Emergent Convention Planning Blog



Filed under: General, learning communities — marko @ 12:43 pm

are we allowed to actually talk about people on a blog like this? what are the rules/ethics/nicities of that?

doug, brian, tony, mark s? do you think Maggie Dawn would be a good fit for what we’re trying to do in the learning communities, as the theologian for either Human-ness or Truth?

it would be a bit pricey to fly her over from the UK to both events.

Average rating: 

making “open source” work

Filed under: General, 1 -- read this first, open source — michael toy @ 12:05 pm

i’m the guy whose apparently eloquent discussion of the potential of open source contributed to the creation of this blog. marko [ hey marko, where do i link to when i use your name? better come up with something or i’ll use marko.com (Carlisle Food Service Products)] asked me to post a bit about what we can expect from an experiment like this and and what we all can do to make it more useful.

first i’d like to echo all the little praises. marko, this is a great idea. open source is not magic sauce which makes everything better (this stuff is), but an “open source” approach to planning is very attractive in this case, for these modern-bullet-point reasons.

  • emergent itself is an “open source” organization in many ways, and this is deconstructive to the growing myth of the emergent illuminati, if you care and are willing to participate, then there is probably a place for you.
  • it is an investment in community.
  • it provides a chance for people who are not limited by “what can be done in the hotel in san diego” to challenge the assumptions of those who have been doing this for a while.
  • it will produce a document which we can all point to which will explain the dreams and the compromises that go into an event like this. this document will not be an apology or an apologetic, it will just be a story.

as long as i am making power-point slides, i should go ahead and make the tensioning slide which points out some negative aspects of a project like this.

  • we do not know the “how” for how we are going to do this, and neither does any open source project. we are creating a community which will have its own rules, its own way of living, and its own way of getting things done. we will spend significant energy and time on talking about how we communicate.
  • as anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes on the ooze, or the fourms on beliefnet.org can tell you, on line discussions of matters of faith can be tangled messes.
  • “None of us is as dumb as all of us”

and so like anything else we should all strive to maximize the good and minimize the bad. my final power-point slide is “Michael’s Suggestions For Commenting on the Planning Blog”

  • if you are frustrated or highly emotionally charged, it leaks into your post and can sidetrack the discussion. If you have this “thing in your gut” as you write a comment, step away from the computer. Write it down somewhere else, get a friend to tell you what the constructive part is, post that, file the rest as “personal data processsing” and move on.

  • if you can’t stand anything that even smells like a concession or compromise, save yourself some time and agony and go home now. emergent-the-collective, youth specialties, emergent-the-book-mill the convention planning entity, the churches, emergent-the-idea, the Church, … the relationships are complicated, the thing they plan will include compromise and concession.
  • play in the playground. as a commenter here, we are invited to assist the planning team. assist implies being helpful. try to be helpful.
  • tell stories ( i say this in all contexts, i have to say it here). often times the best thing we have to bring is not our opinion, but our stories of how we have been shaped by living in god’s world.
Average rating: 

Our Discussion of the Process

Filed under: General, open source — doug pagitt @ 11:01 am

Marko and I agreed to post a bit of our conversation about this process.
To set it up. i had concerns that with this Open Source language we were making promises we were not ready or able to fulfill. Nameley that people had the possibility to speak into the system. My concern was that we might be able to handle the influx of the ideas into what is already decided.

So slipping into old form Marko and I emailed our exchange - which we think would be good to post and try to get used to using this process.

Here is what we wrote this morning:

Marko -
Wow – so much fear! :o)

Look at what I just posted. (clarification on open-source…)

We don’t HAVE to respond to ANY of them. they’re input. Some ideas will be worth adding to our process. Other ideas won’t even be worth a response.

The trick is: we need to start talking to each other on the blog, not talking to all the readers. The tone I’m using here in this email (and we always use with each other when we’re writing to the five of us) needs to be the tone we use. Make sense?


Doug -
you know me - ever fearful. ;0)

My concern was that we could create more frustration by letting people
think their ideas have more weight than a suggestion.
I like what you wrote on the blog. I think it is more like, to use a
phrase from Thom, “glass walls” than open source. People can see in, comment in,
but are not invited in. I feel better about that because it makes it

But being the fearful me, I don’t think we have done well in planning
through writing, but have excelled in the face to face meetings. So
are we now saying that we are going to do our planning through writing?

Thom just quoted Stanislavski, ” a good idea badly presented dies for a
very long time.” Not to mention if we put a bad idea out there.

Marko, if you see the beauty in this I will go with it, but we have
worked hard over the last year to build chemistry as a team and I think
we might squander a bit of that if we move to dialog through writing on
the blog as primary.

Should I be doing this on the blog? That would really open it up.

Marko -
Actually, I think it would really cool to have this conversation on the blog. I think this honesty rocks.

But I’ll answer here for now. No, I don’t see us giving up meeting. This is for all the between-the-meetings planning that still needs to take place. We need to make a wad of decisions in the next two or three months, and we won’t be meeting ’til this fall sometime.

