Friday, September 10, 2010

Big Tent Christianity and Subverting the Norm

Over the last few days, the Big Tent team (Philip Clayton, Justin Heinzekehr, and Tripp Fuller) has been hosting the first Big Tent Christianity event, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here's the blurb:

"Who’s coming to the conference?
"We have invited three dozen leaders on the cutting edge of “Big Tent” style ministry and theology to talk with you about issues close to their hearts: justice, theology, sexuality, the Bible, and the future of denominations. Among the speakers are:
"Philip Clayton, Brian McLaren, Shane Claibourne, Phyllis Tickle, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Bill Leonard, Keith Ward, Tripp Fuller, Gareth Higgins, Hugh Hollowell, Anthony Smith, Tim Conder, Terence Fretheim, Jo-Ann Badley, Jay Bakker, Brian Ammons, Tim King, Spencer Burke, Tom Oord, Christopher Copeland, Frank Green, Peter Rollins, Greg Boyd, Stephanie Spellers, and Ian Cron.

"Why "Big Tent Christianity"?
"Numerous battles in the past produced the large number of denominations and separate churches within American Christianity today. Some of these battles were important. But many of the old battlelines no longer speak to Christians today, especially to the youth. Indeed, our divisions are driving some folks away from the church altogether.
"In the old days revival tents were set up outside towns and cities across the South. The people of God would join together for celebration, community, and revival. The revival tent was a sign of Christian unity and Christian renewal — the ongoing and active work of the Holy Spirit in our midst.
"What would happen if Christians came together from across the South to proclaim what unites us as followers of Jesus Christ and as His disciples in this modern world? Some two dozen leading Christian speakers from around the country will be assembling in Raleigh for this event. They will share with you new and innovative forms of church-based ministry and renewal — new ways of being and becoming the church. And they will inspire you with their vision for how we can speak even more powerfully in and to the world of the 21st century."

I'm hoping to be able to speak at the Subverting the Norm: The Emerging Church, Postmodernism and the Future of Christianity conference in Springfield, Missouri, next month, and will probably mention this event, so I'll be scouring the Internet for responses over the next little while. Here's a piece by Philip Clayton in The Huffington Post, "Seeking Common Ground in 'Big Tent' Christianity." I'll hopefully be talking precisely about this notion of seeking common ground.

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