Tag Archives: phyllis tickle

nywc pittsburgh, sunday afternoon

just getting this post up monday morning, but wrote most of it sunday afternoon…

i’m wiped. in a good way. i love our conventions. i love being in the midst of the pain and longing and joy of our collective tribe of youth workers. on that note, mark yaconelli, in his stunning talk (which i sat through for a second time today – heard it in sacramento also – and loved just as much as the first time) made a side comment that joy is always connected to suffering. joy comes out of suffering. youth workers, i’m convinced, have such a great opportunity to experience real, deep joy, because we have such a great opportunity to experience such real, deep suffering with teenagers.

so, saturday: i got a nap, and it made a huge difference. the rest of the day was a perfect and wonderful whirlwind of hosting, speaking, conversations, listening, and experiencing. an early awkward moment was when i entered the main session hall in the morning, and a funny comedian was on the stage. he has a korean and irish heritage, and many of his jokes were about that. but, after soong-chan rah’s talk the night before, the characterizations of asian americans felt so out of place. i felt a little bad for the guy, because he had no idea, and must have wondered why jokes that had worked for him other places were getting such a nervous, flat response. francis chan was about to take the stage; and francis has been known to do hilarious riffs on his chinese father. we asked him to stay away from that (he was great about it, and hadn’t planned on doing that anyhow). francis rocked it. i loved this visual illustration when he was talking about good salt and salt that has lost its flavor: he poured a tiny bit of salt in a pile on his bible, and said we should imagine it as good, flavorful salt. then he opened a paper coffee cup, and said, “this is what we do.” he poured a big pile of salt on top of the “good salt” and said, “look how big my pile of salt is! isn’t it amazing? isn’t that a fantastic pile of salt?” in reference to jesus’ words that salt that’s lost its flavor isn’t even good for the manure pile, he commented that our flavorless salt (positioning, ego-centered ministry, obsession with big, manipulation) is so bad it would ruin crap. funny, but really convicting.

my boss (the ceo of zondervan) was in town for a bit of the convention, so i had breakfast and lunch with her, and it was really good. she’s an amazing supporter of what we do and who we are.

i loved, loved, loved the evening session. my hero phyllis tickle returned with the talk she’d given in atlanta last year (we asked her to do the same talk), based on her book, the great emergence. such powerful stuff. and matt maher joined us, leading worship saturday evening and sunday morning. matt leads by getting out of the way. so good, and yet so not a show.

as i do at these things, i stayed up ’til 2am talking with friends. but the time change gave me an hour back, which was nice.

sunday morning, i hosted a breakfast in my suite for a dozen youth workers who were considered “loyal ys customers” for one reason or another. we went around the table and shared our stories of how we got into youth ministry. i was blown away by the common thread. almost all of them stumbled into youth ministry in one way or another, then fell in love with it after they’d been on the job.

the morning session, with mark yaconelli speaking, skit guys allowing us to laugh our heads off, and matt maher expertly guiding us to get the focus off of ourselves, was gorgeous. i could sit through that exact session multiple times and be blessed, challenged, engaged and filled with hope.

in the early afternoon, i lead a collaborative seminar on developing middle school curriculum. not a huge crowd, but the people who were there seemed really engaged in what we were doing. i still need to tweak this seminar a bit for nashville, as it just got too rushed at the end.

now i’m getting a little break in my room before i go to dinner with my sister and her family, who are attending the convention. my brother-in-law has been a middle school ministry volunteer for about 25 years, i think, and my nephew is a rookie youth pastor. so fun to have them here. tonite, my good friend tony jones will speak. i’m sure some people won’t have any idea who tony is, but many others will come in with loads of pre-conceived ideas. i’m praying that god will speak to and through tony, and that people will be open to what god wants to do in their lives tonite. oh, and crowder’s here tonite! yippee!

the great emergence

The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why, by phyllis tickle.

in a recent video post by doug pagitt, he talks about the relationship between the terms “emergence”, “emerging church”, and “emergent” (or emergent village). the emerging church, as many have come to use the term, is a subset of a greater shift that has been happening in our culture for the last couple hundred years. the emerging church is, one might say, the ecclesiological implications (or at least the discussion of those implications) of the grander shift taking place in our broader mindset, both in academia and in the popular conscience.

phyllis tickle engages this discussion at both levels — giving us much of the historical reasons for, and milemarkers of, this greater emergence. she weaves a discussion of the emerging church throughout. but this is not a book about emergent village; and, to be fair, tickle writes about the emerging church in the broadest terms possible, including vineyard churches and calvary chapels as indicative of the shift.

i heard phyllis give a talk on this content at one of our national youth workers conventions last fall. it was stunning. it blew people away, to the extent that she received a long and loud standing ovation that showed a level of respect for both who she is and what she said. of course, she really ticked a few people off also, which one should expect from any hearty discussion of change in front of a large and diverse audience. but for me, and many others present, it was one of the most memorable talks i’ve heard in years, and has shaped my thinking and discussions since. knowing that this book was coming, i’ve been extremely eager to read it, and was thrilled to get my hands on a pre-pub copy of the manuscript (the book releases in october, though amazon seems to have it in stock already).

tickle is a recovering academic, and this is no lightweight book of observations and anecdotes: it’s a sweeping analysis of sociological, cultural and religious shifts. tickle contends that the church seems to transition through massive changes about every 500 years, as a result of changing worldviews in the culture at large. she posits that we’re a good ways into one of these epochal hinge-points; and following the language of “the great schism” and “the great reformation” for the last two hinge-points, uses “the great emergence” for this shift (though the term is not, as she acknowledges, hers).

because the book is a cultural analysis, and not a theological treatise, there’s not much to anger anti-emergent people in this book. they might not agree with the cultural analysis, i suppose; and tickle’s pro-emergence leaning (clearly, she sees this shift as positive, not neutral or negative) isn’t masked. so some might choose to be dismissive on that count (we all have our biases). but the case is well made — we’re clearly not a part of the same worldviews that existed prior to darwin, scientific discoveries of relativity, postmodern language deconstruction, and a variety of other factors that have (in tickles language) so severely pocked the cable of meaning that connects our religious thought and practice to its mooring.

truly, the great emergence is one of the most important books written, to date, on the shifts happening in the american (and worldwide) church — particularly protestantism, but all of christianity also. it’s must-reading for anyone who desires to be an active participant in the shaping of the church today, whether at a local level, or at broader levels of discussion and practice.

i’m smarter because of this book. i understand more. i am better equipped to both enter into dialogue about the church today, as well as to live out my calling as a practitioner of the church of jesus christ in the real world.

related posts:
reaction to phyllis tickle’s talk at the nywc
terry mattingly writes about phyllis tickle’s nywc talk