Average rating: 

other presenters who’ve agreed to join us

Filed under: General, general sessions, seminars, learning communities — marko @ 8:59 am

Does “agreed to join us” sound better than “locked in"? :o)

just to get this on the table (remember, we’d gone a ways down the ol’ planning road before deciding to make the walls of the planning room transparent)…

Critical Concerns Courses
these are the 8-hour pre-event intensives. this list is what’s already planned. we only have room to add one or two more, and they’d need to have the potential to draw 30-ish people, or so
Dan Allender, on something about pyschology and ministry
Spiritual Retreat (this is a repeat of this year)
Doug Pagitt, something on Spiritual Formation
Dan Kimball, a new CCC called “Pomo 101″ – really an on-ramp for newbies
Stan Grenz, a new CCC called “Convention Theology Primer” – basically, we want Stan to introduce the four theological subjects that will be addressed in the learning communities, especially for those who’ve not done prior reading on this
Tim Conder, Transitioning a Traditional Church

we’ve also asked the Emerging Women’s Leadership Initiative if they’d like to host a CCC (or something else). And i’ve wondered through email with Jay Vorhees and Brian McLaren (not that they would necessarily present it) about one on Justice/Multi-culturalism/Racism and Em-Church.

General Session Blessers
we’re going to have someone bring a word of blessing and encouragement and validation in at least some of the evening general sessions
Dan Allender, both cities
Phyllis Tickle, N’ville only

we still have room for one more in n’ville, and two more in SD

many of the people involved elsewhere (teaching a CCC, a theologian in a learning community, etc) will present seminars also. These people (below) are only those who are NOT doing something other than presenting a seminar, but have already agreed to be in both cities. also, we’ve asked them all to attend all of the event in at least one of the cities, so they’re not just hit-and-run speakers, but fellow travelers.
Lauren Winner
Deiter Zander
Chris Seay
John Franke
Sally Morganthaller

there you have it. within the next week, i’ll post (not doing this yet isn’t about me “holding back” from you all – it’s about time!):
- the big question about evening worship
- the big question about differentiating the two events
- the tentative schedule we have worked out
- a “theme” i’m pondering

Average rating: 

clarifying what “open source” means…

Filed under: General, 1 -- read this first, open source — marko @ 7:42 am

so here’s how i understand it (and, i think i’ll ask Michael Toy to add a guest posting to respond to this)…
When software code is open-sourced, a few things happen.

    anybody and everybody can see the code
    anybody and everybody can take the code and do whatever they want with it
    anybody and everybody can make modifications, and offer it back to everyone, or horde it for themselves (though they’d be violating the spirit of the process by hording)
    there remains a “most reliable source” – usually protected by a specific person or organization. the person/group in charge of this “most reliable source” chooses which permutations and modifications to add to the code in the most reliable source.

for us, what this means is – we can’t plan an event by a committee of 1000. and, of course, no one would want a “lowest common denominator” event. that would just suck.

So – to clarify – we, the planning team, have a job to do (uh, to plan an event). we’re going to try to speak to each other on this blog, without a bunch of secret emails between each other that you can’t see. occaisionally, we’ll speak to everyone with a question (like i have in every post i’ve made so far). but, mostly, the planning team members are going to speak to each other. I know this could sound controlling or autocratic – that’s really not my intent – but this is our equivilent of the most reliable source. But all the comments and suggestions and rants and offers will be considered – all of them – and many will end up being added to the most reliable source (the actual plan for the event).



Average rating: 


female theologians

Filed under: General, learning communities — marko @ 10:11 pm

YES – we want them! we had really hoped (and still do) to have 50% females as theologians, practicioners AND tour guides. we’ve succeeded so far in the tour guide area. and we have one female practitioner on board. Both Nancey Murphy and Kenda Dean (both, by the way, NOT what i would consider traditional evangelicals, Jay – in response to your comment), have both turned us down for understandable reasons.

we’d love your input. you can see where we have holes. Obviously, we want the best person for the spot. but given the extremely wide breadth of attendees, it sure would help if it were someone people had heard of (not playing into a cult of personality here – just real-world stuff about trying to bridge to those who are newer to the conversation).

Who would you suggest???

Average rating: 

Let’s give this a try

Filed under: General — doug pagitt @ 7:03 pm

I think this is a wonderful experiment. I hope that it doesn’t create unmet expectations especially for those who make comments, where many good ideas will come from. My concern is that there is no way to implement all the ideas nor will all ideas fit and I hope people will not feel unlistened to or marginalized. So let’s all keep in mind that the convention is a complicated happening and we are all seeking to make it the most it can be. Please post ideas in the comment section.

WE will do our best to bring our ideas listen to your comments and make something magical.

