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.


Discussion this Sunday

This Sunday (Jan. 3rd) we will meet at 3pm at the Global Gallery in Clintonville to have another discussion about the book, "Free for All." It has been well over a month since our last discussion about the book, so I suggest we pick up where we left off, in chapters 2 and 3.

In the second chapter, the authors give a brief recap of how the Bible has been used and interpreted by Christians in the 20th century. There are several key points of useful information, as well as clear statements demonstrating how the authors think the Bible should be read and used by a faith community.

If every one reads or re-reads these two chapters (pgs. 43-80), I think we will have plenty to discuss and catch up for a discussion Sunday afternoon.

As always, anyone is welcome to join the discussion, whether you have read the book or not. Also, if it will be your first time joining, we are excited to meet you! If you have any questions, feel free to email schroeder.jesse@gmail.com for clarification.

Identity of God's People

So it's that time warp thingy between Christmas and New Years. Some people working others not so much, still others traveling and such. Kinda hard to maintain the usual routines ya know? For me, my sister who lives out of state always visits her home state (OH) during this time. Because they have so many people to visit we wont get together until the 1st. That's when we will do our "Christmas" with them, it tends to work out that way every year. So even though Christmas is over I'm still endeavoring to keep my Christmas mojo rolling through this week. Still listening to Christmas carols on the i-pod, trying to stretch out the cookies etc. I said all that to justify what I want to bring up...I found this TODAY while reading a Christmas post from last week.

It’s the very first verse of Scripture’s Second Testament. And it picks up — majestically, beautifully — right where the First Testament left off, providing the genealogy of “Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

The rest of Matthew’s gospel and the whole of the Second Testament rests on this opening line. A Messiah has arrived, and this Messiah is the Son of David and the Seed of Abraham. He is the new Solomon, a rightful King for a Kingdom that, as explained by the prophet Nathan, will have no end. Unlike Solomon before him, this new King will lead Israel forward in their true identity as God’s people — to spread God’s favor to the nations, extending their blessing and fulfilling their covenant relationship with God inaugurated in Abraham.

A blessing to the nations. A Kingdom that has no end. Such significance in that very first verse of Matthew’s gospel.

Merry Christmas.


So what say you? I'm specifically asking about the take on "their true identity as God's people"...do you think the description of that identity given here is applicable to us/you?

I'm not sure how I feel...

Perhaps someone will say something that will help me gain clarity.

I hope you are all still "making merry":)


Next Sunday

We had a Jesus Study planned for next week, but a lot of people will be gone or busy because of the Christmas season. If a few people are still interested in getting together for a Jesus Study please put a comment. Eve and I would still be happy to host it.

If you have a specific section of scripture you would like to read than you can post that too otherwise I was thinking we would re-read the Christmas story again or just starting a gospel to work through.

The other option would be to do another "intentional day/week of blogging" in hopes we could reconnect with some cohortians who have moved away or we haven't heard from in a while.

Or we could do both?

It's already a bit late in the week for planning sorry, but let me know.

UPDATE: Sunday Dec. 20th no cohort meeting
It's the holidays, and we could all use some extra time with our families! Our Next meeting is Jan 3rd at Global Gallery


The Christmas Story (The Best Part)

Last Sunday we had a wonderful time of worship and celebration at Adam and Kara’s home. It was based on Advent and we discussed not only the time of waiting, but explored the Christmas story asking the question, “What is your favorite part?”

From wondering how Mary must have felt as she was ridiculed and shamed to the emotions of Joseph, we discussed several different pieces of the story. Andrew even said that he would have loved to have been a shepherd that night.

As I sat there and listened, I realized this was one more story that I was no longer certain about. And I thought to myself... “What makes this story true instead of a myth?”

(To be honest, I will tell you I’m weary of asking the “Is this true?” question.)

Instead I want to ask:

“What am I doing to radically immerse myself in this story so that something extraordinary may come?”

In that long ago Christmas story, they were waiting for a real, live Messiah to come and literally rescue them from yet another oppressive rule—to save them from their circumstances. They wanted miracles and a happy ending.

And thinking about that, I realized how many times I too have waited to be rescued from my oppressive circumstances. I am happy ever after girl longing for fairy tale endings, wanting magic and miracles too.

I haven’t lost that happy ever after girl who believes in miracles. It’s just that I know the incredible value that comes from embracing heartaches and loss—it is the combination of all that shapes, defines and carves my character into who I am fully with God.

That same Breath of Heaven that Mary received long ago is the same Breath of Heaven conceived in my heart, my mind and my soul giving birth to pain, heartache, hope, desire for a better life, empathy and a reason to love deeply.

So what is the best part of the Christmas story for me?

All of it!

P.S. Regarding whether I think the story is true--if God can take a bee and a flower and add it up to a tomato, a virgin birth would have to be easy breezy for Him. :)



12/13/2009 A.D.

4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm 4:00pm

179 Bridgeport Way, Delaware, OH 43015

Queen Mary is on a roll...she's got the elves hopping!

The Miller's will be providing:

MEAT - including crab cakes, chicken wings and Stromboli.
BEVERAGES - including, beer, soft drinks, some sort of special holiday concoction.

WHAT YOU MIGHT BRING (or the Queen's suggestion):

SALADS: Potato, Macaroni, Green Leaf, Relish tray
SIDES: HOT Vegetable dish ( broccoli or green bean etc), chips & salsa, cheese
and crackers

A beverage of your own liking (to share of course)




* GIFT EXCHANGE to be of the white elephant variety. Feel free to define "white elephant" however you please, haha!



Telling our Story?

The latest Emergent/C email newsletter linked to this post on the EV blog. Some selections:

"You have a story to tell. It’s probably a local story, the kind best told among friends over coffee on a winter day. Maybe it’s your community’s perspective, an unanticipated incandescence that brought your tribe some new Kingdom resolve. [Stories] can also be potentially profound to this, your family of friends and would-be-friends called Emergent Village. It’s no surprise that this village is also connected by—and centered around—the stories of the collective. What is surprising is how few stories filter up and lend their voices on the national and international scale. The Village is sustained by new stories, by new storytellers. Emergent|C hopes to bring your stories to the wider Village each month. Consider this your invitation to tell, retell, question, prod, report, critique, interpret or celebrate."

What is our unique story? It is worth asking, what is God doing amongst us? How are we transformed? How might our story help others in a unique way?

Could we discover our story together, and then tell it?


This Sunday- Celebration of the Faithful

This week we are having a Celebration of the Faithful, scheduled at the Newby home. Adam and I have some ideas- mostly around the idea of advent and the season- however, if any of you have any ideas and would like to do the celebration, please let us know. Also, as a reminder, with the Celebration we will have a a potluck-style meal. I have no idea about "theme" but post/comment if you are planning on being there and if you are planning on bringing anything and we can just coordinate that way. We have not had a COF in a while, so I'm really looking forward to this time together.


House Churches: More Numerous than You Might Think

The duly-respected and much-venerated, not to mention well-traveled and extremely-attractive Tall Skinny Kiwi has a couple of short posts trying to show that house churches are alive, well, and growing across the Christian West.

