Missional in Phyllis Tickle’s New Book “Emergence Christianity”

Phyllis TickleI recently finished reading Phyllis Tickle’s new book Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Jonathan Brink, my co-conspirator in TransFORM Network, quoted for his “State of Emergence 2011″ post from the Emergent Village blog.

Tickle calls TransFORM, “a missional-church body within the ethos of Emergence Christianity.” Fair enough. That sounds good.

Later in the book (in chapter 17, to be exact), Tickle describes “missionals” (people engaged in the missional church?) and asks, “Is ‘missional’ a conversation within Emergence? A movement? An informing attitude? Or is it rather an entity, a member-part? Probably the answer to all of those questions is yes.”

I’m not sure if that “all of the above” answer is particularly helpful, but it is interesting to get Tickle’s perspective on these things, as she is a keen observer and chronicler of what is happening.

More surprising to me was that Tickle then goes on to spend two long paragraphs in her “Missionals” section talking about TransFORM, and I’m just so gosh darn proud of being included in the history books that I want to quote exactly what Tickle has written:

“A convoluted genesis has led to the creation of what has to be one of the most colorful and jauntiest, as well as the most deadly serious, networks in all of Emergence. TransFORM is, to quote its own words, ‘a missional community formation network.’ It is, more to the point, a network of networks, a coming together into one conversational opportunity, of all the various permutations of Missional that are functioning and willing, be they simply a theme within an established church congregation or a bunch of over-the-top Emergence clergy calling themselves the Outlaw Preachers.

“Whatever the various persentations involved and whatever that spectrum may be, TransFORM is pure Missional Emergence. That purity rests in its thrust toward the formation and sustaining of communities of practice that ine very way are evidences of God’s kingdom on earth as well as active agents within it and proclaimers of it by word and action. What it shall become is yet to be determined, perhaps, but what it has come from is more various than any other grouping in Emergence, and that, in and of itself, would suggest a various and possibly even dramatic future.”

While I’m deeply humbled to have TransFORM — something I’ve worked hard over the past three years to curate and push forward — included in Tickle’s book, I must admit I have as many question marks in the margins of the book as I do things starred. So I’m very much looking forward to discussing those questions with Phyllis and friends at the Emergence Christianity: National Gathering in Memphis in January.

I’m also really excited to announce that TransFORM Network’s next regional gathering will be April 5-6, 2013, in Fort Worth, Texas, hosted by Brite Divinity School! TransFORM Southwest will be limited to 100 people, and we’ll have registration, schedule, and speakers announced in the coming weeks. If you’re in Texas or the surrounding region, I hope you’ll put this on your calendar and plan to join us.

Have you read Phyllis Tickle’s new book yet? If so, what did you think? What questions or comments are you wrestling with?


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