Why Does [D]mergent Matter?

You know the story.  Rewind about ten years.  Small town.  Missouri.  High School.  I only listen to underground music—once I hear it on the radio I think it’s totally lame. I can’t wait to get out of there.  I want to leave.  I want to be far away.  Then I do.  I leave.  I move to Boulder.  I am radical.  I am progressive.  My transcript is full of classes in Women’s Studies, Black Studies, American Indian Studies, and Sociology.  I vote for Ralph Nader.  I truly believe that we can change.  I believe in my generation.  I eat gigantic burritos and try fish tacos and Indian food for the first time.  You know me.  I am an individual.  We are all individuals.  But after a few years, life takes this hilarious turn and I end up back in my hometown—back in the place that I was dying to leave.  I am back in the heartland where the Bible is as ubiquitous as the gun racks on the back windows of trucks.  And there, in the midst of this utter disconnect between the way I want to live, the way I think the town requires me to live, and where I find God.  It is there where I realize that my politics and my faith can meet—that they should meet—where they do meet. During my time back home, I was attending a church but I was hungry for more.  I read all the books I could about what it meant to be a follower of Jesus, about acting out my faith, about loving people through our differences because that is the way the god that I felt in my heart asked me to be.  I hosted a small group of young women in my home where I spoke too loudly, promoted my own agenda, defended the emergent church and the idea that we could view God in the feminine.  One day I prayed with my friends that I would have the same zeal that a newly converted girl in our group had.  We prayed.  And a couple of weeks after that prayer, I gave a testimony of how God had changed me through my small group.  I felt like the prayer had worked.  But, as I was standing at that pulpit, proclaiming what I felt was the gospel message of Jesus Christ, I realized that was as far as I would get in that church.  I would only be allowed to “speak,” and that word means a far different thing than to “preach.”  And, at that moment, the emergent church became real to me.  If we are called to meet people where they are, if we are called to see God speaking in ways we never expected, then I needed to find a place where all of that could happen.

And that’s when I found the Disciples.  I engaged in conversations.  I searched online.  I read books.  I was looking for people who would embrace the mysteries of God by loving the ambiguities of people—and I think there are a whole lot of people out there like me.  People who need something.  People who are searching.  People who are looking for wholeness in a broken world.  So we have to write.  We have to teach.  And we have to be out there.  It is our mandate—to be progressive and radical and ancient and modern—to be [D]mergent.

by Monica Lewis