11D My Initial Findings: Dominant Entities and Influential Individuals [Steps #4, 5]

On This Page:

  • Step #4. My Initial Findings: Main Entities That Plug into the Complex
    • 1. Associations, Networks, and Philanthropic Enterprises
    • 2. Businesses, Brands, Events, Media, and Marketing
    • 3. Publishing
    • 4. Academia, Seminaries, and Training Programs
  • Step #5: My Initial Findings: Majorly Influential Individuals in the Complex

NOTES: A special thanks to Becky Garrison, my investigative journalist friend, for sharing her knowledge of movements within contemporary Christianity, and of the Christian publishing industry. Her insights helped me analyze and interpret patterns I was seeing in the framework of the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Step #4. My Initial Findings:

Main Entities That Plug into the Complex

Overview. The following categories and lists represent my intuitive sense of what organizations historically (over the past 15 years) and/or currently wield significant influence in creating and maintaining people’s “platforms” as thought leaders and ministry role models within the Emergent/Progressive Christianity Movement. I suspect more could certainly be added, but these are my best efforts of discerning what has shaped these systems and keeps them going, as of early 2015.

In page 12 Toxicology: Conclusions and Recommendations, I plan to address the significance of collaborations within this movement and others potentially joining with it.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


  • Leadership Network, Young Leaders Network, Emerging Ministry Movement
  • Emergent Village, Red Letter Christians
  • Everything Must Change, CANA Initiative
  • Faith in Public Life, The Center for Progressive Renewal, Convergence US
Leadership Network, Young Leaders Network, Emerging Ministry Movement

For my overview of how Leadership Network as “a network of networks” served as host for Young Leaders Network, and thus, what became Emergent Village, see 02 Historical: Tracking the “Emerging Ministry Movement.”

From Emerging to Emergent. For a more official Emergent take on what happened with the emerging ministry movement, see Tony Jones’ article from January 31, 2005, on the Emergent-US site, Looking Back…and Ahead, and his May 31, 2005, article, Five Years Ago, Five Years From Now for a list of the initiators and their dreams and goals for this new network/entity.

Emergent Village, Red Letter Christians

Emergent Village. For a more detailed history of the transition from emerging to Emergent and Emergent Village, see The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier, by Tony Jones (Jossey-Bass, 2008). You’ll get a sense of the core paradigm elements of values and beliefs by reading the Appendices in that book, and of the overall theology from two books by Brian McLaren: A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey (Jossey-Bass, 2001) and A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative … (Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2006). Then see Criticism of Emergent – including the five pages of comments – and Criticism of Emergent, Part Deux, to get a sense of the adherence and push-back on the theology.

Also, see the June 22, 2005, article by Doug Pagitt, Emergent Enters Publishing Partnership with Baker Books. The following comment by Bill Dahl is especially noteworthy for calling out the conventional Christendom brand marketing of Emergent as a “platform,” and his view that Emergent looks like it is becoming exactly what it was supposedly critiquing:

Wait a minute!

It appears that you are maneuvering toward several dead-ends that we can and must intentionally avoid:

  1. Bottom – Up instead of Top-down – The “conversation” occurs “down here” NOT “up there.” Putting together and “editorial board” to select titles sounds terribly selective, corporate and hierarchical, mirroring the weakness of the present stucture we are attempting to avoid. Once again, appears like a funnel to me. Perhaps we should envision a sautee pan and let the aroma rise to whomevers nostrils find it pleasing.
  2. Publishing Network vs. Sole-source – You need to develop a diverse NETWORK of strategic publishing relationships who have an appetite for this fare. Iunderstand that your announcement is “just a beginning.” Let’s not lose sight of what’s healthy for all concerned. It’s a “network” man! All the evidence is in…Zondervan YS will accept manuscripts ONLY from established authors with “recognizable names.” We don’t need another “publishing portal” dedicated solely to “established authors.” The value within the Emergent C community are those voices who have yet to be provided with an “official platform,” who have and are making ongoing contributions to the conversation.
  3. Leaders v. Sheep – You say the literay works to be considered shall “include a wide range of Christian leaders from progressive evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Roman Catholic backgrounds.” My question is, what about the sheep…those with hoofs on the ground in this emergent pasture…those who do not hold “positions” or “degrees” in theology or Christendom? You MUST insure that there is a mechanism to champion “Perspectives from the Pasture.”….”Reflective practicioners and engaged scholars”—leads me to believe the rest of us should just take a seat in a pew and “listen up!”….again!!!(Heaven help us all!).
  4. Competition/Open Markets – Let the spiritual and intellectual currency of emergent C “float.” There is no need to artificially maintain the value of our currency by limiting it to 2 Christian publishing houses.
  5. Consider extending the “network” to secular publishing houses.
  6. Consider assembling a toolkit that assists those in our community who have the desire to publish their works with the tools to do so (may include self-publishing).
  7. Create a “Writers Conference” for Emergent-US whereby interested publishers attend and meet with propsective authors about “works in production.”
  8. I have read many superb literary works by those in our community who will never get a book published. However, the “ARTICLES” they have authored and published on emergent C websites have blessed us all. You should consider creating a methodology for recognizing these contributions from those who are NOT “Reflective practicioners and engaged scholars.” Perhaps you might create such a mechanism on this site for the “Best of the Best.”

