I like conversations that include the concepts of emergent, post-modern and post-Christian. I have found much hope in the emergent movement. From my perspective those involved in these conversations are interested in redefining Christianity in a way that moves it beyond the “good old boys club.” A more inclusive faith is good for everyone.
Earlier this month, I was part of a conversation about the emergent church movement. About 30 minutes into a free-flowing discussion, a lady chimed in and made the following observation about the leaders in the emergent church movement, “They are just a bunch of cowboys.”
Given the sharp tone of her voice, it was easy to tell that she was not using “cowboy” in an endearing sort of way. It soon became clear for her the emergent movement was led primarily by, white, conservative men. These men were discovering that their understanding of the Christian faith was incomplete at best and wrong at worst. Before long, all the non-white men were nodding in agreement with her.
I was one of three “white men” sitting around the table. It would be fair to say, that I began to feel uncomfortable. As my discomfort increased, my participation shifted from talking to listening. It wasn’t easy hearing what some of the folks had to say. If I were asked to sum up the conversation in one sentence, here is what I would say:
“For too long, white men have defined what it means to be a Christian and God is much more than these definitions.”
This was hard to hear, mostly because there is truth in what was being said.
If the emergent movement is about white men coming to a better, more inclusive understanding of the Kingdom of God, then it can’t be all bad.
It is my hope and prayer that people like me, white and male, emerge and free ourselves from the need to define and control everything. The leaders of the emergent movement must find the courage to step aside and allow more non-whites, non-males and non-conservatives to lead and guide the church.