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Doug pagitt

Jonny, I have been thinking a lot about our conversation about emergent, and I think it is possible to say that emergent is about Friendship without saying it is only about friendship.
Churches can be about community, or God, and still organize and accomplish things. Families can be about love and not be limited to only love.

So please do not assume that the activities of the organization keep it from being about friendship.

what is naive is to assume that it is all or nothing.


i am not saying it's all or nothing doug. what i am saying is that if you go to a country - say france - your stratgey should be to build relationships with people there (e.g. matt glock) but that you should then seek to encourage him to network with people in france developing emerging church or whatever you want to call it. your role is to encourage, develop the relationship and give away what you want. but you are making a mistake and not serving the emerging church in france if you then develop something (a franchise) called emergent there. you should forbid yourself from doing it and let them do what suits their context, no strings attached. by all means tell people about resources, products, and whatever else. but the point is if you go the first route you're basically complicating the relationship. if you go the second you are taking the confusion out of it. i have absolutely no problem with you guys doing other stuff than friendship. i liked your book for example. i'm glad you wrote it. and i am not suggesting that the only th9ing we should have is friendship. but our friendship is uncomplicated - i.e. it doesn't matter if i buy your book or not. but if i was in a network here called emergent it could get complicated... i am trying to say it as politely as possible but you could be in danger with the best of intentions of a neo emerging church colonialism - god protect us from that! in love bro...


p.s. matt hope you don't mind me using you as an example?!


In the UK, Emergent isn't viewed primarily as a friendship Doug (as we discussed). Therefore, if that was its origin, why has it reached our shores with such a different look? If it was first and foremost about 'friendship', it has reached us with a different priority. It's a question of ethos. It seems that the ethos has moved and from what I heard from you guys whilst here, there might need to be a take-back of that ethos which may result in - to use Mark S's phrase - a sub-terranean emergent, or, as Jonny suggests, that simply being called 'emergentvillage'?
Anyway, the horse has already bolted in the UK and so trying to strap the 'Emergent reigns' on it won't happen. Like Willowcreek UK, the general perception is that Emergent UK will only ever be an import and lacking indigenous roots, play second fiddle to our own contextual mission front. Sure, there should be a good deal of interdependence between our networks and Emergent (for cross-fertilisation/leadership development/pooling resources etc), but the defining characteristics of this family might need looking at Doug.
Bear hugs to you both though! Well, maybe not Doug as I value my current thorax construction.


ps. I too loved the book!

karen ward

jonny, i think you are onto something... the u.k context is different, and your history with emergence is different, and all the other national contexts are also unique.

emergent as a 'brand' might be best used only in the usa.

the subtext of empire is hard for many americans to re-cognize, but i see it being a danger, as a benevolent empire is still that, an empire...

i think it best for emergent, as a usa ethos emerging group (and if over 60% of the leader team is usa based, it IS an american culture group) to be remain such, and seek to network relationally and support other native emergent groups to form in other nations, without any need or desire to overlay the organizational tag of (usa) emergent on them. this way a real world wide web of equal emergent community relationships can flourish.

i'm on the emergent coordinating team, or at least i was till the new website went up, as i'm no longer listed :-( but i hope i'm still on the group, as i think i have a different angle of vision, being from the 'mainline,' having lived in europe, and being from a background that understands from experience the 'minority in a dominant culture' experience.


Ah, labels...

Paul Fromont

Jonny. Thanks for that. I agree with you and Karen, particularly the recognition of "empire" and it's related tendency toward homogeneity and or variants on colonisation. Our context, like France, Australia etc. is quite unique and as such requires the hard work of local discerning, praying, conversation, and experimentation. Networking, global friendships are important to us, and hopefully we share in return as we learn, experiment etc here in Aotearoa New Zealand. For such a small population there is always the risk and easy tendency for us to simply "import" the "brand" and set up "franchises" - the size and influence of say the USA (via publishing, communication media etc) is huge and thus very hard to contend against by way of alternative and local or indigineous Kingdom work and related ecclessiology and missiology. I would be saddened if the hard work of contextual mission was undermined by the overlaying of models and approaches that have not arisen from the soil of local context. The dangers of benevolance should not be overlooked, particularly by the Church. As Si says, for the sake of the conversation between gospel and cultures maintain independence (against the tide of globalisation), network, talk, cross fertilise, share etc. Let's honour and respect our differences and ur connectedness in Christ. Let strength etc be used to serve. I'm thinking of St. Paul's practical exhortations in chapters 12,13,14,and 15 of his letter to the churches in Rome. May grace and wisdom cloth us all.


a fresh voice for emergent that is NOT trying to commericalize it ... excellent ...


