We’ve been talking about the creation of a new kind of institution and the principles that need to inspire it. We said this needs to be done if we are to accomplish something. Now we will touch on some of the things that can be accomplished. If we don’t know what can be accomplished, we will not see the need for an institution to help with this.
One accomplishment could be finding expression of an emergent theology. Yes, emergents have beliefs, they have their own take on theological issues. While there is, no doubt, a diversity of views within the emergent conversation, there is a lot that binds us together. One task of this new institution/network is to foster the creation of a platform that has the specific purpose of creating theology that speaks for us today. The transforming theology project led by Philip Clayton and Tripp Fuller could be a great start in this direction. We need to approach topics/doctrines one by one, start with a proposed draft, then open it to suggestions. Out of this interaction a crystallized formulation will emerge, which will represent the emergent collective thought on that particular subject.
- NOTE: it’s important to specify that we’re not trying to nail down a belief system that claims absolute truth, only an expression of where the emergents are at this point in their journey.
This crystallization of an emergent theology will serve several purposes. It will create a bond that will help unite the emergents. It will serve also as an “evangelistic tool”, a sort of a PR that will help other people who resonate with these beliefs join the ranks (I imagine a lot of people are emergents without realizing it). It will also help (not completely) the critics from mischaracterizing.
Another accomplishment would be the creation of a support system for communities of faith that incorporate at a practical and local level what it means to follow in the way of Jesus. Steve Knight has started in this direction under the TransFORM network project. What needs to emerge is a new kind of philosophy of ministry: principles, practices, organizational structures etc., that reflect a renewed kind of Christianity. It is a great start, but there is a whole lot of work ahead.
The building of a support network for local cohorts could be another great outcome. People want to talk; they want to have open conversations with like-minded individuals. People are weary of debates, they don’t want to convince or be convinced, but want to freely share thoughts and get feedback without being judged. Cohorts are safe places where great conversations happen. But, as we know it well, they don’t JUST happen. They need to be organized and done well if they are to be a success. There are people willing to start new local cohorts but don’t know how to go about doing it. Mike Clawson is passionate and involved with this as a national Cohort Coordinator along others. He needs support in this direction.
These and others are things that can get accomplished if we organize and unite our forces, resources and brains. These networks need to be connected into an overarching emergent network (this new kind of institution I’ve been talking about) and create transparency with each other. We need to know of each other’s ideas, efforts and dreams and do it together. Sure, no one is going to be able to do everything and be involved in everything. We all have special talents and abilities that help us focus on certain areas. But we can and should be able to help and inspire each other so that the ideals of God’s Kingdom could take shape around us in this nation of ours and around the world.
Emergents across this land and beyond … UNITE!!!