1. I was joyfully surprised by the diversity. There were participants from across the Christian/ theological spectrum. It wasn’t just ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives,’ I think that has to be good. There was also a good deal of racial diversity. Many have claimed that the issues unearthed by the emergent conversation were specific to upper-class whites. Being neither upper-class or white, I knew this conclusion to be false. There was strong geographic diversity. Participants ranged from across the U.S. and Canada. In addition, a broad spectrum of ages were represented. Again, the critics claimed this conversation was merely about GenXer-angst. It’s not! There were more baby-boomers there than Xers and still some people even older than that. And then there was the theological diversity represented by presenters. Sometimes in fact, presenters teaching the same class were not completely in agreement. I think this is wonderful. It typifies a core value of Emergent: Conversation.
2. LeRon Shults is one of the smartest people I have ever heard. This past week was my first introduction to LeRon, and he blew me away! Rarely in Christian circles do I hear someone say something and think, “Man, I have NEVER thought about that.” LeRon is a professor at Bethel Seminary and his writings will go to the top of my list.
3. If you disagree with Brian McLaren’s views about church, politics, or theology you’d still have a hard time being disagreeable with the man. I’m a big fan of Brian’s, as you know, but in meeting and talking with him personally you feel his own, personal accessibility, warmth and grace. I hope to soon make a trip to D.C. to spend a day with Brian and his church staff. I can’t wait!
4. I now know that I am on a personal and ecclesiological spiritual journey that I cannot turn from. My association with Emergent (first as an outsider looking in, then a friend, then a cohort leader, and who knows what else next) isn’t me discovering something new. In many ways, though not nearly all, it is simple me finding who I always was. In one of his workshops, Brian said that people tell him often that “You’re not saying anything new. I always thought this. You just put it into words.” That’s much how I feel. Though I’m not comfortable with everything that is associated with Emergent, more than most of it fits who I am and how I view God and our world.