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June 07, 2005


tony sheng

Hi Ryan,
I've been scanning your blog for a few weeks now... Thanks for posting, it's a great read.
I, and probably many other readers, would love to hear some insight and perspective from your job as a missiologist...

Existential Punk

Ryan, thank you for a brief history of the USAmerican Emergent scene. You seem very kind and humble. I've pre-ordered your new book on amazon and can't wait to receive it and devour it! Pax, Adele


heres to you, Ryan. Look forward to the book.


Ryan, heres to you for fostering and nurturing that hope. I will be getting my MA this fall at Fuller, so I look forward to our conversations. peace.

Chad Farrand

Nice. I've been enjoying your blog!

John Sloas

Ryan B.,
You've nailed several things for me. I went to the first Emergent convention in '02 as a youth pastor on the verge of quitting everything (faith, church)—Emergent gave me new hope and a language to my internal struggle with the “technique modification” teaching of the church. I agree, it is more than tweaking a service (though some will find God in those tweaked services). I've been doing this church within a church Sunday night "service" for about a year now--I think it has played itself out and is ready to end. I’m hoping that a authentic “emergent” church (not a tweaked service or Gen X/Y thing) can find life in Fresno. We’ll see.

A question (if you have the time)…

How do denominations fit in with Emergent? Many of us resonate with Emergent, but have been a part of a denomination (for me PCUSA). Do we have to leave in order to be truly “emergent”? It seems that the many of the denoms are in trouble so they are looking to Emergent for a little boost with younger generations. To me it seems that the denom soil is incompatible with the emergent crop (for the most part). What do you think?

Tony Jones


Thanks for the postive notice. We've just decided lots of great stuff this week at an Emergent Summit. I'm glad we're on the same road!



Having just spent a few days trying to determine how best to move forward with Emergent, it was so wonderful to read your generous thoughts. Thank you!


Thanks for that potted history. I was a serious tweaker in young adults ministry in Sydney from '94-99 and worked with two different churches in London trying to start 'relevant' new services from late '99 to '02 and the whole experience gave me a very dim view of the "tweak and attract" paradigm (even though at times it proved very "sucessful." I've been a read from afar of the emergent conversation and it has not only given me a lot of food for thought, but helped me connection my intuitions about the future of church with what I know from my academic research. i'm sure I'm far from the only one in this sort of situation.


Hey Ryan,

Great thoughts. Can't wait for your book...

BTW, I love Eddie Gibbs. I met him at a church planting conference here in Canada last year. He is a cool guy.

Ryan Bolger

Thanks for the positive feedback everyone...I put these thoughts out there and you never know how they'll be received. Cool.

Tony, sounds great. Would love to hear what you guys came up with.

John, good questions, I will address that in another post...

Larry Wilson

Hey, Ryan, thanks for meeting last Monday. Between our conversation and this post, I'm coming to see how important it is to understand the emerging-church movement within the context of mission outreach in a new "foreign" culture that's evolving right in front of us.

I can't imagine a more exciting time to be alive than right now, participaing with God in this new evolution of the church.


Looking forward to your answers to John...we are a Covenant congregation trying to truly re-form ourselves into a missional community (with much resistance from the old guard, who won't even come to discussion nights). Of late, we are finding ourselves trapped by the trappings of our denomination...particularly on the issue of who can become a "member" (tied implicitly to homosexuality)...the die-hard reformers (me included) wonder if we can be a part of a denomination that has drawn such a line. Yet we don't want to abandon ship...
(Please note: I DO NOT want this to become a discussion of homosexuality; I think every church probably has (or will have)a similar issue...the issue is not the point.)

Matt Stone


I appreciate Emergent-US is an American network and that your indicate at the outset you are focussing on things from an American Church context.

However, in due fairness the morphing of YLN was only one part of a global phenomenon which was well underway before 1996. The global movement which has come to be known as the emerging church started years earlier, yet you make it sound as if the YLN morph occurred in a vacuum, apart from the brief reference to
N T Wright and alternative worship in the UK.

Yet, what have come to be called emerging experiments, have been going on in UK, Australia, Kiwi-land and Europe for quite some time. We have copped a lot of flack as well and I must say I find it frustrating when our American brothers write us out of history as if Emergent-US got everything rolling.

rudy rocamontes, jr

Thanks for catching me up to speed on the emergent scene. Went to Nashville (May of '05)for the conference and loved it. Hope to get involved in the SA emergent group. We are involved in an inner-city multi-housing ministry. Hope to be able to connect those in need of Christ to a relationship with Jesus.
God bless you.

Ryan Bolger

Matt, thanks for the post.
I did not mean to imply that Emergent started the whole thing rolling. My post only discussed Emergent because that was what the article was addressing. In my book coming out in the Fall, I note the movements in the UK beginning in 1985 as well making some connections to the Jesus People in the US in the 1960s.

I agree Emergent did not 'Emerge' in a vacuum, but there was little direct contact upon the US version (apart from Andrew Jones) from their UK/AU/NZ predecessors).



i read an early copy of ryan's book. i think you will be surprised how much it honors the Uk and other countries - certainly more than any other emerging church book i have read from USA

Phil Groom

Thanks Ryan. Like all these other guys, I'm looking forward to your book. But didn't all this emergent stuff start with a certain guy emerging from a tomb 2000 or so years ago? And the question "What is truth?" isn't exactly new, either...

History repeats itself. Has to; no one listens. (Steve Turner).

ryan bolger

Phil, yes, incarnation must be birthed again and again...

steve taylor

Good post Ryan. Are you emergent?or emerging? Hey a good read on this is over at Emerge- Ringo's site. He has some good balanced posts on these things.

What the Emerging Church is to Me

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Thank you for providing the perspective. I just read a part of the article, so I don't know much what to say. Good luck for the new member!
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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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