Emergent Conversation Update

I know a year or two ago some folks were saying “emergent is dead,” etc., etc. My experience is very, very different, of course, but I don’t see too much harm in people who wish emergent were dead thinking that’s the case.
It’s true that several well-placed conservative/moderate leaders have succeeded in making the emergent conversation “non grata” in terrain under their influence, and that’s fine. What else could anyone expect? Even under ideal conditions, it takes a long time for new ideas to gain acceptance in any community … each proposal passing through many dangers, toils, and snares in the process. So many things progress through the three-steps-forward-two-steps-back method.
As I said earlier this year in New Kind of Christianity, I’m confident that the missional and theological questions being raised within and beyond the emergent conversation aren’t going away. Even if some folks manage to suppress the conversation for a while in one sector, it will eventually rise again. (I’ve just read a couple bombshell manuscripts from well-respected Evangelicals that will come out next year – making that point abundantly clear.) And where it is inhibited in some sectors, it will thrive in other sectors
So my sense is that fresh missional thinking and action are emerging in encouraging ways. Take, for example, the recent announcement about Steve Knight’s work in 2011 within the Disciples of Christ (http://churchextension.org). Steve will be organizing a missional learning track at the DOC’s general assembly in July (http://www.disciples.org/ga), where I’ve been invited to speak as well. I am so impressed with the Disciples’ bold and creative support for new church development … this is a well-led denomination on the move. I’m really thrilled about Steve’s work with the TransFORM Network (http://www.transformnetwork.org/), and eager to see what develops among the Disciples and other denominations and networks that are stepping out in faith, creativity, and fresh vision.
Whether in Evangelical, Mainline, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Anabaptist, or other settings, and whether under the banner of emergent or missional or whatever, and whether publicly suppressed or supported, the new wine of the gospel finds new wineskins through which to be poured out in God’s world. That’s how I see it.