There is a fascinating bit of online dialogue going on that was sparked off by a post from Kester, which grew out of a conversation at Greenbelt. I'm not going to comment much but just make a few observations about the 'Radical' nature of the conversation.
1: It's very, very male. Over the past 10 years I've seen the emerging church movement grow in diversity, in was too male at the begining and now I'm encouraged by the number of women leaders that I see. There is nothing radical about a white, male, western academic conversation about the nature of church. The academic nature of the conversation is at times is being used as a tool of power, and whilst I appreciate the academic nature of the debate, I think that we need to be wise about how we use our intelligence. One thing that really impressed me, about a person who will remain nameless, is that when talking about their community they made sure that a man and a woman were represented. This had a two fold effect it modelled something about balance in leadership and also prevented the project being personality driven.
2: As I reflect on this I'm struck by the realisation that the radical women are often part of the institution, whether Ordained or employed by...fascinating shift. But I wonder why this is. In some sense placing yourself within an institution in a radical move that goes against the ego, it says I will be the servant of the church rather than the servant of the self. And so this reflects a concern in me regarding the place of the male ego in many of these conversations. That maybe unfair, but when you are within an institution there is a giving away of the self.
3: In the 1960's and 1970's the Restoration movement wanted to be radical. They saw themselves as the end time church and brought with then particular manifestations of the spirit. They split in the eighties, R1 and R2, see (Walker, Restoring the Kingdom). But they thought that they were Radical. They're now NFI and a few others, but the effect on the institution was the charismatic movement - Anglican Renewal etc. - this served to loosen things up. I guess that I'm wondering whether the role of those early Alt.Worship and Emerging Church pioneers was to create the environment within which Fresh Expressions was birthed. Yet some of those early restorationalist apostles are still there, carrying on being Radical, and as they do so creating an environment around themselves that tells them they are the new radicals. Is history repeating itself?