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Saturday, September 30, 2006
Your Experiences with the Emerging Church
So these questions have been asked in various forms before, but I need some help. I'm most likely leading a session at the Emergent Gathering on women in the emerging church. Its a very broad topic, and I wanted to narrow it down by relating personal experiences and perspectives. So if you don't mind sharing and allowing me to tell your story (no names will be given there), please chime in... (you can also email me at emergingwomen@gmail.com if you would rather not post your perspectives)

And here are the questions to consider -
What has been your experience with the emerging church(the good the bad and the ugly)? How did you enter the conversation, how deep into it are you, and do you identify with it? Have you felt welcome in it? Is it a safe place for you? How does it compare with your previous experiences? Have you felt supported or condemned by friends and family because of your involvement in the conversation (or is it something you still hide)? How has it helped you faith as a women? Is it permission giving? Do you feel like you (or women in general) have a voice? How can it be more supportive of women?

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posted by Julie at 9:19 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 10/01/2006 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    So far my experience with the Emerging Church has been good. In respect to those that are a part of the Emerging Church. My experience has been limited to our Emerging Women blog and my church. The Emerging community that I have encountered has been respectful, loving, encouraging, lent an ear for frustration, and disappointment. This has included women and men. I feel safe at 'Emerging Women' and with those at church that I have connected with. I entered the conversation after some challenging words from my pastor, I began some 'research on my own' and then "A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren was recommended. I was sucked in! I have been reading anything I can for the last 8 months. I'm in deep, and have re-evaluated my beliefs on many levels this year, and came out with many different perspectives.
    Compared to my previous experience, it's been challenging, but in a good way. It's weird to describe. I wasn't "in deep" with any church prior to this year. I attended, got my good message, avoided creating too many 'close' relationships because I have seen how 'church people' could be. So I kept my foot in the door, just to be safe. Then 'emerging' dropped into my life, and life changed as I knew it. My faith, and dependence on God is stronger than it has ever been.
    My growth occurred because of the respect, the encouragement, and the love in 'emerging'. For those in my church that have helped me, no question was 'off limits'. That was not my experience in the past.
    As for the family thing, I have to admit, I am still somewhat in hiding. I share bits and pieces, and many of them know "something is different". I know it won't be long, I have already had a few confrontations that I had to dodge, but I am sure some in my family have never even heard about the 'emerging conversation' or if they have, it is biased.
    It has helped my faith as a woman greatly, and yes it has been very permission giving. I feel like I have more of a voice than I did. Again, in the church I am in, the men have been very welcoming, and encouraging. I know that is not always the case. I think that it can be more supportive of women in bringing more women into the "leadership" areas, team teaching, encouraging writing etc. I also think that for some of us, women weren't encouraged to go to seminary, or higher avenues of study. What we got was "tradional-women's place teaching" in bible studies, at church etc. I for one, don't get a lot of the 'theology discussions' but want so bad to be a part of the discussion. I would like to see more of those who didn't study all the history and theologies, be brought into the discussion. I have heard that we have made religion too much about systems, beliefs, and theology, so let's get around that where possible. Sorry for the length, lots of questions to answer.

  • At 10/01/2006 08:54:00 PM, Blogger Sue Densmore

    My experience with the emergent conversation was through my pastor, who attended the national pastors convention and went to some of the emerging church sessions. He turned me on to Brian McLaren's stuff, and I have read the "New Kind of Christian" series, as well as A Generous Orthodoxy and Adventures in Missing the Point. I enjoyed all of the reading I have done, and now find myself trying to keep up with several emerging-ish blogs, including this one.

    I ahve found that my church already had many of the characteristics one might describe as emergent, the main one being the dawning understanding that our faith is, in fact, supposed to mean something to how we live our lives - the orthopraxy vs. orthodoxy thing. We also emphasize a very team oriented leadership style in all of our "departments," and building community through small groups.

    We do, however, also take care not to float too far from the orthodox faith, and even some of the historic things the church has done in worship. We take communion weekly, and have for years, and we recite the creed together each week. There is a nice balance of progressive attitude with a grounded faith.

    I am a member of the preaching team, and am not the only woman - there are tow others. As more gifted women are found, I am sure they will be welcome also, so we are even more emergent in that area than many of the emergents I have seen. We are at least more emergent than the speaker list for the last emergent convention I saw!

    I have found on this blog, and in this conversation, people of grace and love, who are honestly trying to make their practice line up with their doctrine. And they are willing to look at their lives with eyes wide open, and allow me to do the same.

    I think we have a ways to go. Mine is the only church in my area which I would really say is "emergentish," and is the only one I could see myself attending if for no other reason than they let me preach!

    I am not sure I answered all of the questions, but there's my two cents. Use whatever you want, even my name if you wish.

  • At 10/02/2006 12:08:00 PM, Blogger caz

    I started reading books a couple years ago, and have a whole new understanding for why books have been burned historically! Those things can really change your reality! =) I think I heard about Emergent through Relevant Magazine's message boards. There were always lively discussions there about books and theology that taught me a lot.

    I tried a couple of churches in Phoenix that I thought were Emergent, but in retrospect I really don't think they are. It seems that there are a lot of denominations planting churches that *feel* different in terms of setting/organization, but their theology and world views are not open for discussion. I kept returning to my home church, which is traditional and bland and very homogenized; but I know the pastors are not stuck...they are moving slowly, but they aren't stuck (partly because they hired their first female pastor who opened the all male staff's eyes to the contributions and value of women, as well as some issues in the church that the men just couldn't see from their perspective!)

    Since I moved to Seattle I have searched for a church and visited quite a variety. Though many would probably identify themselves as emergent, only one in my mind seemed to truly fit the idea of conversation. They are mixing liturgy, arts, scripture, prayer and community in a way that is inviting and open (www.apostleschurch.org). I don't know if it has to do with location, but I have felt very welcomed by almost all the churches I have attended here, whereas the Phx churches were very standoff-ish to new folks.

    I am attending a seminary that I think is probably one of the few schools at the forefront of the postmodern movement (www.mhgs.edu). My experience here has been both exhilarating and disappointing. Though I know it isn't realistic, I wanted this school to be perfect. Instead it is growing and shifting, people make poor decisions and hurt others, people get left out of community while others get celebrated...it is just humanity. But it is a community that is seeking the Kingdom of God so there is redemption, humility, confrontation, inclusion.

    Conversations are intense and wide open, and I think overall all viewpoints are very well respected, or perhaps I should say all people are respected...=)

    I have been in school just 4 weeks, and I have already had several eye-opening and scary conversations with family. So I am learning that if I truly believe that my faith is embracing of conversation, then I need to stop pushing ideas on people and just love them. They don't have to change, and for them to be okay with the ways I am changing then they need to see by my actions that I am loving them fully.

  • At 10/03/2006 09:45:00 AM, Anonymous soldiermom

    I already posted this response, but it was to the wrong thread. Sorry for the confusion...

    I have been a Christian my whole life, but I remember the day not too long ago when I felt like I might truly be a Christian for the first time. The emergent church philosophy has changed me. It has brought what seemed to not make sense to me into a place that no longer demands it. I can breathe easier because I have let go of my desire that others think and be like me. I can let God be God and me be me and stop getting those two so confused! I can welcome other people’s opinions because I am not so damn sure that I have all the right answers. In fact, I welcome my wrongness. It is a reminder that I no longer need to live in my security, but have faith in God through my insecurities. And the love that flows for others from this change is the most amazing evidence that I will ever need.

  • At 10/04/2006 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    thank you so much for the responses and for those who have emailed me. It is great to hear your stories and your perspectives.


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