If I may, for a moment, speak a word about how I’m feeling about the current leadership of various movements, with the disclaimer that these are merely my opinions, and nothing more.
I think that the whole “emergent” thing, as far as a movement or a call to change or whatever is pretty much done as far as being interesting and is now merely just a way to go. I identify with it the most of anything else out there, especially when I see people like Mark Driscoll – egads. (I only mentioned his name here because that way this post will show up when he Googles himself every morning, because by the look and sound of him, trust me – he does).
Basically, I’m sick of the conversations that are merely ideological pissing contests. I think there’s a place for theological discourse – absolutely – but only insofar as it has practical application. The world’s situation is far too urgent. I have a personal theology, probably even in the form of an actual statement that I had to write in seminary, and it informs everything I do. It’s always expanding and developing, but my need to sit around and talk about it is diminishing. I don’t care what books you’re reading or who you can quote. It’s a little like when Rick Warren bragged about how many millionaires he’d show The Passion of the Christ in the name of being “culturally relevant.” Who bloody cares?*
The thing that has probably soured me most is the industry that all of this God-talk has become. There’s a 3-day conference in Pasadena that Mosaic Alliance is doing (because Mosaic Church is now a brand). It’s called Awaken2008 and it promises to be more than a conference. For a $349 early bird registration fee, I hope it’s a conference, a floor wax, AND a dessert topping. It features the brightest stars the current constellation of leadership, all promising to allow us to journey into their imaginations. For $349. Early bird. And wouldn’t you know it if they didn’t have books to sell also. Huh. I feel the same way about Emergent. Sorry guys – and it is mostly guys – but you’ve become the people you warned us about. Your lives are about schilling your latest product and putting arses in seats at your latest events. Might be a slightly different message than your predecessors but the result is the same.
I get it. You have to keep your name out there, your product out there, appear in the right places, get the right endorsements, comment on the right blogs, etc., because you have to generate income. It’s also quite an ego boost to be on that ride, I’m sure. For me, your stock goes down when self-promotion becomes the hamster wheel in which you breathlessly run. At that point, you’re no different than Paris Hilton (or Perez Hilton, for that matter) or anyone else who is trying to turn their very identity into a brand.
*This is pre-AIDS/poverty awareness Warren. His stock has gone up since then – this was just a colossally stupid thing that he said in Christianity Today that will haunt him b/c he’s a public figure. Sorry, Rick.