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Amy is co-host and blogger for both Stand Up for the Truth and Naomi's Table, two ministries that give her the opportunity to write and talk about Jesus all day long. She has written, produced and broadcast in the realm of television and radio news, magazine business journals and marketing materials. She continues her freelance work as a writer and social media consultant.

Donation plea: Brian McLaren Responds

Brian McLaren (foreground) and Tony Jones, Yal...

Brian McLaren (foreground) and Tony Jones,

Last week on his blog, Emergent guru Brian McLaren asked for large sums of money to go to a project to be named later. (See: Brian McLaren asks for significant cash for mystery project)  Those who were interested could write to him at a “Happy To Help” email address. Here is the response email I received this evening:

Dear friends …

Thanks so much for responding to my recent request for help. What follows is general information and requires no action now. I’ll be back in touch in a week or so with a more personal note and information about next steps.

Here’s the big idea.

For some time I (along with many others) have been seeing the need for some kind of small, non-competitive hub to serve – not control – the many networks that are spontaneously forming and developing in this general space we’ve all been opening but haven’t figured out how to name yet … Emergence Christianity, Convergence Christianity, a new kind of Christianity, Christianity for the rest of us, missional Christianity, progressive Christianity, generous orthodoxy, Red-Letter Christianity, Just Faith, etc.

I believe that for this conversation to develop and mature towards being a lasting and effective movement leading to concrete action for the common good, we now need some coordination, facilitation, and behind-the-scenes encouragement and support. I want to continue doing what I’m doing – writing and speaking and networking, and I don’t want to run anything. But I want to find some ways to help others use their gifts to help all of us move forward with more intentional synergy, shared positive identity, and joyful collaboration.

I’m envisioning two or three people working full time, along with a number of stipended part-time people spread around the country. Grace and I are making a large personal financial commitment to this project (basically, it will be our tithe of gross income for the next three years), and I’m hoping you will join in doing what you can too.

I don’t think we need one organization trying to bring everybody under their umbrella. I do think we need some people who aren’t trying to build anything on their own, but rather build alignment and synergy among the many good groups who are exploring the leading edges of what is emerging in and among us.

Here’s what I’m hoping we could make happen initially: a website, a preliminary face-to-face gathering, a “press office” (to provide media-trained spokespeople to represent the movement as it continues to grow), perhaps a speakers bureau (or network of speakers bureaus), and positive participation in a global network that is forming as well.

I’d also like to see us scout out a cadre of diverse younger leaders who would be the face of this movement. Established/older leaders (like me) would do all we could to support, mentor, encourage, and promote a new generation of emerging leaders – young women and men who demonstrate the racial and denominational diversity that we need to move forward.

Many of us have been talking about this for quite a while now, but I wanted to let you know that I’m ready to do what I can to help next steps to happen, and of course I hope you’ll be a central part of this.

One reason I believe we need to move ahead now is what’s happening in terms of a global movement.  A number of grass-roots “emergence/convergence” movements in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe have found one another and come together under the name Mesa. They’ve announced a preliminary gathering in Bangkok, Thailand, October 24-30. I’m planning to go. (There’s more info on Mesa here: www.mesa-friends.org.)

I like Mesa’s emphasis on ethos, since we know we’re very diverse and flexible in terms of culture, theological frameworks, church forms and structures, etc. Mesa has no money, but it is rich in relationships with grass-roots networks that are part of this “emergence” around the world. I’m very impressed with the group, and grateful they’re moving forward in this way.

Mesa’s development globally has meant that we need to take some new steps here in the US. As you can imagine, it’s important for us not to dominate this global group, but to model humility and service and collaboration.

Nothing is set in stone, but I’ve been working with some others on a first draft of a document that describes a network hub for the US. (The document is included below.) Our placeholder name is “NewNet.” We’re considering the name CANA (something I’d love your feedback on – more information is in the document).

That’s what I’m working on, and what I’m asking you to help me get started.

