The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


Emerging Church Research Report

I thought this sociology article was insightful -- introduced several key points as to why and how "Emergent" churches are thriving. I think it would be interesting to reflect on how our cohort fits (or doesn't fit) into these so-called "emergent" groups/churches/cohorts... Where do we invision this group going? What is our mission (if there is one at all)? I think it would be great if we reflected on the vision of our group. Are we a safe place for people to come ask questions about Jesus, about Judaism, Islam, about politics, the bible, etc? Are we a church? a group of friends? a group of intellectuals discussing abstract concepts and books and theology? Are we a mission? If so, how?

Any thoughts?


Greg said...

So I searched through some of our past postings and found this one especially relevant in light of your great questions, Kristen:


(A cool coincidence is that intentionality--the first Principal Finding in Josh's article--was also first on one of our lists back in December.)

One highlight for me in this article is the insight that "institutionalization constrains people by restricting the activities they can imagine themselves engaging in for any given situation."

Talk of restricted imaginations reminds me of Walking on Water by Madeline L'Engle, who I consider a pre-emergent. Writing almost 30 years ago, she said "We live under the illusion that if we can acquire complete control we can understand God . . . But the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord or hope to be part of the creative process, is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control." At another point she cites pragmatist philosopher William James as saying "Our lives are like islands in the sea, or like trees in the forest, which co-mingle their roots in the darkness underground. Just so, there is a continuum of cosmic consciousness, against which our individuality builds but accidental fences, and into which our several minds plunge as into a mother sea or reservoir." To me, the use of this quote in the larger context is clearly referencing the notion that we all possess a divine madness (the image of God), many of the characteristics of which have been impinged by cogito er sum. And finally, another emergent idea that L'Engle talks about involves naming versus labeling: "If we are blind and foolish, so were the disciples. They simply failed to understand what the light was about--these three disciples who were closest to him. They wanted to trap Jesus, Elijah, and Moses in tabernacles, tame them, pigeonhole and label them, as all of us human beings have continued to do ever since. It seems that more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label. To identify is to control, to limit. To love is to call by name and so open the wide gates of creativity. But we forget names and turn to labels; there are many familiar ones today, such as: 1) Fairy tales are not real and should be outgrown; 2.) Bach is mathematical; therefore he does not write with emotion; 3.) Chopin is only a romantic.; 4.) Roman Catholics are not Chrstians; 5.) Protestants cannot understand Holy Communion... If we are pigeonholed and labeled, we are unnamed."

The resistance to labeling is one of the really unique aspects of the emergent conversation. And yet, a compulsion to define/label/identify ourselves in a more traditional manner is probably not going to go away any time soon. However, as Josh's research would indicate, resistance movements seem to be thriving. I propose we keep resisting.

Jane Johnson said...


Thanks for this interesting article. It warmed my musicologist's heart, because it is a little bit of evidence to me that this new way of believing (emergent) may in fact be very helpful to showing university intellectuals that there is something compelling about Christ. Implicit to the findings of this sociologist's study is that he found churches of the emergent movement oddly successful, and seems to have gained a respect for the congregants, as he says that they are keen to avoid inauthenticity and institutionalization. The big, big question for me as I explore the possibilities of what it means to be emergent is, "With all my new found unknowing, can I still communicate truth about Jesus of Nazareth?" Little things like this report make me think that indeed this can be. Sorry not to answer any of your questions, but I wanted to let you know that the post encouraged me.


I loved your Madeline L'Engle quotes. She seems like quite a singular person. This one in particular caught my attention: "To identify is to control, to limit. To love is to call by name and so open the wide gates of creativity." This week in the music history class I TA my students have been reading an essay on identity politics in 20th-century music. I have been as a result lately mulling over identity politics (which from what I can tell is the same thing as regular politics, that in our world groups of people tend to form with shared whatever, and then set about attacking other groups that lay claim to some mutally desired domain. Stereotyping and labeling are often top-of-the-list tactics). This kind of activity sounds bad, and I think God is gently saying to me this week that it indeed is. In particular for us emergenters, I think he wants us to avoid with desperation falling into the trap of labeling and stereotyping anyone, ourselves included.

The L'Engle quote gave me yet another window into this issue. She says that labeling limits, while loving someone involves calling them by name. To me this means simple things like instead of thinking of all of my students as music majors, I should learn their names, and call them by these names with intentionality. What she says reminded me of one of those wild verses in Revelation: "To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it." (Rev 2:17). It is as though God will someday give us each a unique name, a name that I believe he already knows us by. We humans can only remember a certain number of names, so each society has a name bank that invidiuals drawn from to name children, causing repetition of names. So I have known at least 50different Johns over the course of my life thus far. But God can remember a different name for an infinite amount of people. He then is the ideal, perfect in love in this way as in every other, calling each of his creations by their exact, unique name. I long for the day when this is perfected in me, and I will "know fully [all other people] even as I am fully known." (1 Cor 13:12).

Jesse said...

Great comments Jane - really great.