My hope is that this commentary is constructive and provides additional considerations that motivate you to E X P A N D your thought process.

Thank you for your bold first steps. Let’s keep moving in the right direction.


Posted by: Bill Dahl | June 23, 2005 at 01:11 PM

The year 2005 was also a turning point in organizing for broader impact, not just in publishing but in Emergent leadership for reaching out and expanding the network. In June 2005, Emergent Village hired Tony Jones as National Coordinator, to begin in that role October 1, 2005. That role ended October 31, 2008 as part of another major turning point when Emergent Village leaders decided to change over organizational leadership style in 2009 to a “Village Council.” By about 2013, Emergent Village was apparently no long an active non-profit, and by 2014 the official website was shut down.

Red Letter Christians. Red Letter Christians is a movement that came out of a 2006 meeting involving Tony Campolo and Rev. Noel Castellanos, Brian McLaren, Father Richard Rohr, Rev. Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders, Rev. Jim Wallis, and a few unnamed others. According to the Start Here page, “The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.”

Although the overall theology fits with a combination of evangelical plus progressive, they did not want to use either of those terms, due to the theological and political baggage of both. The history of that initial meeting is described in a February 27, 2006, article by Tony Campolo, What’s a ‘Red-Letter Christian’?

The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics. Believing that Jesus is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, we want to unite Christians who are concerned about what is happening in America. We are evangelicals who are troubled by what is happening to poor people in America; who are disturbed over environmental policies that are contributing to global warming; who are dismayed over the increasing arrogance of power shown in our country’s militarism; who are outraged because government funding is being reduced for schools where students, often from impoverished and dysfunctional homes, are testing poorly; who are upset with the fact that of the 22 industrialized nations America is next to last in the proportion of its national budget (less than two-tenths of 1 percent) that is designated to help the poor of third-world countries; and who are broken-hearted over discrimination against women, people of color, and those who suffer because of their sexual orientation.

Because being evangelical is usually synonymous with being Republican in the popular mind, and calling ourselves “progressive” might be taken as a value judgment by those who do share our views, we decided not to call ourselves “progressive evangelicals.” We came up with a new name: Red-Letter Christians.

The movement has a multi-author blog, and at least two prominent books associated with it:

Red Letter Christians: A Citizen’s Guide to Faith and Politics, by Tony Campolo (Regal Books, 2008).

Red Letter Revolution: What If Jesus Really Meant What He Said?, by Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo (Thomas Nelson, 2012).

Everything Must Change, CANA Initiative

After the National Coordinator role at Emergent Village ceased near the end of 2008, various key figures in the Emergent/Progressive Movement were creating new enterprises along a similar theological trajectory. For instance, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt had already formed their business partnership JoPa Productions LLC on October 15, 2007. (More details shortly.) In 2009, the foundations for the Wild Goose Festival came together.

And, meanwhile, Brian McLaren produced a trilogy of books which continued a movement toward issues of social transformation. According to his biographical sketch:

In 2006, he released The Secret Message of Jesus (Thomas Nelson), followed in 2007 by Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope and in 2008 by Finding Our Way Again (Nelson, April 2008). These three books lay out a contemporary approach to the Christian life, message, and mission.

In 2008, Brian McLaren went on a 12-city national tour related to his book, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope, with Deep Shift associates Linnea Nilsen Capshaw and Denise VanEck. Cities on the tour were: Charlotte, NC; Boise, ID; Dallas, TX; St. Petersburg, FL; Washington D.C. Metro Area; San Diego, CA; Chicago, IL; Seattle, WA; Kansas City, MO; New York, NY; Goshen, IN; and Indianapolis, IN.

From a description of Everything Must Change, it looks to be a sort of Kingdom manifesto and practical framework for implementing social transformation that addresses three interlocking systems (security, prosperity, equity) that together, when misaligned, can create abusive dominance hierarchies. This tour seemed to fit as his logical and theological next step in a trajectory to wider acceptance and application of “a more inclusive, generous expression of Christianity.”

