Phyllis Tickle- The great emergence… and emerging church.

Following on from my earlier post about this word ’emerging’, I thought I would get hold of this book, that has been doing the rounds for a few months, by the wonderfully named Phyllis Tickle. I think I passed it by earlier as it seemed to be engaging with an issue- the step shifts in culture, and how faith engages with it- that was one I felt I had talked to death.


However, I came across a post today (thanks Corbus!) that contained a publicity clip, and so I hit Amazon. Here is the clip;

And for a bonus- here is a bit of dsicussion between Pete Rollins and Phyllis…

And finally- this one is very much worth listening to- it captures something that I have been chewing on for a while.

There seems to me to have been a retreat from the early radicalism of the ’emerging church discussion’. Is the’missional’ thing a way of making this safe- bringing it into the safe folds of organisation, and so neutering those who would bring disruption?

Or is ‘missional’ rather a conduit for life giving fresh air for the body of Christ?

Missional tribe- check it out.

I am determined to keep chewing on this word to see if I can find some flavour…

(Check out this previous post in which I express some skepticism.)

One of the blogs I read is Brother Maynard’s Subversive Influence. I was intrigued by a new project that he is part of called Missional tribe.


In case you think this is another jump onto the trendy Christian bandwagon, here is what Bro Maynard has to say here

Do a Google search on the word “missional” and you’ll get 1,200,000 hits. Search “missional” at Amazon and 1,238 missional products appear before your very eyes. It’s the Western Church word of the moment. The key to all that ails the church. The promise of a bright future – beginning with a bold tomorrow. That is, if we only knew what it meant.

Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Seth Godin’s Tribes helped to inform our discussions. Missional Tribe’s first iteration was as a Wiki. Then the mini “blogstorm” around Out of Ur’s Dan Kimball Missional results post convinced us that what the conversation needed was a place to discuss, share stories, watch videos, ask questions, and grow together. Where all of this can easily be tagged and indexed for rapid access in the future. The Missional Tribe social network was born (

Less than two months after the decision to launch a social network, the beta of the Missional Tribe site launches today — Epiphany, on the church calendar. We would like you to join us in being a part of this non-hierarchical network.

From simply reading and commenting on posts and in the Forums, to creating your own Missional Tribe blog or posting a video — Missional Tribe is a place to track and expand the missional conversation – as we follow the Lord back into the neighborhoods where he has strategically placed each one of us.

So, I think I will join in for the ride, and see where it takes me…

Missional- how is the word bedding down?


So, now that the M word seems to be supplanting the E word, how are you with it?

(See here and here for earlier posts.)

I tried a google search on ‘missional’ today. A couple of years ago, it was a rarely used word, but no longer. Now there are hundreds of ‘missional church networks’, ‘missional projects’ and ‘missional training’ opportunities.

And I confess to a rising cynicism.

Why is this, I wonder? Time for a list…

  1. What does the word mean? It’s application seems so broad, and to be adopted by such differing organisations. Perhaps it has value as a noun, but not as a verb, which it seems to be becoming.
  2. The people in my group cringe when they hear it used.
  3. Is it about money? Do those who hold purse strings like the word?
  4. Is it about fashion- the next new thing? If so, it might be that we use it to fend off our insecurities, by giving the illusion that we are forging a path of significance…
  5. Is it about a retreat from the controversy that the words ’emerging church’ seemed to attract? If so, it seems a little cowardly- even unmissional (Aghhh! The word gains another incarnation!)
  6. Perhaps I am still missing the words ’emerging church’. For a while, they represented something that was precious to me.

Then there is the root word- MISSION.

It has many other connotations;




It may be that I will come to value this word much more, given time.

But lest it become a distraction I am going to forget about labels for a while and try to concentrate on the important stuff…


constructing amongst the deconstructors…

There are lots of concepts and key words that have been reference points for those of us who have been following this emerging church ‘conversation’…





We live in world in flux. The personal angst seen in the popular culture of the sixties and seventies has found its way into the very structure of our society, and into our institutions. Everything is now questionable, everything is old and tired and broken down…

Another word we hear a lot is deconstructionism, a philosophical term first used by Jacques Derrida in the 1960s- who began to form a method of thinking about concepts that allowed him to get behind the assumptions and rationalisations that the modern world operated under. You can check out what wikepedia has to say about this stuff here.

I like this quote from John Caputo;

Whenever deconstruction finds a nutshell — a secure axiom or a pithy maxim — the very idea is to crack it open and disturb this tranquility.

The suggestion for we Christians is that not only are our institutions based on a whole set of modernist assumptions that are being challenged, but that the world we serve is likewise deconstructing itself about us, and we ignore this at our peril…

But here is another quote, culled from a useful article (here) by Alistair MacIndoe, from the Rock Church in Dumbarton.

And how long must it be before we learn that our task as Christians is to be in the front row of
constructing the post‐postmodern world? The individual existential angst of the 1960s has
become the corporate and cultural angst of the 1990s. What is the Christian answer to it? The
Christian answer is the love of God, which goes through death and out the other side. What is
missing from the postmodern equation is, of course, love.’
N.T. Wright 1

We Emerging types have used too many destructive words- perhaps even relished them, and the feelings of superiority this has given us.

But now the real work begins- the purpose that God gave was to go and tell people about Jesus- and (to paraphrase Francis of Asisi) if necessary, use words…

How we do this- how we start to tell again the stories of Jesus, and turn people again towards his beautiful way of living in these our complex times- this is for me to work out, with my community. So we turn to that other buzz-word at the moment-


But, I am convinced that God is creative, and seeks to make and remake, not to break down and destroy. And so for we, his servants, it seems clear that we should start the spiritual cement mixers, and fire up the brick kilns. Busy times are ahead.

Lessons from my big sister-

I spoke to my sister today on the phone. It is always so good to speak to her, as she lives away down in Nottinghamshire, so we are not often enough in the same place.

We got into the usual conversation about God-projects that we are involved in. She and I know each other so well, that this one of those God-affirming kind of conversations usually- even when we are not very gracious or graceful in the way we describe particular people or things.

She described a youth Alpha course she is holding at her house- with 20 young people crammed in, all eager and hungry for knowledge…

And she described her own feelings of inadequacy (despite her very obvious gifts), and how she had to feed all these young people despite being flat broke after a whole series of added expenses this month.

But then she said that she had been thinking a lot recently along these lines;

Go with just what you have in your hands.

Nothing else.

You need to be no-one, but you.

You need nothing other than what you have.

The stuff that you think you need, the skills you admire in others- all this is a distraction- a delusion.

So in her case, this involved cooking a huge lasagna from veg grown in the garden, and feeding souls.

Good on you sis.


To continue the Aussie theme began in my last post- we are just about to begin a study called Exilio in our house group. Thanks to Johnny Laird( for the info about this wonderful (but very demanding) resource.

This is a resource produced by Aussie globe trotter Michael Frost and others. It is based on Frost’s book ‘Exiles’, and a study on the book of acts, and the whole point is to help us think about living Missional lives. Its available on this link

This word missional seems to be on the up. Some folk in our group were a bit irritated by it. I suppose it is an attempt to recapture the centrality of mission in the life of Christians.

But for a much better definition- check out Tall Skinny Kiwi (Andrew Jones);