This from Martin Kelly, on Convergent Quakers:
Just the last thing is that for me if our work isn't ultimately rooted in sharing the good news then it's self-indulgent. I don't want to create a little oasis or hippy compound of happy people. Friends aren't going to go to heaven in our politically-correct smugness while the rest of the world is dying off. It's all of us or none of us. If we're not actively evangelizing --liberal translation: sharing the spiritual insights and gifts we've been given--, then we are part of the problem. "Convergence" is Quaker lingo. When we say it we're turning our back to the world to talk amongst ourselves: a useful exercise occasionally but not our main work.
I believe Martin makes excellent points above, especially that we need to share the spiritual transformations and gifts we've been given. As others have said, the world is crying out for witnesses to peace, hope and compassion.
I came to the emerging church long before ever hearing of convergent, but as I understand it (and I may well have it wrong), convergents are Conservative Quakers (I read Conservative to mean Christ-centered or Christ-leaning or, at least, Christ-seeking Friends practicing unprogrammed worship) who want to become part of the emerging church conversation. Being part of that conversation means a radical willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of other people, even when that's uncomfortable, a yearning to bring opposing groups together and an active attempt to find the good in what other strands of the faith practice and believe. It also means being winsome, in other words, being people other people (outside the clique) want to be around. It means being humble and admitting we don't have all the answers and that our group--even our group!!--has made mistakes.
To the extent that the convergent Friends have started a conversation that pulls closer people and groups who are/were at odds with each other, I believe it's doing a tremendous service for Quakers and the wider world. I think it has started good conversations and has injected civility into the Quaker discourse. Quakers, I believe, need to be talking civilly with and trying to love and see the good in Quakers in "opposing camps." Quakers, including myself, would benefit by getting out of their comfort zones. Quakers, including myself (and I already do this quite a bit, but could stand to do it more), would be enriched by talking more and listening more to the wider Christian world. I would go so far as to say that Quakers were not meant to become so unworldly as to cut themselves off from everyone else. I know some Quakers are grieved that so much ill has been done in the name of Christianity--but terrible things have been done in the name of every major religion and by every atheist group that has gained power. None of us are above it all.
At its core, the emerging conversation is two things: First, it's trying to be authentically Christian. As the early Quakers did, emerging types are getting out of the steeplehouse and meeting people where they are: in bars, in houses, in coffeeshops and at the point of their needs, be it offering a ride or mowing a lawn. This is hard and exhilirating. It's different from hanging a sign on a church or a meetinghouse and saying "come to us," an approach that has been criticized as arrogant.
Second, the emerging conversation is about replacing religious and political polarization with listening and love. As noted above, it involved the "winsome" ethos: serving others and "being a pattern" is more important than ambushing people with a formulaic set of beliefs. It means again (and Martin spoke of the movie Groundhog Day, in which a man is doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he "gets it" about what's important in life, so I'm going to repeat myself) it means a radical willingness to put ourselves in the shoes of other people, even when that's uncomfortable, a yearning to bring opposing groups together and an active attempt to find the good in what other strands of the faith practice and believe. It also means being winsome, in other words, being people other people (outside the clique) want to be around. It means being humble and admitting we don't have all the answers and that our group--even our group!!--has made mistakes.
The parallels between the emerging church and early Quakerism are obvious and often noticed. I hope the current convergent movement will grow and prosper. What do you think?