Dr. Philip Clayton (http://www.claremontlincoln.org/academics/faculty/profile/philip-clayton/) of Claremont Lincoln University (http://www.claremontlincoln.org) has graciously agreed to help us get started by receiving tax-deductible donations. We’re getting the logistics worked out and will be able to receive your donation soon. When NewNet (or CANA initiative or ???) is up and running as a 501(c)3 entity, funds will be transferred there. Obviously, we’ll be sure that all funds are handled ethically. And just to reiterate – I’m giving funds to this cause, not receiving funds from it.

If you have additional questions or suggestions, please let me know at this email address.

Grateful for your partnership -
Brian

PS: Here’s the draft document. Feel free to share it with interested individuals who may want to help, but I ask that it not be posted anywhere publicly, since this is really just a starting point.

FIRST DRAFT (not for public distribution)
“NewNet”
(Potential Name: CANA Initiative)

NewNet is a collective of faith-engaged organizations, individuals, institutions and networks rooted in a generous Christian tradition, who seek to embody a new Christian ethos leading to constructive collective action in the United States.

NewNet seeks to create a healthy ecosystem for connection among existing and emerging individuals, organizations, and networks and will serve as an influential “network of networks”.

NewNet is comprised of Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians who believe the future for Christian life and mission will be different in many ways from the past and present.

NewNet brings together innovative leaders from all streams of the faith to collaborate in the development of new ways of being Christian…new ways of doing theology and living biblically, new understandings and practices of mission, new kinds of faith communities, new approaches to worship and spiritual formation, new integrations and conversations and convergences and dreams.

NewNet participants share a sense of exploration, creativity, challenge and opportunity in this pivotal and dynamic moment.

Because we are rooted in a generous Christian heritage, we are eager to collaborate with people of other faiths, and those seeking the common good. Our networks of dialogue and action thus extend beyond Christian communities to persons of all faiths, as well as to communities that are not themselves faith-based. We welcome allies and allegiances wherever we find common cause.

NewNet seeks to translate critical thinking about the past and present into creative collective action for the future, and to do so in a spirit that is positive, irenic, sympathetic, and generous.

In this way, NewNet seeks to support and encourage what is often called Emergence Christianity. The word emergence means coming into view, arising from, occurring unexpectedly, requiring immediate action (hence its relation to emergency). It often involves crossing boundaries (as between water and air) and evolutionary processes. All these meanings resonate with the spirit and vision of NewNet.

We welcome people from a wide spectrum of theological, political, and ethnic traditions. We encourage a wide range of ecclesial structures. NewNet sees this diversity as a sign of health and vitality.

NewNet Convenes, Advocates, Networks and Acts (CANA)

Convene – Provide the context for people and organizations to more publicly identify with the movement and collaborate within the United States.
We aggregate and promote events and conversations for the the generation of friendship, shared thought, and collective action among organizations and leaders around the country.
We provide online resources – to connect related organizations, affiliates, allies, resources
We build and strengthen alliances between leaders, organizations, and networks who together build the movement
We provide a means by which “NewNet” can relate to parallel regional networks around the world.

Advocate  - Speak on behalf of the movement to potential participants, the press, critics, and opponents.
We produce key documents – to identify values, ethical standards, questions for conversation, and proposals for action.
We develop a press office – to provide secular and religious media with trained, responsible spokespeople for this emerging Christian ethos.
We disseminate movement news and provide an edited news/commentary aggregator
We select and support a group of gifted, trained, committed, and diverse leaders to represent and advance the movement.
Speakers’ Bureau – to provide growing numbers of spokespeople for Emergence Christianity.

