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Power and the Emerging Church

2010 May 3
by Julie Clawson

In this ongoing conversation around the question of the emerging church and race, I’ve encountered some frustration in regards to how leadership and power are defined by the various contributors.  On one hand you have groups of people pointing at the emerging church saying that the leaders need to take the initiative in working for racial reconciliation by abdicating power in favor of voices from the margins.  On the other hand, voices within the emerging conversation express a reluctance to claim power advocating instead for an open-sourced village green communal structure.  These divergent ideals of leadership have in recent discussions caused much confusion and in some cases anger and resentment.

I understand that in many ways this is just one more example of those who follow postmodern philosophy being misunderstood and opposed by others.  In deconstructing the idea of power most postmoderns value flattened structures over hierarchical ones.  In their mind to create a system where one person is empowered implies that other people will be disempowered.  To avoid such cultural stratification, they choose to employ symbiotic instead of hierarchical leadership structures.  In symbiotic systems all voices are valued because we all need each other to survive.

Naturally, this conception of power meets resistance, some of it well deserved.  Postmodern philosophy and conceptions of identity and power have been harshly criticized by some proponents of feminist and liberation theology.  As they argue, it isn’t fair that right when previously marginalized groups like women, minorities, and queers were beginning to gain a distinct voice and power within the theological world this new philosophy comes up and challenges the very idea of identity and power.  It is hard for an identity based group to essentialize themselves and say that the power held by white men needs to be given instead to ____ (women, the poor, immigrants, queers, Asians, Latinas…) when the very idea of reducing oneself to such a category is being questioned alongside the very conception of power itself.

In truth, I am conflicted on this.  I agree with the need to not essentialize.  Who I am cannot simply be reduced to my gender, or sexuality, or economic status.  And I fully support the idea of flattened leadership where all voices are valued equally.  I promote the biblical idea that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, Jew nor Gentile, male nor female.  At the same time I know how easy it is for a new philosophy that questions power roles to simply become an excuse to preserve the status quo without ever actually hearing the voice of the other.  If one isn’t aware of how one’s philosophy preserves the exclusion of others, laziness can become another means of oppression.  As a woman I’ve fought this.  I’ve repeatedly been annoyed when in discussions asking men to stand up against misogyny in the church by supporting women’s ordination I am told, “well, we shouldn’t waste time on that issue since we really just need to rethink how we do church altogether.”  That response obviously doesn’t grasp what it means to live symbiotically with each other.

I’ve also encountered those that approach power openly who tell me, “step-up, we’d love to hear your voice.”  It took me a long time to actually trust those voices and to take them up on it, mostly because I didn’t fully understand that there were people who truly did hold power in an open hand.  I expected there to be hoops to jump through, votes to be taken, and popularity contest to be won, but when it came right down to it, none of that stuff actually existed.  I think this is where the emerging conversation is most often misunderstood.  People just don’t believe that an open power structure really can exist and so they demand we force our supposed leaders to take responsibility and start acting like leaders by setting the boundaries for this conversation.  They want us to play by their rules, and when we don’t they feel like we are deliberately excluding them even as we repeatedly ask them to construct the conversation with us.  I think a lot of work truly needs to be done to communicate this open shared power system more fully, but I also implore the critics to take the time to understand the real philosophical beliefs about power that many emergents hold.

At the same time, I understand that traditional assumptions of power will always be projected upon even those who try to subvert it.  Yes, there are people in the emerging movement who do develop followings and that gives them a certain sort of power under traditional notions of leadership.  It doesn’t help that some elements loosely associated with emerging do things like charge extra at conferences for passes to the speakers lounge where the lowly attendee can hobnob with the powerful speakers.  But for those that actually do value shared power, they constantly face accusations of greed or selling-out if they try to act like a leader.  They have to choose to remain true to their own belief system and get crucified by outsiders wanting them to hold power more tightly, or compromise their beliefs and get mocked from within.  Navigating amidst diverse philosophies and demanding factions while seeking to love and respect all is a difficult task.

I personally believe that the emerging church needs to be more transparent about our open power structures.  We can’t get sidetracked in discussions about how to dismantle other people’s power structures, instead we need to be proactive in working on how we build and grow and rely on each other.  If we truly need each other, we need to admit that openly and seek out the other to learn from her.  Waiting for others to come to us and telling them to “please, step up already” is too unsettling for those still clinging to traditional conceptions of power.  For symbiosis to really work, we must always be in flux, being challenged and fed in mutually beneficial ways.  The point isn’t to essentialize or include the token other, but to admit we cannot survive apart from the whole body of Christ.  This goes beyond, while still embracing, the need to give up privilege for the sake of the other.  The point isn’t to simply shift power and privilege from one group to another and then deal with the vicissitudes of that structure, but to move towards this symbiotic ideal.

