What Is Emerging?

Last week I read through Phyllis Tickle’s new little book, The Great Emergence. It’s a brief (160 pgs.), brilliant overview of where we are as a North American culture and church. She suggests that every 500 years the church undergoes a giant shift. Around 500 or so it was the emergence of the monastic movement. Around 1000 was the split between the Eastern and Western churches. Around 1500 was the Reformation & Counter-Reformation. And here we are again.

It’s critical for leaders to recognize the wider systems we are a part of. No one knows what will emerge out of this enormous transition we are in, and no one knows exactly what to do. We are all engaged in big and small experiments. Ronald Heifetz points out in another great book, Leadership without Easy Answers, that in the huge national crisis of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt called for “bold, persistent experimentation.” Roosevelt said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

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