Wednesday, March 01, 2006

First Encounter of the Emergent Kind

Relatively early on since starting this site, I became exposed to emerging church thinking through A Different Perspective, the podcast of actor and blogger Alan Hartung. I've spent the months since then trying to figure out what in the world emerging/Emergent actually was, which isn't easy.

Through my buddy Craig Bob, I finally got an invite to a gathering of emerging-types for a house concert of his friends Ryan and Holly Sharp down in the Mission District of San Francisco last Saturday night. The house itself as it turned out was an old Victorian row house owned by Innerchange, a Christian poverty order that ministered to the local neighborhood, and the top floor was reserved for gatherings. The striking view north from the flat took in all of downtown... quite a lovely setting.

Most of the attendees were directly or loosely affiliated with Innerchange and Reimagine!, a San Francisco missions organization headed up by Mark Scandrette. This is a group of people that Craig and his lovely wife Lora have been spending time with for a while now, and his invite gave me a chance to experience for an evening some of the distinctives of an emerging gathering (or "cohort" as they're commonly called).

First of all: they're young. Craig and I were probably the oldest ones there. No big surprise.

Second, we shared pitchers of mojitos. That was a pleasant surprise.

Third, notably absent was Christianese (is there a Wikipedia article for everything?). Whether consciously or unconsciously, this group seems to have scrubbed their language of pretty much every trace of church-talk, which I found fascinating. It got me wondering if that was intentional or if it was a natural outgrowth of just doing things differently. Either way, I found it totally refreshing.

Fourth, there was a palpable sense of something happening, like being present to significance. This wasn't in any way haughty, and it may entirely be a construct of my imagination. I just got the feeling like God was up to something out there in the culture (of which emerging is a manifestation), and I wasn't the only one making that comment.

Fifth, these were just really cool people. Mark made a great host and I felt him to be a very charismatic man (to the point that I found myself thinking, "this is a charismatic man" even--something I very rarely do), and he and his friends were relaxed and friendly in a way that went way beyond their serving mojitos. I would say it was both comfortable and exciting to be among this crowd, and I'm looking forward to more.

(Hat Tip to Jeff from Demerging for the "Acquaintance of Emergent" logo.)


At 8:26 AM, Blogger Rick said...

Gosh, I've been in the Bay Area for 10 years and haven't connected with these guys-- and now I am moving.

I once approached Dieter Zander (when he served as interim pastor) after church and asked if we could get together for lunch. He declined... honestly, I was really disappointed. Once he discovered that I attended the more "liberal" seminary in the Bay area and not the Baptist semianry he wasn't so keen on talking to me.... again, I was disappointed.

Speaking of seminaries, the Seminary listed on their site is actually, Golden Gate "BAPTIST" Theological Seminary. I coud see why they'd want to "lose" that affiliation, but sound like so really good people. Too bad I won't get to know them.


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