That journey began with Brian McLaren’s involvement in the emerging church movement of the mid-1990s, then moved into and through his role as a board member and chairman for Emergent Village and initiator in Red Letter Christians and a main presenter in the Everything Must Change Tour. It is more currently is embodied in fundraising for the CANA Initiative (2013), and included the Convergence Summit with The Center for Progressive Renewal (embracing progressives from both post-evangelical and mainline traditions) and the Convergence network. Here is a bit more history and description on where that journey seems to be taking the Emergent/Progressive Movement.

According to an October 4, 2013, interview with Christian Piatt, the CANA Initiative (CANA stands for Convening, Advocating, Networking, Acting) was created by three conveners: Brian McLaren, Stephanie Spellers, and Doug Pagitt. (That interview post also includes a 24-minute taped Sojo interview with the conveners.) His opening to the post is helpful for understanding the original purposes and audiences behind CANA.

I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people within mainline Christian churches note that, though they don’t embrace all of the theological positions of their evangelical sisters and brothers, they are impressed by their aptitude for organizing and affecting change on a large scale. At the same time, I see thousands converge at festivals like the Wild Goose festival in North Carolina, feeling both fed by the invigorating sense of community, but also frustrated to be leaving with the still unanswered question:

What do we do now?

The CANA Initiative, which is a joint collaboration of Brian McLarenStephanie Spellers, and Doug Pagitt, seeks to help answer that nagging question. Cana seeks to be the connective tissue that helps hold together communities of faith that share common priorities in addressing the pressing socioeconomic issues of our time.

As it unfolded, CANA included inaugural meetings in Washington, D.C., on November 20, 2013. Many of the values and transformational projects embodied by the Initiative were described in a series of 23 posts on its official blog, “Generous Christianity,” from February 4 through April 7, 2014.

In another description from his June 2, 2014, post, Brian McLaren categorized the CANA Initiative as one of the “messaging and mobilizing organizations [that] help people understand poverty and get involved in the biblical call to social justice.”

This undated post from approximately a year after CANA began overviews the process of the CANA Initiative becoming Convergence.

Over these last 12 months of events, conversations, and online meetings we have learned a lot.

  • We learned that people really want to work together to do great things.
  • We learned that many of us are looking not only for action but a community of connection.
  • We learned that many feel over-stretched and under resourced to accomplish the great things they are doing.
  • We learned that significant funding requires strong, flexible structures.
  • We learned that the future will require both creating new entities and partnering together with existing efforts.

So, we are putting these learnings into action.

I am thrilled to announce that the CANA Initiative will be partnering with the people of Faith in Public Life and The Center for Progressive Renewal in what we are calling Convergence.

Faith in Public Life, The Center for Progressive Renewal, Convergence US

Faith in Public Life (FPL) began in 2005. According to a page about their history:

After decades of political dominance by the Religious Right, which often used faith in service of a narrow and partisan agenda, FPL was founded in 2005 to advance a positive alternative: a robust and effective faith movement pursuing the common good with the savvy, flexibility and nimbleness to thrive in a new political and media environment.

The founders gave FPL a movement-focused mission, rather than an organizational or issue-focused one, and the specific mandate to lift up religious voices speaking for justice and the common good, build bridges and facilitate strategic alliances, and find new ways forward on historically divisive issues.

Ever since, our movement has grown and adapted to an ever-changing political and cultural environment.

From biographical sketches of Board and Staff members, it looks like FPL is a broad-based association of progressive Christians from Catholic, mainline Protestant, and (post-)evangelical backgrounds.

The Center for Progressive Renewal (CPR) began in 2010. According to their About Us page:

The mission of The Center for Progressive Renewal is to renew Christianity by training new entrepreneurial leaders, supporting the birth of new congregations, and by renewing and strengthening existing churches.

The name Progressive Renewal is the articulation of a vision that our organization exists to service the progressive church in a systematic/progressive way. We understand Progressive Christianity as a faith that believes God’s family includes all people; God’s people are responsible for caring for the environment, the poor, sick and vulnerable; that education, health care and civil liberties are vital to abundant life and therefore the desire of God for all people; and that truth is found more often in honest grappling with the questions than in absolute hierarchical pronouncement of the answers. We further believe that this is the type of faith for which millions of Americans hunger.

