post-convention brief de-brief

I’m hangin’ out at the electronic cottage of Jay Voorhes, south of Nashville, until my flight departure later this evening, a much better place to hang out than the airport. The last of its kind Emergent Convention has come to a close, and it was enjoyable to be here. I might have attended 2 sessions in its entirety in total, and a handful of others that I picked up sound bites from. And [I] purchased 6 CDs from sessions that I did want to hear, and will, but preferred to spend time with people incarnationally [face to face] — that is something you can’t buy on CD or substitute with virtual communications.

I’ll share a few items and several observations:

The custom t-shirts I wore were made online at For under $20 each, you can get single order custom t-shirts with text and/or images (you don’t have to order a dozen or more)

Like Brian said during the closing session of the ec05, who also shared a few of his observations, this convention seemed to have less anger than previous iterations, and less up-front presentations, with more conversations among the attendees.

The learning communities were a very good configuration that facilitiated this. The economics of this kind of setup a little challenging, or peculiar, for lack of a better word. Typically, a conference charges a registration fee to cover operating costs in organizing the event, inviting speakers (paying for their expenses), and facilities rental. Now, if the event is mostly about the conversations with attendees, then a configuration like the Emergent Gathering in Glorieta, New Mexico, this October, is much more valuable and conducive and cost-effective for even more conversations.

Over lunch, we explored the notion of what would make the (annual?) Emergent Gathering in Glorieta even more appealing is if we could know who were planning on being there. So if I knew that Jen Lemen or Doug Pagitt or Tim Keel or Dan Kimball or Will Samson or a certain bunch of other people were going to be there, people I already know, and people that I wanted to meet and dialogue with, then that’d help me decide whether to go, or not to go. (now, if there’s people who’d be there that I didn’t care about being there, I can simply carefully avoid eye contact with them and dodge any engagement, no big deal. *grin* Anyone who knows me knows that I peg the FIRO-B charts on inclusion, so I’d never cold-shoulder anyone.)

There also seemed to be more attendees from mainline Protestant traditions, and also more on-rampish attendees, those who were new to the emergent “conversation” (quotes judiciously used by Brian).

And there were many more bloggers (or those who had started blogging since last year) this time around. I didn’t have to keep explaining what blogging was to every other person I met this time. This time it was exchanging URLs, and the irony(?) is that we know one another’s URLs but not their names.

Typical recurring conversation: “My name is so-and-so, and I’ve read your blog.” “Oh, thank you! Thank you for introducing yourself. Do you blog?” “Yes, my blog is at so-and-so URL.” “Oh, you’re [insert blog_alias here]!!” Ragamuffindiva (who got the most uproarious a-ha and applause at the ec05 Bloggers Forum), and we didn’t recognize her real name, Claudia Burney. Not that real names aren’t important, but their voice most certainly is. Didn’t recognize the name, recognized the voice. Jesus said something about hearing his voice.

Bloggers Forum(I’m in the foreground, right side profile; photo credit: Jay Voorhees)

Diversity shows up in several conversations, about leadership in organizations, about emergent’s leadership, about church, about emergent’s core. Diversity beyond the racial or gender or theological categories, even. My take on it is that diversity has to be intentional and relational, and is an open invite to unexpected change. Scary and vulnerable move for any organization, where predictability is highly valued. And done right, that means being done at the board level (or wherever that decision-making responsibility is).

Not only does a position and role have to be opened up, beyond being invited to be a representative token, a genuine friendship has to be cultivated first, along with a posture of learning. It has to be a win-win for both the organization and the individuals from the other context.

Diversity doesn’t have to be the absolute top priority, but it does need to be intentional, and recognized explicitly as an organization’s objective. If it’s not stated, it’s not going to happen. It doesn’t have to be the only thing that the organization does. It’s to say that diversity can and does help an organization do what it’s called to do better.

Another challenge for organizations seeking diversity is holding too tightly to performance metrix or value for excellence in how things are done (or said) in a certain (status quo) way. People from a different culture or sub-culture, thus, different corporate culture, will need to be evaluated in a new kind of way. And the way to evaluate is through relationship. People rise through the leadership ranks in a mentoring and coaching relationship. Where training is needed, that can be provided. This is all new, virgin, pioneer frontier territory. Doing something is better than being paralyzed and doing nothing. [this is too short of a space to elaborate and unpack the ingredients needed for diversity to work in and work for an organization, so this is notably an incomplete thought.]

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