Thursday, January 24, 2008

Emerging Urban Evangelicals?


What if the churches of the cities and people of color led an Evangelical renaissance... a resurgence of biblical Christianity?

What if we could answer the legitimate criticisms of the Emergents with a holistic and biblical Christianity? One that does not compromise clear absolutes, yet values people. One that is activistic, contemplative, doctrinal, and truly orthodox?

What if urban people, often on the front lines of social evolution and cutting edge ministry demands were to restore the biblical intersection of evangelism and justice? Of holiness and compassion?

What if we could engage our culture and participate in the political process without compromising the essence of biblical Christianity, and make this a viable paradigm?

What if we restored the relevance and integrity of the church by bringing truth and good theology and love to bear on people's real needs?

What if all that is good and right about Evangelical Protestantism could be preserved and all that is dead be burned away?



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did you have to qualify your statement..."people of color"

Kinda limits me - guess you don't want me - cauze I'm not a color!

January 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Not true, not true!

As you can see from my picture, I'm thoroughly white.

And none of us are "a color"...

So please don't miss my point in the post... Don't miss the main course because of the side dish. I believe the urban church, comprised largely of people of color, is in a unique position to do something great. That is my simple meaning.

If you're not urban or not "of color", that does not exclude you at all. It just means that you are not in precisely the same position of influence.

And I would love to know who you are, too, Anon.

January 24, 2008 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger IndyChristian said...

"What if?"

That's just crazy talk.

Surely the American Church's 4% effectiveness rating is good enough. Why do all you revolutionaries act like there's a better way for us to DWJWD in our cities?

But hmmm. What if?

January 24, 2008 at 4:57 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


Elaborate, Indychristian!

And enable access to your profile so I can know you, too :0)

January 24, 2008 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

You and I communicate a lot so I just wanted to ask you this.

You seem to be pretty "critical" of the emerging leaders especially when it comes to some of the push for justice.

Let me in on your experience and thoughts on that. I have some beef with them also but maybe for other reasons than your own (maybe not).

Holla when you get a chance!

Grace and peace,

January 25, 2008 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

In reality, not so much the justice issue. I'm actually cool with that, and I think their agitating could possibly drive the Evangelical world toward more balance.

I have other issues, and my issues are "emerging" more and more as I get to know them.


I guess my biggest issue is their apparent discomfort with propositional truth. Jesus was amazing because He taught with authority, but these guys, who supposedly only like the "red letters" in the Bible, don't think anything can be known conclusively.

Instead, they "have conversations" about everything, as if their collective opinions really change anything.

That's becoming post-modern to "reach" post-moderns. I think it's juvenile.

So that's first and foremost.

I have more issues, as well as things I think are positives, but it's really late here in the Midwest, and I need to stop pontificating on my blog and get some sleep so I can do actual ministry with actual people tomorrow :0)


January 25, 2008 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Not that you're not an actual person, Aaron, but I think you understand...

January 25, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

You know, on second thought I do have an issue with Emergents and justice.

I see what you're saying now.

It's that compassion completely, or almost completely, trumps the propositional aspects of the Gospel. In my thinking, that's not real compassion. It's not whole person.

Hell IS real. We need to care about that. I have read what some Emergent thinkers (Mike Clawson, for example) have written on hell, and I simply do not agree.

So our conversation on Chris' blog really helped me sort some of this stuff out.

See, now you got me thinkin' man!

January 25, 2008 at 11:47 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...


I cant access your email link on here. I just recently started going to ABC. It's daunting, so many people. I am craving some fellowship with women and an opportunity to be held accountable by Christ centered women. I don't know, do you have any suggestions? If you have any ideas or time, maybe email me at
and you can delete this comment after you see it. Its not really a relevant blog comment but I wanted to drop a line to you. Thanks.

January 26, 2008 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I think the term "emerging" has become sort of clouded. It is starting to mean a lot of things.

For example when some people here Emerging they think liberal. Others here is and think holistic. Yet still others here and think (myself) and think "overrated!" I think it is pretty naive for some to think that this concept of loving God and loving neighbor is a new concept. Yes maybe absent for some years in the American church but in the church as a whole and through out history this has been lived out in amazing ways. Maybe not just here America.

After that though I can honestly say that my "experience" with the emerging leaders has been pretty positive. There haven't been many who have been theologically loose as you have described.

Again I think (just like so called movements) that folks identify themselves as emerging now from a broad range of theological convictions.

I feel ya!

January 26, 2008 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I think Sarah is a sharp lady. From my interaction with her (only in the blog world which doesn't amount to nothing but none the less) she seems like she would be a perfect fit for ABC. Hook her up bro!

January 26, 2008 at 5:34 PM  
Blogger IndyChristian said...

Sorry Steve, I keep forgetting I've blocked my profile. But I'm easy enough to get to know... Visit

And my comment above was simply to say... "Right on. Way to go. We need to revolutionize the way we think & do 'church'... What say we do it the biblical way?"

We're kicking some of this around in the Wiki Encyclopedia of CityReaching".


January 26, 2008 at 5:47 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Not related Steve but I was so excited to see that you love the ESV! I wouldn't have any other translation. Not that others aren't good but this is my preference.

Man after my own heart!

January 26, 2008 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Good point about Emergence and the fact that much of what they're treating as new is not.

The world did not begin in 1992...

Chris pointed out on an earlier blog that urban churches have been doing holistic ministry for a long time because they HAD to. The city forces pragmatism in that sense. Often (but not always), the Emergents are not too familiar with urban realities.

I also know that there are different streams in the Emerging Church, with Emergent Village being one of them. EV is the more leftist group, if I may use that paradigm. It is them I refer to when I speak of "my issues".

I know that other streams in the movement are configured much more along what I would consider orthodox lines of theology.

January 26, 2008 at 8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heaven is being with GOD and although we are not worthy, being able to bask in HIS glory.

Hell is supposed to be the LACK of GOD & Hope for eternal bliss with HIM... such emptiness would be devistating.

Pause for a moment and think what existance would be without any hope, whatsoever!

That would truly be HELL!

January 28, 2008 at 7:03 AM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

OK...I'm late on this one, but I have to weigh in.

I delved into the Emergent world. I met with Leaders of the Emerging Church movement. I blogged about it, and had dozens of people responded.

My conclusion?

Emergent / Emerging Church is another opportunity to write books and give speeches about how messed up Christianity is. There weren't any people of color around when the Emerging began. I guess people of color are delayed Emergers. The original book deals and intellectual properties were all in the hands of a homogenous group of (white) men. What's new about that? Sounds like the founding of our Nation, and all of American History (minus the Civil Rights movement).

I would have thought by now that anything that wanted to Emerge would at least be racially and culturally diverse. Not this movement. When it does get some pigment, the pigment is Global - because African Americans can't really stomach being at the end of the line every time "new ideas" EMERGE.

That's today's rant. Thanks for the opportunity to vent. I feel much better.

January 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

And just because I wonder...

Steve, what does it mean to be "thoroughly white?" That's a new one!

January 28, 2008 at 3:24 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


I was just trying to reassure Anonymous that I'm not anti-white.

Actually, my kids tell me I'm Puerto Rican and "ghetto", though I know it's more a term of endearment than reality, and my grandfather was a Cherokee.

So I'm 75% white at best, and that's even modified by the fact that I'm urban white. My kids call white people who grew up in Chicago "dirty white". I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not...

Anyway, I am white and secure in that identity, even if I differ somewhat from my suburban and rural kin.

Maybe anonymous still isn't feeling me, though.

January 28, 2008 at 4:14 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Wow! I thought I was the only one. When I had mentioned earlier in my discussion with Steve that...
"I have some beef with them also but maybe for other reasons than your own," this is exactly what I was thinking. I heard a great message at UYWI last year from Soong-Chan Rah where he basically said that the "emergant" leader usually was a 29 year old white man from the suburbs who had a goatee and likes to light candles.

He went on to describe the arrogance that the emerging movement is bringing. This "new" message of justice, ministry to the poor, etc. smacks minority urban leaders in the face as if they haven't been doing this for years!


These are my thoughts as well. I worked with college students and young adults all last spring/summer teaching them God's heart for the poor and God's heart for justice
and there were a few who attended the sessions who were coming from an "emerging church seminar" and the audacity that some of those guys had was really saddening.

Now that I am talking about this I realize that I am now angry again.

See what you do to me Steve. I was here working on a sermon having a blessed day in my new community and then you have to get me thinking again.

Grace and Peace,

January 28, 2008 at 5:28 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

I think WE are the ones who are Emerging...what are we gonna do???

January 28, 2008 at 6:53 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I know this is sinful but I often just laugh at folks when the "newness" language starts. I really do just laugh and there have been times where the laugh isn't followed by anything. No comment no nothing. Just a laugh out loud. That's not good.

But most interaction has been really good as I had mentioned to Steve earlier in my comments.

Again it's just the "newness" and the lack of diversity that kills me.

Maybe we should start telling folks that folks in the "hood" have been doing this for quite some time as Steve pointed out. Maybe in this the message will be more grounded and they will see the need to ask questions and form partnerships with urban ministry veterans????

Make sense fella's?

January 28, 2008 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


But will they? I definitely have sensed arrogance. Not all the time, but it's there.

January 28, 2008 at 8:18 PM  
Blogger James Diggs said...

hmmmm what if?

I think what you are getting at is what if "biblical", "evangelical" Christianity demonstrated the substance of what it believes better.

I would be all for this.