A number of members on the Board of Directors show up elsewhere in the movement:

  • Geoffrey Black
  • John Dorhauer
  • Ferrell Drum
  • Ruben Duran
  • Eric Elnes
  • Yvette Flunder
  • Alice Hunt
  • Jo Hudson
  • Alice Hunt
  • Brian McLaren
  • Cameron Trimble

The same is so for the consultants, trainers, and others serving on the Leadership Staff:

  • Laura Arnold
  • Gregg Carlson
  • Lisa Depaz
  • Chris Hamel
  • Ashley Harness
  • Doug Pagitt
  • Lawrence Richardson
  • Stephanie Spellers
  • Cameron Trimble
  • Sara Wilcox

From biographical sketches of these key CPR leaders, it looks to be that more are from mainline progressive church backgrounds than post-evangelical.

By the time of his August 28, 2014, post, CANA was now known as the “Convergence Network,” and had a new Convergence website. McLaren there described Convergence as a “movement-building collaborative,” and the new website homepage notes the four main initiatives in “Collaborating for the Common Good” (10K Churches, theological education, events and summits, and collegiate movements). Other key early activities included “simple gatherings” scattered across the U.S. to get people connected; and specific meetings for initiatives related to a “generous Christianity movement” among collegians, in theological education, and “technology/online portals and faith.”

ADDED late 2015: There is now a related OPEN Network (Organizing Progressive Evangelicals and Non-denominational Churches), which is cited as an initiative of Convergence.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


  • Zondervan/Youth Specialties National Pastors Convention
  • The JoPa Group
  • Wild Goose Festival

Introduction. Speaking and consulting have become integral parts of becoming/being well-known in larger Christian communities as a theological thought leader and/or ministry role model. This section focuses on key Emergent/Progressive opportunities to develop a speaking platform, especially at larger and/or annual events.

National Pastors Convention. Zondervan and/or Youth Specialties sponsored a National Pastors Convention from 2001 through 2009. (Youth Specialties was the original sponsor, but that changed over to Zondervan in 2006. According to The Story of YS, Zondervan and YS had cooperated since the 1970s, and Zondervan acquired Youth Specialties outright in 2007.)

During the run of the influential National Pastors Convention, a number of speakers from the original emerging ministry movement did presentations. Most of these were in Seminars, although there were periodic Critical Concern Courses (CCC) that typically ran six to eight hours over a two-day period.

In 2006, there was a special Emerging Church Track that included an extensive set of presentations and products related to “emergent.” These included:

  • A Critical Concerns Course on “The Emerging Church: Theology and Practice, Multiple Perspectives on the Issues.”
  • Elective Seminars with emergent takes on such topics as worship, spiritual formation, ministry design, paradigm shifts, postmodernity, generational dynamics, creativity and community, theology, spiritual practices, and social change.
  • A Late Night Conversation on Emergent with Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt.
  • Three Morning Book Clubs, with John Burke, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt.

If you track all the Conventions and the emerging/Emergent speakers through these nine conventions, you’ll see a sort of limited pick-list of mostly Caucasian men who represent Emergence, how to related with and speak into the lives of people from postmodern cultures, leading/discipling postmodern generations, etc. Start interconnecting that list and you’ll find many of them cross-listed as serving in official capacities with Emergent Village, Wild Goose Festival, and CANA Initiative/Convergence – as well as on the list of those published with books about emerging/Emergent.

The JoPa Group. Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt registered their business partnership, JoPa Productions LLC, on October 15, 2007. It will variously be titled The JoPa Group or JoPa Productions, depending.

The JoPa Group produces events and books, and provides consulting (with specializations in social media, publishing, and brand development). They are probably best known for their Emergent/Progressive events. For instance, they have produced a number of one-off events, such as Big Tent Christianity in 2010; and two events that feature Phyllis Tickle, a well-known speaker on paradigm shifts and “emergence” Christianity, in 2008 and 2013. JoPa has also produced periodic series on progressive Christian youth ministry, church planting, and “Christianity 21” (TED-type talks).

They were due to produce the WX15/Why Christian? Event, co-curated by Nadia Bolz-Weber and Rachel Held Evans, in September 2015. However, when the conference was first announced in January 2015, controversy erupted over unresolved allegations about abusive behaviors by Tony Jones toward his ex-wife – given that the co-curators were known for advocacy for abuse victims. JoPa stepped aside and the co-curators took over producing the event.

Wild Goose Festival. The Wild Goose Festival is a outdoor/camping event along the lines of Greenbelt in the UK. Its symbol is the wild goose, chosen for a Celtic image of the untamable Holy Spirit. The festival heralds itself as being inclusive and features explorations of progressive Christian spirituality and justice through arts, music, conversations, and presentations.

