I’m listening to an Emergent podcast that features Stanley Hauerwas. I’m an endorser of the Ekklesia Project (founded by Stanley and others) and have had the pleasure of attending the Gatherings over the last two years. Doug Pagitt introduced Stanley and used the word Friend so often that I hope someone put a moratorium on it the rest of the day. And that’s it. Stanley didn’t speak as a prominent figure or leader any more than Jurgen Moltmann. He’s not a pastor of an emergent congregation. There’s a very fluid nature to this whole thing. Remember Emergent is not a movement its a conversation. So to me I feel like Emergent is just about connections—making new friends. That’s fine. Its just got this whole official vibe to it–like the Boy Scouts or something. At one point I had to wonder whether hanging Emergent on the sign out front somewhere was a way of saying “Twenty-something professionals welcome here” and what church doesn’t want that?
But here is a thought: If by in large being Emergent is an information exchange or an associational exchange why is it even needed? Don’t denominations afford the same thing? What makes an Emergent retreat or conference any different than the myriad of other material available? Is this then what they mean by community? At some point any group has to reckon with what is actually done. Money is exchanged. Information is processed. A conversation is continued. Isn’t being the church more than that? How do these things form a shared identity?