Thursday, November 6, 2008


While I am new to this blog, I am not that new to all things emergent. My journey in becoming part of the emergent conversation began roughly three years ago, during my transition from seminary into serving as a solo pastor of a small PC(USA) congregation in Cedar Rapids.

As a pastor, I was privileged earlier this week to get away for a 48 hour spiritual retreat put on by the Transforming Center. The retreat centered on the sacred rhythms of solitude and silence, just two of a number of rhythms essential for Christian leaders to develop in order to maintain any level of 'success' in ministry.

One theme that kept cropping up during the two days was the hostility of the church, as an organization, to the spiritual life and the general well being of its leaders. Part of the blame can be laid on leaders for not taking care of themselves, but part of the blame can just as equally be laid on the church for demanding so much of its leaders.

During our discussion, we looked at a number of issues in the modern church that contribute to this reality. When all was said and done, I came away thinking that the emergent conversation has a leg up on tackling some of these issues:
  • Seeing ourselves and others as human "doers" instead of as human "beings."
  • Spinning a situation to 'protect' someone's interest vs. telling the truth about how things really are.
  • Doing what is practical and expedient vs. doing what promotes right relationships and love.
  • Favoring measurable goals (baptisms, attendance, cash) vs. engaging in spiritual transformation.
  • Maintaining the organization vs. creating a true community.
  • Promoting an easy discipleship process vs. involving ourselves in the mystery and messiness of spiritual transformation.
A lot of these issues are systemic to our churches. They will require that at some point we as leaders directly challenge them. But, in what may seem like a catch-22, we won't be able to take on those issues if we don't commit ourselves to do whatever it takes to care for our own souls.