The founding Board of Directors convened in 2009. It included Melvin Bray, Ian Cron, Mike King (Board President), Joy Wallis, and Karla Yaconelli. The first festival was held in 2011, with Gareth Higgins as its Executive Director and, according to a reliable source, Tony Jones having a significant role in arranging the lineup of speakers. According to a press release for the 2013 Wild Goose Festival:

Since the first Wild Goose Festival in June 2011 (held at Shakori Hills in Pittsboro, NC), more than 5,000 people have attended three Wild Goose events. The festival takes inspiration from many places, such as Greenbelt (UK), Burning Man, the Iona Community, SXSW, TED, and others. The festival is open to everyone, aims to be a space where people of all ages can become a temporary community, and invites respectful but fearless conversation and action for the common good.

Wild Goose is a prime progressive venue for speaking and performing. From even a brief look at the lineup, it seems that the list of speakers plus artists, musicians, and performers grows longer every year, and that many of these are invited back to share again.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


  • Key Agents and Agencies: Creative Trust, Daniel Literary Group
  • Early Era Publishing Partners: Zondervan/Youth Specialties; Baker Books;
  • Recent Era Publishing Partners: Thomas Nelson, HarperOne, Convergent, Augsburg Sparkhouse Animate, Jericho Books

Introduction. The Christian publishing industry has changed significantly since the beginnings of the emerging ministry movement in the mid-1990s, especially with huge secular publishing conglomerates absorbing some major Christian publishing houses. This seems to have ratcheted up the importance of authors being (or becoming) a known commodity with a “platform.” Translation: Must have sizeable following through blogging, social media, book sales, speaking events, endorsements. In other words, be a marketable celebrity who is considered a theological thought leader and/or ministry role model. Unfortunately, the realities of a virtual world can mean someone is a celebrity without much of a real-world ministry.

In the current publishing industry that produces books for Christian audiences, certain literary agents and agencies (which help authors’ books find a publishing home), and book imprints, seem to have surfaced as most attractive for Emergent/Progressive authors. This article shares some of what I’ve learned in my studies on that topic.

Key Agents and Agencies: Creative Trust, Daniel Literary Group

Creative Trust. Creative Trust, Inc., Entertainment and Literary Management was founded in 1989 as an entertainment management company. It is especially important in the Emergent/Progressive publishing industry primarily for the work of Kathy Helmers, Managing Partner for the Creative Trust Literary Group. She is the literary agent for Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, Donald Miller, Philip Yancey, and others. Tony Jones and Brian McLaren are two absolutely central people in the entire Emergent/Progressive Movement. They, plus Philip Yancey, are regulars at the Wild Goose Festival. And Donald Miller would probably be considered at least post-Emerging or missional and so part of the overall paradigms found in the emerging ministry movement.

Also, Kathy Helmers posted a Statement in Support of Tony Jones on the WhyTony Scribd site. (The WhyTony statements were all removed February 21, 2015, but her Statement has been preserved elsewhere.) In it, she notes that she has served at Tony Jones’ literary agent for at least 10 years. He writes about her on two blog posts from September 2013: Manuscript Monday: Working With an Agent, and 10 Tips for Working with a Literary Agent.

Brian McLaren also writes with gratitude about his relationship with Kathy Helmers as his agent.

Kathy Helmers is my literary agent. Again in 2011, she has given me invaluable guidance in the understanding and functioning in the publishing world, irreplaceable guidance as a writer, and deeply appreciated friendship through it all. Thanks, Kathy, and thanks to everyone at Creative Trust.

Given that the lag time between submission of a manuscript and its release is typically a minimum of six months to a year, Brian McLaren may have been referring to her work related to titles of his released in 2012: Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, & Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World (Jericho Books; September 11, 2012) and Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words (HarperOne; September 25, 2012).

Daniel Literary Group. When Tony Jones was looking for an agent in the early 2000 decade, he met Greg Daniel, who was then an editor. After an extensive conversation with Daniel, Jones told him that he should become an agent, which he did, founding the Daniel Literary Group in Nashville, TN, in early 2007. Before that, he had worked at Thomas Nelson Publishers at an executive level with W Publishing Group, “A non-fiction imprint of Thomas Nelson with a focus on memoirs, help and hope for doing life better, and leading pastoral voices, with select practical living.”

According to a February 1, 2013, Wisconsin Gazette article, Jesus is Getting a Makeover by New Publishers, by Linda Bryant:

Some of the writers Daniel works with are what he calls “top progressive Christian authors,” including [Matthew Paul] Turner, Peter Rollins, Sara Miles, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Justin Lee, Doug Pagitt and Sharon Baker. (Emphasis in the original.)

For an extensive list of Daniel Literary Group clients, compiled from details throughout their entire website, and other articles, see page 11B Elements in the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex.