I appreciated Eliacin Rosario-Cruz’s comment to me on this topic recently on his blog – “I think we need to confront the myth of lack/giving away power. What I mean by that is, our power does not disappear just by thinking we do not have or we are giving away. Kenosis is performative.”  All sides in this discussion need to take a step back and consider how they view power.  Some need to acknowledge and respect the postmodern mindset, others need to understand that that mindset can never be passive.  Sharing power must be active and never become an excuse to exclude by inaction.  We all have a lot to learn about how to make this work, but I would hope the conversation can develop in a way that that doesn’t mock or silence any contributing voice.

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28 Responses leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010

    I mean no offense, but honestly, how many of the white male heterosexual Emergent non-leaders step back when asked to speak at a conference, and instead suggest somebody else? Or when asked to give an opinion for a book/website/article on “what Emergents think,” do they decline in favor of a voice usually unheard? The well-known people in the conversation all seem like great folks, but I have been wondering about this for a couple of years now.

    From what I see, if all we in Emergent have are a handful of white women (who don’t seem to be headlining too many conferences), a couple of African-American men, Abbess Karen, and Eliacin as evidence of diversity in leadership—let alone diversity at all—-it’s not. This is called “tokenism” by most people.

  2. May 4, 2010

    yes, yes, yes – thank you!

  3. May 4, 2010

    I hear you Julie. I really do. But.

    I think it’s much more nuanced than this. I think there is a very real tension between what is going on on the ground (so to speak) in many communities and what is presented as the public face at conferences, as authors, who is held up as role models, etc. For example, it’s hard to find photos of Kathy Escobar on stage at the latest TransForm event … but there are plenty of photos of all the white guys.

    Here’s what I’m thinking about it. The issue has to do not just with folks holding the power, but also with the people who are following. In the example I listed above – photos of the TransForm event – those are all posted by people who were there. That’s a grassroots kinda thing, if you will. So it should (if power is truly being spread out among all) include photos of everyone doing everything, right? But it doesn’t. What you see are the things that are important to the photographers … the white men of importance, who they look up to. It’s hard to change that paradigm in our own heads because we are taught to honor and glorify those who are “in charge” from a very young age — kindergarten or younger.

    I do, however, believe that it’s going to take an honest assessment that the tension between the public face and the private communities exists. Just saying that it’s not there or whatever is not going to magically make it go away. Embrace that tension and then creatively imagine solutions to it … from both sides. That’s always the best way … the third way (if you’ll allow such a hackneyed phrase 😉 ). Denial will just allow that tension to grow and flourish, eventually overtaking the things that are good and new about how to manage power going forward.

  4. May 4, 2010

    Rachael – I think you missed my point – its not there yet, its in process. I think the question is – is the emerging church allowed to be in process or will it be written off because it is not perfect already?

    Sonja – That’s part of what I was talking about. If people place others on pedestals, is the best response of that person to assume that position of power and run with it or to stay true to what they believe about power? Even as a speaker or writer or whatever, they often just see themselves as facillitators of the conversation not leaders to develop followers. It’s true that it happens anyway, but I don’t think it requires them to totally alter what they believe about leadership to deal with it. To resist the forces of culture and not play that game isn’t necessarily denial – its just a process that will take time. At the same time, it does have to be acknowledged and that’s why I said that all this stuff needs to be far more transparent and proactive. It is happening, but its not visible enough – it has to be the most visible part of the EC before anyone will really believe it is happening. But therein lies the ongoing difficulty – being open and organic while still pushing forward. I think the process will always be too slow for many onlookers who will continue to tell us to abandon who we are and what we believe in in favor of an equally important ideal. But is it so wrong to say we value both even if it takes time to get there?

  5. May 4, 2010

    As someone who was at the transform event I have to say I saw a movement with growing diversity. I am a female from a diverse ethnic background and I led a workshop and I am embarrassed to say that there were certainly pictures of me. (embarrassed because I hate looking at pictures of myself) Having had many conversations with emerging folk, I can tell you there is undoubtedly white men who happily gave up speaking at the event and Christianity 21 event earlier so that other voices are heard. I for one am an advocate of letting the voices of the movement naturally emerge from within. I think that is happening. We need to be careful to not smoother those voices when they do arise by responding to them as if they are not “real” emergents or by calling them “token” voices.

