Saturday, July 21, 2007

coming out of the closet

There are two confessions to be made here. These are issues I’ve been hiding for some time out of fear of being misunderstood and lampooned. Also, these feelings have been hidden because I fully didn’t understand what they were for years.

I think I am “emergent” and “missional”.

Yeah, I know. These are huge, trendy buzz-words in the blog-o-world. Most everyone has some sort of sign or button on their blog identifying themselves with these/this movement(s).

I don’t want to join a movement, because the nature of any movement is usually temporary. That, and I’ve never wanted to be a member of much of anything. Who likes to be pigeon-holed? I don’t even like keeping many books or CDs around because people like to judge you based on those collections. Despite my appreciation for avant-guard jazz, 20th century classical, prog rock, and The Who, someone seeing my copy of Lynyrd Skynyrd's first recording would write me off as a dumb redneck. Which is sad, because that disc is a masterpiece.

I don’t know if emergent and/or missional is another pop trend. They seem to be both deep and entrenched in the CEO’s ways. But since I don’t want to drink the kool-aid on anything, it’s easier to avoid these labels rather than defend them.

However, Agent Wife and I stumbled into this weird life four or five years ago. We had no clue what we were doing and it was difficult to explain it when asked by our church-going friends without sounding egotistical or maybe condemning to those who asked. As if we had “found the true way” and everyone else was wrong.

But everything I read on emergent and missional rings a huge bell of familiarity. Like, “hey, I think that’s what we’re doing”. When you fear that you are alone on a journey, one naturally seeks fellow travelers.

There are plenty of definitions of both emergent and missional out there. My brief take on them are as follows:

Emergent (as I understand it):

1) There is no kool-aid to drink. No secret handshake. No church headquarters. It’s a conversation as opposed to a denomination. You can be a Southern Baptist Commando or a Lesbian Ordained Episcopalian Priest and both be part of the “conversation”. The gist is, your anti-beer stance or gay rights cannot be the end-all trump card for your part in the conversation. You have to LISTEN to the other. Wow, listening. What a concept.

2) It’s OK to not have all the answers. I grew up around a church culture that was convinced it was right all the time, despite their own ills and sins being exposed. Since I know of nobody who has died and come back to life to tell all how it is, I think it’s safe to say “I don’t know” on most things concerning faith. Doing things in hope demonstrates faith, I think.

3) And oh yeah, it’s OK to use words like “bullshit” and not get ostracized.

“Missional” is used to describe a church or missionary that does not “create sanctified spaces (church buildings) into which unbelievers must come to encounter the gospel. Rather, the missional church disassembles itself and seeps into the cracks and crevices of a society in order to be Christ to those who don’t yet know him.”*

I’m not planning to wear the emergent or missional t-shirt. But I won’t avoid those who do.

* P. 12 of The Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch


mike said...

ha ha now you have a label! ha ha.

now i can conveniently stick you on a shelf and can view you through a filter.

when does the book come out?

when you go on tour and i come to hear you pontificate about postmodernism will you sign my copy of blue like jazz?

ha ha ha ha (for all you humorless douches... i am kidding)

Agent B said...

"when you go on tour and i come to hear you pontificate about postmodernism will you sign my copy of blue like jazz?"


But I will come out on stage and say, "I've upped my UP yours. Thank you very much", then leave out the back door.

Agent B said...

And oh yeah, I will gladly sign your copy of Harry Potter.

Leanne said...


Leanne said...

that was at Mike, btw.

the rest of your stuff I'm just thinking about.

I like it when you write these confessionals, B.


Tangerinetinselbreeze said...

Hmmm, I never thought of these confessionals that way before. It is like the secret agent is sitting in a booth while we listen on the other side. Only I don't have any hail mary's for you to recite B, just the opposite.
I am glad for you that you have found comfort in definition of the lifestyle you have chosen.

How about a Secret Agent documentary? hehe