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Emergent '05 - Stan Grenz

ChrisandstanAt the last minute, I decided not to attend this morning's last round of seminars but rather to just hang out in hopes of one of those treasured extemporaneous meetings.  And my hunch paid off!

Stan Grenz and I had a very enjoyable conversation out by "the fountain."  We talked a little about his book, Theology for the Community of God, how my 8th grade daughter read A Primer On Postmodernism, and finally talked about my own aspirations to pursue my Ph.D. 

FountainOh, and he also told me how his Learning Community presentation with Brian McLaren ended up being uniquely different for each of the four groups (and so I'm wondering if Keith Seckel can find a way to get Grenz's PowerPoint to go along with the one he already got from McLaren?! Hint, hint.).

Emergent '05 - Final Night

TribeYep. It's hard to believe, but tonight was the last night and the last general session of Emergent '05. It just went by WAY to fast!

The congregation from Tribe of Los Angeles started things off. Wow!  They led us in a powerfully creative and moving time of worship. You need to watch this clip:

Download tribe_1.WMV

During one of the songs, an artist from their congregation began working at an easel, where a canvas stood covered in paint.  Watch this:

Download tribe_art.WMV

As the song progressed, he began creatively wiping away the excess paint to reveal a beautiful image that lay underneath. 

Tribe_artAfter then adding some finishing touches and blowing some gold dust on it, the piece stood finished.  AMAZING! (be sure to click on this one for full-sized pic)

Bishop Kenny Ulmer brought a good word next, but convention delegates didn't seem to connect with him as much as they did with Tribe.

A couple seminars tomorrow morning, and EC '05 be all over.  Guess I'd better get some sleep.

Emergent '05 - Charismatics, Pentecostals, & the Emerging Church

Creps_1Charismatics, Pentecostals, and the  Emerging Church.  That's the seminar I just finished, presented by Earl Creps - Director of the D.Min program at AOG Theological Seminary.

A Charismatic who is part of the Emerging Church is a pretty rare bird. In fact, some would say that an emergent-charismatic is an oxymoron!  For this reason, along with many others including my own observation and wondering as to why so few Pentecostals and Charismatics are part of the emerging church conversation, I ended up very interested in what Earl had to say.

What did Earl have to say?  Well, he had a LOT to say about the sub-classifications of Pentecostals within the AOG.  Fascinating stuff, really.  But unfortunately, he had very little to say about the specific contributions that Pentecostal/Charismatics have-can-should make in our postmodern world.  He raised a few questions, but I was honestly hoping for a little more than that.  Maybe it's because I still have SO MANY questions of my own which remain unanswered in this area.  Hmmm.  Maybe God wants to use this experience to force me deeper in my journey and quest in coming to terms with my own charismatic heritage and history.

Emergent '05 - Grenz and McLaren

Grenz_1Humanity. Church. Truth.

And in the Learning Community that I've been part of this week, our fourth and final session: Scripture.

Our theologian this time around was Stan Grenz, and our practitioner: Brian McLaren.

In a very unexpected but delightful way, these two men switched roles in a sort of way.  After Brian gave us a brief overview of how scripture is handled differently by those from opposite ends of the theological spectrum (and lead us in some amazing ancient common prayers), Stan came up and told us two stories: his own personal story growing up, and then the story of Jesus in Mark 10:32-45.

Mclaren_3 Rather than lead us in a complicated and heated discussion on how our epistemologies affect the way we interpret and interface with scripture, Brian and Stan were "modeling" a relationally oriented hermeneutic, helping us to tie Stan's personal story about growing up with Jesus' story and interaction with James and John, with each of our own stories and the world we live in today.

Using our birth months as an easy way to pose four different questions to us, we were asked to respond to the following:

Winter people: what is this passage saying about you?

Spring people: what is this passage saying about our communities?

Summer people: what is this passage saying about foreign policy?

Fall people: what is this passage saying about the interpretation of scripture?

The responses and discussion they stimulated were very interesting.  I admit, part of me wanted to be a little more intellectually stimulated, but you know what? I came away agreeing that this was probably a very effective way to communicate their heart  and message to the 120 some people in attendance.

Oh! And thanks to Keith Seckel (a regular participant here at Paradoxology), here is Brian McLaren's PowerPoint from this morning (you're the MAN, Keith!):

Download McLaren_bibleec.ppt

Emergent '05 - Resource for Thoughtful Investigation

WalkemeyerYesterday afternoon I ran into Dr. Kenton Walkemeyer.  Kent is a professor at Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University.

I was thrilled to find out he was attending the Emergent Convention, and briefly asked him about it:

Download Walkemyer.WMV

Off-camera, Kent elaborated on how impressed he's been with the depth and quality of questions he has heard coming from delegates during everything that he has attended thus far.  What's going on here is unique, and in part, it's a sincere and focused desire to "understand" that is characterizing this year's convention.

I salute professors like Kent, who are at Emergent as much to learn themselves as to help others learn.

Emergent '05 - Bloggers Lunch


Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Bob Carlton (of "The Corner" fame), today's "blogger's lunch" was fantastic!

