Joining The Conversation...

Greetings Friends...I'll start from the beginning, from Taylor's original post and the invitation for a bit of an introduction and perspective on how or why we became a part of the emerging conversation. My name is Mark Calhoun, I am a second career pastor, a third year student at Saint Paul School of Theology, and the "student pastor" at East Heights UMC in Wichita Kansas. I joined the "Emergent Conversation" about 4 years ago while working on a final project for my undergraduate degree. The task was to develop a 50-60 page project that defined, and dealt with, a problem or struggle facing the Christian church. I chose to do my paper on our denomination and our short-comings with respect to reaching and providing space for Gen-Xers, at least that was where I started. What I discovered, through the early stages of my research, was that our short-comings were cross generational and were centered on our inability to respond to the spiritual yearnings of the post-modern pilgrims of an emerging cultural context. It was during the early stages of research that I was introduced, by Tony Jones, to a variety of people, churches, ministries, and mission outposts that understood and accepted the cultural shift, and were engaging this shift through theology and praxis. As the months and years passed I continued to read, study, and engage amazing opportunities to meet, spend time with, and converse with a wide variety of people who were deeply entrenched in the emergent conversation. My sense, that seems to be confirmed by a number of posts in the blogsphere, and on this blog, is that the emerging mission, that includes elements of worship, goes way beyond worship to encompass a wide variety of spiritual formation aspects. I guess the biggest question running around in my mind is whether or not a denominational machine like ours can break through the institutional structures that sometimes hold her hostage and move forward, in the Wesleyan Spirit, to engage mission and ministry in the context of the emerging culture? It seems as if our connectional nature leaves us poised to do so, but I continue to see high levels of hesitation regarding opportunities to plant new communities, revitalize existing ones, and the intentional creation of "space" that fosters conversation on a denominational level (other than this space :-) ). At any rate, it's encouraging to see the amount of energy being poured into emergingumc and I look forward to future conversations and perhaps a gathering or two...
Kudos to Taylor for putting this together, and kudos to everyone who has taken time to contribute....