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Calling all Twin Citizens

May 31, 2005

Join us Wednesday night (June 1st, 2005) at our next Pub Gathering.

This time ’round, we’ll be talking about spirituality in an affluent culture…those who have read my blog for a while know that this topic is a huge one for me.  Jesus once told us that we can’t serve God and Money…yet American Christianity has made an art of trying. Come check it out.  Bring a friend (the more antithetical to Christianity, the better).

The Pub Gathering is a once-a-month guided discussion for anyone interested in the intersection of faith and culture. The Pub Gathering is currently taking place the first Wednesday of every month at the Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis (1430 Washington Ave S). The Pub Gathering is sponsored by Missio Dei.

Me in a Box

May 30, 2005

Thanks to Len at NextReformation for bringing this test to my attention.  I think it is funny that I am equal parts fundamentalist and postmodern.  I think I now know why I have headaches all the time :)

You scored as Cultural Creative. Cultural Creatives are probably the newest group to enter this realm. You are a modern thinker who
tends to shy away from organized religion but still feels as if there
is something greater than ourselves. You are very spiritual, even if you are not religious. Life has a meaning outside of the rational.

 

Cultural Creative

75%

Fundamentalist

63%

Postmodernist

63%

Romanticist

56%

Idealist

31%

Modernist

31%

Existentialist

25%

Materialist

13%

What is Your World View? (updated)
created with QuizFarm.com

Wisconsin, the Crash and the Church

May 27, 2005

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of seeing one of the best movies of the year.  No, not Star Wars…Crash.  Earlier this week, I travelled to Wausau, Wisconsin for some church planting coach training.  I travelled with a couple pastors from Brainerd, Minnesota.  The highpoint of my two day trip was these two pastors–Mark Bjorlo (37) and Bob Evans (around 60). Now, the idea of travelling to the middle of Wisconsin with two rural Baptist ministers might not sound appealing, but it was awesome.  On Monday night, we went to Tony Roma’s for some Ribs, went and bought some nice cigars and went to the Glass Hat, a local bar, and enjoyed the cigars with some surprisingly smooth scotch.  (Since I am a Bethel Seminary student, I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not I engaged in the aforementioned smoking and drinking)

From there, we went to the movies.  Bob suggested we see Crash, since his daughter highly praised it.  We were blown away.  I had spent most of our drive from Minneapolis to Wausau explaining postmoderism.  There, in front of me, was a film that perhaps best expressed the fractured nature of postmodern society.  The whole film is about race…and how each of us is divided by our race.  None of the jam-packed, star-studded cast gets off the hook…everyone is stuck in their own fallen racist perspective and helps foster the systemic racism in LA (with perhaps one exception).  Many of the movie reviewers have said that the movie is too bleak.  I don’t think so.  Once you buy into the premise, that racism is inescapable and that noone has the moral objectivity or clarity to escape the racism, the movie becomes a very compassionate and hopeful movie.  Those in the movie who seem the least racist are the most ignoble, and those who appear to be the most racist become the least ignoble.  Throughout this broken, and fragmented picture of LA, there are delicate threads of love and compassion.  You MUST see this film.

After leaving the film, I began to ponder the nature and role of the church.  I realize that the movie’s take on racism is exaggerated, but the truth is, we are all devided by culture, race, and other things.  We can not escape the biases we inherit from our race and culture, but we can decide to seek understanding and push towards some sort of unity that transcends race and culture.  Though we are divided, there are threads of compassion and hope.  [SPOILER] For example, the cop played by Matt Dillon is by far depicted as the most racist character in the movie.  At one point in the movie, he pulls over a black couple and essentially molests the wife, 10003654played by Thandie Newton.  Later in the movie, the cop comes upon the scene of an auto accident. Her car has been rolled and she is upside down, gas flowing from her car, slowly pooling and flowing to an aflame car about 10 yards away.  Though they recognize one another, and though she is fighting and unwilling to receive his aid, the cop risks his life to save hers.  Compassion in the midst of racism.  Unity in the midst of fragmentation.  That is what the Church is called to.  It is awkward, painful, and often "ineffective," but it is what we are called to.  We are called to display the unity and wholeness of being in Christ, in the midst of a world that is broken and filled with hate…even though we are often unable to break free from the racist attitudes and systems which work against our common call.

June 1st: God and Money…Spirituality in an Affluent Society

May 26, 2005

On June 1st, the Pub Gathering will be exploring an issue that you all know is near and dear to my heart: "God and Money…Spirituality in an Affluent Society."

If this topic is of interest to you, I encourage you to come.  Just let me know if you’re going to be there, so that I can secure enough space.

Ooze Article

May 25, 2005

In case you’re interested, I have an article up on theOoze about Christianity and Consumerism.  You should be able to find it on the front page or here.

Back from Nashville

May 22, 2005

Well, it is 3am.  I’m catching up on email and snail mail after the 14 hour drive home to Minneapolis from Nashville.  Ick.  I’m so glad that I don’t have many responsibilities for Missio Dei’s central gathering this week.

The conference was very refreshing.  Not because of the sessions or content, but because of the people I connected with.  Generally a warm and encouraging bunch.

In my most recent post, I shared my concern about the lack of diversity within Emergent.  As if in answer to prayer, Brian McLaren closed the conference out with news that he has been building a relationship with a similar movement that has been going for about ten years in Latin America.  Apprently Emergent has a Latino cousin! There isn’t going to be an Emergent Convention in 2006, but in 2007 the leadership of Emergent hopes to have a global convention…one in which we can learn from global voices that have been rethinking ecclesiology.  I’m excited about the prospects, since this also addresses a recent post about how we can engage in global pentecostalism.  I would suspect that some within the Latin American or Asian version of Emergent are much more connected to Pentecostalism. 

