plans we desperately want to seek our Lord, and do so unencumbered. I am ashamed for reducing your announcement to a few select issues and I hope that over time I will better see how the big picture of EmergentVillage fits into the even grander story of God.

If you are willing, I would like to inquire how the Spirit led you to your most recent developments. Obviously most of us weren’t able to attend the recent summit (E8 as I have decided to start calling it… not really). I think it might be hard for us to understand the reasoning behind all of the decisions that were made because we were not there to experience the moving of the Spirit. It is fine to talk about the reasons why you decided to take Emergent in the direction you are but more importantly I would like to hear about the direction God is taking Emergent. I believe that very few of us would argue with that direction. Thank you.

Ryan Poe


Too little structure can actually impede the development of conversation. One of the upsides to Emergent as an organization is the creation of opportunities for face-to-face conversation instead of just virtual. If that's part of the goal, and I think you'd be hard pressed to say it's not, then some amount of structure is needed so that those opportunities can be created. An organization without any structure at all is actually more difficult in some respects to join than one with more formal structures. There are no defined entry points, and the approach itself heavily favors more extroverted personalities. From that perspective, lack of structure can be exclusive rather than inclusive, which is what seems to be some of the concern.


I echo Lucas' comments. I'm listening and watching, but frustrated by living too far away from the "center" of Emergent to have any face to face time with like minded folks. I'll certainly withold judgement on the newly conceived structure until there's something by which I can critique it's effectiveness. I like the questions Tim is asking, too. For those of us "out of the loop," the answers aren't so obvious. Emergent is an intangible for me, and I have yet to figure how to grab on.

todd thomas

i am hearing a lot of people saying how out of the loop they feel... i personally am without any immediate ec contacts myself. how about an emergent coffee in montgomery alabama some time? i could even find us a host in birmingham if that would be better for some? if nothing else, i'd love to share the funny ways people keep asking us what ec is and the ridiculous ways we all try to encapsulate it!

i apologize for interupting the current conversation abotu organization... but i couldn't find a way to start a new stream on this question.

Paul Prather

Just to throw in my 2 cents worth: I'm cautiously optimistic about the increasing structure. I'm not sure that structure in and of itself is "bad"; I think more so that it is the culture of the structure that can become "good" or "bad" (meaning, helpful or not helpful to me?). And although I've always like that whole "conversation" concept, it's been difficult for me practically to envision what that means for me, how to connect with it (besides attending events, which is a structure then) -- and what good is a conversation anyway when all is said and done (all talk and no action can be demoralizing)? But I guess what has always comforted me about the existence of Emergent was that there is this cool group of people out there, thinking through things even more than I do, and they're likely a group of people I would love to have a beer with.

Hopefully a structure will give a "physical body" that houses the spirit of Emergent, and better allows interactions and relationships with others out there in the world. And hopefully it won't morph into the kind of monstrosity that we are all so turned off by...

Nick Larson

For all of you out there that just are looking at this as a skeptical move, I have a metaphor for you.

As stated above ..."Let's not forget the voice...it's a chorus, not a solo." This is very true. But do you know how you turn a group of talented vocalist into a resounding choir? You have someone conduct them, give them instruction, lead them, harmonize them. I believe this is what Tony wants to do. It’s not about telling us what to think, or cornering the conversation, but finding a framework for which to lift us up.

I myself am not as familiar with the organization of this conversation as I would like to be, but I assure you that they took this very seriously, striving to help make all of these "voices" turn into a beautiful Choir.



Todd- I'm in Montgomery. Will you email me? cb@cindybryan.com


Since everyone seems to be afraid to just say it: Emergent (or rather the few clever people who originated this conversation) apparently just became what we are so suspicious of, hurt by, and frustrated with. Sadly, I beleive it was innevitable. It will now run it's course like every other well "organized" religious movement. But don't despair for there will, as there always has been, be other movements that inspire us and give us hope.

Just a little broken hearted,


Pope Bennedict

Welcome to your new role. You are really going to enjoy being the supreme leader of your own sect. If you need any pointers give me a call.


todd thomas

yes, we've all been hurt by institutional churches and we all have our litany of pains and scars to share with whomever is unlucky enough to be close by or reading any particular blog... but, really...
death-dealing irony is just not ever listed as one of the top spiritual gifts that God doles out to his folks... some of us need to continually remind ourselves and check ourselves... me, mostly... that our hearts have a greater master and our cynicims have are not the Cassandras we often impower them to be.

In other words, we need to chill out. Thank you Tony, Brian, Danielle, et al. The simple fact is that you have worked and prayed very hard to keep this conversation going... and like all good relational things, this will ultimatley require more work and sacrifice than most institutional endeavors. So go satisfy the gov's demands for accountability and keep resourcing us all with your energies and gifts. I'm glad to know that you are devoting such time and talent to the thing most enriching my spiritual life at the moment.

While fighting to hold my own cynicisms at bay long enough to manage a struggling prayer life and an attempt at Kingdom service, Todd

Steve Barkley

I see Emergent as a type of family reunion. (Incidentally, this metaphor is grounded in the biblical idea of adoption cf. Rom 8).

When you only have a few relatives to call on, things are rather simple. Once grandkids and distant cousins come along, planning a reunion takes a little more work and administrative effort.

We have lots of historical examples of how movements organize and lose sight of their goals (just look at era when the early church went from being the persecuted to the persecutors). We can learn from this. We're not fated to repeat history.

Calling a large family together takes a lot of work, so lets support them.

Steven Barrett

If this "Emergent Village" isn't a new denomination in the making, perhaps nothing is. It has all the earmarks of a small elitist clique trying to form something out of a "movement." This is hardly new in Church History, especially within protestant ranks.

Why not just be up front and tell everyone what your real intentions are? Why do you seem so timid about admitting that you're trying to form an altnerative denomination to contemporary evangelicalism, the mainline (or flatline) churches and Catholicism?

Sadly, like so many thousands of other protestant denominations, this one, too, is founded by humans; as opposed to Roman Catholicism, founded directly by none other than Jesus Christ. When the reformation occured the infallibility of the faith that the rebels had within Catholicism before they broke was severed. Everyone was to be his or her own priest, interpreting the Gospel as he or she saw fit.

I'll say this for the so-called "emergent" church that's arising, some of its leaders are at least honest enough to admit that within the logic of sola scriptura/sola fides and the priesthood of all believers, you don't need an ordained clergy. But whether you feel you need one or not, be thankful you have ordained and professionally trained clerics within Protestantism, (and I am not counting the mail-order "bible college" preachers.)

You're going to make the same mistake so many of my baby-boom generation members have made; seeking the easy way out by trying to be too inclusive while eschewing the hard sayings of Jesus in Scripture and Tradition. You're trying to be too many things at once, thus the confusion of what your "emergent" movement, or church is all about. It's either post modern, post protestant or post whatever.

How about being post-evasive?
Steven (western MA)

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