One of the frightening things about the British Empire was it's penchant for classifying 'un-British' behaviour as savage and uneducated - often (not always - see William Dalrymple's 'White Mughals' for example) blindly failing to understand the local context and the fragile and beautiful intricacies of the culture they had parachuted into.

Why are empires built in the first place? To make cash from trades? To educate the savages? To bolster defenses against threats from other empires? To provide security and resource bases to otherwise fragile communities?

I know nothing much about the details of the above, but feel it might be relevant to mull over the why an organisation - any organisation - might want to expand its work and name beyond its natural boundaries. There may be some very good reasons, but there may be some poor ones.

Personally I'm thankful that Jonny has taken this tough line with me in the past. We asked him to come and expand the Grace empire into South London years ago, and he told us to piss off and create something ourselves! He was right. We've subsequently taken a similarly resistant line with those who've wanted to 'buy into' Vaux and plant it somewhere else. It's difficult turning people down, but it's important that they get out of the spoon-fed mentality and see that if what they are to create is to have real local impact, it will HAVE to be locally grown.

Jordon Cooper

I can kind of speak for us at Resonate in saying that while we appreciate and love talking with Emergent and also with those in the U.K. about alt.worship, we are our own country with our own values and questions that are not being asked by Emergent for the simple reason that they are largely Canadians. Canadian pollster Michael Adams did a ten year look at Canada and the US and showed how we are drifting a part and evolving into very different societies. What it means for us is that we often hearing Emergent talk about things that we don't deal with here because of were we are at as a church and as a country which created a need for us to talk amongst ourselves a bit. It isn't that we don't appreciate what is happening south of us, they are asking far different questions than we are.

On a much smaller level, we have had to ask the same questions with the Worship Freehouse about what we are learning from England and places like Grace. Saskatoon is still a rock and roll town and our ideas of alt.worship have had to adapt to the fact that people like to hear "The Guess Who", even if no one else in the world does.


well-put, jonny.

Charlie Wear

Labels are somehow dangerous in this day and age, aren't they? And more than that, they smack of marketing and branding, and God forbid, Americans! :) The problem is that most "normal" people, let alone Christians in general, have never heard of "emergent" and if they have, it is not an easily recognizable brand. It is a name that takes explaining, just like uh, evangelical, or pentacostal, or alt.worship, or whatever other name, we Christians decide to give to something we are doing. And then, having explained what something is, we have to explain what it is not...not a movement, yet...a conversation, but a friendship, among who about what? ah well....


Thanks very much, Jonny. Your post has helped me to clarify both what Emergent is and what it should be. I've written about it at the following address:


It now strikes me that I don't neccessarily need to consider myself in or out of something called the "emerging church." I simply need to be a contributor to whatever part of the family of God I'm a part of, which entails both a local church and whatever "wing" of the church I might be a part of. This may mean being a part of a church plant, doing something quite new. For many, however, I think it's important to stay within their denomination and be transformative in the "existing" church.


Thank you. You touched a very the heart of the matter and I greatly apprecited your follow-up comment. This is one of the best posts I've read. "God's cause is not cult, but humanity." SOME of what I hear SEEMS at times like it could become "me-centered" or "us-centric" in the sense that there is some issue of who controls the "conversation." I am not suggesting that anyone INTENDS to dominate or control, but it could easily evolve in to control.

What I have expereinced from people like Karen Ward and others in emergent is a sense of friendship and unity in the body. I find it awesome that Christians from a round the world can come together in the spirit of friendship and share what God is doing in their context. It would be sad if that was lost or "branded".

It is important not allow this "emergent-talk" to develop into our cult with our own language and definitions, along with our rules for inclusion. Whatever God is doing, it really is about the transformation of humanity and God's dominion in the world. It is something I particiapte in, not contol. If the goal is to participate we can have unity and friendship.


Aaron Flores

A video comment on the friendship and inclusivity of emergent.



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