  6. May 4, 2010

    Again, I think you nailed it on the head. I am completely committed to the idea of symbiotic structures that I think are actually have their historic tail extending back into Modernist Anarchism, but that is another subject altogether. I also agree that many who use that pomo terminology are merely using it as an excuse to not deal with their own issues. I have truly appreciated this conversation and have been both challenged and invigorated.

  7. May 4, 2010

    I would love to hear an article from your perspective answering the question: Is it possible to have a culturally evangelical worldview and practice symbiotic, flattened structures?

  8. May 4, 2010

    How we view power is integral to issues of justice. Julie, this is a very well-written and honest commentary on the struggle/debate over power structures. Thank you so much for writing a heartfelt and fair piece on your journey with these ideas.

    • June 2, 2014

      This has made my day. I wish all potginss were this good.

    • February 25, 2015

      I’d venurte that this article has saved me more time than any other.

  9. May 4, 2010

    Brian – I think you’re going to have to define what you mean by “culturally evangelical worldview” before anyone can respond your question. If you just mean basic evangelical theology (or maybe Bebbington’s four characteristics of evangelicalism), then sure, I don’t see why that couldn’t go together with symbiotic, flattened structures. But I take it you mean something more than that?

    How would you answer your question?

  10. May 4, 2010

    I never in all my life thought I’d ever have any interest in a topic like this. I think primarily because this type of discussion has never crossed my path. I guess, they are to be expected if things that are commonly not talked about are going to be “hashed” out. So, in light of that I felt it a privilege and a little fun to be able to have some input here.

    I’m assuming, Julie, that what we are trying to define things like who are emergent “leaders” and who has power and what type of structure does this movement have regarding power? People need a way to categorize things or identify them by their shape, color, texture, smell (I guess :) ) or whatever identifying markers they may have. That way we know where to put it in our minds. I think what a leader in this movement or philosophy or whatever you want to call it is is a person of influence. Yes, everyone can have a voice and say what is on their hearts but in reality, those people who have ideas or thoughts that are agreeable with others are going to produce followers as a natural response to that. So leaders are not appointed but are made by creating followers or agreers to their ideas or voice. Michael Jackson was more influential then, let’s say, Amy Winehouse because more people agreed with his message or his music than hers. Not that they didn’t both have a voice to sing with but honestly Michael was more influential in our culture because more people bought his message (or music). Does that mean to be a “leader” you should tickle people’s ears? No, but your message may have to impact more people’s lives and at a deeper level which will by nature create a following therefore making you a leader. Yes, opportunities to be heard are essential to this but are we trying to all be leaders or just have our voices and opinions be valued and heard?

    Power is another topic I haven’t formulated any opinion or idea on so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

    Honestly, I hope what I just said makes sense and contributes to this conversation. But I may just be a dummy!

  11. Nurya Love Parish permalink
    May 4, 2010

    Julie, thank you for your insightful post on this! As someone who is generally a lurker in these conversations, a few semi-random thoughts:

    Emergent Village has not yet figured out (to my knowledge) how to embrace its identity as an organization, for instance by figuring out how to pass power from generation to generation through something like a nominations/election system. I am probably hopelessly behind, but last I heard, the new council was constituted with a “now you figure out how to find successors” charge from the departing board. IMHO this is a symptom of the confusion around power, authority, and hierarchy you mention.

    It was my pleasure to hear Brian McLaren speak in Illinois last week, in part because he said a few words about the need for a theology of institutions. It strikes me that the emerging church conversation has really been touchy (allergic) about creating and maintaining institutions. In fact, my biggest question about the changes we see in the contemporary religious landscape is “how will these new ideas institutionalize”? and I don’t see any really good answers yet.

    When Phyllis says that the question now is “where is the authority,” what she is saying, I think, is that the old notions of hierarchy are gone, the cord of meaning has frayed, the theological/social order that once was is no more. The old reasons to go to church are gone too in a post-Christendom era. So what is the new authority? For that, right now, I see no clear and commonly held answers.

    Really glad to see you addressing this. It is probably worthwhile to remember that Jesus rejected the power offered to him by the Devil in the desert, but through his self-emptying, taking the form of a slave, died and rose into a power great enough to save the world.

    My guess is that we will probably be trying to figure this stuff out for the rest of our lives. Grateful for your voice.