Early Era Publishing Partners: Zondervan/Youth Specialties, Baker Books

Look at the section on Chronology of Publishers and Publications for Emergent/Progressive Authors to see what publishers were releasing books by emerging or Emergent/Progressive authors, and when, and how many. In the early years of the 2000 decade, most publishers did a book or two, perhaps a few. Two publishers had stronger commitments:

Zondervan/Youth Specialties, which had a publishing partnership from the 1970s until Zondervan bought Youth Specialties outright in 2007. They published eight of the 11 books between 2003-2006 that featured Emergent authors. (Some of the books had multiple contributors from the emerging and Emergent streams.) Zondervan/Youth Specialties is also important for their sponsorship of the National Pastors Convention (NPC) from 2001-2009, and many of the emerging/Emergent authors they published were also featured speakers at the NPC events.

Baker Books, which was the only publisher to develop an Emergent Village imprint. From 2007 through 2011, Baker Books published a series of 12 volumes in their ēmersion Emergent Village Resources Series. These feature many authors that became relatively well known in the Emergent/Progressive Movement.

Recent Era Publishing Partners: Thomas Nelson, HarperOne, Convergent, Augsburg Sparkhouse Animate, Jericho Books

Overview. At the same time as “platform” was becoming a more prominent factor in an author getting published, some key theological issues have further segmented the North American Church, and that affected where an author was more likely to get published. I found this Christianity Today article relevant in reflecting on that reality: Not So Convergent: Leading Publisher Separates How Evangelical and Progressive Books Are Made. The color-coded chart in it is particularly helpful in seeing who publishes for what audiences: Evangelical, Catholic, Mainline/Progressive, and Broadly Spiritual. When we look at the past five years or so of publishing Emergent/Progressive authors, we see that fewer are being published by traditional Evangelical imprints (like Thomas Nelson) though it is still publishing significant numbers of Emergent/Progressive authors. And more are beginning to be published by the Mainline/Progressive imprints (like Jericho Books and the very recent Convergent Books) and Broadly Spiritual imprints (like HarperOne).

There may deeper patterns at work here, such that certain publishers are more amenable to particular authors depending on how radically progressive they are or aren’t. At any rate, that will be something to watch in tracking the continuing theological development of the merged post-evangelical Emergent branch with mainline Progressive branch.

Augsburg Sparkhouse Animate. Augsburg Sparkhouse Animate was a three-part DVD/book project for Augsburg Fortress publishing house, managed by Tony Jones. (See the comparison chart of the three parts, which lists the groups involved with each.) The release dates for the segments in the system were: Animate Faith (July 12, 2012), Animate Bible (July 31, 2013), and Animate Practices (July 28, 2014).

Convergent Books. At least two clients of Daniel Literary Group have had books published by Convergent Books: Doug Pagitt and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Since, as of February 2015, Convergent Books has only published 13 authors, that is noteworthy.

Jericho Books. At least nine clients of Daniel Literary Group have had books published by Jericho Books: Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lillian Daniel, River Jordan, Justin Lee, Sara Miles, Jon M. Sweeney, Sarah Thebarge, Matthew Paul Turner, and Michal Woll. Also, at least two clients of Creative Trust literary agent Kathy Helmer have had books published by Jericho Books: Brian McLaren and Philip Yancey.

For more extensive background on Augsburg Sparkhouse, Convergent Books, Jericho Books, see the page 11B Elements in the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


  • Fuller Theological Seminary
  • CANA Initiative/Convergence US – Theological Education Initiative
Fuller Theological Seminary

Fuller Theological Seminary is known for being a broad-based academic institution within the larger evangelical movement. I have known Fuller students and adjunct professors from conservative or liberal backgrounds, and also from holistic paradigms that don’t fit with either conservative or liberal. It is not “the” Emergent seminary, if there is even one preferred place for Emergent/Progressive theological training. The main reason for listing it here is the fact that Tony Jones has taught there.

There is prestige involved in being a seminary professor, and biographical sketches of Tony Jones highlights his work at Fuller. He was the Adjunct Professor in 2011-2013 for their Doctor of Ministry cohort on Christian Spirituality. (The D.Min. is an advanced degree for ministry practitioners, where a Ph.D. is the advanced degree for professional theologians.) Cohort meetings were held each June for about two weeks each year. See the Christian Spirituality webpage for additional links to a summary of Year #1, written by a student, and a video of a learning experience from Year #2.

As a sidenote, a cohort on Christian Spirituality led by Tony Jones was due to begin in June of 2015 but was postponed, apparently sometime the first week of February. The original cohort application deadline was February 10, 2015, and his co-teachers were set to be Phyllis Tickle in year #1 (The History and Theology of Christian Spirituality), Brian McLaren tentatively in year #2 (Christian Spirituality and the Doctrine of Creation), and Laura Winner in year #3 (The Spirituality of Creativity).

