I realized my emerging church membership card was at risk of being cancelled. So I had to take a drastic step in order to maintain my privileges. I had to go to a conference.

Conferences are a pretty big deal, yet I’ve mostly been a non-conference person my whole life. Too much of a circus feel to them. But, circuses are fun. And you see all kinds of strange sights.

So, I’m sitting here in the outdoor patio, by the waterfall and stream, at Mariners church in Irvine. It the site of Catalyst West!

Why this conference? Well, because I’ve of late realized that while I don’t like conferences the fact remains that conferences are places of meeting, networking, congregating. That’s something I’ve not done nearly enough of, and could use the opportunity. Just to see.

More than that, however. There has been tension in the ranks of emerging/missional circles. Sadly, it’s a sort of expected kind of tension, nothing new, pitting those more conservative against those more liberal. Or not as much against, as much as… differently inclined. It’s understandable. Emerging church is an ecclesial move, and shared moves can have different motives and goals. But, that doesn’t necessarily resolve issues of theology or specific topics.

So those who went emerging from conservative directions yearn to maintain the goal of evangelism, seeing Scripture as a primary source.

Dan Kimball is one of those who pushed for a break of sorts from the more broadly emerging circle. Though I’ve not mentioned it a lot here, Kimball is among those more well known emerging leaders who I find affinity with on theological topics. He’s a lot more of an evangelist than I am, to be sure, but again and again I see my own position lining up with what he writes on various theological topics. I’m still very much a Wheaton student, after all.

I read he and some others were making a more formal move towards a conservative expression of emerging thought. The initial push called it Origins. They announced their initial, formal launch, with a new name, at Catalyst West, or more precisely the Labs that occur the day before the circus begins.

I signed up.

My contribution is theology these days. But in contributing to this direction I’ve listened and watched and seek to constantly immerse myself in the practical side, hearing what those in the trenches are doing and saying and thinking. My hope is to hear all this and come alongside as I can, whether in some developing community or more formally in developing a theology that can provide reflection, direction, and assistance in reaching out to this world.

Theology itself is important, after all. And while new forms of church might suggest a heretical turn, and might suggest a rejection of orthodoxy, this is not inherent to a renewal, prophetic active movement. Instead, these movements, seeing what happens in the streets among the people, is where we see and hear what the Spirit of God is doing in our generation. In assessing this we can rediscover theology. This isn’t a rejection of the old, this is a honing, a shaping, a listening, a renewed reading of God and his work in the world that allows us to better understand him, and us, and all of this world.

So, I’m here. No expectations. I’m not a conference guy and so I’m a little put off by the show.

But the day is not yet begun. I am here with an open mind and an open heart and an open laptop.

May God be with me in heart and mind today.

I’ll be liveblogging along the way today, if it’s possible.

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