Network – Champion Ideas and help insure voices have what is needed to articulate bold and meaningful proposals for collective action
Create transparent communication and decision-making structures
Welcome and include new participants into the network
Assist fundraising for participants by telling the larger story and inviting financial participation
Help people find churches, organizations cohorts, staff, jobs, etc., to promote the larger goals of the movement.
Identify issues and opportunities of participation among NewNet participants

Act –  Collectively collaborate more consciously and effectively in six areas that are essential to vital movements
Understand opportunities and challenges
Articulate our message
Engage in strategic collective action
Mobilize people and resources
Build movement culture
Enrich participant lives

Outcomes:
Encourage new, expanding, generative and meaningful expressions of Christian faith in North America
Create exposure for media and other practitioners to learn about and access the movement
Highlight more attractive public opinion of Christian faith, spirituality, and mission
Connect with and inspire new generation of leaders
Generate a collaborative environment for shared participation among leaders
Network with parallel networks globally
Create pathways for a new kind of interaction between faith traditions
Generate pathways for faith-based organizations to collaborate with non-faith focused endeavors
Support systems that generate new innovative initiatives – communities, churches, learning centers, media organizations, causes, etc

Assumptions:
We are moving from largely independent innovative entities to a more collaborative eco-system
We are not asking existing efforts to be part of our whole, but asking existing efforts to see what they  are doing as contributing to a larger whole
We are in transition from a generative conversation to an ecumenical spiritual movement
We need a hub that is not seeking to compete or control, but coordinate and serve
If we maximize the larger system, we will maximize the sub-systems
More and more of us are ready for a collaborative rather than competitive philosophy of ministry
This is not about a polarized “right or left”, but about a polarized past, a convergent now, and a future full of collaborative possibilities.

Limits:
NewNet will not:
Provide funds, but will seek to link to others who do
Advocate particular expressions of faith, but will support a wide variety of expressions
Start new churches, but will encourage their development

We need a variety of people to bring NewNet into being:

Spokespersons – Shared Participation:
Give voice of NewNet within their networks
Give voice of their network within NewNet
Identify with NewNet in bio and social networks
Participate in National Gathering of NewNet

Movement Representatives – Additional Participation:
Participate in a strategic twice-a-month call/video chat
Meet in twice-a-year in face to face national working group meeting
Contribute to setting the direction and strategy of NewNet
Host “invitation/recruitment” meetings among their network

Funders:
NewNet will operate a lean and effective budget. We will support a small staff, provide stipends for Movement Representatives, underwrite meeting and travel costs, and develop and curate an interactive website. Toward that end, NewNet is based on a $200,000 a year budget.  Funders can help us by making one-time initial contributions, providing monthly support, and introducing us to potential funders.

Proposals: (From the Mesa Friends Working Document: “Mesa Friends“ is a global conversation among emerging Christian Leaders in which NewNet will be a partner)
We seek to new engagement in the following areas, making demands upon ourselves and others:

1. The Bible: In light of how the Bible has been abused in the past and present, we know that we need a new way of describing what the Bible is, how it reached its current form, how we should interpret and teach it (especially to children and youth), etc.
2. The Church: A vision of integral mission and missional church prompts us to challenge the church to move beyond institutional maintenance towards forming Christ-like people who become a blessing to the larger community, and thus embody the message we proclaim.
3. The Poor: The growing gap between rich and poor calls for a multi-faceted partnerships that expresses compassion, seek justice, confront exploitation and marginalization, and create opportunity, especially in a global economy.
4. The Planet: The environmental crisis must evoke from us proposals that will benefit the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, and the ecosystems that maintain them, so that followers of Christ will pioneer a new lifestyle and help create the regenerative economy the planet needs.
5. Pluralism: To love our neighbors in today’s world means to learn to appreciate our neighbors’ diverse religions. We must propose new ways of encountering the other the provide alternatives to both combative fundamentalism on the one hand and loss of Christian identity on the other.
6. Peace: After two thousand years, it is time for the Christian faith to distinguish itself not just by advocating for war with less injustice, but by proclaiming an attainable ideal of peace, along with equipping Christians as practical peacemakers.
7. Equality: Women and men, minority and majority, alien and native-born, unbeliever and believer, gay and straight, occupied and occupier, one percent and ninety-nine percent  - our world is torn by divisions that put some in a position of of privilege and power, and others in a position of disadvantage and danger. Sadly, our churches are often laggards, not leaders, in confronting prejudice and standing for the dignity and equality of all people.
8. Families, Women, and Children: Families face multiple challenges today, including greed-based economies that corrode humane values, exploitive entertainment industries that undermine human dignity, and patriarchal religious systems that reward a crude form of masculinity. We must challenge churches to propose and embody family life that can overcome these challenges.
9. Business/Economics: We must challenge business and economic leaders to create new forms of business that seek a triple bottom line – lasting social, environmental, and economic benefit, not just maximized short-term profit. In a world of rising population and increasing mechanization, we must also challenge business leaders to seek to maximize employment along with profit, and to discover new ways to reduce economic inequality by expanding opportunity.
10. Personal Dimensions: In what way must those who articulate demands like these make demands on themselves? How can those demands be sustainable and life-giving rather than burdensome and restrictive? And how can we model gracious collaboration in some areas when we maintain honest disagreement in other areas?

