Whither my emergent chat?

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Discontent is a curious thing. Generally it’s considered bad form and whatnot, unless you’re a person in power, but then it isn’t discontent, it’s leadership. Those in power have their discontent redefined as a movement, or a method, or a style, or a revolution, or a paradigmatic, missional shift.

But, it’s discontent all the same, and people in power aren’t the only ones who feel it. The very best leaders, the only real leaders in my estimation, have a discernment about discontent, a sharp eye for what is holy discontent, spurred by the Spirit in the midst of the community, and unholy discontent spurred by a different spirit in the community. The former is prophetic, the latter is destructive.

The harsh thing in Christian communities is there’s such an utter lack of discernment, especially among leadership.

I realized that in reading through the latter two books assigned my own discontent was rising. Not at the authors, not at their communities, or methods, but at my own ministry experience and my own ministry past dealing with leaders who had positions of leadership but never did lead. What did they do? They took up space, and still do, thinking that leading involves telling people what to do and how to do it, or rather what not to do and how not to do it.

That’s what hits my frustrations, for in the books I was reading I was not just reading about their ministries and their events. I was reading about my own passions, I was reading the thoughts of people I knew and worked with, and struggled with. I kept saying, “Yeah, we did that.” Or “Yeah, that we could have been there.” Only we didn’t because the hammer fell, a hammer of power, and control, and selfish ambition.

So why did I not wander off to another field, skip out on the church of my youth and begin anew. Because of the other books I read in this course which lauded communities for their vision, and knowing for myself those communities, and many like them, folded and shut down, the vision momentary and passionate, rather more like a heated affair than a real commitment.

The Emerging Church is a serial monogamist, always extremely committed to the commitment of the moment, but always drifting, drifting, drifting, so there’s a whole pile of sloughed off people, once passionate, now wandering in their own frustrated discontent. The promise is beautiful for the moment, but doesn’t last, because visions don’t last, because commitments don’t last, because leaders who style themselves new Pauls don’t last. The only problem is they do not have Paul’s ability to go where no one else has gone before. They stir the same pot, driving past each other, flying by each other, rebuilding on top of the smoldering ruins of the previous community.

I stepped back because that’s what I saw, and didn’t see in myself anything different.

I stepped back because of the studies that say well over half of those who go into ministry don’t last in ministry. If I am to last in ministry I had to step back and discover what it was that would push me past the discontented, polyamorous forms of ministry that thrive in publisher and Leadership based models.

And in this is my own discontent, a holy form which pushes me to try and see, and I think I’ve seen something, something which peeks out in previous posts. But it’s not in those books assigned, or in conversations of style, and liturgy, and yet one more attempt at authenticity.

It’s something deeper, and something I haven’t yet gotten my hands around, but I’m trying to. And in trying to do that I think it’s sometimes better for me to remain silent, if the only words which arise are those of discontent.

That critical part of my own vision seems to push me to see something broader and helpful, but also can drive me into being judgmental or merely a plain bore. That’s not the side of me I want to invest in, and neither do I want to invest in words just for the sake of words.

I enjoyed the class because of the face to face discussions, the wrestling together, the conversation, things which decidely seem to lack online, where my words seem only to serve to pad my own discontent.

That’s not something I need. What I need is the Holy Spirit, and there are ways to go about finding the Spirit spoken of throughout history, and posting book reviews is not the way to go about doing it.

So there you go. My prickliness emerged, and I didn’t like how it was looking.

I step forward, and I step back. I look about, and I look around, seeing the landscape and in seeing that gauging also my own soul. Much progress had been made, but in this track, in this path I am on, it takes a while, for there is no apparent room for the slightest bit of dross.

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