  12. May 4, 2010

    I guess the important question for me is are Emerging Christians a church that will eventually become a denomintion, which more than likely will have to come from an agreed upon theology or is Emerging a philosophy or a process or way in which we interact with each other, our faith, the Bible and society? I’d have to say the later because the former would require “leaders” in the sense of those who instruct others in a certain theology. If it is a philosophy then there is room to continue conversing and everyone will have the freedom to hold onto certain understandings or ideas as individuals without being labeled as a denomination.

  13. May 4, 2010

    3 things:

    1. this question is so crucial: is the emerging church allowed to be in process or will it be written off because it is not perfect already?

    in process – most definitely. but how it is in process – how transparent it is, how it deals with critiques, where its growing edges are – how it is in process seems so much more important than some standard of perfection.

    2. margaret wheatley writes powerfully about the scientific construct emerging/emergent takes its name from:

    In nature, change never happens as a result of top-down, pre-conceived strategic plans, or from the mandate of any single individual or boss… a four stage model that catalyzes connections as the means to achieve global level change: Name, Connect, Nourish, Illuminate

    i wonder what the reac to the SoJo piece would have looked like if the initial posts did not sting so much from the critique, but rather named, connected, even nourish this power disconnect among western emerging communities

    3. in terms of making it work, I was struck deeply by this reflection from james alison of what jesus beckons us to when he sets peace against the power of Jesus’ day: a sense of the peace which Jesus leaves with his disciples: not the peace which is the result of the suppression of conflict, or the resolution of conflict, such as is practiced by the mechanism of expulsion of the world, but the creative peace that brings into being: the primordial peace of the Creator from the beginning.

  14. May 5, 2010

    Rachel, is it a question of power or population? Sure there are a lot of white males around, that is because there are a lot of white males around. Most of the speakers or non-leaders as you say would step back and let other speak, regardless of who that other is. I wonder if we will have this conversation in ….let’s say ten years when the population majority is less white.

  15. May 5, 2010

    Mike~

    I think I could go with Bebbington, but I think that there is a broader evangelical culture. I still find that many who claim evangelicalism would find R.A. Torrey’s pamphlets on the fundamentals of the faith at the turn of the century in line with their belief system. The conversion part alone sets up a hierarchy. Just as I bring my Presbyterian cultural understandings to the table in emergent conversation, people who are primarily inside evangelical cultures bring those to the table as well.

    I was responding to Julie’s comments on my site that I thought were so insightful when it came to evangelicalism, plus her frustration when she tries to confront misogyny. I do think that there is a majority Evangelical culture that is systemically distorted toward misogyny, xenophobia and homophobia. This to me is the majority culture amongst evangelicals (although the statistics are changing). If many in the emergent church self identify as evangelical and it is systemically a historic movement that has shown exclusivity both theologically and currently culturally doesn’t that become a problem when one then identifies as a person who believes in flattened structures and symbiotic relationships? To see through one’s cultural lenses is a powerful pull away from the ideals one claims. I understand that there is a diversity in the Evangelical world, but there is also a pervasive culture of the majority. I find it interesting that it is easy to take pot shots at an institutional church with a hierarchical denominational structure (many of which I make), and not take evangelical culture to task. It is a culture that has rarely tried to overcome its own systemic distortions because of a conviction toward absolute truth. These distortions work against democratic/symbiotic conversation. Yet, many assume their evangelical culture easily fits within an emergent dialogue or that it is not a part of their worldview.

  16. May 5, 2010

    I appreciate your willingness to name and define this tension within your own thought. It’s not the same, but I feel some of that tension as a white male–there’s privilege and entitlement in that. I, and others in my setting, can rage against that–we can say that we’ve been disenfranchised too because of our rejection by the fundamentalists, the evangelical hierarchy, the Church, Inc. bourgeoisie but it will always be implicitly disingenuous because by the uncontrollable accident of birth we can still camouflage and mingle among that crowd when it is beneficial.

    I think that’s why many–even among emergent leadership–take the opportunities to speak where they can–even and perhaps especially when it is among those who oppose equality of all persons–because we still cling with evangelical zeal to the notion that we might con(sub)vert just one.

    And I still feel that same tension and haven’t a clue what to do about it. Rachel’s point is well taken–I’ve been offered many speaking engagements and have yet to turn one down and suggest my wife preach instead. And that must and will change.