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18 Responses to “Donation plea: Brian McLaren Responds”

  1. Although the word Christianity is used, I never read the name "Jesus," or "God". Nor did I see any scripture as a guide for what this "leader" wants to do. Sounds like he wants to merge several faiths into one cohesive world religion. Where have I read that before? Oh, yeah.

    "11 Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. 14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived." – Revelation 13:11-14

    I'm not the smartest tool in the shed but I believe that any movement to merge faiths, thereby taking us away from worshipping Jesus, is "worshipping the first beast." Verse 14 says, "It deceived the inhabitants of the earth." Let us not be deceived by this man.

    May 27, 2013 at 12:40 AM Reply
    • Colin Higgs #

      I agree with Brian Hall's comments. Having looked through the document heading by heading I find that I need to comment on some of the aspects mentioned.
      The Bible: The only things we need to do as servants of the Lord is to Tell people that the Bible is the inspired word of God. It is Truth without blemish. Spread the Gospel and be a witness to those around us to live by His living Word,

      The Poor: The Bible teaches we will always have the poor with us.

      The Planet: Followers of Christ should do just that, follow Christ's example and live our lives according to His ways. God tells us what is happening to our planet and what the final outcome will be in the meantime we are to be good stewards of what He has given us and enjoy His creation but not worship it.

      Pluralism. We can love our neighbours, as indeed we are commanded to do, but do not have to appreciate their religion. In fact it should be the opposite, as all other religions worship false god's and idols. All is plainly written in God's word.

      Peace. There will be many that cry peace, but all this will be in vain. The only true peace will come when Jesus our Lord and Saviour returns to the earth to reign for a thousand years. Anyone who thinks man can obtain peace is not seeing clearly what God says.

      Equality. There are many groups named in this section of the document. They need to be told that they are sinners and need to repent of their lifestyle, ask forgiveness for their sins, believe in Jesus the son of God and receive Him into their hearts and follow Him.

      Families, women and children. Teach them the truth of the gospel and that the so called "Christian Church" is also founded on greed and riches. Born again believing Christian churches that stand on God's word alone are, and this is Biblical, are the only ones on the right path, but even they have to make sure their eyes are always upon the Lord and not on the men.

      Business and Economics. Many churches are run under this method and many people are being fooled by them. Remember there will be a great falling away (apostocy) and in my view this has already been under way for may years as once great foundational denominations have accepted the pressure from the world and are appeasing the world in order to have some standing. Our stand should be on the Rock of our salvation.

      Personal Dimensions. True believers may differ on certain aspects of interpretation and discuss many things but should not differ on doctrinal matters.

      I'm afraid that I fear that more will be swallowed into inter faith and ecumenicalsim and this for me is mixing Light and darkness.