The first simply states that we should not ignore house churches, because there are tens of thousands across Europe and Australia. In addition, somewhere between 6 and 12 million people in America attend house churches.

The second offers six different types of house churches, per Wolfgang Simpson.

A couple of quick thoughts: 1) It's cool to see that Xianity in the "West" isn't totally dying, but is just growing in uncharted and unusual ways. IMO, house churches are really interesting and exciting. 2) Now that we have a bit of track record (more than 2 years for the COEC now!!), would we consider ourselves a "house church"?? Would we be in the first category, that of an "off the grid," the "God-yes-church-no" crowd? Not that definitions really matter, but, you know - for the sake of conversation ;)


Rob Bell: December 10: Columbus

Rob Bell will be in Columbus for his "Drops like Stars" tour on December 10th. It would be great to go to this event with a group of "cohorters" (cohortians?).

Info: Palace Theatre, 8pm. Tickets are about $25 after all charges and fees and are general admission, so purchase them on your own (but definitely purchase ahead of time is my advice).

I would recommend trying to get a rough head count for the even within the next week or so, each person purchase tickets individually, and then perhaps we can work out some carpooling or a meeting spot before the event, and then drinks and conversation afterward.

Perhaps a good event to invite some new and/or different folks for conversation as well??

Other thoughts/ideas??



Here is an interesting post that discusses evangelicalism's obsessions with defining who is "in" and "out." I thought there were some interesting points for those of us who have come "out of" evangelicalism, and also now struggle with defining what exactly "is" the "emerging/ent church."

It is astonishing that so many intelligent Christians seem to believe there is a deficit in emphasis on evangelism and scriptural literalism, and that, if the hatches are just battened down on a more solid “worldview,” evangelicalism can resume explaining the universe to new generations of believers. In this respect, evangelicalism’s true believers resemble the faction of the Republican Party that asserts with a straight face that returning to “core principles,” and not a radical restructuring of priorities, will bring waves of Americans back to the right wing.

But so many twenty-somethings are not calling themselves “post-evangelical” because they know too little theology or have put too small an effort into synthesizing it with reality. They have come from the most apologetics-obsessed generation of Christians in American history, and have realized that many of their prepared answers are for questions that no one is asking. Adrift in the cultural sea, many turned to traditions and theological systems of the past, only to find those similarly unequipped to address the questions of our time. The only choice has been to begin the messy and at times overwhelming process of drafting something new.

The growing collection of post-evangelicals is what the defensive, definitional evangelical fears the most, and could by itself explain the recent obsession with protecting the label. Surely many of the intelligent professors, students, writers and bloggers rushing to its defense have also felt the naggings of cognitive dissonance and the inkling that the world might make more sense if they abandoned some of their cultural presuppositions. But haggling over the details of theology provides a psuedo-intellectual haven from real-world questions, where evangelicals can exercise their minds without coming to any unsettling conclusions. And thus the cycle of definition and redefinition continues, providing endless diversion as it cuts deeper and deeper ruts into what was once known as the Christian dialogue.

Refusing to align squarely with evangelical shibboleths requires courage, but the sooner it happens on a larger scale the better. All signs point to a near future where religion will play an increasingly climactic role in global culture and politics. Men and women who, as Mark Noll puts it in the final pages of The Evangelical Scandal, “think like a Christian”—by which he means “take seriously the sovereignty of God over the world he created”—should be leading the way on the meta questions that are already besieging society. But as long as they are busy drafting manifestos in their barricaded salons, hubristic rationalism will continue charging unchecked into the 21st century.


America & Modernity

There is a good post on the story of modernity in America over at the American Creation blog. In light of our recent conversations about how we read the Bible, I think it is relevant. It supports the idea that the "modern" way of thinking is a recent development, especially when it comes to how we approach religion. And especially to how Americans in particular approach religion.


This Sunday: Operation Christmas Child

This Sunday (Nov. 15th) we will be gathering together to participate in the Operation Christmas Child (OCC) project. OCC is a component of the Samaritan's Purse ministry, which is founded and led by Franklin Graham. The effective mission of Samaritan's Purse is to go "to the aid of the world's poor, sick, and suffering...with food, medicine, and other assistance in the Name of Jesus Christ." One way they do this is by giving needy children around the world shoe boxes filled with small, simple, but meaningful gifts.

In 2008, over 8 million shoe boxes were collected and were sent to over 115 countries around the world. This is really an incredible program, but it has to start with people who are willing to purchase the items and pack the shoe box. So, that's us!!

We will meet at 3pm at Adam and Kara's house (thanks for hosting!). First we will watch a short video about the program so that everyone has a good idea what we are participating in. Then we will drive to the store (probably Target) to purchase the items for the shoe boxes. We will return to the house to wrap, pack and prepare the boxes. Kellye and I will bring the necessary papers that are included in each box, and then we will take the finished shoe boxes to a drop off point in Grove City.

Some things you should try to bring to our OCC party:
  • An empty shoe box to be packed and given away.
  • Wrapping paper
  • Any items you would like to include in your shoe box, such as individual size soap or shampoo; hard candy; new toys; school supplies; etc. See a list of suggested items here.
  • Money - have your checkbook so you can include the $7 shipping donation. Also whatever money you plan to spend at the store.
  • Snacks?? Not a necessity, but always welcome ;)
This is really a service event. It definitely requires a sacrifice on our part. You will probably spend around $30 on a shoe box, which might be a lot of money depending on your life circumstances right now. It will also take us a few hours. And it might seem weird to spend all that time and money so a kid can get some small toys; I mean - couldn't we do more with our money? Couldn't we really get to the root of issues like poverty and war?? Maybe. But this is also a simple and easy way to bless an unknown child in an unknown part of the world in a really special way. We have no idea what a small gift like this could do. OCC promises that no child receives a shoe box twice in their life, so for each recipient, this is their first time ever receiving a gift that is this special. It's really a great opportunity for everyday people like us.


Scripture In Community

This Sunday we will meet at Zach and Eve's home at 1270 Courtland in downtown Columbus. As a continuation of the study of the book, "Free for All" by Tim Conder we will be discussing Chapter 5, The Word in the Obscure (Genesis 34).

Despite (and maybe because of) the enormous challenge of this ancient story, I volunteered to lead this time. See you Sunday!



What bias do you bring to scripture reading?

Is it ever possible to get to the "true meaning" of scripture? Or are we always reading into the text things that aren't there through our biases?
Should we try to pull personal meaning from the Bible or just try to only read it based on what it originally meant?
Is it possible to read some of the Bible as poetic non-literal literature while firmly believing other parts?
What sorts of biases do we bring when reading the scriptures of other faiths?
What is scripture's place in an emergent community?

We'll be discussing scripture at 3:00pm on Sunday Nov 1st at Global Gallery based loosely around the book Free for All by Tim Conder and Daniel Rhodes. Please come out and share your thoughts on how you interact with scripture.

If you are unable to come feel free to start some discussion in the comments of this post.