  17. May 5, 2010

    This is a very thoughtful reflection that I will ponder for some time. In exploring the concept of nonhierarchical leadership, I came across this interesting post: http://bit.ly/8ZoyCS To the extent the emerging church conversation nurtures non-institutional vehicles to complement those modeled as institutions, we can explore a model of leadership that is nonhierarchical, which is, at the same time, also both legitimate and powerful, commanding – if not demanding – respect.

  18. May 5, 2010

    Brian – great point that some people use the postmodern language while not actually embracing what it means. I think that really adds to the general confusion on this issue. As for the evangelical cultural question, I fully agree that the hierarchy of the evangelical world needs to be addressed. So many of those churches are moving from a congregational structure to a “pastor as CEO” structure without really understanding the full implications of that choice. I’m hearing of churches where no one in the congregation has any voice at all – because they say it is easier to just let the pastor make all the decisions. And these are churches where the pastor is preaching some pretty scary stuff (all the sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic stuff you mentioned). I admitted in my post that it is some of these evangelical elements that keep trying to drag in the “hero-worship” mentality into emergingish conversations. A lot of us in the EC have our roots in evangelicalism, and some of us even keep a foot in that world, but I fully agree that the power structures of evangelicalism are limiting and often create far more divisions than communal growth.

    Will – I think people to tend to put labels on things and create “leaders” out of people, but it is this tendency that many in the emerging church are trying to subvert. We are trying to discourage that sort of thinking and look beyond just the “big names” to guide us. That is why there is so much resistance to being called a denomination or developing theological boundaries. This is a conversation where we learn from each other, to have someone in charge telling us what we are allowed to talk about or what we are supposed to believe automatically excludes certain voices from the conversation.

    Nurya – very good questions. Emergent Village is an organization, but one that is wary of taking a leadership role within the emerging conversation. We want to resource the conversation and provide space for communal networking, but we know we cannot define the whole of what is emerging. So yes, as an institution, we are still trying to navigate through all that – figuring out what the role of the village council is and what the protocol for determining who will serve on that council will be. I’m okay with still being in process and am glad that we didn’t just impose some old structure on it just so that we could claim a structure. It’s messy and hard, but we are trying to be true to who we are (even as we don’t always do so fully or as transparently as we should). As for the “where is the authority” question, I have no problem responding “in the body of christ – the community” That answer scares the crap out of a lot of people, and there are lots of people who would disagree with me. There are those who want a figurehead, or someone or some group invested with an authority to look up to. But if we don’t believe power should work that way, we aren’t going to go that direction – even if it makes people uncomfortable.

  19. Nurya Love Parish permalink
    May 5, 2010

    Hello again,

    Julie, thanks for the reply. I like the answer that the authority lies in the body of Christ – the community. The problem is how that actually plays out in real life, because a lot of people could claim it and mean totally different things by it. So for example the Roman church says that the Pope speaks for the body of Christ. Well, an entire corpus of people have used their authority to vest him with that authority–all Catholics empower the Pope by accepting him and his position of authority. So you could argue that for Catholics, the authority is still in the body of Christ, the community.

    More examples of ways authority is constituted: the Quakers say that in the silence, the Spirit speaks and the gathered meeting comes to a common understanding, which is put into words by the Clerk. Well, does that give the Clerk authority? Well, yes… even though the Quakers are the least hierarchical organization in religious terms that I know. Then there are the various no-longer-mainline Protestant denominations taking votes, passing resolutions, using variants of Robert’s rules. All of them would agree that the authority lies in the body of Christ, the community. (Try saying it to some UCC folks–they won’t be scared at all, they’ve been working with this concept for 400 years now and have figured out where the bugs are–and there are quite a few!)

    I guess my point is that the concept that the authority lies with the body of Christ, the community, is nothing new. The new question is how to evoke that authority and create processes which incarnate it in a world which no longer trusts hierarchy. Or even more strongly: in a world which no longer NEEDS hierarchy in some very practical ways in which heretofore hierarchy was seen as valuable. We don’t need the approval or support of an institution to find each other and have this conversation. We just both turn on our computers, do a little surfing (I found this link through Nanette Sawyer’s facebook status) and here we are. This was impossible 20 years ago.

    We probably won’t figure it out in our lifetimes, and I respect the fact that Emergent Village is trying to name the problems and not just impose inherited “solutions.” Sometimes I wish emergent would move faster and take risks institutionally with the same boldness as people are willing to risk theologically. It is probable that whatever happens will be a failure, then we learn from that and try again until we get it right. That seems to be the stage we are in as we engage the challenges of 2011 and beyond–at least, from where I sit. For example I LOVED the whole “I am the new National Coordinator of EV” YouTube thing that happened a few years back. It went nowhere in terms of results, but it was the right sentiment.

