Well I missed our movement’s (well, actually Whitford Church’s) conference called 2Inspire as I was at Shark Bay. In fact I have never attended it, just bits of it… but that is another story.
But from “reports” from some “sources” (ok it’s about 3rd hand info!) suggest this years speaker was not as keen about churches experimenting with mission and church planting ideas as last years one was.
Remember Sy Rogers? He spoke last year. He stood up the front and applauded the missional experimentation of Frost and Al Hirsch and their book, “The Shape of Things To Come”.
This year the guy who spoke apparently made some cynical joke about ’emergent church leaders not knowing the difference between light and dark’. I guess you could say, give it up Scott don’t be so sensitive, – well, the joke itself is funny. But, I’m not sure it helps. I wonder if the mainline church gets a bit put off by people in emerging church in days gone by having cynical digs at them? What? This has happened? And what’s that I hear you say? They have been offended by comments and critique made by emergent authors and speakers? Well then, they should know better than to start firing back with the same ammunition. It has been said that as this speaker made his comments about Hirsch and co, that some senior leaders (no doubt sitting down in the front row reserved seats) shouted out their “amens” of agreement. (or rather disent!) – Certainly not MW of Whitford, as he shared with me just last week of his wholehearted support for the work of Al Hirsch, Forge and experimental mission. In fact COCWA fully endorse and support their work…not sure, I guess I needed to be there, maybe the whole thing needs to taken with a grain of salt…maybe, I am just confused about it a bit!
(I have just heard that the Speaker did say something along the lines of “I am not anti-emerging church”.)
I would have to say, in my observation, the emergent crew that I have met here in Oz fully admit they started off on the wrong foot. A cynical one that was too quick to criticise anything that did not look like it. These days most of these people are repentant of these harsh words. Prefering to get on with mission.
Now it looks like it’s the time for the main line church to ‘hit back’. Not just here at this conference, I hear it all over the place. Can we critique with out criticising? I am not sure but I want try. Not all emergent practitioners have ‘off’ theology, as I understand that not all pastors of big churches have ‘off’ theology either!
I think we may need to be careful that we don’t become like Mr Bush and his mates who ‘in the name of Jesus’ have sought revenge and evoked hatred and fear in their response to attacks on them. So much for turning the other cheek. Lets not follow this open example of ‘anti-Christ’ behaviour by using the same mode within our own faith.
So am I sorry I missed the conference? Nope! I’m sure many people loved it, good one, I hope it serves to build the Church as it is intended to do. I hope any distructive comments or attitudes did not damage relationships or attitudes people may have. I hope we can all move on (emergent and main line) to love and higher issues.
Post Script – Mike, who I have lots of respect for wrote the following ;
What a great conference!
Brian Winslade gave thought provoking, funny-at-time, and relevant input to the delegates at the Conference.
His Friday night message was particularly challenging – what sort of church community do we seek to become, given the first example in Acts 2.
The Whitford worship team did a great job. The catering, venue and general conference organisation was excellent.
So take your pick.