But the question remains does the lack of substance being produced by such faith represent something intrinsically wrong with the faith?

Does the fact that our "sound" doctrine of "clear absolutes" has left wanting for the substance of its claims mean that perhaps we may not have it all figured out?

I am all for the kind of marriage of evangelical ideals combined with substance of social change- I think the earliest forms of evangelicalism had this- but I also think the questions about why our faith hasn't produced better works and fruit is a legitimate one.

If we believe that such works stems from our faith than the lack of works, substance, and fruit of the body that embraces that faith is likely stemming from a problem with faith rather than its works.

January 29, 2008 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Honestly, some of this discussion went right over my head. I was lost a little bit.

But I just thought it was interesting to put that in a large seminar type discussion group when the speaker asked what people thought of for the term "evangelical" the participants responded with "WASP" or "white" or "wealthy." I agreed.

As far as emerging, I personally always have this uncomfortable feeling with that word. Truly those "emerging" churches seem to be thinking they came up with this whole new idea of helping the poor and disenfranchised. I am confused because I am pretty sure Jesus had that one first. Also, they seem to seek to pull in the people that are, in a way, put off by the institutionality of the church, people that scoff at the structure or discipline of the church. Being a newer Christian, I would have to say that I appreciated that as a definite introduction into Christianity but now that I have read my bible and picked up some more heavy doctrinal based beliefs I feel its like Christian-lite or something. Like the diet Jesus version. I dont know, I mean its like making Christianity cool for the masses. But perhaps I should not begrudge these churches because after all, they first gave me a forum to comfortably check all this Jesus noise out!now that I am saved I am looking back and judging them, which is super wrong.
I am conflicted.

January 29, 2008 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

They have to eventually right Steve?
My question is rooted in a fading hope.

Well said man! I need to think about that a little more before I interact with it. thanks bro!

Steve! Nice blog man!

January 29, 2008 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Good questions, James.

I really believe the historical Christian faith, which in my opinion is pretty well articulated by the basic tenets of what is commonly known as evangelicalism is, on paper at least, true to Scripture.

The problem of orthopraxy (the near absence of it) is a real one. How has the evangelical church failed so badly?

That's a legitimate question, but has it failed as badly as it is often accused of? God is still working. He's working in the cities, He's working in many places and ways that are invisible.

Look at the spread of Christianity over the last 150 years. The evangelical missionary effort has been far from perfect, but the good stunningly outweighs the bad.

The tares are the tares, and the carnal are the carnal. That will always be until Jesus returns.

The thing I appreciate about Emergents is that they're asking lots of questions and stimulating thought.

Among the things I don't like are some of the conclusions they are coming to and the attitude (at least from my interactions) that nobody has ever had these ideas before.

So my take is that the essential theology is not the problem, but rather how it has been applied or misapplied over the last 100 years or so by many (but not all) evangelicals.

I think McLaren is wrong when he says, "everything must change". That's oversimplified and juvenile, in my honest opinion. He apparently doesn't even know what's going on in urban ministry circles, and there are plenty of things that had better not change.

The post-modern mind's resistance to absolutes troubles me. It is a wild pendulum swing and reactionary in my mind.

But James, I very truly appreciate your probing questions. They're good for us all.

January 29, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...


It seems to me that YOU are one of the purest examples of us "emerging ones" that I have seen. Youth + Biblical understanding = Kingdom advancement. SOmetimes some of the "older folks" have to bring us additional wisdom and understanding. You seem to have a very good balance of new (old) thinking plus clarity on the preeminence of the Church as God's ideal strategy.

Keep talking...

January 29, 2008 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Just to clarify: I believe in INTERGENERATIONAL Church models, and I believe we need INTERGENERATIONAL reconciliation within the Body. This is, at the core of all of the rhetoric, what the Emergent Crew is longing for...

January 29, 2008 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger James Diggs said...

Thanks Steve,

I also believe in the historical Christian faith, I think the question is does modern evangelicalism represent all that that is- I personally don’t think that modern evangelicalism is the center of orthodoxy in which everything else should be measured.

I also think that the best discussions in the emergent church include more about what is old rather than what is new. And not just what is old along one particular line such as the reformation but Christianity through out history that cuts across traditions; I think this includes some revisiting of Catholic and Eastern Orthodox thought as well which is some of the oldest forms of Christianity available. Keep in mind that I am not throwing out the reformation which was clearly a real and vital movement in the church.

As far as “everything must change” I never saw the title and content of this book applied the way you did. I instead read this as a call to radical transformation in the way we live out our faith. Yes the nature of faith is questioned, but I don’t think he is calling for throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but like I said previously if there is a problem with our works we should be examining our faith. If we are producing little or no fruit or works SOMETHING about our faith needs to change. Yes, this may not be EVERYTHING concerning our faith but changing our faith in even the smallest way that puts us better in tune with the Kingdom of God would indeed change EVERYTHING.

As for the post-modern mind's resistance to absolutes troubles as a wild, reactionary pendulum swing, I think you may not be that far off. I can only suggest that like all reactionary pendulums there is equal danger in the opposite direction. Though I see the potential for post modernity to go too far (and in some ways it has done so already) The swing seems most severe for those who have made their home in the comfort of security the find in holding there human systems about God as absolutes.

My suggestion would be to better model the middle (provided we know where the middle is). The reality is that truth has both objective and subjective sides to it- denying subjectivity as the loudest critics of the emergent church seems to do seems ridiculous to me. For me it is hard to deny subjectivity as part of our human condition and I think the only pure objective truth that exists is God himself. To me the miracle of the gospel is that objective truth of God made himself known in the incarnation with humanity and through this allows a very subjective humanity to know God and truth relative to the person of Jesus Christ.

There are “relative” and “relational” aspects to how we interact with truth; the whole law is based on the concept that righteousness is relative to how we love God and our neighbors. And again I think the incarnation of Christ himself is about an objective God meeting mankind and her own context so even though we are just mere mortals we can both know God and be known by him.

My point is that seeing everything in absolutes actually detracts from the truth of the gospel as much as denying that there are any. I think much like conversations about “essentials” there is a lot of valid conversation going on about where we find balance in the effort to really know what is true. I think that is a large part of what is going on in all this deconstruction that is happening.

Steve let me just say also that I think the kind of conversations you are having is actually striving to find that balance; I applaud you for that. I know that there is a lot we may not agree on but I appreciate your ability to try to look at all of this as objectively as you can. Thanks.



January 29, 2008 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I hear what you're saying James, and we do disagree on some things, but what you describe - essentially people that see EVERYTHING as absolute and propositional - are pretty rare, at least in my experience.

I have grown up in the Evangelical world, and pretty much the only people who have established theological systems and hold to every fine point dogmatically are the hyper-dispensationalists and hyper-fundamentalists. Nearly everyone else is closer to the center of the subjective-objective spectrum.

I also agree that we have things to learn from both the Catholics and the Orthodox, but I bet a lot of Evangelicals would agree with that statement, and certainly the more ancient expressions of Christianity have always been looked to for learning. Look at recent books by Piper, for example, on Augustine, et al.

I don't know what your experience is, but most Evangelicals I have ever known are not as myopic as you seem to think. There are certainly a bunch out there, but I would not call them representative.

And I'm not hung up on "evangelical", for that matter. Whatever it's called, I'm just looking for a biblical expression of Christianity.

But back to the point of my post, the thing that bothers me most about Western Christianity as a whole - not just Evangelicalism - is its seeming impotence. There are bright spots, but at least in the West the picture is disappointing.

"Why" is a complicated question with a nuanced answer. God has shaken up the church several times in the past, and I believe He is doing so again. But I promise you, a wholesale abandonment of propositional truth is not the solution, any more than treating everything as absolute is.

There has to be a deep repentance, a return to holiness, and a return to practicing what the Bible says.

That's probably something we can all agree on...

January 29, 2008 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger James Diggs said...


I certainly can agree that a deep repentance, embracing holiness, and living lives that are true to our biblical narratives is what we need. I also agree that the problem lies in all of western Christianity and not just evangelicalism.

While I will agree that most people in praxis are closer to the center of the subjective-objective spectrum I do think that a lot of our modern/western theology isn’t. You mention John Piper and I don’t think what this guys teaching is on center at all in this regard, neither in John MacArthur. Everything about their gospel is founded on the idea of “propositional truth”; which is why they are the least flexible and most vocal about protecting it.

I understand what you are saying about being afraid of a wholesale rejection of “propositional truth” but while I embrace the fact that there are conditional aspects to the gospel I am not worried about loosing the “propositional” gospel. What are we, playing let’s make a deal? I am sorry the gospel according to guys like Piper and MacArthur reduce the message of the Kingdom to just this kind of thing. The whole foundation of their gospel is based on this and I think it completely misses the point.

I just don't think we can reduce the gospel to "if than" statements that turn the message of the kingdom of God into just a, well... a "proposition". To often the gospel is preached like we are selling a car. We take out the contract, then explain why this is an offer they can't refuse. "All you have to do is consent that you have faith in God and he will absolve all that you owe him." Of course the gospel is totally reduced to economics here of just debt and payment when the gospel is much much more than this.

Consider this parable; "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches."

According to the context of the group of parables this is a part of the man planting the seed is God. The seed is the gospel, which also could be Christ himself, the incarnational presence of God becoming a human being planted into the world. It is not that there aren't certain "conditions" in which this seed grows, provides shade, a home for the birds to nest in, and bears fruit; the parable just before this one about the soils tells us that there are such "conditions". But there is far more to the gospel than just managing and manipulating these conditions. Also notice that these conditions are not about gaining an individualistic advantage in a propositional trade but about allowing God to grow his kingdom in us for the benefit of whole world.