Average rating: 

READ THIS SECOND (stuff we’ve already decided)

Filed under: General, 2 -- read this second — marko @ 11:08 am

ok, so the frustration with this year’s event was that the general sessions didn’t quite work. they were good in lots of ways, and had some great elements. but – bottom line – we were trying to accomplish:
a. too much
b. stuff that didn’t fit that format

the planning team met in April (after the first event, but before the second) and did a bunch of work. First, we identified the things we think this event CAN and SHOULD do:

    • Demonstrate
    • Conversation/Dialogue
    • Story
    • Encouragement/Inspire
    • Theology
    • Challenge
    • Experience
    • Imagination/Creativity/Give Permission
    • You are not alone/Peace
    • Networking/Friendship/Advancing Connection
    • Blessing/Healing/Validation
    • Participate
    • New Thinking
    • Exposure
    • Pushing envelopes
    • Boundary crossing
    • Hope/ “You Are Not Crazy!” / “You Can Change the World!”

then we thought about the ideal size/format/options that we had to offer and that made sense for those values. we came up with these five “sizes":

Labyrinth, Prayer Chapel, Spiritual Direction
Size: 1

    • Open
    • Experiential
    • Optional
    • Reflective/Creative

Cohorts, Forums
Size: 2-24

    • Conversation/dialogue
    • Processing
    • Validation
    • Equality
    • Participation
    • Networking

Size: 25-100

    • Interactive
    • Pushing envelope
    • New thinking
    • Topical
    • Uncontrolled/self-selected
    • Conversational/dialogue

Learning Community
Size: 150—200

    • New thinking/theology
    • Pushing envelopes/thinking
    • Content-driven
    • Controlled message
    • Controlled/programmed
    • Moderated discussion

Super Size

General Session
Size: everyone (750 - 1000?)

    • Encouragement
    • Demonstration/model
    • Hopeful celebration
    • Imagination/creativity
    • Not confrontive

You can see (especially if you’ve been to the event in the last two years) that the biggest change is in the largest two groupings:

– the general sessions, we decided, not to move away from content transmission, as well as away from a dog-and-pony-show approach. we need to develop meaningful emerging worship gatherings, with (if we have a speaker at all) a “blesser” to affirm and encourage. there will only be three or four of these, and will pretty much just be in the evening. There’s much more about these – i’ll post seperately on it.

– we added the “learning communities". This is based on the assumption that the past two years have given us the credibility to be a bit more clear about what theology needs to be re-thunk. The plan is to have four theologian/practioner pairs who lead a semi-interactive session with a group of 200-ish, centered on four areas of theology we think the emerging church really needs to grapple with:

    1. Church
    2. Scripture
    3. Humananity (being human)
    4. Truth & Knowledge

each learing community will have two “tour guides” (a male and a female) who will travel with them and lead discussion times as they rotate through the four topics (over three days).
Here’s who’s already locked in:
Tour guides: Tim Conder, Tim Keel, Jeannie Stevens, Spencer Burke, Holly Rankin-Zaher, and Carla Barnhill.
Tony Jones has said yes to at least one city, and we’re still waiting to see if he’ll listen to the voice of God and commit to both.
Danielle Shroyer is the last we’re trying to get on board for this role, but she’s not answering email. anyone know her enough to bug her?
theologians & practitioners:
Church – Al Roxburgh (theo), Doug Pagitt (prac)
Truth – Todd Hunter (prac)
Scripture – Stan Grenz (theo), Brian McLaren (prac)
Human – Kara Powell (prac)

stuff i’ll post later:
– seminar leaders already locked in
– general session “blessers” already locked in
– the huge debate about how we handle the general sessions, particularly worship
– Critical Concerns Courses already locked in (those are the 8 hour pre-event intensives)
– other ideas we’re batting around

Average rating: 

READ THIS FIRST! (it’s why we’re doing this)

Filed under: General, 1 -- read this first — marko @ 9:47 am

This past Feb and May, the emergent convention (a gathering of people interested in rethinking church) took place in San Diego and Nashville. it was the second year of the event, and experienced a good amount of growth (we had 800 in SD and 750 in N’ville). The five of us who will post on this site (me, Mark Oestreicher, president of youth specialties; Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon’s Porch in MN; Jeannie Stevens, youth pastor for Willow Creek’s regional churches; Mark Scandrette, missional dude in San Fran; and Thom Olson, Solomon’s Porch member, gifted director and college communications instructor) planned the events this past year.

Now we’re deeply engaged in planning next year (2005). we’ve already made a ton of changes (see “read this second") and plans.

but a few things happened in the past couple months:
1. i had a long talk with michael toy about open source theory, particularly as it pertains to his software development world, but also as a human theory.
2. i engaged in a long, multi-day string of email exchanges with a dozen people (outside the planning team) about their thoughts on next year’s event.

somewhere out of that came this idea: open-sourcing the planning process of next year’s events. we’re pulling back the curtain and inviting you to do two things:
1. watch. we’ll do as much of the planning (what remains) out in the open.
2. participate. comment. suggest. get pissed off. affirm. voluteer. that kind of stuff.

The five of us on the planning team (and the occaisional guest commenter we’ll ask to post) will try to be fairly regular about posting, and we’ll be diligent about reading ALL the comments.

here we go.

Average rating: 

Powered by WordPress