The morning started like a typical summer morning. It was hot enough at 10 am, that you were sure that it was lunch time any minute now, and yet, there was that slight breeze which cooled the air just enough that it reminded you that this was Florida and you were convinced for one minute that if you made the next left you would drive up to the beach. Instead I drove into Starbucks. There were the usual faces. The bald guy from Centerpoint. The Starbucks partner who loves Harry Potter. And then in comes Erik Braun: Pastor of Four Oaks, man crush of mine. There is a hint of fear that rushes through me because in all honesty I have avoided this moment where we see each other, officially for the first time since we met at another Starbucks almost a year ago. After that meeting I havent gone to Four Oaks again. Its not because I dont like Four Oaks. Its not because I dont like Erik. Other opportunities came up and I am serving, fully, in another church, which was his advice at that last meeting. He comes over to me, and asks those pointed questions which makes him so easy to talk to while your voice quivers with fear of answering the wrong way. "Where are you going to church?" Straight to the point. This man doesnt beat around the bush, but I like it. I tell him I am working with Jim Divine. He knows about watermark. He asks if we are meeting yet. And then he looks down, down at the blue cover of the book which is now laying face down marking my page, down at Blue Like Jazz, and he smirks and says "Watch Out. Be careful with this." I smile, knowing whats coming next. "Is watermark one of those emerging churches?" I answer that we are staying away from using those terms as much as possible, because in no wya do we think that Four Oaks is not emerging...were just going about it differently, with the same goal in mind. He then sees The Vayage of the Dawn Treader, which I am also reading, and he quickly changes the subject. "Have you gotten to the point where Eustace turns into a dragon? And Aslan rips the skin right off him?" We laugh and exchange prayerful luck to each other and I sit, unable to continue reading, more for my desire to listen to jazz more than his presence in the building. I walk out.
His hint of spite for anything "emergent" and his caution to not be blatant about how he feels bothered me a bit. I know what he thinks of E3. I dont want him to think of me that way. Especially since we are not E3. We are trying to be the most accurate church we can be, not the best emergent church. But for someone I respect and admire so much, a bit of me hates him for being so arrogant and sure that what other churches are doing, which may be very productive, is unbiblical. But what do you do when you hate a bit of the person you admire? You admire them more, I think. Like JD to Dr. Cox, (another shameless reference to Scrubs and my total connection to main characters) I will continue to download his sermons and probably avoid meeting him again, until we do again.