I had a rather uncomfortable morning last Friday participating in the Emerging Church discussion at the Inclusive Church gathering. What made me uncomfortable you may ask? Was it the topic of conversation? Was it the level of thought and intelligence displayed by everyone in the room? Well, er, no, it was the INCREDIBLY UNCOMFORTABLE PEWS they made us sit on!
I mean how on earth are you supposed to listen to people debating new forms of church with an expression of interest and comprehension when your entire body is screaming for relief!
On a more positive note I actually found the day really interesting. I still couldn't tell you if I really understood what "emerging" means, or at what point something has "emerged" but I did learn a lot and felt a little less ignorant for the hearing.
Brian McClaren spoke brilliantly quoting Catholic missionary Vincent Donovan and bringing the discussion a missional focus.
"Praxis must be prior to theology... 'do not try to call [people] back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, as beautiful as it may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have ever been before.' Good missionary advice and a beautiful description of the unpredictable process of evangelisation, a process leading to that new place where none of us has ever been before." Vincent Donovan (I didn't catch the title of his book but I'm determined to track it down. Now doubt Toggers has read it.)
The best part of the day was the Mexican food eight of us gorged ourselves on at the end of the day. I was sitting around a table with Zia (a Turkish Christian with an amazing mind and an incredible testimony), Jonas (a Swedish theology student who knows Marcus and Mia Lind!), Simon (a Northern Irish guy with a quick grin who works with church.co.uk), erm a guy I didn't get to chat to (sorry!), the lovely Jon Harris (our insider in church.co.uk and our growing friend - Jon it was lovely to see you and hear all about Malaysia, I wasn't jealous honest...), Greg (from California who told me a rather interesting story about Pete Greig, some fountains and an excessive amount of nudity. Quite frankly I'm shocked...) and last but by no means least the lovely Phil Togwell.
Food, new friends, good conversation and hanging out with Toggers for the first time in what felt like ages were definitely the best part of my day...