the end of emergent as a movement and the beginning of a brand

I got the news that many of you have been following for a few weeks – chances at Emergent Village beginning with the stepping down of Tony Jones as National Coordinator. For those who get the Emergent podcasts, the latest posting was a retrospective conference call between Tony, Brian McLaren and a few other ‘founders’ of the movement speaking of the early days ten years ago (has Emergent really been around that long?) and what has brought them to this point. Needless to say, one of the parts of the dialogue I found most enlightening is just how difficult it is for these now-leaders and former-outsiders to even dialogue given the temptation to admit that they have indeed become the very things they critiqued and challenged – the big “B”… a “brand.”

As the Emergent ‘brand’ has evolved through numerous publishing contracts with Youth Specialities, Zondervan, Baker and Abingdon (Tony and Brian muse on the podcast about these publishing relationships and the impact it has had in making the movement what it is) there was no mention (and I assume deep resistance to this assertion) that rather than the fear of becoming an institution (something the speakers go to great lengths to state was never their intention and ultimately the reason for the changes in Emergent Village) the one thing no one addressed was what has really happened – emergent is a ‘brand’ par excellence. In a time when Christian publishing and its various channel marketing venues such as National Youth Workers Convention needed a shot in the arm, “emergent” provided the right mix – edgey yet dependent on the past (think: long tail marketing) yet retrofited for the future – cool book covers, old classics (read: public domain properties that are free to publish like Creeds) with new intros.

So – what comes next? Time will tell i suppose and I am sure that the various publishing houses are scrambling to find out.

Don’t worry though… the viral marketing will find you before you find it…

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