emergent... please don't you dare call it "jelley"

So there's been a tone of discussion of late about the goals, origin, boundaries, limits, you-name-it... of the "emerging church." Whether it has just begun (Andrew Jones), presents a new fork in the road (Dan Kimball), or is a piece of a greater whole (Phyllis Tickle), there are healthy generative bi-products as well as our own little culture war about names and brands. It reminds me of the old "all fruit" commercials...

Here are three constructive thoughts in the whirlwind of deconstruction and self-differentiation...

  1. If we do not presume importance, then no one can take it from us. Everything we make/hold is up for sale when we find the kingdom of God buried in that field over there (like the treasure in Matthew 13:44). Its hard to say who looks sillier in the all-fruit commercial, the rude guy who just likes good food or the pretentious ones who care about the name?
  2. Why couldn't emergent church be a subset of emergent world? I know this takes for granted theories of "paradigm shift." Think of episodes in history when society spoke of itself in Roman Imperialistic terms or in Humanistic Rational terms. The church somehow incarnated the good-news of Jesus Christ within those cultural terms (Kingdom of God, Protestant Reformation). Would today's church-incarnation be different? What if the Spirit could enable us to pursue the Way of Jesus today within today's cultural paradigms such as: emerging systems theories, evolutionary quantum physics, conceptual age of open sourced starfish systems? If so, why not call these ecclesiastical innovations the "Way of Jesus today" or "emergent church?" I don't see why those of us in the Emergent Village couldn't keep loving, joining, and supporting folks like the Dan Kimball and Scott McKnight, or the hyphenatedes, or the new monastics, or North Point, or John Piper, or the UUC, or... whomever we meet along the way (Rom 12:18). In fact, I'm not sure that it will matter what jar you get your jelley from, just share it and taste what's out there. Jelley exists to be tasted not canned.
  3. Live well in your home/neighborhood/city, and call that emergent. The ol'e, "they shall be known my their fruit" is helpful when you consider that the real benefit of apples, oranges, or kumquats-whatever-we-are, is tasty nourishment for those around the tree. In this approach "the meaning of the emergent church" will belong to you and be defined by your innovations, prayers, and hopes. So join others in seeking the kingdom today...

I am better for the friends and dreams I have met through the Emergent Village, and I have found a deeper awareness of Jesus' love and the Spirit's work of righteous/just/beautiful life within this epoch of history becasue of the emergent church conversation. But if the labeling machine broke in the the assembly line of these great experiences I would still recognize a generic or label-less jar as worth while.

So please pass the jelly all-fruit.