    The challenge, which is personal as well as institutional, is probably well summed up by a book title I read long ago: Growing in Authority, Relinquishing Control (Celia Hahn wrote it, sorry to say I remember nothing but the title). At least, that’s what I am trying to do.

    Thanks again for your thoughts and your response.

  20. May 5, 2010

    Brian – I agree with you about the problems within the mainstream of the evangelical subculture, and I don’t think I, or many others in the emerging conversation, have been especially quiet about our disagreements (which is why I think you’ll find that even those of us who have evangelical roots tend to refer to ourselves as post-evangelicals these days). I mean, have you read any of Brian McLaren’s books (especially his most recent one)? Indeed, I found your comment about taking pot-shots at the institutional church while not likewise taking evangelicals to task to be rather humorously ironic. Usually us emergents are being criticized for doing exactly the opposite. Most of the time I hear evangelicals complaining that we’re being too unfairly critical of them, and too cozy with all y’all mainline liberal types. If I didn’t know better, I’d start to think that what’s really going on is that both sides are happy to cheer us on when we’re critiquing the other side, but aren’t too interested in receiving any criticisms themselves. But no, that couldn’t be it, could it?… 😉

  21. May 6, 2010

    All, I’m actually on the Transform Leadership team and we had many conversations about diversity going into the East Coast Gathering. Kathy and Anthony were specifically chosen for their insight, backgrounds and our desire for diversity. We wanted to create a space for different voices.

    But the reality of a conference like that is the draw. Brian and Peter were known because they have written extensively and people consistently want to hear them.

    This is the tension of the process, especially around new emerging ideas. There are those voices that people are naturally drawn to because they are published. And some of those voices just happen to be white men. But what I observed after the fact is that the diverse voices were the more interesting voices…at least for me. Kathy and Anthony nailed it.

    At the post conference leadership meeting we talked about the diversity. Going forward we just have to be intentional about finding and nurturing those voices and giving them a platform to share their wisdom. It has to be an intention around giving away power.

  22. May 6, 2010

    hey julie, i noticed your blog has really sky rocketed recently on technorati. congrats. i have been reading your stuff on other blogs also (sojourners).

    anyway, just wanted to say WELL DONE on the blogging thing

    peace

  23. May 6, 2010

    Jonathan – we dealt with exactly the same tension when we put on our Midwest Emergent Gathering back in 2007, so I fell ya’. Even when conference planners desire diversity and want to expose folks to a wider range of voices, we can’t assume that our potential audience already shares those values as well. Often the point of a conference is precisely to help broaden those horizons for many folks. Thus there has to be a “draw” to get people to turn out (though of course, we shouldn’t assume that the draw always has to be a white author guy – I personally think the lineup at next Fall’s theological conversation is a pretty big draw), but that should also be balanced with exposing attendees to new and more diverse voices.

    The way we solved that problem at the MEG’07 was to invite Tony and Doug (the well-known author guys) to be the recognizable names, but then made them share a time slot right as the beginning of the conference so that their voices didn’t dominate, and then the whole rest of the event we were able to introduce newer and more diverse folks (for instance Alise Barrymore and James King, Afro-American emerging church pastors from the Chicago area, really ended up being the stars of the show and blew us all away).

  24. May 6, 2010

    When it comes to power, isn’t Jesus’ “kenosis” – the deliberate and voluntary choice to forsake his own power – the ideal we would all want to be striving for? And isn’t it a fact of life that whenever we take a real close and honest look at ourselves we’re ALWAYS falling well short of that ideal – but hopefully making real progress in that direction?

    So what’s the point of both the attacks and the defensiveness? What happened to grace and humility in that symbiotic process of trying to build each other up rather than tearing down?

    And one more question: what good would any increased power do if it wasn’t used to point away from ourselves and bring glory to God? Is this really about Him or possibly just another indication of our inability to get past wounds inflicted in the past?

  25. May 7, 2010

    Jonathan – thanks so much for sharing what went into Transform (which I am still bummed to have missed!). Like Mike said, what one hopes to offer is not always what others take away. But I think the offering still need to be made and the conversation pushed forward as best it can!

    Josh – I fully agree about Christ showing us what kenosis means. And I know I have been to defensive at times. But I also see so much of value in this conversation that I want it to continue to have the space to help others like helped me. So I use this space to think aloud and process what some of that means.

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