on Emergent...

A recent article at discusses some of the growing pains/birthing pains/death pangs (you can pick your lens) occuring within Emergent (

I see the changes taking place as positive rather than negative.

Brandon O'Brien writes:

As one-time leaders of the emergent movement have recently distanced themselves from the term, the network itself dropped its organizational leader. The decision of Emergent Village's board of directors to eliminate its national coordinator position marked the latest sign that the movement is either decentralizing or disintegrating.

Board members said they eliminated Tony Jones's position October 31 in order to reclaim the Village's founding purpose as an "egalitarian social-networking organization." "We are gifting the power of Emergent back to the people at the grassroots level of the conversation," said Jones.

The decision leaves the future structure of emergent leadership unclear. "We know how to run traditional organizations," said Brian McLaren, a board member and one of the group's most prominent pastors. "We don't know how to run networks. [But we know] there's a place for leadership in networks." McLaren says there have been ongoing questions about the label itself. "For many people, the name emergent has allowed them to remain in the evangelical world," he said. For others outside the conversation, he admitted, the name has become an epithet for theological heresy or cultural trendiness.
... several thinkers once associated with emergent, including pastor Dan Kimball and professor Scot McKnight, have formed a new network provisionally called Origins, dedicated to "friends, pioneers, innovators, and catalysts who want to dream and work for the gospel together rather than alone."
... Jones hopes decentralizing American emergent networks will give participants worldwide, who lack access to book publishing and other resources enjoyed by their American counterparts, more freedom to express themselves. "Any time you can dethrone an overeducated, loud, brash, white man," he said, "people just feel more openness for their own voice to be heard."

Click here to read more.

I am glad Jones stepped down. I suppose singular leadership was a 'necessary evil' as Emergent ventured from nascent stages to toddlerhood. But ultimately, as Jones rightly acknowledges, Emergent needed to be egalitarian to be true to its own DNA.

I'm not surprised to see Dan Kimball distance himself from the conversation. My critique of Kimball's approach all along has been "muted, hipster conservatism." By no means so brash, fundamentalist or hateful as Driscoll's Mars Hill Seattle, but truly conservative nonetheless. And ultimately - I think - conservative to the point of being uncomfortable with certain conversations - and perhaps - affiliations.

I haven't read enough about Kimball and McKnight's Origins to comment - and I generally genuinely appreciate McKnight's contributions.

It is too bad that the "shakedown" removes those heterogeneous voices that can be so helpful in growing and stretching dialogues and relationships.


Existential Punk said...


i do believe you nailed Kimball! i have met him in person and conversed via email. He was very kind to me about being queer but obviously believes it is a sin. i think the new network he is starting is very conservative and evangelical. The fact that he references the Lusuanne Covenant speaks volumes to this for me!


Peter said...

Yeah, and I did not mean to imply (in re-reading my post) that Kimball and Driscoll are ANYTHING remotely alike, except they both fall on more conservative sides of the spectrum. As you say, I think Kimball is still respectful, and I have no quarrel with him.

He obviously enjoys pop-culture, which I appreciate. Kimball doesn't demonize the "secular."

Just a different worldview from mine: I don't think "Emerging Church" is easily manifested in "1-2-3-Easy-Steps to Relevance."

It's masqueraded modernity - which isn't bad... but it's not what it's not, either.

Thanks Adele,

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