I am not Emergent because
1. I’m too old.
2. I don’t use hair products, though I still have a full head of hair. (OK, I know this is a cliché…but there is a measure of truth there).
3. I don’t drink the right brand of beer. (This is an old one. Some years ago I was an interested participant in an academic conversation on the emergent movement. There was a young man there with his wife, both early 20s, who lead a gathering somewhere in a bar in the Midlands of England, I forget where. A 50-ish American academic asked whether he would be welcome at this gathering. The answer given was, and I quote, ‘Probably not!’ To which said academic asked,, ‘Why not?’ After some consideration the young leader said, ‘You’d probably drink the wrong brand of beer’. What continues to distress me is that he never unveiled what the required brand was, and I’ve been on an ongoing mission to find out. I am resolved to persevere.)
4. Whilst I really like Brian McLaren, whom I have met on several occasions and found to be without affectation or arrogance, his writing is clunky (apologies), and his thinking is sometimes fuzzy, and I haven’t yet got to a position where I consider this to be an advantage in trying to advance a position.
5. Though I have a fantastic wife, who is sarky and funny and beautiful, and kids who are lively and wonderful, and I have a blog, I don’t feel the need to post about them. Constantly and all the time telling readers how beautiful, lively, wonderful they are and our family is.
6. I still haven’t found a good enough reason to walk from the traditional church, meeting in a prominent flagship building at the heart of our community, with all the generations, beside the school our kids attend.
7. And I still, periodically, get a thrill from the words of institution at communion,
‘On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to his disciples and said, ‘Take this all of you and eat it. This is my body, which was broken for you. Do this in memory of me.
In the same way after supper he took the cup, blessed it, and gave it to them saying. ‘Take this all of you and drink it. This is the cup of the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you and for all people. Do this in memory of me.’
I get a thrill when I realise these words, or similar have been recited by countless believers over centuries. And it thrills me when I realise that the words I have written above from memory, are an amalgam of a variety of traditions I have participated in over the course of my almost 42 years. And that they’ve been said in our building for the best part of 30 years now.
And I don’t want to let that go just yet for newly created traditions or symbols or rituals. It means too much to me.
So I’m not Emergent.
But I’m really attracted to the movement because I love they way they have rescued the arts. I love the freedom to ask questions and restyle worship (which appears to contradict some of the above…so maybe I’m more emergent that I think!) I love the shape of the conversations I have had. And I enjoy hanging out with them because in a pathetic way I’m hoping to be cool by association.
But one final thing. A lot, but not all, of the above post is done affectionately and with tongue firmly ensconced in cheek. I feel the need to say that because I don’t want to burn my bridges with my Emergent friends. But I also find that sometimes with all the intensity of the neophyte, a sense of humour is often absent.