SO many people were there (25+), both those I've previously known in the blogosphere as well as newcomers and pretty much everything in between. Here's a quick video "pan" of the group (which continued growing long after we started):

Download blogger_lunch.WMV

Lily_chris_2_1Compared with last year's blogger's breakfast that only 4 or 5 showed up for, today's gathering was pure delight (No offense to those who attended last year, ok?).  And finally, one of the many highlights of today's lunch, for me, was meeting Lilly Lewin.

Benjy at iamparadox has done a pretty decent job trying to list several of the bloggers in attendance.

Emergent '05 - Roxburgh and Pagitt

Roxburgh_1 In our Learning Community this morning, we were treated to Alan Roxburgh (theologian) and Doug Pagitt (practitioner) on the topic of The Church.  The discussion they spawned focused on how the stresses inherant within the Church are a critically important part of the "journey" we find ourselves in, and which God uses to shape us for the future.  Here are some of the insights from Alan (in two parts):

Download roxburgh_1.WMV

Download roxburgh_2.WMV

Pagitt_4_1 After Alan laid a theological framework for today's discussion, Doug helped us to sharpen our focus further.  Here is a portion from his insights:

Download pagitt_05.WMV

Speaking for myself, what this morning's dialog encouraged was a much needed shift in focus among many emerging church types: embrace the tensions associated with the institutionalized church rather than simply adopting a wholesale rejection of her.  This shouldn't, however, discourage us from exploring how we can or should "be" the church.  Along these lines, Doug reminded us of how the early church was in flux -- starting with the "temple structure", then adopting the "synagogue structure", before moving into a much more gentile context -- a challenge which the Apostle Paul needed to address among the churches.

Insignificant_assteriskDuring the excellent round of discussion with those in our L.C., Rob shared that his senior pastor wasn't all that thriled he was attending the Emergent Convention -- he wanted him instead to attend a Willow Creek conference or the like, commenting that the emerging church movement was "an insignificant asterisk on the history of church growth."  We all howled!  Astutely, Doug Pagitt quickly announced our movement's new "logo" and posted it on the meeting room wall (pictured).

It was a great session.

Emergent '05 - Church of the Apostles and Paradox

Apostles_bandTonight's General Session was excellent. It all began with the worship team from Church of the Apostles leading us in an amazing Eucharistic service that focused on the Transfiguration. The liturgy they crafted included ancient elements re-cast in song and prayer and testimony, and climaxed with everyone partaking of Holy Communion together.

Benjy_blessing After this moving 45 min. service, our own Paradox community had been invited to paraphrase Psalms 67 & 134 and then deliver it as a spoken benediction over the convention delegates.  Benjy got the honors of delivering the blessing, and here it is:

Download benediction_psalm.WMV

After Benjy, Dan Allender (from Mars Hill Graduate School) shared a "moving" testimony (inside joke) about God desires to use the stories of our lives to impact the lives of others.

Excellent.  I really appreciate how this year's convention is pulling in actual communities of faith and having them share from the platform rather than only using "big names."  It's refreshing...and a really good call.

Emergent '05 - Powell & Shults

Shults_2aMy first "Learning Community" experience was stimulating and valuable.  Our L.C. will meet four times during the convention, and each time a different set of presenters will come to us.  Hosted and fascilitated by Tim Keel and Karla Barnhill (both did excellently), our L.C. heard presentations from LaRon Shults (a Theologian from Bethel Seminary) and Kara Powell (a practitioner from Fuller Seminary).  Their topic: Humanity.

Kara began by showing us a photo of her two children, dressed for Halloween.  They were wearing costumes instead of regular clothing, but their faces were normal. She then went on to suggest that the opposite is often true of us: we wear normal clothes each day, but feel compelled to put on masks, thus hiding our faces.  We do this for many reasons, but often in response to worry or concern over what others and/or God "expect" from us.

LaRon then picked it up and quickly led us through a summary of how often God's "face", his people's "faces", or our own "face" is mentioned in scripture.  This he tied to two things: the imago Dei, and authentic community.

For an excellent explanation of how God's image and "face" is seen in community, click here:Download shults_1.WMV.

Our L.C. broke into small groups (4-5) a couple of times to discuss this topic in more depth.  It was excellent!  AND, a regular here at Paradoxology was in my small group: Keith Seckel.  He and his wife Cathy contributed a lot to the discussion (not a surprise).

I'm definitely looking forward to our next Learning Community.

Emergent '05 - A Different Beginning

Stevens_1After a round of "earlybird" seminars, that I heard were good, but which I chose to bypass this morning, Emergent '05 held an "Emergent Orientation" session for everyone, hosted by Doug Pagitt and Jeanne Stevens (no offense, Doug, but Jeanne was terrific -- which is saying quite a bit since this first corporate session was filled with announcements and explanations of how this year's event is being organized: General Sessions (everybody), Learning Communities (groups of about 120), Seminars (less than 100), Forums (6-12?), and Individual activities (e.g. Prayer Labyrinth).  After learning a cool new worship song that was just written for this week's event, Marko got up and encouraged everyone to feel free to attend everything or nothing -- there was no pressure to be at everything, "this is not like Jr. High Camp", he stressed.  And as you may have guessed, that fits me just fine.  As I look over the schedule, some seminars look great and so I plan on attending.  But other sessions strike me as a bit empty (I'm only speaking for myself here), and so... I plan on hangin' out and getting into some great conversations.