We've heard the success stories of emergent church leaders for the past ten years or so, now they're starting to confess their failures.

It seems my generation has finally been around long enough to begin experiencing burnouts, moral failures, and conflicts reminiscent of our parents' churches. But will wounded leaders mark the end of the emerging church, or will they continue to lead us by limping into the future?

Last month at the FutureGen conference in Orlando, I met successful young leaders telling tales of personal burnout, struggle with sexual issues, and significant disagreement in their young congregations. This was a shift from what I've come to expect at next generation conferences. Torn jeans, tattoos, creative facial hair configurations, and music loud enough to dislodge internal organs are still the norm, but along with next generation success stories I noticed a new trend—emerging failure.

That may explain why so many were attracted to Mike Sares. At first, Mike seemed out of place among the conference presenters. He wore shorts (a fashion faux pas at a young adult ministry conference, even in Florida), he sported no visible tattoos, his face was clean-shaven, and he was definitely not twenty-something. He did have two things going for him. First, he was pastor of a church in Denver called Scum of the Earth. That alone gave him credibility in this crowd. And Mike also had more life and ministry experience than just about anyone at the conference.

The centerpiece of Mike's talk was Jacob—the proud, defiant, and successful young man who wrestled with God and walked with a limp the remaining days of his life. Mike's point was simple. The best, most trustworthy, and godly leaders walk with a limp. They ...

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