Monday, August 29, 2005

Emergent west michigan happenings...

Updates for September!

*** the evening with Brian McLaren (Monday night Sept. 12) HAS BEEN MOVED to Schuler Books on Alpine Avenue!!! It is still happeing from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. You are still welcome to take friends and family as this is open to the public! [The store is located right near I-96 and the Alpine Avenue exit (across Alpine from Star Theaters].

Brian is also doing something during the day at GRTS. For information, see the August 2 post below.

On Wednesday, September 14, we will be having our monthly gathering at the Bite (downtown Grand Rapids) at 10:30 a.m. We'll recap the conversations of Monday/Monday night, and we'll see where the dialogue takes us. Hopefully, we'll have much good stuff to chew on for 90 minutes.

AND... Thursday, September 15, Robert Webber is in town, and you are invited. Please see the invitation from Steve Argue:

Hi Emergent West Michigan Friends!
I am bringing in Dr. Robert Webber (Author of The Younger Evangelicals and the Ancient-Future series, among many others), September 15 and 16.

I would like to invite you to participate in a discussion at on Thursday, September 15th (10:45AM-1:00PM), where Dr. Webber will be exploring the topic "Connecting with the Church's Younger Evangelicals." He will give a presentation and then there will be Q&A over lunch (lunch is provided). The cost is $20/person.
Dr. Webber will also be speaking on Friday at 10AM at GRTS's Chapel and worship will be led by Troy Hatfield from Mars Hill Bible Church. It would be great to have you at either or both of these events.

Please check out the details at
And contact Diana O'Connor (616.222.1422) to register.
Give me a shout if you have any questions.
Steven C. Argue, M.Div.
Executive Director– Contextual Learning Center
Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
616.222.1422 x1377
Blog is at

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Commenting Status Change

Unfortunately, we will now only be able to accept comment from registered users. Our comments got spammed, so we'll see if this takes care of it. If you want to post comments anonymously, you can email randy or me at the email links on the right hand side of the page. Also, we know you are all smarter than this, but please don't follow any links in comments given in anonymous postings.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Looking for comments from Wednesday morning?

So, what are the lingering thoughts from our conversation at the Bite this past Wednesday? Post your thoughts in the comments section here.

Thanks also to Andre, Rob, Jerry, and Curt for leading us through the morning. It was much appreciated.

Our first comment came from John Frye:

It was a good conversation. I felt Curt challenged our thinking, our received categories; Rob fleshed out incarnational-missional ministry with his stories and Jerry was interesting to hear and watch. Andre asked the captivating question: Is belonging, behaving, believing a linear proccess or cyclical? There's more to just saying, "Well, it's linear." Why? "Well, it's cyclical." Why?It seems for all our conversation about grace, redemption and acceptance, there's still the shadow of a sin-management gospel in emergent w mi. We're still scared that sin is bigger than forgiveness, that holiness can't go all the way against unholiness and some of us have to play Junior Holy Spirit in others' lives. Am I wrong?

Randy said...
I am going to add three cheers for John Frye's comment.
It seems that we really desire to point out the sins of people. And it ends up being the bigger issue for us than extending grace.
It seems to me that Jesus usually began with the grace piece and then moved to point people in the right direction.
i.e. Healing and then... go and sin no more.
How do we get beyond playing the role, as John put it, of 'junior Holy Spirit"?
12:20 PM

steve said...
I don’t believe you can be a xian and not agree with John Frye’s comments about grace. I think Paul makes this abundantly clear throughout Romans and is a major theme throughout the story of God. My only concern is that we begin to over-emphasize the grace of God at the expense of the fear of the Lord.
We certainly all can agree that it’s not our role to be the fourth person in the trinity, but we do have roles as shepherds of people to guide people toward righteousness. The crescendo of Jesus’ message throughout the Gospels especially, shows Jesus getting increasingly more clear that the people of God (the people of faith, Israel) have exploited the declared standing given to them by God… the son comes, he pronounces judgment on the temple and ushers in the beginning of the end through the cross.
The tragedy is that the people whom God graced to bring about this message failed miserably. Grace propels us to love, to heal, to reach out, to embrace… and also to confront to stand up against evil, to walk along with others in the shadows, to say the tough things, to be prophetic voice to God’s people and to a world that rapes, kills and destroys the weak and vulnerable. There are things that are unacceptable and I think we profane the name of Jesus if we only portray Jesus a loving the little children and fail to catch the fire in his eye.
The goal is redemption, healing. I don’t think I’m ‘scared that sin is bigger than grace.’ I think people fear that grace means we don’t get dirty and fail to get to the deep issues in our relationships. God have mercy on me if I ever use grace as a synonym for being nice. Grace propels us deeper than we can ever imagine…

