The Westport neighborhood of midtown Kansas City, Missouri, is a mix of avant-garde youth and aging hippies. If bumper stickers are any indication, political views range from the muscular left (“Veterans for Kerry”) to the forthrightly left (“Peace is patriotic”) to the crudely left (“Dump the son of a Bush!”). The first man I passed on the street had his shirt off and displayed pierced nipples. No doubt he was on his way to one of the area’s many wine bars or tattoo parlors.
This neighborhood is also home to a thriving church called Jacob’s Well, which attracts about 1,000 people each week to its various services. The church is led by Tim Keel, who, along with author Brian McLaren, is a founder of the Emergent movement. I went to JW hoping that it could help me understand a phenomenon that remains elusive—the Emergent church.