Leadership Network was co-founded in 1984 by
Bob Buford. Leadership Network has become a trusted resource for the leadership teams of innovative churches across the United States and Canada. Leadership Network's "DNA" is to work directly with those few pioneers who are testing and implementing the new ideas that will drive the Church in the future.
A book called The Emerging Church was published in 1970 and written by Bruce Larson and Ralph Osborne. Another book called The Emergent Church was written in 1981 by Johann Baptist Metz. He was a Catholic theologian and Professor of Fundamental Theology. He wrote with Jürgen Moltmann on political theology and he was one of the most influential post-Vatican II German theologians. The Emergent Church was a book focusing on change in the church happening at that time period both theologically and politically, and was written in Germany so it has that perspective.
1993 Charlotte in North Carolina, 26–28 October
Leadership Network was very good at finding people who were unique and were innovative. They were interested in best practices and bring together innovative leaders to know one another and learn from one another. Billy Graham folks were putting together a think tank on ministry to baby busters in Charlotte in North Carolina 26–28 October 1993. They were bringing in Stanley Grenz and a whole bunch of others. Grenz book on post-modernism comes came out that year. Grenz had previously raised questions about the implications of postmodernism for the future of theology, but claims that it was after these two events that ‘I proceeded to immerse myself in postmodernism.’
1996 Gen X forum at Colorado Springs, March
The forum at Glen Eyrie Conference Center was sponsored by Leadership Network. The name chosen for the gathering of about a dozen young leaders, orchestrated by Doug Pagitt representing Leadership Network, was “Gen X 1.0.” They pulled together about 10-20 young leaders in the church to begin a discussion about ministry for Generation X. They got around 200 people, but they only allowed in around half a dozen people over the age of 40 this year. Those in attendance at the Gen X forum discussed a number of issues.
Among the leaders were Mark Driscoll, Chris Seay, Brad Cecil and Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren,
Sally Morgenthaler, Todd Hunter, Joel Vestal, Andrew Jones, Tony Jones, David Crowder, Dieter Zander and Tim Celek, George Barna, Lisa Goodwin, Tim Celek, Ken Baugh and Kevin Ford
Zander was at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago leading a huge sub-church called Axis. He planted one of the first Gen X churches in the United States, New Song in California. Dieter Zander, Tim Celek and Patrick Kampert had just co-written one of the first books on Gen X ministry, Inside the Soul of a New Generation: Insights and Strategies for reacing Busters (1996).
The meeting in Glen Eyrie would eventually comprise a project referred to as “The Young Leader Network”. The framework for evaluating current practices and theology, by what would become the Emergent/Emerging Church, came during that Glen Eyrie meeting. Within a few months, the conversation morphed into a more academic one about post-modernism and theology.
In 1997 Doug Pagitt was hired by Leadership Networks to become Young Leader coordinator. Doug found innovators and hand picked them into this personal network:
1997 Gen X 2.0 Mt Hermon was a follow up from the 1996 forum. Registration were opened up and a group of about 500 met at Mount Hermon Conference Center in California. Pagitt planned this event, which offered a variety of tracks and speakers.
Doug created a network for people who should know one another to have a chance to meet and collaborate together. The team was heavily influenced by the late Missiologist Leslie Newbegin his thoughts on what it meant to be a "missional community" in the postmodern era. Among them were Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, Rob Bell, Craig Groeschel, Andy Stanley, Chris Seay, Deater Sanders,
Sally Morgenthaler and Andrew Jones. Months later, Pagitt brought in Tony Jones and Brian McLaren to help lead this team of young men. Mark eventually distanced himself from this group, because had some growing theological disagreements with them. This team of pastors morphed into what was known briefly as the TerraNova project which included theologians such as Lenoard Sweet and Stanley Grenz.
Brad Sargent: I tried to get in on the 1996 conference but was the third person after the registration cutoff limit. Plus I was one year "too old." They only allowed in like half a dozen people over the age of 40 that year. If I remember right it included Don Simmons, Sue Mallory, Steve Rabey, and a few others ... and were Tim Celek and Dieter Zander there? (They opened up registration in 1997, so I got to participate then.) I had a sense the 1996 event would be history in the making ...
Dan Kimball: I first heard the term "emerging church" around 1997 when Leadership Network was using it as their tagline which said 'advance scouts for the emerging church'.I personally thought it sounded cool and somewhat Indiana Jones-like saying you were "advanced scouts for the emerging church". Kind of like we were were explorers out there looking to the horizons to see what the Spirit of God was doing missionally in new forms of churches and ministries.
From end of the 1997 conference was the time that the network started to develope. In the years 1997 - 1999 Doug Pagitttravels and handpicks participants.
