Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Immerging

It's like I've entered a second teen years. I i.m.'ed for the first time last night. I feel so young. Thanks. L & D, for helping me through my maiden voyage.

On to more interesting fare.

Aaron Flores had one problem that may not have been obvious in his data set design. It's that 'emerging church' was a term that arose within the movement, but not across all of it. And it was not the original term, or an official term, or anything of the sort. Lower Greenville has never called itself an "emerging church," even though it fits the profile of that term as it's being bandied about right now.

I think this links to another issue. A lot of us out in the culture fancy ourselves wordsmiths, or clever persons, or wits full half or quarter. At any rate puns, scabrous word plays, neologisms, and the like are liberally larded through our culture-reference-saturated daily speech. We come close sometimes to that Next Generation episode where the Enterprise crew encountered a race that spoke only in literary allusions. This means that we're constantly coming up with, trying out, and keeping or discarding terms. On the other hand, we're irritably intolerant of labels imposed on us, and of stereotypical anything, including stereotypical modes of expressing ourselves. This must be frustrating to existing church personnel looking in on this thing. There's a lot of in-talk, as John Hammett notes, terrific diversity, and a visceral allergy to nouns. In Lower Greenville we're constantly coming up with verbal clauses ("the ones doing X") or etymological neologisms ("synergist," from the Greek sunergoi, coworker) to substitute for an objectionable term (say, "deacon").

So we are bound to sound evasive or flighty when a pedestrian Merriam-Webster type (which is what most good people are, lest we scoff) with an engineering approach to Kingdom work (and we need such folks) tries to pin us down on what we're saying. But we're not. For one thing, a bunch of us are creative types and early adopters--pioneers rather than engineers. A lot of us are educated and intellectual. And there is both the techy and the international side to the web by which we communicate. All of which means that we have so much fun with language, and are so intent on crafting a stereotype-proof discourse (often because of our evangelistic relationships), that we actually don't communicate too well to regular-Joe existing-church Christians.

But as verbal as we are (Andrew's 'generation text'), this is exactly the sort of problem we know how to overcome should we decide that we want to do it. We have done it in many cases with recasting Christian realities in accessible terminology for postChristian people and cultures. We can do the reverse; we can explain emerging realities in the language of Zion. We may have despised it earlier in our careers, but even the stereotyped churchy talk is, in the end, talk--talk which we can talk, which we can retrieve and reenliven if we need to in order to contact other parts of the Body we need to communicate to.

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