John Frye said...
I don't think the issue is that grace-oriented people don't ever address sin in the lives of others. I think the issue is the whole "time-table" question. To ask "When are we ever going to address the sin(s) of someone?" presupposes a standard (and let's imagine we all actually agree on the standard of holiness, but I doubt that we do) AND a "grace time zone" and the clock is ticking, ticking, ticking. "All right, Buddy, time's up!" We've got to move you from belonging-believing to BEHAVING. This seems so un-Holy Spirit like; so artificial. After Paul addresses a call to moral purity to the young Thessalonian church (so he does indeed address holiness), he concludes with "Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives us his HOLY Spirit" (1 Thess. 4:8 emphasis added). The standard is moral purity and the time-table is ???. Paul is willing to trust the HOLY Spirit to transform people morally. No quoting the Levitical moral code, no quoting Psalm 119: 9, 11. God gives us his Holy Spirit. So, relax.

John Frye said...
One more note on the 1 Thess. 4:8 text: the verbal form for "gives" in the phrase "...God, who gives us his Holy Spirit" is present, active, indicative. The idea is that when it comes to moral/sexual purity, God keeps on giving his Holy Spirit to be at work in that very vital aspect of our Christian formation. Did Jesus harange the women at the well with Old Testament quotes about marital fidelity after revealing her chain of failure? No, he gave the woman "living water" (the Spirit, see John 4:15; 7:38-39) and she became convincingly faithful to Jesus and an evangelist to boot. So, do we want to leverage people into holiness with our moral code and timetable or believe that the Father "keeps on giving HIS HOLY SPIRIT"?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Is this just "conversation" or more?

I've heard and read a number of comments in recent weeks in regard to this emergent stuff just being a bunch of 'conversation.' Critics, and even some of us within the 'conversation,' have suggested that we need to get doing something. Until we have 'fruit,' we have done nothing but talked.

Every time that I hear these kind of comments I cringe. This so called 'conversation' is much more than just conversation. As John West recently said, it's code for 'discipleship.' My only addition is that we're not trying to talk in code. We're simply trying to talk like normal people who don't need a special church lingo to understand and learn from one another.

In the real world, conversation shapes people. Or at least it shapes us if we listen and respond according to the person(s) talking to us. In addition, learning theory people have found that younger generations are learning through conversation in ways that previous generations did not.
Back to the point -- I've learned a great deal through conversation over the past five years. I've listened, responded, been pushed against, and have grown in my understanding and expression of the gospel message --- and it is quite different from what it was ten years ago.

The people with whom I have had 'conversation' have been shapers of my understanding of God, and of his kingdom. While many of you would not have considered yourself people who have discipled me, you have.

So, to suggest this emergent thing is simply a 'conversation,' is inaccurate. In addition, it undermines the value of the Spirit in our midst. Each time that I agree to have lunch, to have a cup of coffee, to listen, or to give advice, I hope and believe that the presence of the Spirit and the kingdom accompanies me. I believe that God blesses these 'conversations,' and we don't need to add the label of 'discipleship' in order for them to have kingdom significance.

So what about the 'fruit?' While we need to recognize that a harvest needs a yield, is isn't only a matter of lots of fruit. It's a matter of quality as well. Lots of wormy apples don't make for a good harvest.

In the words of Dallas Willard, "Instead of counting Christians, we need to weigh them. We weigh them by focusing on the most important kind of growth - love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, kindness, and so on - fruit in keeping with the gospel and the kingdom."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

August gathering... and beyond...

Hello Emergent Friends,

Last month we had a great discussion, and we’re hoping to expand on it this month.
Next gathering: Wednesday, August 10, 10:30 a.m. @ the Bite (corner of Pearl & Ottawa).

Conversation: We will have a panel talking about how they are dealing with the radical tension of belonging-believing-behaving. We’ll have three presenters from different perspectives (i.e. youth pastor, church planter, lay person)

For so long we’ve held to the idea that we need to believe before we can belong to the church… has this been a false assumption? Do some people belong long before they believe and behave correctly? And what are the implications of such things?

We would love to have you join us for this conversation!

Upcoming events:

~ Brian McLaren, Mike Wittmer, Ed Dobson @ GRTS
(grand rapids theological seminary) on September 12 ~

Talking Points
“What is Emerging?: A Conversation about a New Kind of Church”
Monday, September 12, 2005, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is pleased to present Talking Points, a one-day seminar designed for ministry leaders who desire to reflect critically about ministry in the twenty-first century… Cost is only $25 if you register online:
In addition, Steve Argue will be moderating one of the sessions during the day!


Monday night, September 12, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. --> Brian McLaren will be joining us to discuss the past, present, and future of emergent. Place – Schuler Books on 28th Street is graciously hosting this gathering. It will be free and open to everyone.

~ Wednesday morning, September 14, 10:30 a.m. (monthly converstaion), continuation of the discussion from Monday night…