This Sunday - Community Night

We have decided to start a monthly activity that will be known as "Community Night." Essentially this will be a time for each person in the cohort to share any recent updates, minor or major, and for everyone to affirm and support each other in a casual, open, sincere, and meaningful setting. It will be a great time for people who have been a part of the cohort for months to continue to share life together, and also a great time for new folks to jump in, get to know everyone, and share a casual evening together.

We will have a sharing meal, prepared by one person (or couple) for that evening. This week, Kellye and I will be serving a chicken noodle casserole, salad, fresh bread, and an apple crisp for dessert. Please respond in the comments or through email to let us know you are coming so we can be sure to have enough.

We'll meet this Sunday evening (10/25), at 5:30 pm, at the Schroeder's house in Grove City. If you need more information or have any questions, feel free to email me at schroeder.jesse@gmail.com


Anglicans are welcomed by the Catholics

Just read this article on CNN that I thought I would pass along. It is called "Vatican welcomes Anglicans into the Catholic Church." Not a lot of details here, and I'm really not sure what I think about this just yet, but I thought I would put it out there.

Also, if you really want to put your finger on the pulse of religion in America, make sure you read the comment section. My favorite is this: "why do you people who dont believe in anything even comment. i will tell you why, you are possessed by the demon, satan. he is the ultimate in deception and will make you think you know everything, then he will torture you when you die and laugh at you burning. deny god and see for yourself."

I have very confused feelings after reading the story and these comments...I think I need a drink.


River Clean Up

For this Sunday's Emergent Cohort meeting, we chose to spend time walking along the river and cleaning up whatever trash we could find. Although we were a small group (only 4), we were able to pick up a lot of trash (about 15 bags). Here are some pictures:


Upcoming Events

Hi friends - (sorry for the long post!!)

A few things coming up, and some ideas I wanted to toss out there. "On Schedule" for this weekend is the "Walk Now for Autism" event - last year, Kara and I joined Noel and it was a great experience! It's a full day, but there are wonderful people there and it's a great cause for sure. I don't think we have anything formal planned as far as volunteering. I will be there with Step by Step Academy (my new job) but I'm not sure what I'll be doing. If you know you want to come and help out, contact either me or Noel.

Monday, Oct. 12th at 6:30pm is scheduled to be another planning meeting. In the past, this meeting has been REALLY helpful as it gives us an idea of what is coming up, a chance to put our heads together, and its an open time when everyone's ideas are welcome and included. So I'd like to encourage everyone who can possibly make it to come on Monday night, even if you have never come to a planning session before, or maybe not even a cohort meeting before. This is a great time to throw in your ideas and share, or get an idea of what is coming up in the next few months.

We will meet at the Newby's house. Anyone is welcome to bring light refreshments, like some apple cider or cookies.

I'd like to throw out two ideas to consider before the planning session, and then get feedback from everyone. The first is Tim Conder's book "Free for All" I haven't read it, but from what I understand, it is about getting away from a literal/fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture, and learning to let the Bible have a voice in your community. A recent Emergent Village email had an excerpt, which you can read here, and there was a podcast of Tim Conder speaking at a cohort meeting (you can find it on iTunes). Perhaps this book could be a resource for us in coming months? We could try to practice some of the ideas he suggests?

The second suggestion has to do with recent "changes" in Emergent Village. I have not really looked into these very much, but essentially the EV leadership has said they want more involvement and leadership from local cohorts. A recent post on the EV blog includes an invitation and talks about the future of EV. Does our cohort want to be more closely connected with EV? Do we want to join in the areas they are working in? Or do we enjoy being more independent? There are obviously pros/cons both ways.

These are just some of my thoughts! Hope to see you Monday night!


Wendell Berry

Come and share some reading and discussion of Wendell Berry Sunday afternoon as we share a cup of coffee or tea. We will begin at 3:00pm at Global Gallery.


Shameless Plug

Hi everyone. Sorry to clutter up the blog (and yes, we already sent an email about this), but we just wanted to mention that we have set up a blog to tell everyone about our journey through Europe over the next 9 months. It should be a nice way to stay in touch and maybe even discuss some spiritual matters as we encounter Europe's version or faith. The blog is here: http://9monthsofsolitude.blogspot.com.

We miss you all!


You Are God's Beloved

God has called you by name, from the very beginning. You are his Beloved, and on you his favor rests. He molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. He carved you in the palms of his hands and hid you in the shadow of his embrace. He has counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Where you go, he will go with you, and where you rest, he will keep watch. He will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. He will not hide his face from you. You belong to him. Wherever you are, he will be. Nothing will ever separate you from him.

Jesus Christ, his only son, gave his life for you. Just like his life was taken, blessed, broken and given on behalf of your sin, your life is taken, blessed, broken and given to the glory of God the Father.

You are chosen.

Receive the blessing of the Father.

Rejoice in sharing in the sufferings of the Son.

And be free to give your life in service to others.


Celebration of the Faithful this Sunday

The Celebration of the Faithful this week will be at Zack and Eve's formerly Nick and Jane's place at 1270 Courtland Ave we will be eating a meal together the theme is Mexican food. Please post a comment with what you are bringing. We'll start at 6:00pm.


"We're Not In Kansas Anymore"

Over the weekend, I realized how deeply I miss feeling like I know what I’m doing with God; I miss having beliefs that I feel strongly about; and I miss having a story that I know how it ends.

Let me tell you that when I naively decided that I wanted more of God, I did not know how hard this would be. I didn’t know that wanting more of God would cause me to question so many of my beliefs and that I would essentially end up kind of like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz—a little lost, afraid and wanting to go back home.

There are so many critics of the Emergent Movement. Right now I can't really blame them—even I think this journey seems pretty irresponsible and too dangerous. What if I never find my way back? What if I never end up on solid ground again with real beliefs? What if I never have a way to live my life again that makes sense in the context of faith and the Kingdom of God and loving Jesus?

But Dorothy meets guides along the way, right? The personifications of wisdom, courage and heart. And after her ordeal of facing her worst fears, she does get back home. It is the same home, but better because she has changed. She is home and it is exactly where she wants to be.

Is that what I hope for--that I can somehow get back home? To be honest, because of this journey, nothing will ever be the same again.

And yet as I end this post, I realize I am exactly where I want to be.



"Postchurch" Conversation

Frank Viola has two recent posts (here and here) on the Out of Ur blog. They are meant to be read together, and the bottom line is that he sees the "postchurch perspective" as unbiblical, unsustainable, and not genuine Christianity. In the first post, he says that "postchurch" is "built on the premise that institutional forms of church are ineffective, unbiblical, unworkable, and in some cases, dangerous. Institutionalization is not compatible with ekklesia" and ""any semblance of organization whatsoever . . . any semblance of leadership...is wrong and oppressive. Church is simply when two or three believers gather together in any format. Whenever this happens, church occurs." In the second article, he applies 6 characteristics of NT churches to "postchurches" and sees that postchurches fail all 6.

