Q & R: What will the emergent conversation DO?

Here’s the Q:

There’s been one question that I’ve been dying to ask you ever since I met you so I figured I had just get it out. When I interviewed you I asked you “What one thing do you want to come out of the emergent movement?” You gave a great answer but I had a sub-question that I was going to ask you and I didn’t. That question relates to a fear I have with the emergent movement, and that is “Is the emergent movement going to throw it’s weight behind one key issue or is it going to adopt a hodge-podge of issues?” I realize this may seem like an odd question but I believe it’s of fundamental importance. One of the problems with modern social justice ethics is that there are so many voices screaming to have their voice heard (which is great) and all end up having to compete for the same resources. The problem is that people get capitulated by so many choices that they can feel overwhelmed or powerless or that there resources end up getting divide up so narrowly that little change can take place in one particular field.
I look at the early evangelical movement in which it was a powerful force against slavery (though i’m quite aware that the motivations for some was a moral crusade rather than a humanitarian issue) but this act of changing one thing gained the early evangelical church a great deal of respect and influence (the contemporary affection for William Wilberforce comes to mind). The emergent movement seems to be quite powerful and yet it is one voice amongst many. My fear is that if the voice is not united against a single issue that it will get lost in the cacophony of voices in the public sphere. Is there one issue that you would like to see the emergent movement address? My heart is for sex-trafficked women but their are a plethora of other causes that one could address. Yet I feel conflicted in writing this because all the issues are worth addressing.
I realize you don’t represent the whole emergent movement and yet you are generally regarded as champion of this movement. As well, I know you are a remarkably busy man and have a lot of people ask you a great many of questions (and likely you often feel lost in the cacophony of voices!) so I apologize for asking you this question already, but I simply had to get it out there.

[Reply after the jump …]

R: I sympathize with your question – there are so many issues out there. This was exactly the frustration that led to my writing Everything Must Change. I wanted to determine what the top global crises were, so I’d have some sense of where to focus my efforts to have the best impact. I came up with four underlying crises (you can check out EMC for details) – but essentially, they were

1. The crisis of the planet
2. The crisis of poverty
3. The crisis of peace
4. The crisis of religion

Sex-trafficking fits most strongly under crisis #2, although all 4 are interwoven.
My hope for the emergent movement is that it will inculcate this sense of the big picture (or a better sense if someone else develops one), along with a strong sense for how Jesus and the gospel relate to this big picture. This, in my mind, is what being “missional” is all about. Then, people can live out their missional faith in whatever specific areas they can – according to their situation, their sense of vocation, and their interest/motivation. Lately I’ve felt I may have another book brewing on this subject down the road. We’ll see.