Steve, it is not that there aren't conditional aspects to the gospel but when we through our systematic and formulaic modern mindsets reduce such conditions and see them as the essence of the gospel in the form of "propositional truth" then we very often miss the big picture truth of the gospel. The gospel is about God being alive in our lives (not just individually but collectively) and in the world we live in today. It is not about simply accepting the deal of a lifetime that allows me to escape God's wrath by receiving his pardon; this, at best, is only a small part of the greater whole of the message of the gospel.

I don’t think “propositional” truth represents the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ much at all- that is not to say that there aren’t conditional aspects to the Kingdom and absolutes we can bank about God; but propositional truth is more about a particular systemization of the gospel than the gospel itself.

I do agree with you that God has shaken up the church in the past and he is doing it again; we will just have to see where all of this shakes out.



January 29, 2008 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Clearly we have theological differences, James - I really like Piper, though I agree that MacArthur leans toward the doctrinaire end of the spectrum - and I think you guys generally do not give Paul enough weight.

And I have seen this theology play out in incredible ways in the real lives of people here in the city for many years, for what it's worth. Broken people from the 'hood transformed, over and over. That makes it difficult to convince me otherwise regarding my convictions about the full meaning of the gospel.

But I'm glad we're talking to each other instead of about each other.

Very glad.

January 29, 2008 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger James Diggs said...

I am glad too Steve, thanks for the conversation.



January 29, 2008 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...


something that I have been mulling over the past few days, the idea of whites in Chicago being "dirty white." It kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I know you were just relating something your kids say, and then even yourself questioning it as to its positive/negative repercussions and I just wanted to share my heart. I think that can be an extremely racist and offensive way to refer to white in an urban environment. What that seems to be communicating is that being in this urban environment has somehow dirtied our whiteness? is our being white suggesting we are cleaner than those of darker skin tones? Or that all this interaction with people of different color rubs off and takes away the fact that we are white?
That and a million more questions have entered my mind since reading your answer.
I am sure you meant none of those negative connotations that can be derived from the term, I am also sure that your children were in no way aware of what that can mean.

That term, and the term "ghetto" you used just set me thinking of how people defend their white ethnicity or the quantifying terms that can be used.

January 29, 2008 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

January 29, 2008 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger JP Paulus said...

i'm coming in real real late...and just wanted to throw in a quick thought about Emergents -- or at least the culture they came from.

(i grew up between the 2 biggest houses of worship in Chicago's Northwest Suburbs -- Willow creek & Wodfield Mall. 2 different G/gods ;)

As i have reflected on my life & culture (which i don't feel fully a part of), definitely Pride is a "hidden" sin that we (i keep forgetting those are my people) have in the suburbs...whereas urban sins are more in the open (and can be more directly confronted).

While what Emergents is clearly not new to this world, it is NEW TO THEM.

Just like a new Christian is excited about their new faith & shares it with people, some of whom may have heard it many times already (hard not to in the U.S., at least), i think the Emergents have seen something new in their Christian lives that "their people" haven't really experienced.

i would urge (and i have a very hard time with this myself!) not to judge Emergents, but try to engage & disciple them, so they can be truly effective.

Think of them like Apollos, who was on fire, but needed some extra discipling from Priscilla & Aquilla to really be effective & "complete".

Emergents have grown up in a culture (even in their church)where you hide your sins, and even deny them, so you don't look bad. (Because you're in the suburbs because you're successful -- so our culture teaches). Just as it may take years to get "urban sinners" out of drugs, alcohol, sex, etc., it may take the same time for emergents to be truly humble. But it will take real live relationships, not blogs, books & DVD's, to help foster that.

Chicago's neighborhoods are being gentrified -- Emergents can be a good conduit to those sinners that are oppressing those we might be ministering to (and hopefully taking care of Justice AND Jesus)...

That's my $0.02 about'll probably find me judging some Emergents next week ;)

January 30, 2008 at 6:58 AM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Sarah, great point about the "dirty white" analogy. Your brain is amazing; keep talking.

JP, I also respect your instinctive comments about the burbs, the "newness of all of this" to the "Emergents," and the Biblical parallels you draw.

I have only one major problem with your position: I have NO sense that the "Emergents" are looking to be taught. There is a quiet arrogance that has embedded itself in the Emergent movement - the same type that has embedded itself into American History. Everything is seen through predominantly white lenses - both in the current and as they reach into the past. This is EXACTLY WHY there is a need for them to embrace (and submit to) indigenous Leaders abroad and her in the US. Where are the Native American voices in the Emerging Church? Where are the Black voices?

These are our nations 2 deepest sins and wounds. What can truly "emerge" without addressing these as central to the movement?

January 30, 2008 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger JP Paulus said...


i don't disagree that the Emergents probably don't WANT to be taught.

But we all know they NEED to be taught.

Just like our urban youth might want not WANT to be taught how to avoid sexual sin, we know it NEEDS to be done.

Like i said, Pride is a deep rooted sin of the Suburbanites, even (or especially?) Christians, and i know i get faced with my continued self-centeredness daily.

So it takes prayer for humble hearts & a watchful eye ...and relationship.

When i went to college, there were a lot of Christians, but i would say few who were "real" (definitely a word for "quotes"; not the usual definition) took time, but i saw & found them.

i would say the same for Emergents. Some day they'll catch up with Urban Christians who know the benefit of being "real" ;)

My personal tendency is try and do things myself...thinking i know better than anyone else. It's a hard mindet to totlaly throw off.

but i know if i want to move forward in ministry (even on a volunteer level) i need to be under someone else, and not "yet another white guy" (more loaded words that i hope you understand).

January 30, 2008 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger James Diggs said...


What do you mean by "i would say the same for Emergents. Some day they'll catch up with Urban Christians who know the benefit of being "real" ;)?"

I know some of what you said is said with a wink but my experience with the emergent conversation here is DC, working at a homeless shelter and also working closely with Sojourners who is just down the road from us, I have found those emergent leaning folk in our urban setting to be very "real".

I was wondering what you thought the difference is between these things?

January 30, 2008 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...


Nothing more needs to be said. I wonder why folks aren't interacting with the race statements that you, Steve, and I have brought up.


January 30, 2008 at 1:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hey JP,

I think teens in the suburbs and rural areas are having just as much immoral sexual activity as those in urban environments. They also really NEED to be taught about the repercussions even if they dont WANT to hear it.
(Heck, I think everyone that I know NEEDS to hear more about sexual sin. It seems like all of America has an obcession with sex,lust,physicality.)
I see alot of urban vs. suburban undertones here. What is urban really meaning in these discussions? Is urban a somehow safe word that masks what we really want to say, but know is politically incorrect? What is the meaning of suburban to us?

Is this just another us vs. them situation, another division we are creating needlessly?

January 30, 2008 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Sarah et al,

This blog is interesting because the premise of the whole post is based on the need for a "reform" of evangelicalism, thus the title "emerging urban evangelicals." I would contend that while the Emergent movement is doing some interesting thinking and writing, that movement has blocked true influence from people of color - as it was founded and is currently Led by predominantly white males - reinforcing the need for a different type of reformed evangelicalism. Our National (and Global) history is stuffed full of the dominant power group coming up with "new ideas" that do not include the poor and marganalized in their genesis.

The word Urban is a tricky one, and is losing favor every day. Organizations with the word URBAN in their title will begin renaming their Orgs, you just watch. But the words "urban" and "suburban" are splitting hairs.

The real issue is whether or not a new movement can emerge that is foundationally different. One that is led by a multiracial base, and is socioeconomically diverse FROM THE START. I feel like that is what we have in this conversation, and in the parallel conversations on my blog and on Aaron's blog, and on Rudy Carrasco's blog, and many other blogs around the Nation and the world. We just need to carefully navigate these waters to avoid pride and a "I'm better than those Emergent guys" position. Pride cometh before a fall.

The reformation is happening...

January 31, 2008 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

Well said, Steve. Well said! And, I do believe that there is a movement towards seeing this happen. It begins with us. Let's make it happen.

January 31, 2008 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger JP Paulus said...

Well said, Chris. Pride is indeed a "core sin". Steve Gallagher of Pure life Ministries, which helps men come out of sexual addictions (from porn to different behavior), and pride is at the root of that sin, and many others...

Sarah, i was trying to communicate that these emergent Christian leaders (who should be more mature in many areas, such as sexual sin), should be given the same grace (to a certain extent, mixed with directness & persistence) that we give pre-saved Urban youth. The emergent leaders nned the truth spoken, but in Christian love -- and that ain't easy.

(And yes, ALL youth struggle with many of the same issues, as you mentioned).

Back to Chris's comments...he brings p another good point -- lots of good cnervsations have come, but where do we go from there? Is anything happening now that is changing Christian culture as a whole for the better.

January 31, 2008 at 7:31 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

haha, Chris, it's funny you talk about this because as the yuppies work their way into downtown condos, urban means less and less multi-ethnic and working with the "poor of fill-in-the-blank." Our own organization, "UYWI" is trying to figure out how we identify with youth workers who work with multi-ethnic and at-risk youth, rather than "urban kids." Unfortunately, the word "urban" has become trendy and thus has lost it's relevance.

