April 6, 2007
The Emerging Church
The church is changing. It is changing globally and it is changing exponentially. And wherever there is change, there is inevitably reaction to change. That's what this post is about. As leaders, what do change and the reaction to change mean for us? We can talk all we want about what it means to be female and a leader inside old wineskins?old systems of operating, old ways of working in God's kingdom. But we must remember: We cannot separate how we lead from the systems within which we are all embedded. Much as we would like to, we cannot ignore our own calling as leaders to help re-form the organizations in which we work. For leadership is inextricably tied to the forms we make. To accept those forms without question is to deny calling: the creative force of God at work within us and through us.
The medical definition of death is the cessation of change. We as smart, gifted servants - yes, female gifted servants - have the opportunity to be part of the change that must come if God's kingdom is to expand; to be part of the conversation surrounding what transformations are godly and essential, now. Many of us as women have become masters at fitting into the old ways as best we can. Could it be time to for you to push beyond maintaining whatever system you work in to co-pioneering reformation? Women, we are up to the task. It's not just a male job to explore the outer edges of God's work. We can and should be an integral part of forming the kingdom that will usher in a new era of harvest.
How do we prepare ourselves for this high task? One way is to start informing ourselves about transformational movements now afoot. How will we discern whether they are Spirit-led and part of the magnanimous, loving imprint of God, or if they are simply another descent into narcissism and pride (most likely, they are a mixture of both - and then, how will we parse carefully through that mix)? But just as important, how will we respond to the naysayers of change - the gatekeepers of the old? Are they white-knuckling because what they want to hang on to is truly good and true, or are they holding on to the old ways for other reasons?
For the first time, we are providing you a video clip. I assure you, it is not tame. It reflects strong perceptions about what the so-called emerging church movement is and does. (Note that those most associated with emerging church values don't imagine themselves as a movement but a generative friendship. See www.emergentvillage.org. You might also want to check out the new book called An Emergent Manifesto of Hope just released by Baker Books.)
Whatever your own impressions of what "emerging church" is all about, it is perhaps more important to hear the tone and spirit expressed in this video, and to try to grasp the paradigms about God, change, gender, culture forms, and age that lurk beneath. Set your intuition and brainpower on "high" and give us your feedback. This conversation about change is exactly where your perceptions and wisdom are sorely needed. What will you, female leader, do with what you have heard? You're vital to what God is doing in this new, uncharted world. Be part of the conversation, the way forward - not just a voiceless tender of what is comfortable. Watch this YouTube video clip: The "Emerging Church"?! Then come back here and tell us what this video evokes in you, no holds barred.