The third conference in this series took place at Glorieta Conference Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was dubbed The National Re:Evaluation Forum and gathered over 500 young leaders. Doug Pagitt planned this event which offered a variety of tracks and speakers and involved more people He invited Brian McLaren to be one of the thought leaders and presenters at this forum, in addition to Leonard Sweet, Stanley Grenz and Alan Roxborough.
Dave Travis contends (and Andrew Jones confirmed) that “the Group of 20” that became the seedbed of “Emergent” was actually post-Glorieta.
Evangelicals Engaging Emergent: a Discussion of the Emergent Church Movement, p: 53: During and between these larger meetings, it appears from Andrew Jones that smaller informal meetings or networking sessions took place. From these developing friendships “emerged” what Travis calls “the Group of 20.” Jones’ telling of the story places the development of this group prior to Glorieta. Our research team confirmed the planning of the first “Gathering” at Glorieta by this small group was announced via a flier at the very first Emergent Convention in San Diego. Further, a reference to a “Group of 20” is applied by those outside that network.
After this national conference the conferences became of a more regional character and was scattered all over the United States.
2000 - The Split from Leadership Networks
In May 2000 Leadership Network sponsored a conference titled "Exploring Off the Map." Leonard Sweet was a featured speaker with Ken Blanchard, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and others. Leadership Network was determinded to provide a more optimistic, user-friendly "map" to the future. For the conference, Leoonard Sweet was given the lead role of Chief Scout.
Bob Buford was unhappy with what the movement had become. There was a faltering relationship between the Young Leaders and Leadership Network. Leadership Network withdrew its support. In a conference call, this fractured relationship was discussed and the group determined to create a more formal organization to promote constructive ways to “live the way of Jesus in a postmodern age.” The label “Emergent” rose to the fore as a metaphor for new growth on the forest floor “emerging” beneath the old growth. The idea was to maintain the connection with Christian history and at the same time develop new forms to engage the postmodern shift in culture.
Brian McLarenprovides some background in his book A Generous Orthodoxy:
In the late 1990’s, I was invited to become part of Leadership Network’s Young Leader Networks (YLN), also briefly known as the Terranova Project. I was grandfathered in as the network’s “old guy,” having moved beyond 39 in 1996. In 2001, I met with Doug Pagitt to discuss our future plans, YLN having just been launched by Leadership Network to continue on its own as an independent entity
Leonard Sweet became a popular Church Historian/Futurist in the early days of the Emergent / Emerging Church and, in many ways, encouraged the “Emergent Turn.” But Sweet also offered the criticism that the “turn” may have gone too far with Emergent: "The emerging church has become another form of social gospel. And the problem with every social gospel is that it becomes all social and no gospel. All social justice and no social gospel. It is embarrassing that evangelicals have discovered and embraced liberation theology after it destroyed the main line, old line, side line, off line, flat line church."
Mark Driscoll, (1970-) distanced himself from the emerging church because of the theological agenda concerning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell. Driscoll disagrees with the Emergent Liberals. The three main leaders of this fraction are Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, and Rob Bell. The Emergent Liberal lane of the emerging church has drifted away from a discussion about how to contextualize timeless Christian truth in timely cultural ways and has instead come to focus on creating a new Christianity.
Mark Driscoll: Emergent Liberals are networked by organizations like the Emergent Village, directed by author and theologian Tony Jones, who is no longer a youth pastor but is involved at Doug Pagitt’s church, along with other prominent Emergent leaders such as Doug Pagitt, Karen Ward, and Tim Keel. The most visible Emergent Liberal leaders are Brian McLaren and Rob Bell."
The GenX Ministry turned into The Postmodern Ministry, to Terra Nova and finally to Emergent Village. Early on Emergent Village functioned as a loose network under the leadership of a "coordinating council". Those who participated did so voluntarily and without remuneration. The first "event" for this group took place at Glorieta Conference Center in New Mexico and was dubbed "The Emergent Gathering". After this event they partnered with Youth Specialities, founded by Mike Yaconelli. This group inaugurated and planned the Emergent/YS Conventions in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Youth Secialities had sponcored the first National Pastor's Convention in San Diego.
The parallel convention, "The Emergent Convention", provided an alternative "track" for the connected National Pastor's Convention (owned by Zondervan at that time) attendees. The partnership with YS was short-lived, but amicable. In 2005 decided to bring the Emergent Convention to an end.
The tagline "Advance Scouts for the Emerging Church" came on the Leadership Network web site from April 2000.
Dan Kimball was discussing book titles with Zondervan for the book he wrote which ended up being called "The Emerging Church" and was published in 2003. It was from Leadership Network where he first heard the term and was inspired to use it for the book title. He even got the domain name "emergingchurch.net" in 2001 to use for the book (which he never actually used). During the time of 2001 to 2003 the term "emerging church" became more and more popular, other web sites started using it to describe churches etc. So by the time the book was released, the term ‘the emerging church’ was already established in the circles that were talking about all the Gen X and postmodern things. Kimball's book did not start the name.