CANA Initiative/Convergence US – Theological Education Initiative

Also, although this is speculation, I wonder if Fuller Seminary would see itself as a potential partner with the CANA Initiative/Convergence US (see more on these in the section above on Associations, Networks, and Philanthropic Enterprises). The earlier CANA Initiative version had a theological education component:

7. Facilitate ongoing training and equipping for a new generation of transformative leaders via Seminary alliance, collaborative programs, identification of:

  • Free summer events for training, relationship building
  • Access to fellowships, internships
  • Facilitate funding for innovative seminarians to experiment outside of traditional denominational ministry and funding protocols

Likewise, the more current Convergence website has Theological Education as one of its four initiatives (a network of 10,000 churches with “a more inclusive, generous expression of Christianity”; theological education; forward-focus college-age ministry; and advocacy via traditional and new media).

Theological Education

Reshape Leadership Formation

We face a need for highly trained leaders equipped for times of great challenge and opportunity. Convergence works with existing and new educators to develop and deploy needed leaders.

From looking at a number of biographies and curriculum vitas from noted speakers in the Emergent/Progressive Movement, it seems many give presentations at Bible colleges, seminaries, and other leadership training programs. Also, Brian McLaren, one of the primary founders of both the CANA Initiative and the Convergence Network currently serves on the board Claremont School of Theology (United Methodist), according to his biographical sketch (accessed March 2015).

All of this fits with one trend I’ve been seeing over the past few years: the creation of curriculum for specialized perspectives or training issues. Typically, these seem to be for use at the college/university level and seminary or other ministry leadership training programs. For instance:

  • G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) has gathered an expert team to produce training curriculum on dealing with child abuse issues in ministry.
  • CANA/Convergence looks to be working toward modules on inclusive Christianity and social change.
  • In abuse survivor communities, a number of us have worked behind the scenes toward training resources, including ones that show commonalities across various kinds of abuse, neglect, and violence. I have personally been working on curriculum that blends research from systems of spiritual abuse and the opposite – quadruple bottom line social transformation – for church planters and social entrepreneurs.

All of these efforts seem to have been sparked by perceived gaps in the ministry training currently available.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Step #5. Initial Findings:

Majorly Influential Individuals in the Complex

If you had to list the top 10 to 20 individuals who represent “the brand” of Emergent/Progressive Christianity in general, who would be on that list? Who seem to be the main “thought leaders”? The primary role models of progressive ministry practices? The pastoral overseers? The key network connector people? What other categories or criteria would you use?

If you had to list the people in the pyramid of support for Tony Jones in specific, who would be on that list? And what of role or level of nearness would each be in relation to him? Inner circle or outer circle? Direct beneficiaries of shared prestige? Enforcers or defenders of the progressive profile? Proxies who declare on social media what people can/cannot say about Emergent or its celebrities?

I believe that if you absorb what’s in pages 11B (Entities and Events) and 11C (Publishing), you could create various kinds of relevant lists. And the sort of list you compile depends on the research question(s) you start with.

But before I share some of my initial findings, let me reiterate what I think are reasonable ground rules for this kind of research – because someone’s mere presence on those pages in and of itself does not prove anything about him/her. If you’re going to conjecture, do “due diligence” in your research so you can understand the context of the connections and not just observe the fact of it.



The Purposes and Thinking Behind This Page

Because this site and page 11B – Entities and Events have been assembled in stages, it has probably not been clear enough about why this particular page is here and why it is set up the way it is. Here is some of my thinking behind this page, and key purposes I had in mind for it:

  • After you have gone through page 10 on what a “Christian Industrial Complex” is and what elements it would contain, then this page gives a chronological register of primary historical sources to entities, events, and individuals that seem relevant to what became the Emergent/Progressive Movement and the related “brand” that some have called the Emergent/Progressive Industrial Complex – even if they are not official Emergent Village events.
  • Going through the materials in these various lists will help establish who is involved, what has happened, what theological and ministry themes seem to dominate this movement’s paradigm, and other patterns.
  • It isn’t always apparent in the midst of an event that it will later be seen as important. So, I selected many of the items highlighted here in retrospect by seeing in more recent sources what older items people referred to, and then I worked my way backward toward those entities and events.
  • Similarly, with key people, some of the interconnections were worked backward, starting with the list of individuals who posted statements in support of Tony Jones on the WhyTony Scribd site and the TruthAboutTony Storify site.
  • This page is about the whole Emergent/Progressive Movement, not just about Tony Jones – although it is apparent that he is one of the core people in it.
  • This has a do-it-yourself exercise that could prove very informative. Readers will likely see things in it that I haven’t, just because that’s the way communal discernment works – building a more detailed and nuanced composite/mosaic, based on the differing experiences, learning styles, and spiritual giftings of those who participate.
  • All together, this process parallels what I used to come to my conclusions on what entities and events and individuals have been most influential, and over what time periods, in forging together an “interlocking directory” of connections. (These will be posted on a subpage 11.) Then the task is to consider if these connections create some kind of conflict of interest or inclination to engage in a quid pro quo actions that commend, support, and/or finance Christians whose character and behavioral issues should disqualify them from being considered thought leaders or ministry role models. (I plan to post reflections on this in page 12 on Conclusions and Recommendations.)

