‘Emerging Scotland’- what next?

A year or so ago, I put quite a lot of energy into trying to find connections with other individuals and groups that were involved in similar para church activities as we were- other people who might use words like emerging/missional/alternative worship.

To this end, I started a Facebook group, set up a few meetings, and began to make contact with some lovely folk.

Stewart then started a Ning site, which has seen some activity, and has over 100 members. There have been further meetings, and on line discussions. However, Ning are changing the way that they operate, and will be charging people to use their sites soon.

The question then arises- what next?

I thought I would reproduce my recent comment on the Emerging Scotland Ning site here. Any comments/ideas/thoughts welcome…

Hi folks
I have been thinking a bit about the site, and what we might be its future…
I started the facebook site a – which is here.
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Activity on the FB site has kind of dried up- perhaps because we replaced it with the ning site, but also perhaps this is a natural progression of all on-line networking. We tend to start well, and make some connections, but then move on to other stuff. The net tends to pull us constantly towards the next ‘new thing.’
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There is a danger that the site becomes just a place to argue about theology- which quickly becomes boring and pointless for most of us, even if important to others.
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There is also the real question as to whether the ‘emerging’ word still has any currency. It still might be something that enables people to gather around a vague set of questions- but increasingly, it is not a term that people are using. I am not sure what might replace it though- Missional? This word always seemed a little contrived to me.
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When I started the ES FB site, my hope was that we might see the development of a supportive ‘emerging’ network in Scotland- facilitated by on line stuff, but not exclusively on line. This was partly about our own needs here to find partnerships, mentoring, encouragement, and cross-fertilisation of ideas, but also an idea that developed out of a number of conversations with others. People described isolation, and a lack of freedom and permission to do things differently.
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I hope and believe that this has been happening through some of the connections made through Emerging Scotland, but to be honest, I still wonder whether we could or should do this better.
This rather depends on whether there are enough of us that want to do this- I know that many are busy with churches and organisations, and feel that they have more than enough networking, and perhaps no time/energy for more.
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However, if people are still interested in developing physical connections, then I would propose that we put a little more energy in developing some local meetings- as already began to develop for a while. A few ideas that occur to me ‘off the cuff’-
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1. a meet up at SOLAS for those going there in a couple of weeks (some of us will be there on the Saturday?)
2. specific interest meetings- worship, youth work, community building
3. Developing partnerships around activities- sharing skills and resources
4. Joining other networks- such a Emergent, or CMS.
5. Setting up some kind of loose administration/facilitation process-or asking an established organisation to host this for us
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I think the bottom line for me is that if we move to facebook, and the current low level of activity continues, then it would be no bad thing. I will probably call in from time to time (although I rarely use FB these days.) However it will be a missed opportunity- and I suspect that Emerging Scotland will kind of atrophy.
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Those of you who blog or have access to other information portals, perhaps it is worth broadening the discussion and asking people to consider what they need?
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Cheers
Chris