Yee Haw

May 19, 2005

I’m blogging from Nashville.  My friend Jeff and I are at the Emergent Convention.  Yeah, I know…why would I be at the EC, when I gripe so much about Emergent? Well, three reasons: 1) Jeff has been persistently bugging me to go with him. 2) I realized that I needed to be more open minded and converstant with Emergent as I challenge some of the problems within Emergent. 3) Jeff and I want to promote the Consumerism conference a bit. 

I’ve been pretty impressed with how open and warm the leadership of Emergent has been.  The idea that they are only a bunch of pissed off people who hate Evangelicalism no longer applies (if it really ever has).

However, I’ve noticed that there is a clear inner circle…there are high priests of the movement…if you aren’t an insider, then your chances of becoming one is difficult.  This is a problem.  It is hard not to have an inner circle…but having one seems to be at odds with the Emergent ethos. 

I was impressed by the number of women (perhaps 30%).  WHile that might not sound impressive, it is above the number of women who are statistically involved in church leadership.  Emergent has been helpful overall in empowering evangelical women for leadership.  Much more can be done, but progress is happening.

However, almost everyone was white.  This is a clear problem.  I don’t blame Emergent for making things that way, but it is incumbent upon them to bring about change.  The general style and approach Emergent has towards ecclesiology and ministry is much more accessible to middle class whites.  If I were part of the leadership of Emergent, I would work hard to build bridges in various ethnic religious communities and ask them to join the conversation…to the point of getting on my knees and begging them. 

Just a few thoughts from Nashville.

The Business of the Church

May 17, 2005

My friend Gregg passed a link on to me yesterday about applying business principles to the church. Just when I was thinking that the church-as-business model was starting to phase out, BusinessWeek pays homage.  Someone once told me that the zenith of any model is right before its death…for example, the best buggies were made as a response to the new-fangled horseless buggy.  I’m not so sure.  As long as the heart and soul of America is consumerism and capitalism, then there will be consumerist/Christian synchretism. Business_week_evangelical_empire_1

I don’t challenge the motive and the hearts of those who blend Christianity and business models.  What I do challenge is the naivete that is so pervasive…the odd cluelessness that stems from the assumption that the medium can be seperated from the message.  I wonder why those who adopt business models seem to be too unreflective of the brand of Christianity that they’ve ushered in.  I’m not saying that they’re stupid…just a bit blind to the ways in which culture shapes their churches, and the deleterious effect their approach to church has had on Christianity as a whole. 

Usually when I say things like this, a passerby who stumbles upon my blog by doing a search on "business models" AND "businessweek" will come to the defense of the church-as-business approach and say I’m being elitist  or mean or jealous, etc.  To you, my critic, I give the right to disagree.  However, lets be honest…the megachurch is the highest expression of the union between religion and American culture. It reinforces family values, good financial practices, and brings people into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  But it doesn’t produce the sort of radical disciples mentioned in Scripture.  And it tends to support a number of values Jesus expressly challenged.  A person could do a whole lot worse than to go to a business-church.  But they most certainly could do a whole lot better.  And instead of trying to corral our seeker friends into an unoffensive, stylish, successful megachurch, we should read the bold statements of Christ on the nature of following him, and take his lead.   

Money and Missio Dei

May 11, 2005

Raising money is ackward…but it has a long healthy tradition.  The apostle Paul raised money for the church in Jerusalem.  Saint Francis begged for money and stones to help rebuild ruined chapels.  And I raise money to supplement my church planter pay and to help Missio Dei have the resources to reach its goals. 

We started Missio Dei in October 2004.  It takes time and energy and resources to make an impact in South Minneapolis.  We want to help the vast number of immigrants in our neighborhood.  We’ve taken some steps in that direction, but we lack the resources to go much further than an ELL conversation class right now.  We have other hopes and dreams for reaching out in the neighborhood, but we’re a small bunch of people taking on a neighborhood of hard soil.  If you can through a few crumbs our way, I’d appreciate it.  Your gifts are tax deductible. If you are annoyed by such a plea for moola, then ignore this post.  If not, please consider helping us out. 

One-Time Donation   Recurring Donation

$

 

$

for months.

We could also use a hand as far reaching out.  We don’t care if Missio Dei becomes a big deal with lots of people, but we are kind of at our limit with the number of people we’ve got involved at Missio Dei right now.  We need people who want to help with urban outreach, and who are jazzed about a faith community that is made up of house churches. Help us get the word out.  God is working in South Minneapolis, and he wants more laborers down here.

Pentecostalism and the Disconnect

May 7, 2005

Few could argue with the evidence; pentecostalism is growing rapidly throughout the world.  Some might say that it is the dominant Christian perspective outside of the West.  So, why don’t people in the West talk about it more? Obviously, as global Christians begin to permeate the West, the church in the West is going to have reinterpret itself. 

I am not a tremendous fan of Pentecostalism.  We all know about the abuses that sometimes happen.  However, as a (for lack of a better term) post-charismatic or neo-charismatic (my early years of faith were very charismatic…I haven’t disowned my early years, but I have tempered and challenged them) I can see the benefits of having the church in the West embrace global pentecostalism in measured and intentional ways.  How do you think we ought to relate to the growing global pentecostalism?  Why don’t you think there has been much discussion about this?

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