Notes about This “List of Lists”

The lists on page 11B – Entities and Events are drawn primarily from public online sources. In a few cases – mostly dealing with people who had official capacities with Emergent Village – those lists had to be reconstructed from various materials because their website domain went defunct and then was sold to a business.

I have done my best to determine dates accurately on the basis of online information available. Sometimes online information is ambiguous, or has changed from what may have been published in print editions of items.

I have alphabetized lists by peoples’ last name. In cases of hyphenated last names, I have used the first part for purposes of alphabetizing.

I have removed titles (Reverend, Doctor, etc.) or put those in parentheses after peoples’ name. I have also removed middle name abbreviations. (The reasoning for these actions will make sense if you do the DIY project below.)

If you want to undertake an ambitious do-it-yourself project, copy and paste this entire page into a word processing document, remove all descriptive materials, and then alphabetize the composite lists of just the people. Although this process will lose most of the information that connects individuals with events, it will offer a definite impression of how involved an individual has been in the Emergent/Progressive Movement, based solely on the number of times his/her name appears. Please keep in mind, however:

  • Just because a name shows up a lot in these lists, that doesn’t mean they are super influential – just relatively involved in activities.
  • Just because a name does not show up frequently, that doesn’t necessarily mean they only have little influence.
  • Others not named here at all could still be influential in some ways. This is a first draft of a long research study, and so represents a select list of events and publications based on my current understanding of the movement, as of February 2015.

Finally, to repeat important warnings I noted in red letters in the main page, 11A Framework for Detailing of the Emergent Complex:

I am stating all of this about friendship connections here to make it as clear as possible that simply because someone’s name shows up in connection with various enterprises as, say, Tony Jones, that information is just that – information. Finding out whether there is any significance to the connection requires you to research the context, then discern the apparent depth of the connection, and what actions – both good and bad – apparently stem from the connections. It’s not just about making a list, but working to discern the meaning.

In the material that follows, I will not be doing all the analysis homework for you as my readers, though I will draw some conclusions based on information I have compiled from multiple sources. I will introduce some elements, give some lists and links, but you will need to apply some do-it-yourself spiritual elbow grease to the situation to see for yourself what you believe and to figure out why. And keep in mind what I have “said in red” above about connection is not in itself complicity. The existence of a relationship between people doesn’t necessarily mean there is a conflict of interest in terms of finances, power, or prestige – so be careful about attributing too much to the connection, even if there might be an appearance of conflicting interests.

Now … check out this list of lists page 11B Elements in the Emergent Industrial Complex (and the links there, for more details), plus the next page, 11C Emergent/Progressive Publishing Industry. Then see what stands out for you as key individuals, influential organizations-events-entities, patterns that may be relevant, etc. Later, you can review my initial findings and see how your findings compare with what I post below.

My Initial List of “Top 20 Key Influencers” in the Emergent/Progressive Movement

My list of top 20 influencers is drawn from those with the most significant and/or frequent interconnections with the three main long-term Emergent personalities: Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, and Doug Pagitt. It contains more from the post-evangelical wing than the mainline progressive wing. I will leave the biographical research to you …

  1. Jay Bakker
  2. Diana Butler Bass
  3. Rob Bell
  4. Nadia Bolz-Weber
  5. Shane Claiborne
  6. Philip Clayton
  7. Sarah Cunningham
  8. Rachel Held Evans
  9. Kathy Helmers
  10. Tony Jones
  11. Brian McLaren
  12. Doug Pagitt
  13. Courtney Perry
  14. Peter Rollins
  15. Danielle Grubb Shroyer
  16. Stephanie Spellers
  17. Phyllis Tickle
  18. Cameron Trimble
  19. Matthew Paul Turner
  20. Lauren Winner

*     *     *     *     *     *     *