As a person (ironically a white male) who has been in and around urban youth ministry for more than a decade in a variety of posts, always being "the white guy" (except, UYWI has John Lewis too), I've always felt less of an impetus to be the leader and to "bring a new thing" to urban folks, but to come alongside, and be involved. I think my legacy, if I ever have one, is not to be like the "urban saviour,"" the great white hope," or some other blind-leading-the-blind sort of foolery, but just to be involved, to be included, to be present. And not to take the credit for it...

You and I are a lot alike Chris... a lot alike in our motivation and our ideation. I am always thinking up new ideas, casting new vision, making new things happen (or even old things with new energy), but I really see the crux of the issue being white suburban folks (or even rural.. that's where I'm from) feeling "called" to do something and some pushing more strongly than others to altar the urban community and what GOOD may already be happening there. Some may take too much credit for what's already happening, but something we all lose sight of is that God's been at work there before it was even "city."

btw, I do feel like "caucasian" is an ethnicity, so although we may not be people of a darker color, pinkish-peach is a color we're stuck with. And unfortunately, our "lack of color" doesn't expose the heart more and more of us have for our brothers and sisters of more beautiful shades of skin and our desire to see equality from all sides. (and I think even the emergents could get behind that - or at least talk behind)

On a side note, how cool would it be if some young people of color felt called and began working with suburban/rural kids to bring new energy and to affect those communities? I think we all have a lot to learn from each other.

January 31, 2008 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

that was an amazing point! It really made me smile to think What if a movement in urban youth came up and they felt called to the suburbs, the minister to the kids there. The premise really just genuinely made me smile, but what a revolution that would be.I am not saying that this never happens, but what bridges that could potentially build if there was a mass movement like this.

I guess my point about urban and suburban was that now, especially in Chicago, there is this "urban renewal" which is the attempt of our mayor to reverse white flight. He wants to return all the white people from the suburbs (see: the Money) back to the city. In effect, this pushes out the minorities. Close the projects, put up million dollar condos complete with elevators (its only 2 floors, maybe 3 and relocate all the poorer people to the suburbs. Same story, same racial implications, New name. So it seems that in a short few years, the urban and suburban populations may switch. We may have the advent of a bunch of suburban ministries. But what will become of the urban ministries? will they move with the people they are used to serving or will they stay in the city?

JP thanks for clearing that up. I totally missed what you were saying. I dont feel I had total grasp of this whole emergent emerging leaders talk.

January 31, 2008 at 7:57 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

And thus the point of my post, folks.

I have had the privilege of working under, alongside, and with a variety of peoples, tongues, tribes, and nations in my 20 years at ABC. There is an AMAZING energy in the urban Christian population (I'll live with that term for the moment).

My dream is to see that energy spill across the country and the world, and truly bring the biblical reform needed in not only Evangelicalism, but in the whole church.

It is already happening. Reform that comes from God in our time will be, I believe, marked by diversity.

A little story: In 2004, we took a gorup of Chicago kids to Appalachian Kentucky to do ministry to a small church in the mountains. It was simply amazing - mostly minority city kids blessing, serving, and inspiring rural kids and adults and churches. That's just a microcosm of what is "emerging".

So that's my dream. I think it's probably God's idea, and I am grateful to be a small part of it.

January 31, 2008 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

And Chris, you captured this sentiment so well...

January 31, 2008 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger Al Hsu said...

I'm late coming to this thread (HT Chris Brooks), and I haven't read all the comments exhaustively, but I like the general thoughts here. And if you haven't already heard, Soong-Chan Rah of North Park Seminary is working on a book along these lines, that the next evangelicalism is necessarily going to be a lot more urban and diverse than what historic post-WWII evangelicalism looked like. It probably won't be out until 2009, but keep your eyes open for it!

January 31, 2008 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger OoshOosh said...

Man, you guys are all so smart. But as a Native man the way we approach things is so different. Theologians rattle back and forth to one another wether or not Balaam's ass really "spoke" to him, or wether it's a metaphor for blah blah blah. We Natives are just concerned with what Balaam's ass had to say!

I kind of look at this theological, and philosophical, prattle back and forth as just that--prattle--and nothing more.

You guys really want something to think about? Try this on for size--your urban settings, and your suburban settings, have all been built at the expense of MY people. By the raping of our land and our women! And WE want justice--we want our land back! Man--deal with that one.

January 31, 2008 at 10:06 AM  
Anonymous Thomas said...

I'm commenting as an outsider who has studied at a leading seminary in the USA. From the outside looking in, there seems to be a great polarisation in the Church in the USA. Emergents seem to be a mirror image of Fundamentalists. Fundamentalists seem to be a mirror image of Emergents. Over here (in Africa), gospel and social gospel, evangelical and neo-evangelical, Evangelical and Emergent, seem to be rolled all into one. Having said this, this was a good post. I can see the vision you portray -- I have experienced it -- and I believe it could be so.

January 31, 2008 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

I gotta say guys, the over-generalizations, half-truths, stereotyping and judgmentalism towards emergents is palpable in here. I wouldn't even know where to begin to unpack all the unfair accusations you guys have leveled at us.

(BTW, Chris - I'm sorry I left you with such a bad impression of emergents.)

Consider this "what if": what if Brian McLaren is right that rather than talking about the "emerging church" as some exclusive entity - one more pseudo-denominational slice of the Christian pie - it's more accurate to talk about "the church which is emerging", which is inclusive of all kinds of sub-groups, including urban ministers that have already been "doing it" for years? Rather than defining yourselves against the emerging church (and then also paradoxically claiming that you've been excluded from it by us white suburbanites), why not see yourselves as part of a larger emergence that is happening in many different places and with great diversity? If you don't like what's emerged so far, then jump in, add your voice, and help other things emerge too. You're not excluded from the conversation unless you want to be.

January 31, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I certainly was not setting out to offend unnecessarily, Mike, just provoke some thought. So I'm sorry if it has happened.

I liked Chris' admonition to humility. I'm not always good at that.

I rest in the fact that God Himself is behind all true reformation movements, and He will direct this one.

But at the street level, like all the movements in the past, that means people actually counting the cost and doing something.

That's why we're all sorting this out...

January 31, 2008 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Are you kidding me? Don't act like access to the "emergents" is so easy. As if an pastor of color in the city has all this open access to the white suburban emerging church. That is just not the case. You guys aren't even trying to go there. Sure you may come and work at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen once a quarter but don't act like this is true "partnership."

Come on Mike! It is way more difficult than you painted it to be. It's not as if you guys are "seeking" guidance from those of us color/urban persuasion and we are not trying to get into the conversation.

I think Chris said it wonderfully in his last post. Until it becomes a true representation of the "body of Christ" then it will always be to me a bunch of white guys with money trying to teach the sermon on the mount to some other with folks with money.

Sorry to be so harsh but it is what it is. A homogeneous privileged movement that excludes 95% of the global church. White suburbanites make up a small % of the universal church and I think that is forgotten about.

I don't know if you guys remember the article that came out in "People" magazine or not but it listed the top 100 influential evangelicals and all of them were white except for maybe 7. What!!!!

I know, I know... it is ridiculous! And this is my point about the emergents. These guys are writing all the books and getting all the press but in all actuality they aren't saying anything "new" and it is a shame that they will not try and acknowledge their arrogance and humbly join those in the "trenches."

These are my thoughts... Take them with a grain of salt.

January 31, 2008 at 12:06 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Wow! Ooshoosh has a lot to bring to this conversation. I think we would all be wise to just sit and here what you have to say. Please do tell!

I feel you man (not "understand") and think the forgotten voice in all American Evangelical movements are the Native American believers.

Bring it man! Bring it! Were listening.

January 31, 2008 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


AMEN on the Natives. We're listening...

And after reading your comment, I realize that I'm too nice sometimes. What you said needs to be said.

January 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I think you exhibit both the firmness and the grace needed to carry on good healthy dialog. That's why I am here on this blog all the time! Can I add you to my blog role on my blog? I wanted to ask before I just put you out there like that:)

Good stuff! When I am in Chi-town we have to hook up man!

Grace and Peace,

January 31, 2008 at 12:31 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"Come on Mike! It is way more difficult than you painted it to be. It's not as if you guys are "seeking" guidance from those of us color/urban persuasion and we are not trying to get into the conversation."

Who are these "you guys" you're referring to Aaron?

Do you mean the pastors of the urban emerging churches that are part of our network here in Chicago?

Do you mean the pastors of the African American emerging church that we invited to be mainstage speakers at our conference last summer? Or the numerous urban ministers we also invited to come lead workshops and speak on stage?

Do you mean the Christian publishers who have personally told me that they are eager for more minority writers to submit emerging church related manuscripts?

Do you mean people like Karen Ward or Rudy Carrasco who have been key leaders in the emerging conversation since the beginning?

Do you mean the neo-monastic movement (of which many of my emergent friends are a part), which precisely is about white suburbanites "humbly joining those in the trenches"?

Do you mean the Amahoro network, the global equivalent of Emergent Village, that networks this conversation with people in Latin American, Africa, southeast Asia, Europe, and many other places globally?

Open your eyes man. It's there if you want to see it. No one is excluding you except yourself.

January 31, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

MIke, Mike, Mike, Mike... Mike!
You sound like the white guy when confronted with race says things like...
"I have plenty of black friends"
"I have a color TV"
"I had a dog that was black"

Enough with that stuff:)

Obviously Mike you guys are doing some great things and I truly do Praise the Lord for that but you have to get your "head out of the sand" and know that this doesn't in any way represent the overall "movement." There are always exceptions to the rule so please get off your high horse:)

You can make those statements all you like but the truth is it is a "white" movement! I have been all over this country (hope that doesn't sound like boasting) and have seen what the "emerging" church as a whole represents. You cannot just start "stat dropping" and expect me to back off what is said.