Viola has a very specific, NT idea of church (of ekklesia, the greek word for "church") in mind when he writes these articles. His ideal concept of church is an "organic" church. He writes, "By "organic church," I mean a non-traditional church that is born out of spiritual life instead of constructed by human institutions and held together by religious programs. Organic church life is a grass roots experience that is marked by face-to-face community, every-member functioning, open-participatory meetings (opposed to pastor-to-pew services), non-hierarchical leadership, and the centrality and supremacy of Jesus Christ as the functional Leader and Head of the gathering. Put another way, organic church life is the "experience" of the Body of Christ. In its purest form, it's the fellowship of the Triune God brought to earth and experienced by human beings."

In my opinion, the COEC is a very "organic" group of people, and we experience God in a variety of ways and settings. However, I would not say we are a church either. Are we "postchurch?" I'm not sure (mainly because I don't accept Viola's definitions as comprehensive).

Frank has also posted on his blog that "Some of the comments on the blog confirm my instincts to write this article, as a great deal of confusion abounds among those who have left institutional Christianity and have opted for “the convenient substitute” rather than the organic expression of the body of Christ." I think it would be interesting to get feedback from our cohort.

Are we "postchurch" or "organic"? Are these the same? Are there areas that Viola is missing?

Other thoughts? Post here, or on the Out of Ur blog.


Thomas Merton Discussion Starters

This Sunday we will have an open discussion about Thomas Merton and some of his main ideas. The discussion will be held at the Global Gallery in Clintonville from 6:30-8:30pm and is open to everyone. Below are a few ideas that I thought might spark some discussion:
  • Thomas Merton (1915-1968) was a scholar and a monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He was a prolific writer and is best know for his work on the need for silence, solitude, and spiritual contemplation. Eventually, his work in these areas led him to interfaith discussions with Eastern religions.
  • Merton writes about contemplation: "Contemplation is the highest expression of man's intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. It is gratitude for life, for awareness, and for being. It is a vivid realization of the fact that life and being in us proceed from an invisible, transcendent, and infinitely abundant Source. Contemplation is, above all, awareness of the reality of that Source."
  • Another quote on contemplation: "Contemplation is essentially a listening in silence, an expectancy. And yet in a certain sense, we must truly begin to hear God when we have ceased to listen. What is the explanation of this paradox? Perhaps only that there is a higher kind of listening...a general emptiness that waits to realize the fullness of the message of God within its own apparent void. In other words, the true contemplative is not the one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect or anticipate the word that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation...He waits on the Word of God in silence, and when he is 'answered' it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a great word of power, full of the voice of God."
  • In the monastic tradition, the purpose of Christian life is very different from that of the evangelical. Rather than a call to "do" something for God - whether it be evangelism, social justice, worship or preaching - the monk believes that the most important thing a person can do is simply experience God's presence and love him deeply. This love for God, evidenced in regular prayer and the community within the abbey, is a witness to the rest of the world of how life could be lived. Also, the prayers of the monks are a powerful spiritual force in the secular world, although they are unseen.
Some possible questions for discussion:
  1. What is your immediate reaction to the ideas of silence, solitude and contemplation?
  2. What are your thoughts about the monastic tradition? Where do you see monasticism in postmodern life?
  3. Merton (and all mystical/contemplatives) spend much time discussing the experience of God's presence and what it means to love God sincerely and deeply in human life. How do you experience God? How do you express love for God? Do you think contemplation could be another path for this?
  4. Meditation/contemplation is not unique to Christianity. Where else have you experienced/practiced this mystical activity? What do you think about Merton's interfaith dialogs based upon mystical experiences of God?
  5. What might evangelicals and American Christians in general learn from the monastic tradition?
A possible side discussion could be about the so-called "postchurch" position. Author Frank Viola wrote a few posts about it this week on the Out of Ur blog (first post; second post) . His primary point is that those who claim to be "postchurch" are actually lazy in their commitment to a spiritual community and this is not a biblical understanding of church. However, I think that alongside Merton's ideas of contemplation as being "fully awake" to God's presence in all of life, being postchurch could be a movement out of and beyond church, finding and rejoicing in God's presence in the rest of the Christian life, not just in the one or two hours of church.

For some additional reading, you can see some of the blog posts I have written on contemplation here.


Celebration of the Faithful

This week we are having a Celebration of the Faithful at Adam and Kara's house. We will meet at 5, then have the meal after the Celebration. The theme for the food this week is...local...which we will define as Ohio. (It can be hard to make a full dish locally, so try to make at least part of it that way, if not all.) We might be taking a walk, so wear your walking shoes...not your high heels :). See you at 5 on Sunday. If possible let us know what you are bringing, so we don't end up with plate upon plate of Ohio Sweet corn...though that might not be so bad. 


Thanks everyone!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Doug Pagitt Live Occurrence event. It was a great time, and we really enjoyed meeting everyone and hanging out. A special shout out to the folks at Jacob's Porch for allowing us to use their space. Also, it was great to see our emergent friends from the Dayton Cohort and the Akron Cohort! Thanks for dropping by!

You can see a few more pictures from the event on our facebook page here:


Doug is coming this weekend!

In case you forgot, Doug Pagitt is coming to Columbus on Sunday, July 19th. You can see more information here, and I've embedded a video below that has a little preview. I'm really excited for this event and I hope you and all your family and friends will be able to make it.


Visiting church this Sunday

Our plan for this weekend is to try out a local church and get some lunch afterwords. As far as I know we haven't picked a place yet. So, if you have an idea post it below in the comments and whoever wants to can get together to go to the service.


Jean-Paul Sartre: Friend or Enemy of the COEC?

This funny title suggests the dramatic relationship between French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and Christians (i.e. some of his books were once banned by the Catholic Church, some Christians have co-opted his ideas). Sartre is useful to the Emergent movement, because popular Emergent thought both resonates with and reacts passionately against his version of existentialism. Therefore, the next discussion (Sun. 7/5) will be all about Sartre. By the end of the discussion my goal is for us to decide whether or not to place Sartre’s Complete Works on our cohort’s list of prohibited reading material.

We will focus on “Existentialism is a Humanism,” an essay Sartre wrote in 1946 that outlines the basics of his philosophical position (at least in the 1940s) with a broad audience in mind. The text can be found at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/sartre/works/exist/sartre.htm. Before reading it, I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article on existentialism. You can also read a scholarly overview of the subject that I have posted on our YahooGroups page. If you aren’t a member of the group, you’ll need to sign up to get to the files (see the button on the right panel of the blog). Once you’re into our page, click on “files,” to the left. The latter overview is on the one hand a more difficult read, but on the other hand treats the subject in a broader way that might better stimulate thought. I’m planning on putting Sartre’s essay front-and-center, so if you don’t have time to read much, please focus on his essay. Something that I like about Sartre is that he was suspicious of lofty philosophical exercise, so that even his non-fiction works are surprisingly easy to approach without a background in the material. Read the essay with an open mind that allows Sartre’s ideas to spark your own ideas, and a critical mind that causes you to test his ideas against what you believe about the nature of human experience.

If you would like a more guided reading, you might keep these questions in mind:
1) Does anything Sartre says bring Biblical passages into your mind?
2) How does Sartre’s philosophy accord with your own spiritual beliefs?
3) What does Sartre say that really bothers you? Why?
4) What do you think of Sartre’s critiques of Christianity?
5) Do you believe that humans are ultimately responsible for every choice?
6) Do you find existentialism to be a positive or negative way to approach life?
7) Does existence precede essence?
8) Why did Sartre choose atheism?
9) Does the decision process Sartre advocates resemble how you make decisions?

