Thursday, May 22, 2008
Ok, I have read quite a few books from the emerging church conversation, after all that is my area of expertise. But I just finished what has to be the best book from the emerging church. Of course the best book on the emerging church is still Gibbs and Bolgers classic Emerging Churches, but that is more an exploration of what is the emerging church. This book is a diving into the conversation. And it is really well done. The book is called Practitioners: Voices within the Emerging Church.
The editors are Greg Russinger and Alex Field. The book has Joyce Heron (she married recently, what's her name now?) and David Ruis in there. Oh yeah, and Doug Pagitt who is rapidly becoming my emerging church hero! But it isn't the articles that make this book so good. In fact I think some of them are fairly weak, considering. What makes this book rock is that it is really a blog in print form.
At first this quirkiness bothered me. I wasn't getting it. Then it clicked, this is how a blogging generation interacts. And this book is interactive. How many books tell you to stop reading and do something, and have a splash page of options! That won my heart right there.
Truth be told they already had me at page 34. This book explores culture from the inside out. It isn't a reflection on culture so much as an expression of what the mutual encounter of gospel and culture can be. This book opens up conversations. This book opens up potential!
OK. I'm taking a deep breath. Ahhh, that's better.
I hope this isn't the only project like this. In fact this book came out in 2005, so the web component is already dead and buried. So sad. But don't like that deter you. This book is like a blog that won't go away. Robert Webber, in Listening to the Beliefs of the Emerging Church, recognized that the voices in the emerging church conversation are not academic theologians, but practitioners seeking understanding of what they are discovering as new ways of being and doing church. Practitioners is a great case in point. I have to agree with McLaren's comment on the back cover, I too am greatly encouraged.