There are many on this blog (Chris, Steve, etc.) who have been "around" as well and they have seen the same thing. Don't act as if "our" head is in the sand and we just don't see what is out there. I refuse to believe that.

Anyway, I am glad that you guys are bucking the "trend" but it is what it is no matter how many black friends you have:) (sorry I had to throw that in there... smiling)


January 31, 2008 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I hope you do know that I am serious when I say that I praise the Lord for what you guys are doing. I haven't disregarded what you said in any way and I actually rejoice at the head way you guys are making. Keep it up!
Lead this movement in the right direction bro!

I know that I am speaking pretty straight forward to you in my comments but I think you can handle it. This (in my opinion) is what needs to happen when we put this stuff on the table. Good, honest, hard, productive discussion.

Keep building Mike!

January 31, 2008 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Mike, Aaron, Steve, and all y'all,

Let's exhibit a little grace. I will begin by repenting of any misrepresentations I made about the Emergent crew. I am terribly troubled by what I see and have seen from what seems like a very small, exclusive "sect," but I do not want this to turn into polarized divisiveness.

Here is the question, "what can we do to redefine Emergent as a racially diverse and socioeconomically diverse movement?" Mike, would you be willing to help us inner-city folks get published and heard? Would Brian? Would Tony?...

January 31, 2008 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Berkeley Rican said...

This isn't a hypothetical "what if" it's already a reality for the American Church. I'm confident you'll see many Emerging Urban Churches that will be reshaping the American Evangelical church in the next decade. And I'm going to be part of this movement!

A great book for pondering this topic is "American Skin: Pop Culture, Big Business, And The End Of White America" by Leon Wynter.

January 31, 2008 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

Quite honestly Aaron, your response comes across as basically saying that it doesn't matter how many examples I can give to the contrary, your mind is already made up that you're being discriminated against and nothing anyone can say will change your mind.

Frankly, calling it a "white" movement is rather insulting to those who are urban or minorities and have been a part of the EC for some time now. And it's insulting to those of us who have been doing everything in our power to include urban and minority voices to tell us "sorry, but it's not good enough."

Are there a lot of white suburbanites in the EC too? Of course. But so what? Everyone is welcome to the conversation. The real question is not whether white suburbanites are involved, but whether urban and minority Christians are deliberately or even unintentionally being excluded. So far I haven't seen any evidence of that whatsoever. As far as I can tell the table is open to anyone who wants to pull up a chair and join the conversation.

Chris asked:
"Mike, would you be willing to help us inner-city folks get published and heard? Would Brian? Would Tony?..."

Not only would we. We already are, and have been for a very long time. I was just on the phone with the planning committee for Brian's upcoming EMC Tour, and we were specifically brainstorming urban and minority voices that we could get on stage at the conference, because that's such a huge priority for Brian. I was also in Glorieta this past October talking with both Tony and several book publishers, and they all expressed a desire to publish more minority authors, but also said they were having a hard time getting anyone to step up and actually submit a manuscript. And these are just two examples among many that I can give of how continual efforts are being made to include these voices. The opportunities are there. If you want them, take them.

Listen, this is an open source conversation. If you guys want to be a part of it, then just join in. No one is going to tell you no. There isn't a single person in the emerging movement that wouldn't be thrilled if more urban and minority voices joined in with the ones that are already here. Start a cohort, host a conference, submit a manuscript, start a blog, plant an church. What are you waiting for? A gold plated invitation? And who do you want it from anyway? Brian? Tony? Me? It's not like anyone's actually in charge here.

Listen, I've been around emerging circles a lot too (for 10 years now actually), and I'm seeing that the diversity is there, that people are concerned about it, and that frankly if you want it to be "more" there, then all you have to do is join in.

Just my .02

January 31, 2008 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I personally don't feel discriminated against. I will never consider myself apart of the "emerging" church so that isn't the point.

Have I already made up my mind... No but I know I see what I see. I truly do hope that you guys continue on the path you guys are going on. I really do. I just hope that is a path that involves integrity, conviction that leads to action, and diversity.

Hey if you think that the "emerging" movement is filled with minority representation and that us urban ministers are not being intentional then by all means continue to believe that.

I'm saddened that you think that us "minorities" are telling you that it isn't good enough. I certainly am not. My only problem with your movement is that it was started (just like most American evangelical movements) as a homogeneous thing. After it picked up some steam and established it's identity then it started to realize it's shortcomings and isolated tendencies.

I just think that if, from it's very conception, that it was a little more inclusive then you and I would not be having this discussion. Sounds like you have been around for a while so I know you know that once the DNA of anything (church,movement, etc.) is set then it is hard to change. That's why it is important to establish the DNA from the beginning. As a church planter I am seeing the importance of this more now than any other time in my ministry.

My intentions are not to offend you but I just think you need to at least consider your movements isolated beginnings and then maybe you could see why I (and other minority and urban ministers) are skeptical.

I am little baffled at why you think it strange that some of us urban workers (in particular minority urban laborers)are a little turned off by the "emerging" church in that you seem to have relationships with minorities.

I would think that in these diverse relationships that racial reconciliation, lack of representation/voices amongst minorities, etc. would be discussion that you are having. I dont know?

Anyway Mike, obviously you don't have to prove anything to me. You keep doing what you are doing and my hope is that what you are doing is contagious throughout your movement.

Blessings Mike!

January 31, 2008 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

One more thing Mike...
It's not that I am not intentional it's just that I don't know if I have it in me to try to change something that already has it's DNA.

I have been around enough to know that this is the hardest stuff. Take Moody Bible Institute for example... I was so frustrated with it's lack of diversity when I was there that I practically missed the great education that I was receiving. A mentor took me to the parking lot one day and took the key out of the ignition and just sat there.

He then told me Moody is like a big air craft carrier that has to make a turn and redirect itself. He then asked me if I knew the distance an aircraft carrier had to travel before it even began to slightly turn. Of course I didn't know the answer! He told me 7 miles. 7 miles before it even begin to nudge to begin to turn. Wow!

All this to say that maybe your right... Us urban folk may need to enter the battle but man me personally I am just TIRED. I am racially tired. I get overwhelmed with the injustice, inequality, and lack of empowerment in my own community and have to really choose my battles wisely.

Maybe if I am going to be a member of the "body" and a minster of reconciliation (both to God and man) then maybe this is my fight right along with you. You got me thinking man... maybe I should consider the cost and do it with you. Hmmm....

January 31, 2008 at 4:13 PM  
Anonymous KG said...

Some great dialogue. I feel like I have been missing out. I have appreciated reading a number of different ideas on these issues. Thank you for putting yourself out there so that we all can be stretched.

As a urban minister myself, I do have my concerns with some strands of the emerging movement. Strange because some would label me and our church emerging.

My big issues would be first the issue already presented of a conversation about things that have been in action for years in the hood. It is somewhat arrogant to act like these are new thoughts on justice and the least of these, when many pastors in the city have been making these things a focus of their ministry for years.

My other big issue is theological. Mainly with EV or the strand of "emerging" that is so comfortable with changing the basic tenets of the gospel that have been around since the NT authors penned them. I have trouble with people wanting to retell or tell us that the obvious is no longer obvious, but we were missing something that was a secret. This, I have a problem with.

This is related to issues not people. I believe that the people with these ideas are caring, loving, sincere, followers of Christ. But it is there thinking that I would disagree with.

My voice in a huge "conversation" of our generation.



January 31, 2008 at 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Soong-Chan Rah said...

Coming in late. Interesting stuff. I skimmed, but did not peruse the entries so my apologies if I end up repeating stuff.

To Mike, Thanks for your comments, but there is a HUGE difference between being invited to the table after the table is already full vs. coming to the table on equal terms. I'm wondering in light of the changing face of American evangelicalism, if the leadership (not just token faces) of the next evangelicalism needs to be multi-racial. I wonder how different the parameters and focus of the dialogue would be if non-whites actually LED, rather than being asked to follow or join in late.

January 31, 2008 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"I will never consider myself apart of the "emerging" church so that isn't the point."

See, this is what I don't entirely understand. Most of you guys here clearly think that a lot of us emergents are heretical anyway (Steve called me out by name in one of the earlier comments) so why would you care whether the urban church is represented in the EC? As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?

As for the DNA, you're making it sound as if this whole thing was more intentional or more directed than it has been. This whole thing has been a fairly serendipitous convergence of people from a wide diversity of backgrounds finding other people who were asking similar questions and moving in similar directions. No one set out to create a movement - most still don't even like to call it that. It's a conversation, and whenever we encounter someone who's interested in joining, the table is enlarged to include them. Folks from the urban church have been at the table since the beginning and more are always welcome. The EC isn't some kind of set, organized thing with an established identity or DNA - it's totally fluid and is whatever we make of it.

"I am little baffled at why you think it strange that some of us urban workers (in particular minority urban laborers)are a little turned off by the "emerging" church in that you seem to have relationships with minorities.

I would think that in these diverse relationships that racial reconciliation, lack of representation/voices amongst minorities, etc. would be discussion that you are having. I dont know?"

