I am still emergence

Flickr Photo: gadl

After the recent Emergence Christianity Gathering in Memphis, there have been some interesting responses about Phyllis Tickle’s presentation, the future of the emergent church, the response to privilege, etc. As I have skimmed the blogs, I have seen feisty conversations with some valid critiques and, for the most part, respectful interaction. Whether invested in the emergent church conversation or not, I choose to believe that all of these conversations will be good for the emergent body of Christ as we all seek a way forward.

Here are a few posts that have been shared, though Kimberly Roth seems to have a great list on her post, EC13 Reflections: Prologue.

My input into the conversation is this — As we venture forward, we must be careful not to assume that the power of the emergent church lies in the hearts, minds or actions of any single person, any one gathering or any group of leaders. There are certainly respected individuals who fill traditional roles of organizational leadership, but I have always believed that the impact of the emergent church is most profoundly experienced through the inertia and momentum of the many groups of people who are gathering together, wherever they are or however they are lead — each living and seeking to move closer and closer to who and what God hopes the church to be.

Yes, there is a place for conferences, books and other traditional means of convening religious people, but these things do not, must not, be the sole definers of what it means to be the emergent church. If we allow this to happen, then those who sit outside of these spaces pointing fingers and tweets accusing the emergent church of just being the next iteration of what we have always done before . . . they will be right and these relationships built on emergence sensibilities that have been nurtured along the way, they will get lost in the fray.

Three years ago, I posted this I am emergence post as a confession of sorts . . . none of which has to do with a group of leaders, a “movement” or a defined set of beliefs.

because I believe that Jesus called us into individual and communal lives that are inspired and fueled by the wonderfully ambiguous, immeasurable and nuanced challenge of BEING the church;

because I believe the “T”ruth that God speaks to humanity must be discovered and rediscovered through a consistent and exhibited life of shared authority, communal theologizing and institutional fluidity;

because I believe that the political, theological and ecclesiastical “other” is discerning God’s calling on their lives just as faithfully as I am, but do not feel the need to stay in relationships that are confined by false, forced or unjust relationships;

because I embrace, respect and stand up for world that is does not exist in controllable and unyielding bounds of culture, class, sexuality, gender, economies, geography . . .;

and because I just am.

[full post]

I’m okay with these words. I guess, I am still emergence.

So, let’s keep growing by challenging AND defending one another, let’s keep gathering at conferences AND at the local pub, let’s keep gathering on the margins AND in the mainline . . .  lets keep being this amorphous thing that has been and will be a powerful presence in the world even if none of us can say exactly what it is.

And if you want a little more emergence talk, here is my friend Anthony Smith.

Videos via Sogo Media.

Originally posted over at www.reyes-chow.com.

Emergence Christianity 2013: My First Pechakucha Experience

Photo: Adam Walker Cleaveland from PechaKucha from Barry Taylor

This past week I was invited be part of a slate of PechaKucha presentations at the Emergence Christianity Gathering in Memphis, TN.   Just before it was about to begin I tweeted . . .

Right about now all of the PechaKucha presenters are starting to feel anxious.

And Adam Walker Cleaveland, another of the PechaKucha presenters replied,

doing something difficult, new and crazy in front of 200 people!? No. No nerves here.

Nerves and all, it was wonderful.

What?!?!?! You have never heard of  a PechaKucha presentation?
He says smugly as if he knew what it was when he was first asked to do one 😉

In short, a PechaKucha (Japanese for “chatter”) presentation consists of 20 images projected for 20 seconds each, during which time the presenter talks about whatever he or she wants. 6:40 – Simple, concise and, when done well, beautiful and mesmerizing . [Read more on wikipedia and on www.pechakucha.org]

For some of you, this might seem like an exciting opportunity and for others a terrifying prospect. As one who talks for a living, it was both of those things: liberating and confining. No longer could I lean into comfortable stories and my normal speaking schtick, but I had to be clear about what I wanted to communicate AND free myself up to see where things would go in the moment. I suspect that I accomplished both tasks with varying degrees of success [my favorite response, albeit maybe a little much], but I did survive.

One of the things that I loved about the PechaKucha experience was that, for many folks, this platform was used as an opportunity to step outside of their normal of style and content bubble. I kind of wish that I had done that. While I think mine was well received, next time – and there will be a next time – I will definitely challenge myself to try something new. Maybe I’ll do some spoken word and/or take on a topic that I might not otherwise get a chance to muse about in such a forum: fantasy sports and the body of Christ, the spirituality of baseball or the beauty of 80’s culture.

Don’t judge.

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am grateful for the opportunity.  I would also encourage any conference or gathering to hold an evening of PechaKuchas. Not only would it provide a change of pace for participants, but PechaKuchas create space for fresh voices to share new perspectives and seasoned voices to present in different ways.

And if you ever get an invitation to do one . . . say yes. You will not regret it.

If you are interested in more from the Emergence Christianity presentations, Adam has listed a few on his post, Emergence Christianity: PechaKucha Presentations. Below is my presentation as posted on Slideshare . . . and yes, the last slide has a type. Grrr.

2013 Emergence Christianity PechaKucha Slides on RACE

Originally published on www.reyes-chow.com.