May you remain in the depths of existentialist anguish until Sunday!

Does It All Need to Change?

After reading Jesse’s post immediately below, I thought about the question "Does it all need to Change?" I offer an excerpt from a book I’m currently reading called “The Seeker’s Guide” by Elizabeth Lesser.

"The New American Spirituality

"We are witnessing the birth of a wisdom tradition that is uniquely American. Within traditional organized religions, as well as in the hybrid creations of our times, the stamp of American thinking is plain. We see the American spirit in the proliferation of nonaffiliated Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Islamic churches, and also in the profound changes within sanctioned denominations. This spirit values independence from religious hierarchy. It crosses religious and social boundaries, telling the tale of a diverse people, gathered in close proximity, and absorbing each other's ways of worshiping, ritualization and mythologizing the great mysteries of life. In contains the nature-centered traditions of the original peoples of the Americas. It is part science, which has underscored, for the most of the twentieth century, our unspoken collective philosophy. It respects both a mistrust of heavy-handed authority and the willing surrender to a greater power. It draws from the religious teachings of the past: from the biblical traditions; from the spiritual roots of Africa; from the meditative schools of Asia; and from other diverse mythic and religious worldviews. and it draws from our own times, from the wisdom of psychology, democracy and feminism.

Old Spirituality:
1. Who Has Authority: The hierarchy has the authority. Church authorities tell you how to worship in church and how to behave outside church.

2. What Is Spirituality? God, and the path to worship Him, have already been defined. all you need to do is follow the directions.

3. What Is the Path to God? There is only one path. It is the right way and all other ways are wrong.

4. What is Sacred? Parts of yourself--like the body or ego or emotions are evil. Deny or transcend or sublimate them or they will lead you astray.

5. What Is the Truth? The truth is like a rock. Your understanding of it should never waiver. Therefore ask the same questions and receive the same answers at all stages of life.

New Spirituality:
1. Who Has Authority: You are your own best authority. As you work to know and love yourself, you discover how to live a spiritual life.

2. What Is Spirituality? You listen within for your own definition of spirituality. Your deeper longings are your compass on the search.

3. What Is the Path to God? Many paths lead to spiritual freedom and peace. You have a rich array of gems from which to draw illumination: the world's religious traditions; mythology; philosophy; psychology; healing methods; scientific wisdom; your own experience.

4. What is Sacred? Everything is sacred--your body, mind, psyche, heart and soul. The world is sacred, too, with all of its light and darkness. Bring the exiled and unloved parts of yourself back into the fold.

5. What Is the Truth? The truth is like the horizon--forever ahead of you, forever changing its shape and color. Let your spiritual path change and diverge as you journey toward it. The truth accommodates your growth.”

Does it all need to change?

I think it already has.

But perhaps I can allow the truths from my past, those truths I still hold so dear, to continue to shape and define me as I head toward a horizon 'forever changing its shape and color.'


XWB Discussion Post #2

This post is a part of the online discussion about Doug Pagitt's book "A Christianity Worth Believing in anticipation of his visit to Columbus."

A Hellenistic Faith?

The following is an excerpt taken from chapter 5 in which Doug uses the story of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 to show that in the 1st century, the new faith of following Jesus Christ was meant for different people of different backgrounds, races and lifestyles. He proceeds in the chapter to discuss how Christianity became more "set in stone" along with the development of Greek and Roman culture.

"So the Jewish believers were asking the Gentile believers to do whatever they could to make it possible for the two groups to meet together. The first few centuries of the Christian faith were all about this balance between diversity and unity.

But then something changed...Christianity started moving from a faith committed to multicultural unity to one requiring monocultural uniformity. In other words, Christianity began settling into one particular culture and worldview, and all adherents had to convert to that worldview if they wanted to follow Jesus. Strangely, that mandatory worldview was not the Hebrew worldview of the Jewish people. It was the Greek worldview of the Gentiles. ...

... By the time Christianity became the official Roman religion under Constantine, it was so deeply a Greek expresion that not only had the Jewish heritage faded, but many Christians were fearful of the Jews, and deep conflict between Jews and Christians was common. This marked quite a change. The influence of telling a dynamic Jewish story in and through multiple cutlures was replaced with a Greek monocultural expression of Christianity. It is from within this fully Greek worldview that much of our 'official' modern Christianity arose. ...

... Augustine and many who followed him needed to create complex theologies to smooth out the questions raised by all of these competing worldviews. Their theological explanations are brilliant for their situation, but they are just that - situational explanations. They are not in and of themselves the story of God. This is why it's important for us to recognize the cultural encoding that takes place every time a theology is created. every theology is grounded in a culture and set of culturally based assumptions and concerns. To hold to these theologies in the fifth century was to be faithful, for they were created as explanations for the understanding of the world at that time. But to hold to those same conclusions today, when the worldview that demanded them has expired, is simply foolish."

In my opinion, one of the most common mistakes religious people make is that they experience God in a meaningful and real way, and then they aim to replicate that experience with everyone else they know, regardless of any differences in background, personality or experiences. It seems almost contradictory to have a "flexible" or "changing" religion, because inherent in the concept of religion is a set of beliefs and systems that are unchanging, permanent, absolute.

But as we all know, the world - and the people and the ideas in the world - are all changing, and very rapidly. The faith of the 21st century, in many respects, is not the same faith as the 20th century, and certainly not the same faith of the 5th century when Augustine wrote.

But on the other hand, we have the creeds, we have the Scriptures, and we have the traditions of the Church. Does it all need to change? Herein lies the difficult interpretative task: Which beliefs are culturally bound and necessitate revision? And which are more permanent, more foundational and should not be changed at all?

Possible questions to discuss:
  • In what ways do you see the ancient influences in the Christian faith?
  • What parts of your current Christian experience do you feel are more being held over from cultural experiences of the past, and aren't really central to the core of what it means to be a follower of Jesus?
  • How do we determine what parts of our faith are cultural and what parts are permanent? Can we make such a division?


It's Cook Out Time!

We are having a super-fun! cook out this Sunday at 5:00 and everyone is welcome (including President Obama, or any former Presidents for that matter). We will be at 1270 Courtland Ave. I'll have a grill up and running, so bring something to throw on and a side dish or drink to share. Also, if you have any good outdoor games bring them along. The cornhole set we had last year is no more, but hopefully someone can bring one?

It should be a fun time. Feel free to bring friends and loved ones.


Violence and God Audio

We had a great discussion with Brandon Sipes regarding world religions, violence, conflict and spiritual life. It was great to see everyone there, and many thanks to Brandon for sharing with us.

I recorded the discussion and have uploaded it. You can access the mp3 here. If anyone would like to post other reflections or links here, feel free.


Link to my research trip

Here is the blog I kept while on my research trip 2 summers ago:



Some topics

So I thought i might be able to post a couple documents, but because of the late date, I decided instead just to put a few questions and comments here.