Perhaps it's because those people, by virtue of the fact that they have chosen to join in the conversation, do not feel like they are being excluded or that their perspective isn't being represented. They themselves are representing. The only people I've encountered that feel unrepresented are folks like yourself that don't really seem that interested in joining the conversation anyway.

January 31, 2008 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Oosh Oosh,

You are my dear friend, and I invited you to this blog, so I want to make sure that your voice does not get lost in the shuffle.

The atrocities perpetrated against Native American people, culture, and property are disgusting. As I previously stated, this is our Nation's deepest wound. Black slavery is a close #2. I would love to hear more deeply what God has laid on the heart of you and other Native Pastors and Elders about how evangelicalism needs to be reformed.

Please help us think outside of our box. Please.

January 31, 2008 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...


You also are my friend, and I want to make sure that I have a clear understanding of your position. You said in your earlier post:

"I was just on the phone with the planning committee for Brian's upcoming EMC Tour, and we were specifically brainstorming urban and minority voices that we could get on stage at the conference, because that's such a huge priority for Brian. I was also in Glorieta this past October talking with both Tony and several book publishers, and they all expressed a desire to publish more minority authors, but also said they were having a hard time getting anyone to step up and actually submit a manuscript."

This seems to me to only reinforce my point. Why were you and Tony and a bunch of publishers at a secret meeting in Glorieta? Why are you having trouble having people of color submit manuscripts and be main stage speakers for the EMC Tour if there are so many of us (people of color) in your Emergent midst?

The answer seems obvious. Somewhere along the line, as the book deals and world tours were being planned, people of color were not in positions of significnat influence or power in the Emergent movement. Now that the Emergent train has left the proverbial station, it seems like the passenger car is full.

Help me understand bro. Please.

January 31, 2008 at 10:39 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"Why were you and Tony and a bunch of publishers at a secret meeting in Glorieta?"

Secret meeting? Dude, it was the annual Glorieta Gathering that's been going on there every year for the past ten years! We were just casually chatting about this over dinner with about a dozen other people. And the Gathering is open to anyone who wants to show up. Everyone is invited. I should ask why you weren't there. :)

"Why are you having trouble having people of color submit manuscripts and be main stage speakers for the EMC Tour if there are so many of us (people of color) in your Emergent midst?"

I didn't say we were having trouble with the speakers. In fact, we had too many people to choose from once we got done brainstorming.

As for manuscripts, what I overheard is that they've approached several people about doing books, but the people they ask keep saying they're too busy.

Of course Shane Claiborne has several more books coming out soon. He's not a minority, but he's definitely urban.

January 31, 2008 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 1, 2008 at 12:30 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 1, 2008 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

You said...
"As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?"

Ahhh... it finally comes out.

Shane Claiborne... What!

February 1, 2008 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

One more thing Mike...

Here is what I would like you to do. Go to the internet and start looking up emergent church and start finding websites of these churches. Then look at the pastor.

This is exactly what I just did on your blog.I went and looked at all your contributors and all your links. I then went and looked at all your contributors blogs and all their links. Etc, etc, etc.

I hope you don't feel violated but since we were talking about your "network" I thought I would go and see (you have a lot of folks contributing to your blog). Interesting.

Anyway please try the exercise. Again go and google "emerging chuch" and then start searching. Tell me what you find and do tell when you get a chance.

You can reach me at my blog...

or you can reach me by email

February 1, 2008 at 2:02 AM  
Anonymous Soong-Chan said...


I have submitted multiple manuscripts . The only publisher that has been willing to actually publish my material has been IVP. Please do not tell me that the door for minorities to enter into publishing is the same for white folks. Please do not insult me like that.

In one case, my title was too provocative in another case I was told we have too many books like yours, then over the course of the year I see several books come out in the same vein but from a white perspective. This experience is coming from someone who pastored an urban church for 10 years and who is on the faculty of a seminary.

Let's be honest about what's going on because it only furthers the alienation that ethnic minorities already feel.


February 1, 2008 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger Al Hsu said...

Mike, Chris, Soong-Chan, etc. -

As many of you probably know (and may have heard from me), Christian publishing is still a predominantly white enterprise. New York general market publishing is far more diverse. And while I certainly can't speak for all Christian publishers, my guess is that most Christian publishers would like to publish more diverse voices but aren't well-equipped or networked right to do it.

There are still some systemic/cultural barriers to ethnic minorities in the Christian publishing world. When IVP published the Asian American discipleship book Following Jesus Without Dishonoring Your Parents way back in 1998, I heard about one bookstore buyer/gatekeeper who just flipped past it in the sales book and said, "Why would you bother publishing a book like that? It'll never sell." Well, I'm happy to say that ten years later, FJWDYP is still in print, has been reprinted nine times, and has sold more than many comparable discipleship books by white authors. But there's still something of a lack of vision or understanding in the book publishing and bookselling worlds.

At any rate, as an Asian American in Christian publishing, I continue to encourage ethnic/racial minority writers to write (not just for IVP, but for anybody), AND I also want to encourage folks to consider Christian publishing as a vocation and career, to change the culture of Christian publishing and to advocate for and encourage diverse voices and books. I give credit to Emergent Village for being intentional about including people like Rudy Carrasco, Anthony Smith and Randy Woodley in the Emergent Manifesto of Hope. But let's keep going, everybody. There's so much more that could be done. (And if anybody out there has a book idea that would be a good fit for IVP, let me know! :-)

February 1, 2008 at 5:11 AM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?"

Ahhh... it finally comes out.

Shane Claiborne... What!

Aaron, I have no idea what you just said or what you're implying with either of these comments.

However, judging from this and from your following comment about checking my list of churches (which is woefully out of date - I haven't updated it in years), am I correct in assuming that only certain urban ministries "count" for you? I've encountered this attitude before in the blogosphere - this idea that "unless you're urban like me, you're not really urban." Frankly it's elitist and very off-putting.

February 1, 2008 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

BTW, to clarify, I'm not saying that there couldn't be more urban and minority voices in the EC. I'd of course love to see many more people at the table. There is still progress to be made. But it's false to think that they haven't been there at all.

February 1, 2008 at 10:14 AM  
Anonymous Ginny said...

I'm weighing in very late here. Thanks Steve for a great conversation! While I appreciate the EC's pilgrimage into pomo, I was reminded of this quotation from Divided by Faith when I read Mike's comments: “When white evangelicals spoke of integrating congregations, they meant that their specific congregation is or ought to be open to all people. They did not mean they should consider going to a mixed or nonwhite congregation. No one spoke about this possibility. Further, no one spoke of the need for the congregation to adapt or diversify the way it does things to become racially mixed. This means that it must be other people, not them, who would have to make the change.” (p.122).

Too often in "larger" ministry endeavors, the vision is cast by those of us who are Caucasian and it's only during the implementation or when we seek endorsement that we seek to add diversity to the mix. A lesson I've learned the hard way.

My .02.

February 1, 2008 at 11:53 AM  
Anonymous KG said...

Ginny's comment rings true. That is an excellent quote from a very insightful book.

As a white urban minister, most of my interactions and world is with people who look very different then me on the outside. That being true, I must admit that I am often guilty as charged of this indictment.
Wanting to include others and be intentional about it, but wondering why people are upset. It is because they have been able to see that I had already taken something someplace on my own and just wanted there approval.

As white Americans, we are often guilty of these and we must admit it and learn. Learn to not be defensive when our brothers and sisters call us on it. Learn to put ourselves in the shoes of another and see things from their vantage point.

We are all learning at this and we can stand to do a lot better. The "emerging" movement can do this better and should hear some of that "feeling" in places like this. Thank you Mike for coming and listening and interecting very graciously. I hope that you have really heard some of the feelings that people have.

Iron sharpening iron. Thank you to all who have sharpened me through this dialogue.

February 1, 2008 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

Thank you KG, Ginny, and all of the rest of you who have been vulnerable and forthright about white privilege.

It is in our openness, and in our loving yet challenging dialog that we can truly begin to see something EMERGE.

Let's either reclaim the word, or wrestle to find a new one.

February 1, 2008 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

I vote for "Reformed Evangelicals."

February 1, 2008 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I love Shane Claiborne! Just so you know and to call me elitist is really ... hmmm I don't know how I feel about that statement. Anyway I am not for sure what you are talking about when you said "that only some urban ministries count." You really have misread me that's for sure. This happens in cyber space. Our feelings and emotions are hard to read. I am sure that you have been misread a time or two in this discussion. No need to defend myself with this one but to say that your wrong but that's ok.

Anyway you have are pretty passionate about what you do and that is a good thing. You are certainly outnumbered here and yet you still fight for what you believe. I just think you should at least examine/take in some of the stuff that is being said here by a lot of different people around the country.

I think you should try the exercise I put out there. Don't just assume my intentions and begin attacking me just go and see for yourself.

I am going to say one more time. Go to the web and google "emerging church" and see what you find. That's all you have to do and get back to me. I am really interested to hear what you find.

Mike seriously man it is all good. I am not angry and I am sure that you are not so don't take this as personal attacks but rather good honest, hard discussion.

I hope that what you see (the diversity of the emerging church) we as urban folks will see (we see the opposite) this as well and maybe the two churches can come together to build HIS Kingdom.

PS I would also like to hear what your response is to Ginny, KG, and Professor Soong-Chan comments.

Peace to you and your family Mike and PLEASE keep building bridged in your movement.


February 1, 2008 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 1, 2008 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger JP Paulus said...

Some random thoughts.

I was reading the devotional “Encounter with God” from Scripture union, and a couple of scriptures they used intrigued me.

