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


11 thoughts on “Why Does [D]mergent Matter?

  1. Monica,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Your story could have been mine, except I never went home again to Kansas for any length of time. But when I was back to visit, I visited my sister in a Church of the Nazarene and got that same feeling. We do have to write and to share ideas and come up with new/old ones! I hope you are living somewhere now that you feel you can do those things. I wish you were in my neighborhood in Denver! ~grin.

    Sherrill M. Morris

  2. Hi, Monica – fascinating story.

    I can relate to your “growing up among the cornstalks” tale. I’m from a different generation, but change the details some and you have it. The desire to escape my roots, be an individual, and change the world . . . yup, all there:).

    While I have no formal ministerial training, I can also relate to the quest for knowledge and insight on how to be a faithful follower. Like you, I found the Disciples and have felt at home, for pretty much the same reasons that you list. I have heard us describes as the People of the Question and that is a good thing, a very good thing. Coming from a hierarchical and dogmatic religious background, I like the idea that I can question and discuss and not just accept and follow. When we question, our faith is ultimately stronger for that questioning.

    You write nicely, by the way, with thoughtfulness and passion. I’m glad I stumbled across this:).


  3. Did we go to the same school? Live in the same town? I’m feeling exactly what you are feeling!!! 🙂

  4. I needed to read this today. Thank you Monica for writing it. Thank you John for promoting it on The Intersection.

    Good writing.

  5. “It is our mandate—to be progressive and radical and ancient and modern—to be [D]mergent.” Monica this is SO well said! Exactly where so many are at and want to push to be. Good stuff!

  6. You are a gifted writer and an important voice in your church, the DOC church, and the WHOLE church. Glad you found your way to “preach”ing when others would only have you “speak”.

    • Monica. You taught me to embrace this culture, yet not become it. Good insight. Always. These kids have a chance. These girls will preach. And teach. I see it. Empowered and strong. Embrace, not become.

  7. Hey, Monica.

    Thank you for searching, for questioning, for not allowing the church keep you in that box, and for being willing to grow into whatever God has planned for you. Keep living into and beyond that edge!


  8. Thank you, Monica. I get so caught up in the research, the intellectualism, the writing – that I forget that sometimes it is more important to tell the story and speak the simple truth and to speak the truth simply – and that, my sister, is preaching at its best.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s