      May 27, 2013 at 2:15 AM Reply
      • Nancy Mantz #

        Colin…you have done a wonderful job of answering and refuting McLaren's treatise.
        Thank you for your effort.
        What is stunning about what McLaren is proposing is, beyond the fact that it is the
        Antithesis of Biblical truth, that he believes that his concept is even remotely workable!
        It simply boggles the mind that an educated rational individual could be serious in advancing a mishmash plan like he has.
        All it does is show the extent to which people can fall away when they reject the Fundamental teachings and, as a result, the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

        May 27, 2013 at 3:31 AM Reply
      • Andermom #

        Colin: Beautifully said. May I please borrow this to share with others?

        June 4, 2013 at 10:59 AM Reply
        • Colin Higgs #

          This is for ANDERMOM: Yes you can use my comments. Colin

          June 4, 2013 at 9:06 PM Reply
      • cynde #

        Amen Brother in Christ..keep standing!!

        July 29, 2013 at 6:09 PM Reply
      • James #

        You stated so much here and it was done very well. I am asking also if I can print these comments off that you put on here. I would be so grateful if you would grant me permission to do so.

        Thanks Colin and I look forward to your response.

        October 4, 2013 at 4:42 PM Reply
        • Colin Higgs #

          For James. Be my guest.

          October 4, 2013 at 9:59 PM Reply
    • Nancy Mantz #

      Well said, Bob…you are right on! Thank you for posting your comments. The time is coming where speaking out as you are doing will become more and more costly to those of us who stand up for Biblical truth.
      Well, I say bring it on! It means our Lord is coming soon!

      May 27, 2013 at 3:13 AM Reply
  2. Amy Frahm #

    I am astounded that a man who calls himself a christian (pretender, in my view) can so obviously move in a direction that Scripture warns true believers about. Talk about being blinded and having a heart of stone. This letter is jaw dropping in it's total disregard to honoring the One True God. This man has been deceived and is now moving into the role of deceiver!

    May 27, 2013 at 2:38 AM Reply
  3. Where is Jesus in all this? It is so easy to be a fool and to be fooled when we dismiss and/or ignore our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    May 27, 2013 at 5:37 AM Reply
  4. T Carr #

    This whole "treatise", this "document" is loaded with Emergent speak: ethos, attainable ideal of peace, convergent now and intentional synergy. Hmm. And then those of us who hold to historical Christianity, true Christianity are the ones called, "combative fundamentalists". Interesting isn't it? I think we will be considered as "getting in the way" should we proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only right way to God and heaven, by these emergent "Christians". He proclaims to be aiming for an organization that does not "control", but you can bet your dollar that their control will most definitely go so far as to try and "silence" those who object to their "peaceful" and "for-the-global-good" ways.

    Watch this guy, for his ideals are from the pit of hell; dubious, dark, and deceptive.

    May 27, 2013 at 9:46 AM Reply
  5. Rose Vosburgh #

    This is nothing more than a blueprint for the One World Church as predicted in Revelation and all of us 'combative fundamentalists' have been duly warned now. There will be tolerance for everyone, even people of no faith, but zero tolerance for Christians who take the Bible literally and refuse to get on the global oneness bandwagon. This is paving the way for anti-christ to make his entrance on the world scene. What the Bible predicted so long ago is coming true right to the letter. Sad so few can see it.

    May 27, 2013 at 2:26 PM Reply
    • cynde #

      one world religion being layed out right here by this deceiver!

      July 29, 2013 at 6:12 PM Reply
  6. Ed Jackson #

    My my after the pope just said that atheists are o k if they are good.

    May 28, 2013 at 11:04 AM Reply
  7. Wow, this is what I thought was coming with the emergent crew but it is still so sad to see it in action. Great feedback Colin, thanks.

    May 29, 2013 at 3:09 AM Reply
  8. D #

    "There is no clean place at the Harlots table"

    May 30, 2013 at 4:48 PM Reply
  9. The general public now determines what exactly it wants for entertainment, not the leading studios and representatives. When you add to that distribution on the web, news reports, online sites, from chat to whole videos. It's a totally new world. A lot of it very good, some not.

    August 14, 2013 at 2:26 PM Reply

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