The book possibly popularized it more in circles that hadn’t heard about it before then. But the name was well in usage before the book came out. It was Leadership Network back in the late 1990's who first began using the term and it spread from there to be used as a replacement word for the whole "Gen X" then "postmodern" then "emerging church" words of expressing a term for missionally minded churches wanting to engage culture for the gospel.
Emerging Web Domains
emergingchurch.org - May 21, 2001 - Karen Ward from Apostles Church in Seattle got this domain name and began discussing emerging church issues on it.
emergingchurch.net - June 12, 2001 - Dan Kimball got this domain for his book Emerging Church, but he never used it.
emergingchurch.com - June 22, 2001 - Youth Specialties bought the domain name on this date from someone who originally bought it in the year 2000, but didn't use it.
The Emergent Label
For the term "emergent" as we use it today about church was first used formally on June 21, 2001 when Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt met and had a conference call with some others to come up with a name for a new network they were starting. The reason they were starting "Emergent" was because Leadership Network had orginally formed a theological working group as part of their Young Leaders Network. In this original group with Leadership Network, some key people were Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Chris Seay, Mark Driscoll and Doug Pagitt (and several others). The Leadership Network Young Leaders theology group was disbanding and had ended. So, Doug, Tony, Brian and some others reformed it and named it "Emergent" on June 21, 2001 and got the domain name "emergentvillage.org and .com" on that day.
The confusing part in all this in terms of words, was that the "emerging church" was being used at that time and becoming more prevalent as described in the earlier blog entry. When Tony Jones, Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt were thinking of new names for the theology group that was formerly the Leadership Network one - they were not trying to play off the "emerging church" term. The word "emergent" is defined as the "coming to the surface" of new organic life beginning and reproducing and that was why they chose the word. So "emergent" was not named because it was similar to "emerging church".
What happened next, was that Mark Oestreicher from Youth Specialties and Dan Kimball were talking a lot about what happens beyond youth ministry. There was growing interest at that time for Youth Specialties to be developing events and books for the post-youth ministry years. So Mark Driscoll and Dan Kimball ;flew up to Minneapolis to meet with Brian McLaren, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt. This was on June 22-23, 2001. It turned out that Brian, Tony and Doug and others on a conference call the day before had formally named the new theological group "Emergent". So with that having been established, the conversation in the meeting then turned to Youth Specialties partnering with "Emergent" (the organization) to publish books and events. Thus the "emergentYS" line developed and the "Emergent Convention" that was attached to the National Pastors Convention that Youth Specialties was already putting on.
Because the words were so similar (emerging and emergent), through time they sort of became interchangeably used rather than two distinct terms as they were originally. Because "Emergent" was part of the growing "emerging church" discussion, it sort of became confusing knowing what was emerging, what was emergent, what was the same, what was different. Emergent is an organization and network, not a style of ministry. The Emerging Church is also not just a style of ministry - it is about rethinking what it means to be the church in our emerging culture. But that is also what Emergent is doing, so the confusion and blending of the two terms is understandable. Emergents focus more on theology and Emerging Church more on methodology.
In 2001, Driscoll split with Emergent Village. He wrote: “I eventually had to distance myself from the Emergent stream of the network because friends like Brian McLaren and Doug Pagitt began pushing a theological agenda that greatly troubled me. Examples include referring to God as a chick, questioning God's sovereignty over and knowledge of the future, denial of the substitutionary atonement at the cross, a low view of Scripture, and denial of hell which is one hell of a mistake.”
2003 - 2007
The Emergent Gatherings 2003-2007 were held at Glorieta Conference Center near Santa Fe, New Mexico in October and hosted 150-175 participants. It grew too organized and were shut down to make room for other sorts of gatherings/events, i.e. The Wild Goose Festival.
In 2005, a group of church leaders for a theological discussion as a part of the Emergent
Village Theological Conversation series engaged some world class scholars for a couple of days. The theologians were
invited into an extended conversation. Nancy Murphy from
Dallas Willard (1999?), Stanley Hauerwas,
John Caputo, Walter Brueggemann
(2005), Miroslav Volf, Jürgen Moltmann
(2009), Musa Dube from Botswana (2010), Richard Twiss (2010), Colin Greene from
UK (2010), John Cobb (2012), Philip Clayton (20212), Bruce Epperly (2012) and
Julie Clawson (2012)were among these. It is
considered to be of the most innovative and fruitful contributions Emergent Village has made over the years.
Emergent Village closed in 2014.
Leadership of Emergent Village changed often. Here are listed some of the members: