This was originally posted on June 10, 2004 on the EmergentCHBC forum.
I'm off to Kansas City for an Emergent meeting. One of my responsibilities for Emergent is to help develop local conversations about the emerging church. We certainly believe that the soul of the emerging church exists in the local community — in the local church, the coffeehouse, the pub, in neighborhoods, and in communities of friends — rather than in organizations, however helpful, like emergent.
If you would like to see an excellent example of a local meeting group (we call them "cohorts," definitely for lack of a better term!), check out a group called "Uprooted" in Chicago led by Geoff Holsclaw
Our challenge this week will be to help develop and foster local conversations (primarily in major cities) in a manner where we can establish relationships with these groups without creating needless beaurocracy or controlling these groups to the point that they lose the authenticity of their unique context. Any great ideas?
I have been invited (actually we, CHBC) to join a budding local conversation — a group of pastors and ministries in Raleigh called Ekklesia. The leaders of these church plants and young adults ministries have begun to meet for the purpose of forming friendships and collaborating in emerging church ministry (all of the ministries perceive themselves as a part of this movement). Participants of these ministries have begun to worship together every couple months on Friday evenings. I'm hoping to take a group to the next gathering on Friday evening, July 30.
One of the soul concerns of the emerging church is a collaboration not only with the various strands of the historical church, but shared community and mission with other local expressions of the church. This type of cooperation is what our post-Christian world needs to see and in many ways is what we need in our own spiritual journey. I look forward to where the paths of cooperation will take us.
Jim Thomas, the leader of our mission initiative, is blazing wonderful trails of partnership and community. Tomorrow, he will be worshipping at Antioch Baptist (?), a church pastored by Rev. Michael Page (Dean at NC Central and former chair of the Durham school board with several CHBC'ers. This largely African-American church has extended a hand of friendship and several offers of shared mission (including a summer camp for inner city youth this summer!) to us. Jim is also building partnerships on several levels with Duke Divinity School (another inner city possibility and a shared venture in Brazil).
The possibilities are endless. I so enjoy living in this era of where the various, and so long divided, strands of the Christian church are joining hands again.
Peace — TC