Brian McLaren

I met Brian McLaren almost 20 years ago at a church planting conference near Atlanta. We were both inconspicuous nobodies back then (a status that I have maintained rather well). We enjoyed an afternoon together wandering the north Georgia woods in intense conversation about many of the themes and issues that have blossomed into that portion of the emerging church world for which Brian has become one of the most visible spokespersons.

I was impressed then, as I am now, by his grasp of historical themes. The attached audio file of Brian (McClaren.mp3) is a wonderful macro view of how we evolved to postmodernity in the West. While a couple of years old, this talk is still an excellent primer on the influences that are shaking the foundations of Western culture.

It saddens me as I have watched Brian increasingly become a lightening rod for criticism of the emerging church, some of which has been vehement. When I read his books, 95% of what he writes I wish I could say with as much skill and clarity. Then there is the 5% at which I cringe and wonder, “Who is helping vet these comments? He doesn’t have to say that to make his point!” From where I sit, it seems that some of the wounds he is experiencing may be self-inflicted.

This seems odd to me as I write these words, since I am no stranger to the same dynamic but on a much less visible scale. I know the feelings. And I know that it is easier to comment on someone else’s dilemma when I am not in the middle of that fray and when I have been the object of blessed obscurity.

However, being an effective change agent does not require being a martyr.

Brian, may the God of all steadfastness bless you in the role he has thrust upon you. May Proverbs 3:3 characterize your posture and conversations, where “truthfulness and kindness” are yours in abundance (even if you have to wrestle with how “truthfulness” is perceived, like we all must, in the reality of a postmodern world!)


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