The shorter one, John 17:20-23, is elaborated in the main passage for that day’s devotion, where motives are questioned among tribes who are supposed to be the same people (and that unity was in fact celebrated early in the passage).

The other, Joshua 22:1-34, shows how quickly division can come, and also how mentions how SOMEONE ELSE’s sin can affect people long after the incident happened.

Mike, you may feel attacked , but consider – “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:6.

Ginny & others bring up some good points about how we might be blind to our own sin of arrogance. I am an only child (genetically half-Asian, but culturally white) who grew up in Hoffman Estates & went to Northwestern U., so I’ve got a lot of culture to de-program from.

Fortunately, in my life, I have many people, especially my wife, who is black, grew up in Uptown & has a master’s from Loyola, who can keep me in check, and can (if they choose) speak the truth to me. For example, at Christmas I made a joke to a friend from Uptown. He was joking that to get out of speaking to some clients he said something like “I don’t speak Spanish”, and then I joked back that next time he could speak something in African (I blanked out on the ethnic groups we knew from Uptown). Both he & I, having gone to Uptown, and having being used to many ethnic groups May not mean much to you & me, but for others that was hurtful. My wife pointed out that anything said about Africa (and also jungle stuff) can be very offensive.

I need to seek more of that truth, and to be honest, don’t feel like I have it at this time (we just moved from the North to South side, and are at a church temporarily). I am definitely not where I should be, but I do believe I have grown, and need to be at a place where I can grow more.

For the rest of y’ you have people at your churches pushing them to reach out the the “new people” in town…I know Uptown Baptist Church is not unique in having “yuppies”, Christian & non, moving into & changing our neighborhoods. I know UBC has a hard time trying to effectively reach out to those people.

Here’s a quick tangential idea that can be shot down – the way I see it, the urban community is like the “Jews” of the early church days, and the subrban white the Gentiles. The urban community, it’s easier to get them into taling about God & the bible (as they may have grown up in it, or at least not harsh on separation of church & state), whereas many in the Emergent areas of outreach are sort of outside of that, and Christianity might be as new & weird to them as Christianity was to the Greeks.

For Chicago people: How is the emergent church interacting with. or not interacting with, churches which have already been in Chicago a while. What are some prominent Chicago Emergent Churches? (we’ve visited a few other the past couple of years; wondering if we visited them)

As tough as this blog might be for you, Mike, I assure you that it is far better than what the world has. In my interactions with people from an Uptown, Chicago blog & message board…if you don’t agree with them, they will attack like pirhanas and not relent, not try to understand or reconcile, or show any true concern of you as a person (indeed, many of them post as “anonymous” or “untraceable” fake aliases).

February 2, 2008 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Compassioninpolitics said...

Right on!!!

February 2, 2008 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Nehemiah217 said...

Wow! My head is spinning. I apologize Steve for entering this conversation late. It seems as though the conversation has gone very well. I really had not heard of "emergent" until I read these postings, but I guess that I've always known that it existed in many forms. A Gospel of the Poor sort of speak. Howard Thurman first published a book entitled "Jesus and the Disinherited" in 1946. It was republished about 10 years ago. Check it out. I was wondering if people like Jim Wallis and "Sojourners" who have been in some form of ministry since the 60's are now considered "emergent"? Also check out my most recent post. Thanks for inviting me to the dialog Steve.

February 2, 2008 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Thank you all!

I feel that even though this has gotten edgy a few times, we have had actual dialogue. The edge comes because we are passionate about these things, and there is a lot at stake.

Mike and James...

Hopefully you are still reading this. Thank you for coming here and interacting with us, though it got intense. I profoundly disagree with you guys on some theological framework issues, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to talk to you. I hope we are all sharpened by the interchange. Thanks for sticking with this one.

Chris and Aaron...

What can I say? You guys are the bomb. My wife is going to kill me with all this late-night blogging I have been doing lately. Thanks a lot...

"Reformed Evangelicals?"

I continue to imagine...

February 2, 2008 at 9:13 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

Aaron, I'm sorry for misinterpreting you. I shouldn't have assumed. When this topic has come up before on our cohort blog, some commenters have implied that unless you're working in the ghetto, or are completely multi-racial, or were born and raised in the city, or whatever, that you aren't really urban. It got to be really offensive for some of the urban leaders in our network that felt like their ministries were being marginalized because they didn't fit someone else's definition of what "urban ministry" was all about. People were saying "the emerging church isn't urban" and urban emerging friends of mine like Nanette Sawyer or Tripp Hudgins were left saying "Well what are we then? Chopped liver?"

Anyway, I thought that was the direction you were going, but apparently you weren't. I'm sorry for jumping to conclusions.

Here's the thing, when it comes to the things that the urban church has been doing for years and that the EC is only just now picking up on, it shouldn't matter who was there first, or whether the things EC folks are saying are "new" or not. If the urban church has already been saying stuff that the EC is just now saying too, then great! That means we're together in this! We pulling for the same things. Who gives a damn who said it first? Odds are we learned it from you guys in the first place anyway, because, like I've been trying to say this whole time, we have been listening to and engaging with the urban church for a long time now.

And anyway, again, this emerging church thing isn't a separate entity. It's a convergence of many different streams within the Church, and as far as I'm concerned, the urban church is just as much a part of that convergence as the rest of it. It's about coming together, not about slicing out our little piece of the pie and fighting over who it belongs to or who got to it first.

But I will give your experiment a try. I'm not sure what exactly I'm supposed to be looking for though.

February 2, 2008 at 10:38 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"For Chicago people: How is the emergent church interacting with. or not interacting with, churches which have already been in Chicago a while. What are some prominent Chicago Emergent Churches? (we’ve visited a few other the past couple of years; wondering if we visited them)"

There aren't any really "prominent" emerging churches in Chicago. Just a handful of small communities scattered around the city and suburbs. Probably the most well-known (if there is such a thing) is Wicker Park Grace down in the city. There's also Life on the Vine up in Long Grove, The Emmaus Community down in Chicago Heights, and mine, Via Christus, way out on the far edge of the suburbs, where the 'burbs meet the cornfields. There are a few others - Reconciler, Fusion, Missio Dei - though we are all very different from one another.

How are we interacting with established churches? Well, a lot of us are still in established churches, whether in the city or elsewhere. We also use our email network to keep each other abreast of opportunities to serve and things going on around the city. But anyway, like I said in my previous post, the EC isn't some separate entity from the rest of the church. Some of us have planted new churches, but others of us are still just as much a part of our established churches as we've ever been. There's no "us" and "them". There's just whoever wants to join in the conversation.

I hope that answers your question.

February 2, 2008 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"Reformed Evangelicals"

I think Mark Driscoll and John Piper have already claimed that one... unless that's who you were referring to?

February 2, 2008 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"Hopefully you are still reading this. Thank you for coming here and interacting with us, though it got intense. I profoundly disagree with you guys on some theological framework issues, but I'm grateful for the opportunity to talk to you. I hope we are all sharpened by the interchange. Thanks for sticking with this one."

That's okay. I understand that not everyone is interested in rethinking all of their evangelical doctrines. Personally I've just been blown away by guys like NT Wright and Dallas Willard, among others, (and of course McLaren's and Bell's more lay-level distillation of their theology) and am so impassioned by this vision of the kingdom of God that I can't even imagine going back to my former, more evangelical ways of viewing the gospel. But I realize that not everyone is going to be as impressed by all that as I am. It's all good. If God wants to lead you there, she will when you're ready.

February 2, 2008 at 10:59 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

I'm not gonna bite on that one :0)

February 3, 2008 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

I'm not sure I know what you mean Steve. I wasn't baiting you.

February 3, 2008 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...


I hope and pray that you mean what you say about learning so much from the urban Church. If that statement is true, then there seems to be an opportunity to hold the Emerging Church accountable to give credit where credit is due.

You say it does not matter who had these ideas / practices forst, but that is not true. The idea of "Manifest Destiny" has been used to justify many things, including: stealing other peoples land, copyrighting stolen ideas, and enslaving people's physical bodies throughout history. If taking someone else's ideas, writing about them as your own, and starting a movement without the originators of those ideas is not outright Manifest Destiny, it sure comes close. My statement may sound strong, but I am not trying to take a cheap shot.

I am truly trying to figure out why the scent of the Emerging Church is such a stench in the nostrils of people of color. Maybe it is because it feels as if someone else took our ideas and copyrighted many of them, instead of coming to us to help us write our own stories...

February 3, 2008 at 8:52 PM  
Anonymous Ginny said...

Chris - could you clarify your last statement: instead of coming to us to help us write our own stories...

I'm struggling with the "help us" phrase.

February 4, 2008 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...


What I meant by "help us" was really more about power (publishing power) and not necessarily about our inability to write our own stories. My bad.

I have seen a lot of muscle and financial support go into writing about the Emergent movement, and a much lesser amount of muscle invested by the same publishing houses into the Urban movement.

Does that help you understand my point?

February 4, 2008 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

February 4, 2008 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

"I am truly trying to figure out why the scent of the Emerging Church is such a stench in the nostrils of people of color."

If it's really that bad Chris, then why would you guys want anything to do with us at all? Why try so hard to break into a movement that you don't even like that much anyway?

February 4, 2008 at 2:02 PM  
Blogger Christopher B. Brooks said...