I'd like to focus on religious violence especially, and violence within the christian context in general. Two specific questions:
1) Do the religions naturally lead to violence, and if so, in what ways?
2) Can Christianity offer healing for that violence and offer a different perspective?

It seems these were already much discussed, but particularly in regard to the first question, I'd like to see our discussion range out of the realm of Christian theology and into the area of other religions as well.

Also, these comments from the previous blog posts stuck out to me:

"Is not the central focus of the Gospels the crucifixion of Christ by God? Which could be used as just another example of a violent God killing His own son?" - Zack

"But we still know there is God's righteous judgment, which is always good and right...I don't know why God judges when he does or how he does, but I do have to believe it is always good." - Nick

"As Brueggemann points out, there seem to have been times in the OT when an Israelite reached out in an effort to stop God's violent hand...Brueggemann wants us to consider that Abraham, the creation, truly affected the mind of the creator." -Jane

I think these three issues: soteriology, judgment and dissension are critical to this conversation and we likely will look to them in the context of the questions numbered above.


God and Violence discussion

Hello all,

I wanted to take just a quick minute to introduce myself and let you know to look out for a couple postings in the next day.

My name is Brandon Sipes and I'll be facilitating/leading the discussion this Sunday afternoon on God and Violence. You've already had some quite good discussion and I'm excited to engage this group with further thoughts. I'll be posting some new and old questions, as well as some links or documents that might be helpful to our conversation.

I would prefer to take the time for introductions when we are together, so I will leave it at my name and that it will be good to see you all. I am curious how many might come, so I wonder if you might be able to RSVP in the comments. that would be helpful for any planning I have.


XWB Discussion Post #1

This post is a part of the online discussion about Doug Pagitt's book "A Christianity Worth Believing in anticipation of his visit to Columbus."

Introduction: "I want to believe differently."

The following is an excerpt from chapter 1, taken from here. You can also listen to a reading of the chapter or download a .pdf of the whole chapter here.

I am a Christian — a theologically trained, church-planting, evangelizing, Jesus-loving Christian. I trust in resurrection, and I seek to join with God in the world. But I have problem, an internal conflict that has only gotten worse in my twenty years of following this faith. It’s the kind of problem I tell others about with great caution and no small amount of anxiety.

I am a Christian, but I don’t believe in Christianity.

At least I don’t believe in the versions of Christianity that have prevailed for the last fifteen hundred years, the ones that were perfectly suitable in their time and place but have little connection with this time and place. The ones that answer questions we no longer ask and fail to consider questions we can no longer ignore. The ones that don’t mesh with what we know about God and the world and our place in it. I want to be very clear: I am not conflicted because I struggle to believe. I am conflicted because I want to believe differently.

I especially appreciate Doug's honesty here, right at the beginning of the book, clearing confessing his faith, but admitting to his unbelief in the prevailing systems of Christianity and struggle to believe differently.

Have you felt this tension before, between loving Jesus, but not loving Christianity? Where has it led you? What particular parts of the "versions of Christianity" do you struggle with, disagree with, or give you problems? Is it possible to be a Christian but not believe in Christianity? How will that affect your involvement in church and with other Christians?

Perhaps the most important questions are, if you have felt this tension, how have you successfully resolved it or found answers? Where do you find hope, even within Christianity? Obviously in the book Doug goes on to offer, as the subtitle states, "a hope-filled, open-armed, alive and well faith for the left-out, left-behind and let-down." But it may be important first to recognize that there are many who love Jesus, but are feeling beat down and disappointed with the versions of Christianity that are commonly offered.

"A Christianity Worth Believing" Online Discussion

I'd like to start an online discussion about Doug Pagitt's book "A Christianity Worth Believing," leading up to his visit to Columbus July 19th. I'll try to post links to chapters you can read online, discussion questions, and generally introduce a few of Doug's ideas that I think are compelling and interesting.

Each post will be titled "XWB Discussion Post #**" These posts will not correspond with any particular cohort discussion session, but rather will be held solely online so hopefully for people can interact and get excited about Doug's visit. Please feel free post comments, ask questions, and engage in the online discussion.

For now, check out Andrew Jones' review of the book here, and peruse Doug Pagitt's own blog that offers links to free chapters online as well as audio recordings of him reading various chapters. If you'd like to pick up your own copy of the book, I got a paperback version from B&N (in town, Lennox) for $14.99, and the Columbus Public Library owns several copies as well.


Discussion about Emergent

Around the "blog-o-sphere" this week there has been a lot of discussion regarding "the death of Emergent" or being "disappointed" with the movement. The posts have been very thoughtful, and the discussion lively. To me, this is a perfect example of what I love about the "emergent conversation" - I see this happening right in our midst.

However, I also thought that some of the words written this week might express the thoughts of members of our own cohort. Our cohort has grown, shrunk, gained and lost members, worked through changes and phases, and is something different today that perhaps we had envisioned months, or maybe even years ago.

So take a look at a few of the posts listed below, and perhaps comment about what resonated with you personally.

Tony Jones posts a "round up"

Response on EV.com from Jonathan Brink

The post by Nick Fiedler that got it started (discussing disappointments with Emergent)

A long (and brutally honest and informative) response from Tony Jones

Another good response from Makeesha Fisher


The COEC Welcomes Doug Pagitt!!

Please mark you calendars for another special event this summer - Sunday July 19th we are hosting Doug Pagitt, author, speaker, pastor, seminal leader in emergent village, and future politician? Doug will be sharing his "Christianity Worth Believing" Live Occurrence (see more info here) - Also, see the facebook event page here.

The event will be from 3-5pm and will be hosted by Jacob's Porch, located at 45 E. 13th Ave. There is limited parking behind the building, free meter parking on 13th Ave, and inexpensive parking at the nearby Gateway Parking garage.

I have read several of Doug's books, and they are available from the Cols. library and at local book stores (I would highly recommend both "A Christianity Worth Believing" and "Church Re-imagined"). I'll be putting up some posts soon on the COEC blog with selections for reading and discussion.

I'm confident this will be another great author/speaker event for Columbus!!

Sahaja Yoga meditation/Celebration of the Faithful

This Sunday we are being joined by some very special guests who have agreed to come share Sahaja Yoga meditation techniques, answer questions, and share a meal with us. Jane and I have been attending classes for a couple months now and have found it very rewarding and relaxing. I hope that many people are able to come learn about how meditation can be a relaxing part of life. We are hoping to also have a spiritual discussion about how meditation fits in a life based on faith.

Please comment what food you plan on bringing as I would like to treat our guests well.


Dinner Sunday Evening

This weekend we will be welcoming and chatting with Becky Robbins-Penniman, pastor at Lamb of God Church. We will be talking about the emergent cohort/movement here in Columbus and what she has learned from visiting other emergent communities around the United States. We will meet at Adam and Kara's House (1007 Manor Ln #D, 43221) at 6pm. We will have the grill fired up, so please bring some meat/something to grill for yourself and a side dish or beverage to share.


