A Weekend on Emergence Christianity at Mo-Ranch
Article Written by Jo Kretzler
During the weekend of October 19-21, a group of Austin Seminary students retreated to Mo-Ranch to learn about Emergence Christianity. Gathering with church leaders from various denominations and generations, they heard from several speakers at the forefront of this reset that has been named the Great Emergence.
At Mo-Ranch there is a sculpture in front of the cafeteria that represents Paul and his companions on the road to Damascus, crouching and looking towards the voice that has compelled them to stop. This sculpture seems like a fitting metaphor for the subject matter of the weekend. We know everything is changing, it’s scary, but we are assured that God is still with us, and an active presence in our lives.
The main speaker at the conference was Phyllis Tickle, an energetic woman who speaks with quiet yet firm determination backed up by a vast resource of knowledge and wisdom. Phyllis has been writing on the Great emergence for many years. She comments on the 500-year cycles in our history, which have been delineated by an upheaval that has changed all aspects of society. We are now in the midst of one of these pivotal times and The Holy Spirit is guiding the Church along a path through this transformation.
“Like its cycling predecessors, the Great Emergence is an across the board and still accelerating shift in every single part and parcel of our lives as members in good standing of twenty-first century Western or westernized civilization. Intellectually, politically, economically, culturally, sociologically, religiously, psychologically–every part of us and of how we are and how we live has, to some greater or lesser degree, been reconfiguring over the last century and a half, and those changes are now becoming a genuine maelstrom around us.”
The conference included other speakers who are reconfiguring their pastoral experience to adjust to this new shift:
Neal Locke, a Presbyterian pastor who facilitates a virtual church in the online community called “Second Life.” Neal spoke on the advances of technology and how this might impact the future of the church.
Doug Pagitt, Pastor of Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A church where there is intentionality to creating a space where all members can participate in the liturgy and takes the church experience away from passive observation.
Danielle Shroyer, pastor of Journey Church in Dallas. A vibrant community that combines reformed theology with a more contemporary church experience.
Troy Bronsink, author of Drawn In: a Creative resource for Artists, Activists and Jesus Followers. Troy spoke on including Art and social justice within the church experience in a more impactful way.
All of the speakers at the conference were engaging and enthusiastic in their message. We may not feel as if our congregations are ready for such a radical upheaval, but we can consider prayerfully the direction in which the Holy Spirit is leading us through this exciting time.
 Phyllis Tickle, Emergence Christianity: What It Is, Where It Is Going, and Why It Matters (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), page: 25