Workshop – Tony Jones

Excellent workshop with Tony Jones about his new book, “The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier.”  (It seems that he neglected to bring copies of the book to sell at the conference, so I’m linking to his site where you can find out how to order it.)  He’s a passionate man with a lot of wisdom.  He’s also pretty controversial in many circles…and I tend to agree with him on 90% of the things we discussed.  I’m not sure what that means for me, so I just hope that stake-burnings for heretics aren’t making a comeback.

Here are the notes I took…more reflections later on…


Structure of the Book

Chapter 1 – Landscape of American Protestantism, and how the Emergent movement fits
Chapter 2 – Biography of Emergent Village
Chapters 3, 4, 5 — Theology & Philosophy of the Emergent movement
Chapter 6 – Profiles of 4 churches (including Jacob’s Well)

“Residential seminary is a dead model, and we need to move beyond it.”

“I don’t think we should use the word ‘sin anymore – we should used the word ‘f****d’.” — Mark Driscoll

Reason for Writing the Book
– Converting Protestantism
– “Emergent is one of the few hopes for the future of American Protestantism”
– Tried to write like a columnist (kinda like Thomas Friedman, NY Times)

People to talk to about how to work within Protestant denominations

Karen Ward

Diana Butler Bass

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Roy Terry


“Lutherans don’t live out their notion of ‘priesthood of all believers’ because pastors have to say the magic words over the magic bread and the magic juice.  It’s not only non-Biblical, it’s gnostic!”

Conversation Between TJ and me:

Tony – It’s important for church members to establish a relationship with their pastor.  This requires a pastor to stay put for a while and make real connections with people.

Erik – What happens when the pastor leaves?

Tony – Their pastors will not leave these communities anytime soon.

Erik – What happens when they retire or die?

Tony – These churches do not think that they should exist 30 years from now.  We’re not about building institutions.  The church is for the people in a particular time and space.  It will look very different for the next generations.  It’s our job to allow that to happen.

Scriptural Foundation for the above argument
Mount of Transfiguration when Peter says, “let’s build a church here”…and Jesus doesn’t even give Peter the time of day.  It’s the only time in Mark’s gospel that Jesus is called upon directly, but provides no response.
“Churches are often times mission-minded until they build a big new building.  Their ministry shifts from outreach to trying to fill the building.”


“The guardians / caretakers / practitioners of orthodoxy in our Christian life is the Holy Spirit; NOT clergy, Robert’s Rules of Order, and institutional bureaucracy.  It’s not Biblical to abdicate power to people or a system.  Divesting power is what we’re called to do when we make disciples.  Power should reside in the local iteration of the Church.”


2 Responses to Workshop – Tony Jones

  1. Tim says:

    I was going to sit in on this one but I’m afraid that Tony is going to file a restraining order on me soon so now I’m stalking Tim Keel. I’d follow Doug but I’m kinda scared of the goliath. (ended up listening to Keel, Steve Fowl, Ross Wagner and others about Pauline narrative).

    Anyway, I read New Christians a couple times now, and especially appreciate certain parts of it. Have found it very helpful in explaining parts too my believing brothers and sisters.

    Interesting what Tony said to you regarding pastors and their congregations – makes great sense.

  2. Ryan Houts says:

    Wow for Quote #1.
    “Tony – These churches do not think that they should exist 30 years from now. We’re not about building institutions. The church is for the people in a particular time and space. It will look very different for the next generations. It’s our job to allow that to happen.”

    Interesting… I wonder if it’ll pan out.

    I think there’s a dichotomy between inter-generational church and congregations built for particular age groups.

    The Emerging Church seems to me the latest fad. It’s a church of bright young thinkers who got pissed off by their baby-booming parents who threw away tradition because, they got pissed off by their traditional golden-age parents, who represent a culture of American church that we’ve turned into a failing institution.

    I’m not saying the Emerging Church is bad, in fact it’s really “cool” But most things that are “cool” often become yesterday’s news. Just look at church music, but start in 30AD. Fad after Fad, change after change, style after style. Keep some, toss others. Pretend to follow a historical model, adapt it, make it meaningless, repeat until death occurs.

    Is tony embracing this phenomenon? If so, my suburban, consumer-based mentality is buying it. For today. Tomorrow it’ll be a new paradigm shift. It only took Americans 60 years to go from horses to get to the moon. Imagine what will happen when we figure out how to make energy from trash. I bet we’ll still meet together for praying, singing, and listening to someone smarter than us talk at church.

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