May 17 - Socialism Discussion

Glenn King has sent the following information through the cohort email listserv, but I thought it could be helpful to post it on the blog as well. All the links are to google documents.
I took the initiative to give a presentation on the subject of socialism
particularly in its relationship to Christianity for the meeting of May
17. I would like to share some articles written both by myself and others
which can give to members some basic insights on both the diversity of
socialist ideas and history.

What I want primarily to do at the presentation is to lead a discussion
regarding the relationship of Socialism and Christianity. As part of
that discussion I am prepared to discuss aspects of the history and
ideas of socialism as needed. However I think that if persons do decide
to read these articles they will find them of interest and hopefully will
understand much better my own views on socialism. Feel free to respond
to these articles prior to the meeting. What I hope to do is to put
socialism on the map as at least a concept to be considered by Columbus
members of the emerging church movement. I hope the meeting on May 17 can
be the opening of a dialogue and not just the beginning and the end of

Article #1: What Socialism is Not

Article #2: An Alternative Socialism

Article #3: Themes of Freedom, Power & Community

Article #4: Capitalism, Cooperativism, and Values

Article #5: Thoughts on the Kingdom of God


COEC Service Project, this Sunday

This Sunday we are doing our first joint service project - cleaning alleys in Weinland Park. We will be meeting at 10:00 am at 1270 Courtland Ave. and spreading into the neighborhood. A fair amount of us live in or near Weinland Park, so this will be a good opportunity to help our local community. If you have a truck (Adam...) it would be great to have to move to large trash and brush that are filling up the alleys.

We'll try to have bags, and you'll probably want gloves. See you Sunday. Comment below if you have questions.


Where do you get your news?

A few weeks ago during a discussion session, people briefly referenced the different news sources they trusted (or didn't trust). It made me wonder where everyone went to get the news - whether online, TV, print or otherwise. I thought if we shared what sources we find particularly helpful, we might find some "new news."

So - where do you get your news?


Next Meeting: COTF - May 3rd

This Sunday, May 3rd, we will have a "Celebration of the Discipline" gathering. We will meet a little later than usual, at 6pm at Jesse & Kellye's house in Grove City. We will have the grill hot and ready to go, so please bring your favorite meat and veggies to put on the grill (for yourself) and then a side dish or beverage to share with everyone else. Kellye will be making a strawberry pie, which you don't want to miss :)

We'll eat dinner first, relax and hang out, and then build a fire and have our time of community worship, prayer, spiritual engagement and communion around the fire pit. We will plan to end around 8:30pm.

As always, everyone is welcome, even if this would be your first time visiting the group - looking forward to seeing everyone Sunday evening!!


Is Violence Ever a Good Thing?

Yesterday we asked that challenging question as we explored the topic of violence and attempted to understand God’s character as it is depicted in the Old Testament.

I am currently reading a book by James Hollis called “What Matters Most.” In one of the chapters he discusses the fact that we die many small deaths to become larger. I agree with this idea.

I allow God to bring about certain deaths:

The death of my pride, the death of my judgments, the death of my fears.

But what about the death of those things that I cling to?

My need to feel safe, my need to be loved, my need to feel secure about my future.

And do I have trust like Abraham? I raise the knife. Will God ask me to plunge it into the very promise I believe He gave me or will God stay my hand?



I allow the death of everything I have, everything that I am. When Jesus said, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me, the answer was the cross.

Is violence ever a good thing? What have I to gain?

The Kingdom of God.

Film night!

Hey all,

I'm hosting another installment of Faith, Film, and Philosophy on Saturday April 25 at 7pm. Andrew is leading the discussion this time. Here is his description of what will take place:

Join us to watch Slumdog Millionaire followed by reactions and discussion. The movie itself contains a lot of interesting ideas about the narrative structures of our lives, the unknown events that become meaningful in time etc., but we will also consider the movie as a 'cultural phenomenon' that has received Hollywood's highest honor. Is the depiction of slum life exploitative, a kind of seemingly distant, but ultimately damaging, form of scintillating poverty pornography? How can we think of poverty as people of faith whose tradition calls us to love others as ourselves? Globalization. .. Flattening Worlds... The rise of sprawling urban slums... The utopian failures of low-income housing solutions... The looming population booms... It's all there. Perfect for Faith, Film, and Philosophy night.

My address is 1212 Summit Street and I live on the corner of Fifth Ave and Summit. Parking is available on the street but if you have any trouble there is some room behind my duplex as well. My number is (937) 572-2751. Please let me know if you're coming so I can get enough chairs!

Bring your thoughts, questions, and your best Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Trivia.

Hope to see you there!

Julia Sullivan


Psalm 88, 44, and 39

This Sunday, let's explore some of the uncomfortable implications about God and violence suggested
in the video below.


Easter Church Ideas?

Hi everyone - we've talked about a few of us trying out a church for Easter Sunday. I am pretty open to suggestions, so if you've got an idea go ahead and post it below. I would be happy to go to the same Catholic church from last year, but I am a little peaved with Rome right now...so perhaps something else?


Generate Magazine

I'm not sure why I haven't seen or understood what this was earlier, but Generate Magazine is "a forum to retell the stories of the grassroots communities and individuals who are finding emergent and alternative means to follow God in the Way of Jesus." From what I can tell, it is just getting started (officially) and they are asking for unsolicited submissions of all shapes and kinds: "completed essays, photo and art galleries/portfolios, poetry/verse, long and short fiction, plays, interviews, new liturgy/worship expression and reviews."

Is there something we could contribute to this? A collaborative effort? Favorite blogposts? Essays (Nancy's incredible work comes to my mind immediately....) Reflections on our past year and a half together?

What would you like to talk about?

We would like to extend an invitation for you (or anyone) to ask any question or raise any topic for one of our discussion sessions. Whether you have attended our meetings before or not, you are welcome to ask a question or point out a concern - just something you would like to hear so-called "emergents" discuss. Nothing is off the table!

You can post your question in the comments section of this blogpost, or email schroeder.jesse@gmail.com. We'll post information regarding the discussion session later.


Celebration April 5

This Sunday, April 5, Adam and Kara will host our Celebration/Worship time (1008 Manor Lane, Unit D). The idea for this celebration came from listening to Peter Rollins talk about IKON so it will include a bit of drama and story.

The food theme for this Sunday is fish (be it shrimp or fish sticks or tuna!)

I encourage you to bring a story or testimony to share--it can be a story that has brought you closer to knowing and loving Jesus. But it doesn't have to be serious. Feel free to tell a 'big fish' story as well.

Thank you in advance for allowing me to lead this time. I have really had fun planning and preparing it.

See you all Sunday.