In a word Mike, for the sake of "unity." I am actually hopeful that after all of the arguments have flown across the web, we can sit down and have a real, meaningful conversation that might lead to a more unified Kingdom advance. Right now, this conversation feels pretty fragmented. Sometimes it takes a little drama to allow the real issues to rise to the top - and it is then and only then that meaningful and productive solutions are even a possibility.

I feel like we are close. What do you think?

February 4, 2008 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Soong-Chan said...

Actually, Mike's last post has a lot of merit. Why should people of color join Emergent? Why should we be second class citizens all over again -- having to beg to be included. I advocate for a whole new movement -- spearheaded by Christians of color. Of course, white evangelicals will be more than welcome to join, but the leadership from the beginning will be multi-racial and multi-ethnic. Maybe we will need to create whole new publishing companies and truly create non-white dominant structures.

I would assert that Urban Youth Worker's Institute and other conferences and gatherings like UYWI should become the new locus of American Christianity. We should not seek to have a token acceptance at Emergent conference but instead hold conferences that uphold the true diversity that is evident in the real emerging church in America.

I think Mike's last comment holds a significant challenge to Christians of color to proceed in forming and shaping a truly new and revolutionary Christian movement that is not captive to Western culture.


February 4, 2008 at 7:46 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

When pushed into the corner you once again make these kind of statements...

(You said this to Chris)
"If it's really that bad Chris, then why would you guys want anything to do with us at all? Why try so hard to break into a movement that you don't even like that much anyway?"

You made the statement to me also...

(You said this to me)
..."so why would you care whether the urban church is represented in the EC? As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?"

Sounds like us people of color should just shut up and let things run there course huh "massa."

I think this is really what you would want and that is fine but for us people of color who fight for reconciliation and racial justice within the church it isn't that easy to let this type of stuff go on. For far too long people of color in the church have been second class citizens.

We hate it that we can say one thing and it lead to nothing but the same thing can be said by a privileged white guy then some how it becomes a movement. This is not right! I know you don't understand this but this is what happens in the church. So NO! I will not go away and just let you guys continue your "urban colonialism!"

I absolutely hate that this division is in the church and there is a huge part of me that wants to call you guys for who you are and just continue to what I am called to do, but like Chris, I do believe that we are to be "one" and not separate. There is to be unity in the body of Christ and with this unity comes accountability.

It doesn't surprise me that you refuse to take any critique from those of us in the "city" but you need to be called out on it. Nobody how many people (both whites and people of color) chime in who say basically the same thing... that it has been started, established, lead, and celebrated without the inclusion of those of color and those who have been fighting for justice in the urban centers of the world (not only those of color but whites as well).

So you continue to talk in circles and try to keep people quiet with your "stat dropping." Just know that the urban church is ready to partner when you guys humble yourselves and realize that "there is nothing new under the sun." We are tired of just being "included" as you said I could be. We want to be at the "meeting before the meeting."

Here is one example of your "stat dropping" that turned out to to be false! You said...

"...the pastors of the urban emerging churches that are part of our network here in Chicago?"

Then when asked who they were you said...

"There aren't any really "prominent" emerging churches in Chicago. Just a handful of small communities scattered around the city and suburbs. Probably the most well-known (if there is such a thing) is Wicker Park Grace down in the city."

You have got be kidding me! Wicker Park Grace is in Wicker park and is a sister church of Christ Church of Wrigleyville! Neither of these congregations have any folks of color in leadership or attending their services. I know the pastor who has been acting as a pastor to both of the congregations of late.

Come on man! This is exactly what I am talking about. Your just saying that there is diversity then when investigated it turns out that it is what it is. A white privilege movement that is getting all the press because of the injustice in the church and Christian publishing.

If you got this network of people of color at the table then let me know who they are because I know the Chicago/Chicago Suburbs churches. Let me know and I can get to the bottom of it. I suggested you should google "emerging churches" and see what pops up but you refuse to accept the truth. Until you acknowledge what the reality of the emerging church is then we will never ever be able to work together.

It is clear to me that you are satisfied with a few "token" people of color saying "yes massa" to your "help." I am not one of them, nor will I set here and let you say untrue stuff in order to make your white only organization look good.

I am with Chris in this one. Manifest Destiny all over again.

Let me guess what you are going to say next...

"If it's really that bad Chris, then why would you guys want anything to do with us at all? Why try so hard to break into a movement that you don't even like that much anyway?"


"so why would you care whether the urban church is represented in the EC? As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?"


And since you are probably call me a racist and a "elitist" then let me go ahead and say... PLEASE!!!!!

That's Ebonics for... "whatever."
After our discussion I feel like I have to explain that to you.


That's Ebonics for... Goodbye!

February 4, 2008 at 7:59 PM  
Anonymous Ginny said...

In response to CB's February 4, 2008 11:41 AM posting: Thanks. I assumed but wanted to make sure. As you well know, the conversation has been going on for quite awhile that a new publishing house (other than UMI) needs to emerge (whoops) that not only publishes writers of color but is owned by people of color. Know of any entrepreneurs?

I know there are some folks that have been self-publishing with vanity presses. Perhaps all that's needed is a clearing house web site that gathers and sells.

February 5, 2008 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

You know what man I completely over reacted and put my foot in my mouth. I am ashamed when I go back and read what I wrote.
Even if I have strong feelings about your comments this does not mean that I can just "vent" at you personally as if you are the center for all evil in the world.
This is truly my last time that I am going to comment on this particular post but I just wanted to say I am sorry for the over generalizations, the blatant disregard for your positive role in both your movement and this blog.
I would also like to ask for forgiveness from Steve. Sorry man! I shouldn't have went on a tangent on your blog.
I get so passionate about things and at times it feels like I have a split personality. One moment I have self control and invite dialogue and the next thing you know I am putting my foot in my mouth.
This is like the third time I have said things that I regret and have had to apologize to individuals and to the blogging world.
I need to just listen!

Peace to you Mike and to you as well Steve.

February 6, 2008 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger JP Paulus said...

Aaron, i hope it's at least the second to last time you post... :)

i had written out (old school -- on paper) a response to your posts on my way home...want me to go ahead & post it?

You broght up some issues that are REAL, but have some complexities behind them.

Let me know -- and i'll see you Chris' blog!

February 7, 2008 at 3:12 AM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

I said:
"If it's really that bad Chris, then why would you guys want anything to do with us at all? Why try so hard to break into a movement that you don't even like that much anyway?"


..."so why would you care whether the urban church is represented in the EC? As far as you guys are concerned we're misguided anyway. Isn't it best if the urban church just stays far far away?"

And Aaron said:
"I think this is really what you would want"

No Aaron. This is not what I want at all. My comments were intended sarcastically, because it felt like this is what you guys were saying. I think the urban church is part of the emerging church and should continue to be. But what I'm picking up from you guys is this incredible sense of disdain and disrespect towards us. I want you guys to be part of EC, but only if you want to be. You can't say out of the one side of your mouth "Those emergents are all a bunch of heretics" and then out of the other "And I'm pissed that I'm not a part of it", and not expect me to see a contradiction there.

Anyway, I know that sarcasm is hard to communicate in an online forum like this, so I apologize for being unclear.

"that it has been started, established, lead, and celebrated without the inclusion of those of color and those who have been fighting for justice in the urban centers of the world (not only those of color but whites as well)."

See that's just it. If the urban church has already been doing this, then they are already emerging, even if they were doing it before emerging had a label. The emerging church is not some "thing", like a denomination or a formal ministry. It's just the conversation that happens when God starts doing similar things in lots of different churches all across the board and then those people start finding each other and sharing ideas and experiences.

For instance, this recent post at Sojo in which Tom Sine highlights Efrem Smith's church as an emerging church and makes this comment:

"The emerging church movement tends to be very white and male. But Tommy Kyllonen, a multicultural church planter in Florida, states in "Un.orthodox: Church. Hip-Hop. Culture" that the emerging church is also the young black male in the hood. It is the second-generation Mexican in L.A. and the child of the Chinese immigrant in Houston. The emerging church is the Puerto Rican female on Wall Street."

If you think the emerging church is only represented by the folks at Emergent Village (who themselves are not totally white or male either), then you're only seeing one narrow facet of the total movement. All of these things Kyllonen mentions are part of it too.

"You have got be kidding me! Wicker Park Grace is in Wicker park and is a sister church of Christ Church of Wrigleyville! Neither of these congregations have any folks of color in leadership or attending their services. I know the pastor who has been acting as a pastor to both of the congregations of late.

Come on man! This is exactly what I am talking about. Your just saying that there is diversity then when investigated it turns out that it is what it is. A white privilege movement that is getting all the press because of the injustice in the church and Christian publishing."

Yep, this is exactly what I meant when I was talking about the "not really urban" attitude.

And I suppose you also didn't bother to check out another one of the Chicago churches I mentioned, The Emmaus Community?

Anyway, I appreciate your apology. I just think you're defining the emerging church way too narrowly. The emerging church is not Emergent Village, or book deals, or speaking gigs, or heirarchies, or any of that. It's just a conversation of like-minded people. If you want to join in, then join. If not, then don't. The are no gatekeepers. No one is there to let you in or keep you out except yourself. The emerging church is and only ever will be what we all make of it, what we ourselves bring to it. If you won't come and bring your part to it because you don't think you see enough other people who look like you already there, then that will simply leave all of us poorer.

Just my .02...

February 11, 2008 at 5:17 PM  
Blogger Mike Clawson said...

BTW, Josh Brown has also recently addressed this critique over at his blog.

February 12, 2008 at 11:25 AM  

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