He first came into the spotlight with his books The Emerging Church and Emerging Worship. He was one of the first guys to start using the "emerging" terminology and it really resonated with me. He and others like him were able to put to paper the thoughts that I was having trouble articulating about the direction the church needed to go to really engage our society.
Dan also wrote They Like Jesus, But Not the Church, which is one of my favorite books of the last few years. I love his heart for reaching "the unreachable." He gives us guidance on how to interact with people in a way that is both true to our calling and sensitive to their feelings/backgrounds. The thing I love most about him is that he challenges us to make adjustments to our methods without adjusting our theology. Most of the guys who have currently hijacked the emerging/emergent conversation have inadvertently become elitist theologians who claim we need to change our theology or risk becoming irrelevant. It's sad, because I believe there is much more conversation to be had in the "emerging/postmodern" realm, but the very people who were trying to champion that conversation have squashed much of it.
I really love Dan's church, Vintage Faith in Santa Cruz, too. We visited there in the fall and had a great experience. Very cool, very hip, but most importantly they are effectively reaching a community that is difficult to reach.
But my favorite thing about Dan is definitely the hair! Long live rockabilly music and the pompadour!
(Oh, and big thanks to WJU for regularly hosting these types of events for Sacramento area pastors -- and for free. You guys are awesome!)