Sunday Discussion Wrap-Up

We had a great time sharing lunch together at Nancy's house - thanks so much for hosting! We tossed around different ideas for the future of the cohort, and I thought I would just jot down a few of them here (anyone can feel free to edit this post of remind me of things in the comments section). I think the three things that were settled were:
  1. Fewer discussion sessions, perhaps only one a month.
  2. Having an assigned "coordinator" for each month, or perhaps a few months at a time. This person would simply be in charge of making sure the blog info was updated and something was generally "planned" for the week and info was getting out to everyone.
  3. Having a "planning" meeting that would take place once every three months or so. This meeting would be an informal and open time to discuss and suggest new ideas for the upcoming months. New ideas for different activities/meetings could be any of the following:
  • Visiting a church together on a Sunday, and then sharing lunch afterward to discuss/process the experience (this is something we did together a few times in the past, but is hard to do if a discussion session is planned at 3pm)
  • Doing joint service projects together. These could be random, or connected to programs people are already involved in (for example, picking up trash in Weinland park area, serving a meal at Bellows Ave. church, or something totally new).
  • Increased inter-faith dialog, which would involved inviting people of other faiths, other groups from Columbus to be a part of our discussion. For example, inviting a Buddhist to explain and teach meditation practices.
  • Inviting other "emergent" speakers to share with our cohort (similar to the Rollins event).
  • Encouraging new people to ask questions or suggest topics that could then be discussed. This would not be "leading" a discussion session, but would give them the opportunity to suggest a topic/author/book/idea, etc.
Some of the tensions involve 1) Wanting to accepting, affirming and welcoming of everyone, but also continuing to develop a close bond with each other in the group; 2) Encouraging diversity and differing opinions while recognizing people will naturally stick with people they agree with; 3) Providing a service to Columbus, inviting new people, but we don't feel like the goal of the group is to grow bigger necessarily; 4) being open to other faiths and ideas, but not being ashamed of loving and following Jesus.

As always, the cohort is in the process of becoming and it is a joint experience. We are so thankful to everyone who has been a part of the cohort in the past, and we welcome everyone's continued involvement and input, especially to those new voices who have just entered the conversation in the past months. More than anything, we desire for everyone to feel accepted and welcome, and to grow in the way that they most need to, whatever that might be.

I did record the discussion for those who couldnt' make it but wanted to be there. If you want an .mp3 file, just email me at schroeder.jesse@gmail.com


Sunday Meeting

Last Sunday Adam had volunteered to lead a discussion at Global Gallery for our next meeting, March 29. As it turns out, Adam let me know his week was extra busy and another alternative might be better.

I suggested to Adam that the group could meet at my home in German Village on Sunday for lunch around noon. In light of the recent blog, we could discuss ideas and suggestions and thoughts about the future of the Central Ohio Emergent Cohort and how to go forward.

How about if everyone packs a lunch and I'll provide some drinks. If it's a nice day, we could walk down to Schiller as well.

I live at 750 South Lazelle Street. Directions: As you are traveling on Third Street toward Schiller Park, turn left on Frankfort and then right on Lazelle. (Two cars can fit in our driveway if the first car pulls up as much as possible.)

Please feel free to make other meeting suggestions if the idea and time do not seem like a good fit for Sunday. Additionally, if you would like to skip the meeting this Sunday since some are going up to Canton on Monday, that's fine too.


A Time to Quit

So how would everyone feel about quitting the cohort?  Scandalous, right?  Or maybe just history repeating itself.
I feel like I'm in a private club.  Does anyone else have that sense?  And I don't mind the members in the club. They're quite nice.
What do we want to do?  What to do we want to be?  When Nick and Jane re-began the group (which is what I'm suggesting is in order again), the five of us settled on being a place to talk about emergent and doing topical discussions on a bi-weekly basis.  A few months later, Zach prompted discussions that led to our current schedule of discussion/celebration of the faithful/discussion/super-fun.  Now, many new voices are part of the conversation, so please speak up: what works and what doesn't?  Should we abandon the celebrations?  Should we only do celebrations?  How can we reimagine this thing?
Peter Rollins commented this morning that "no matter how much people within or outside the church accept doubt, complexity and ambiguity they do not want it to be reflected in the worship songs, the liturgies and the preaching. The structure itself is protected from doubt."  
How can we let doubt be a part of our structure?   


What's Next?

This Sunday we'll be talking about Phyliss Tickle's book The Great Emergence again. The basic message of the book (in fact, it's the subtitle) is that Christianity is changing for a variety of different reasons. Here a few links that have shown up in the past weeks that offer different perspectives on the changes within Christianity:
  • TIME names "The New Calvinism" as #3 of the top ten ideas that are changing the world right now. The article quotes Al Mohler as saying about young people, "They have plenty of friends: what they need is a God...The moment someone begins to define God's [being or actions] biblically, that person is drawn to conclusions that are traditionally classified as Calvinist." (See also this post by Mark Driscoll himself that includes 4 reasons why neo-Calvinism is so attractive) Interestingly enough, the article begins by offering the Calvinist slant of popular Christian music as evidence for the shift; a statement akin to one Tickle made at the conference in Cincinnati a few weeks ago.
  • The prediction that Evangelicalism is coming to an end. First a series of posts found here, then picked up by several other blogsites. One of the most notable statements is that, "This collapse, will...herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian west and will change the way tens of millions of people see the entire realm of religion. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become particularly hostile towards evangelical Christianity, increasingly seeing it as the opponent of the good of individuals and society." While this is simply an opinion piece, the statement that "HALF of evangelicals [will] be something else within 2-3 generations/10-20 years" is similar to Tickle's statement that in the coming years, 50% of Christianity will operate within what she calls "The Emerging Center" or "The New Rose." (She also claims that "experts" agree).
  • A bit of a heated blog-a-logue regarding the nature of "virtual community," primarily started by Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels. See an interview here between Shane and Rob Bell, a longer one here with Zach Lind (from JEW!), and finally, the one that started it all (watch this one if none of the others). Essentially, Shane claims that true community must have the following: 1) A kind of shared history: This helps establish a sense of identity & belonging; 2)Permanence: This is how you get the shared history; 3) Proximity: You have to BE with each other to create meaningful connection; 4) A shared imagination of the future: This is especially important within Christian community. More interesting than Shane's claims were the responses by different bloggers, most notably AWC here, and Scot McKnight here and here, with a final response from Shane.
So, my point in sharing all these links is several. First, to give us a bit of shared resources to discuss on Sunday. So in the following days, as you have time, peruse some of these links, and perhaps post some more in the comments. But more importantly, I want to pose the question to be discussed this Sunday, "Are things in Christianity and religion at large really changing, and if so, what do we think is next?" At the last discussion session we briefly discussed some ideas of what might be the coming "authority" in terms of religion and even society (BTW, Tickle claims that the authority from the time of the Reformation until about the mid-1900's was "Sola Scriptura" or "Scripture alone").

In short, what will Christianity look like in 5, 10, 20 years? What does that mean about how we should be living and believing now? Where are the changes taking place, and where will the "new" Christianity be, and what might it look like?


Discussion Sunday, March 22, 2009

We are planning to meet 3:00-5:00 at the Global Gallery as Adam and Jesse present Part II of the discussion about Phyllis Tickle's book, "The Great Emergence." I reiterate what Nick posted recently, “this book has been highly touted by other Emergent Village writers, and is seen as a synopsis of Emergence, not just in religion, but across all society.”

Perhaps near the end of the discussion we could consider sharing what initially brought each of us to the Emergent Cohort and how the Emergent Movement and the Cohort have affected and moved us forward in our spiritual lives so far.