Abductive Columns

Friday, December 31, 2004

Conversation to Movement

After blogging off and on for a few years, I’ve just about come to the conclusion that blogging is little more than another form of individualism. Think about it. One person post thoughts and links that is important to them. At best a conversation begins among the readers in the form of “comments.” (Admittedly, there is the occasional team blog—but they are far fewer in number than the solo blog).

Now, I’m all for conversation, but will the conversation every trickle down to the majority? Let me restate that—will the conversation every trickle down to those who can turn the online emergent conversation into a movement? If so how will that happen? I don’t want to be overly negative but from my experience it appears the ones who need to (and would) sign on to the conversation must first be online reading the conversation. Is that the possible link that is missing in transforming our conversation into a swelling and unstoppable movement?


At 12:30 PM, Blogger Fajita said...

I've been thinking about emergent as a conversation. I've read about some who would like emergent to blow the doors wide open and declare itself a movement, but then there are others who would like to keep it a conversation for now. Myself - I'm ambivelent. There is part of me that really wants emergent to be popcorn and I want to microwave this thing, but then there is part of me that thinks it is a roast in a crock pot.

But I lean on the side of emergent being a roast. It is thick, rich and can't be rushed. My feeling is that the people who want emergent to rush more quickly are good people with great ideas. These are the pioneers. Hopefully they are the church planters. However, unless church planting becomes much, much more the norm, emergent will need to remain a conversation. But let's not think it a static thing. Frodo could not really start his journey until the fellowshp gathered. This conversation is a gathering of the masses. I think emergent is more like Frodo having the ring and running for his life.

When most of the people out there who are the potential emergent crowd can witness the successes and failures of the pioneers, they will need to sit back and ponder. Great, let them ponder. But also give them something to ponder on. They will make a decision to change, but they need something to see before they do.

The risk of emergent too quickly defining itself is that it will become a denomination. I do not care what its leaders (those who want quicker movement) say, it will. Luther didn't want Lutherans and Campbell didn't want Campbellites. Guess what. They got them in spades.

A conversation is a place of safety before something awesome can happen. My guess is that there are tons of people in stifling churches dying for the right opportuinity to do something more with their faith. When a critical mass emerges near them, they will move. Enough of this happening and it's a movement. Enough movement is a movement.

I tend to think emergent will be a movement before its people know it is. In retrospect a date can be assigned to the beginning of the Emergent movement. However, it is not useful to know whether it is a movement or a conversation.

Planters need to plant. Conversants need to converse. Maybe, just maybe it will be a conversation so long that it drives people so nuts that they will plant churches.


At 12:46 PM, Blogger Fred Peatross said...

Great thoughts!

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Russell said...

Hi Fred,

I recognized the emergent conversation about 3 years ago now. I could write pages about my own frustrations, trials and problems since I started on this road but it was not until I realized that God moves in His own ways, and in His own time that I found peace. Will the Emergent conversation ever catch on? Perhaps. If I might be allowed to borrow a phrase from Gandalf "Even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Our task is to reach out to all those who are around us, to demonstrate in real, practical ways, that we love them, and to sow the seed of Hope that we have been given in Christ Jesus. Once we have done that, let God give the increase. We know that His Word will not return unto Him void. That must be enough to satisfy us in this life.

God Bless,

Russell Wilson

At 2:33 PM, Blogger Brother Maynard said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:47 PM, Blogger Brother Maynard said...

This is more of a manually-entered TrackBack but I did want to make the comments... which are online here in their full form. Thanks for stimulating my thinking on this... my full comments end up also considering what a movement looks like, if Emergent is one, and the coming criticism.

Excerpts from my post:

Blogging has obviously come of age in the last couple of years, but I would challenge the notion that they are individualistic... they're just a different form of conversation. Maybe it's like sitting alone in a crowded restaurant and talking to yourself.... you know someone is going to be listening, but you don't know who; but every now and then someone answers. Blogging is like this — most bloggers would probably tell you they have solid evidence of readership far beyond what "Comments (0)" seems to indicate (that's certainly true of my blog). If used, comments of course fill in the 'return' part of the conversation to some degree, and I would suggest that comments are made for the masses. Right now, the conversation is largely between bloggers and other bloggers... Blogs are a solo act only to the extent that they do not interact with other blogs. To the extent they interact, they become conversation.

Emergent bloggers have a role to play in helping to shape the conversation, and that the spokespersons should take note of what's being said, regardless of the level of their day-to-day participation. My sense is that this is occurring as it should be. It is these spokespersons who are to some degree charged with taking the online and offline Emergent conversations to the wider audience. Many from the wider audience will be able to relate to the spokespersons before they can to the bloggers, though an avenue is created for them to hear from the bloggers through the spokespersons — who will often be speaking through "old meda." What occurs next is a drawing toward new media as well as toward the Emerging Church. Old media doesn't do two-way communication very well unless they pick your "letter to the editor" and that's not exactly conversation.

So here it is, then: Bloggers will not cause Emergent to become a movement; they could theoretically decide among themselves that Emergent is a movement, but they really shouldn't try to force the issue. What bloggers need to do is keep the conversation rolling, keep it archived, and keep interacting with one another — actually increasing the level of interaction where possible and practical. As new arrivals start joining the conversation, bloggers need to be there to listen and provide a venue for the new voices. So don't give up, Fred!

(more here)

Gratia Vobis et Pax


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