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malcolm chamberlain

musings about the emerging church, mission and contemporary culture...

God is at large, intimately involved in his world in ways that the church is maybe just waking up to!

24 hours...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

After a day off with the family yesterday, I thought I'd better get online to catch up with the last 4 days of blog posts from my (not so) select list of 47 blogs. As I did, I was expecting to find loads of insightful comments about the High Leigh 24 hour consultation/gathering of 30 or so Emerging Church practitioners that I was a part of at the end of last week. What a refreshing surprise to find an almost total silence from the myriad of bloggers who were present! The only direct posts on this that I can find to date (does this count as one?!) are those of Andrew Jones 'here' and Mark Berry 'here' - both are well worth reading (and the resulting comments too).

It's a 'refreshing' surprise because I think the general reluctance to blog about the occassion reflects the honesty of the 24 hours and the struggle to find a single (or agreed) voice for the conversation and practices that we're all involved in. This was highlighted from the off when Ryan stood up to give the opening presentation, which began with a slide reading simply '24 hours...', and said "I didn't know what this thing was called so I just put this" - none of us did Ryan so '24 hours...' works for me!

I'm hesitant then in breaking the blogging silence over this '24 hours...', and certainly don't see myself as the GRUNT blogger that Andrew Jones longs for (a grunt blogger - yes, but not the GRUNT blogger!). However, I do feel the need to record here that, for me at least, these two half-days were perhaps the most enjoyable and useful 24 hours of 'conference-type' stuff I've been involved in for as long as I can remember. The discussion was always open and honest and, despite being in a room full of emerging church 'household names', no one ever presumed to speak for all or be the 'leader' or guru or whatever. It was a genuine conversation of equals, all passionately involved in seeking to discern and join in the missio dei in their own context.

The BIG question of the 24 hours revolved around whether we should form a more intentional network to better share resources and support each other in struggling with the issues. Whilst identifying strongly with some of the voiced concerns about naming a 'movement' and being seen to be projecting ourselves as the answer (as an aside, see Steve's great comment to my post 'here' for a view as to why this would be so dangerous), if that particular '24 hours...' was anything to go by I for one would value further opportunities to get together to think theologically, ecclesiologically and missiologically (I'm sure there's something relevant here about 'iron sharpening iron' or something), and to hear more amazing stories of what God is doing in and through the UK emerging church.

Update... 25/7... the silence is slowly crumbling... more blog posts relating to the '24 hours...' are slowly emerging (!)... see comments of Steve Collins and Jonny Baker, and further thoughts (with piccies) from Andrew Jones.

Update... 26/7... Richard White joins the now 'not-so-silent' silence! (I think I'll leave the updating here since if you're reading this you're probably reading the other blogs anyway!!)


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posted by Malcolm Chamberlain, 2:17 PM

2 Comments:

I've been navigating one or two of these blogs and - would it be right to say that I've detected a little hesitancy, uncertainty about the UK emerging church conversation which has come to a head after the '24 Hours' event?

Nothing insurmountable, I am convinced - but I found in Andrew Jones' comments a link to
this post by Alan Creech which, together with the comments on it, is insightful and moving. I submit it to you as very valuable and food for thought if you've not seen it yet.

commented by Blogger Steve Lancaster, 12:59 PM  

Thanks Steve, I'd missed the Alan Creech post and it is moving as you rightly say. I think what it illustrates is that the emerging church should never be seen as a movement that's got the formula right - in many ways we reject the notion of a 'right formula'! Burn-out is as much a risk in EC as in any other expression of church, as is being ineffective and trapped and ...

I think the hesitancy you've picked up on the blogs is not so much an uncertainty about the conversation or even about the theological, missiological and ecclesiological questioning and experimentation that is going on; but is more a reluctance on the part of those involved in the emerging church to 'package' it and 'sell' it as a movement.

Once EC is 'defined' there is the instant danger of becoming a model that is simply replicated in any and every context. This would seem to me to strike at the very heart of what the EC is all about - namely genuine contextualisation of faith community. I posted a bit about this in relation to Gibbs and Bolger's book here

commented by Blogger Malcolm Chamberlain, 3:50 PM  

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