‘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.
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.’
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’-
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
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.
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?

Emerging Scotland Ning site…


I have posted before about Emerging Scotland.

This began as a network on Facebook, which led to a number of meetings planned into this year.

Stewart has now set up a Ning site, here.

This seems to be a great way of taking things forward.

I started the facebook group, and have put a lot of time and thought and discussion into the possibilities of a network. A recent discussion has focussed my mind again on what my own hopes are for such a thing.

I have participated in a few on-line ventures already- the most notable being Missional Tribe, where I cross post some of my blog entries. Most of these sites start well, and things tail away as interest wanes and people move onto the next big thing- there seems to be something about the net that promotes and elevates the ephemeral, and this is both a strength and weakness. Things do not tend to last long.

Through some of these web based portals I have conversed with some interesting folk, and had some interesting discussions. One of those recurring discussions has centred around the value of all this on line blogging, twittering, facebooking and networking. Why do we do it? What purpose does it serve? Might these things really facilitate significant human and spiritual development?

Well for me, the verdict is mixed. Thomas posted a really interesting take on this here.

I think the way of the cross is finds it’s real meaning in community. And measured by the quality of that community.

And I am also well aware of the research about how the strength of our societies can be measured by the degree to which we are connected with one another. The degree to which we love and share and do the things that Jesus talked about in the sermon on the mount.

Check out this stuff on happiness

Social networking may or may not contribute to the way our society learns again the need to connect, but it is unlikely to be the complete answer.

Whatever its limitations, it also offers real possibilities. I have met people who I believe I will continue to share life with online.

Which brings me back to Emerging Scotland.

My motivation for starting the thing arose from the circumstances we found ourselves in in Dunoon. Part of a group that was mostly outside organised church, and increasingly (particularly me) feeling that the way I understood my faith was different from the mainstream faith groups in Scotland.

I began to read and read and and read- and dream of other ways of doing things.

But at the back of my mind, there has always been this need for connection- people who will hold me accountable and be accountable in return- people whose power will add to mine, and mine to theirs.

Hence, Emerging Scotland.

But I am old now- 42 after all, and so now have the answer to the meaning of life the universe and everything. So I am well aware that the formation of new things can be messy! There has been a bit of storming in the forming this week.

But I am convinced that in this new context, we need to make active decisions to walk together, not just wave at one another from across the the world wide web…