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Pub Gathering: This Wednesday Night, 8pm at Town Hall Brewery

July 31, 2005

Hey all…you are invited to our next Pub Gathering. Our next Pub Gathering is this Wednesday at 8pm at the Town Hall Brewery.  Our discussion topic will be: "Relationships in the Age of Electronics."   

The age of Electronics has increased our ability to send and receive information, but has it decreased our ability and/or the quality of our relationships? Our patterns of relating have changed in this Age of Electronics.  There are some real benefits to the new and varied ways of communication, but there have been costs.  Join us as we discuss the ways in which our ways of relating to one another and God has been shaped by our increasing use of communication electronics.  People of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome.

Reflection Questions:

  • Do you think it is possible to have a real friendship over the internet, without ever having met the person?
  • What do you think about e-communities such as online churches and other online religious groups who offer virtual community without physical presence?
  • Do you think the use of cell phones to connect with one another instantly has increased the depth of your relationships, decreased the depth of your relationships, or has things remained roughly the same?
  • What are some of the ways new technologies have enriched your life?
  • What are some of the ways new technologies have taken from your quality of life?

Recommended Reading:

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inciting allegiance to Jesus in a society gone mad

July 29, 2005

You may have noticed my new "tagline" for this blog.  I’ve noticed that many people have dramatic sounding taglines stressing how important their blog is…I’d like to make the case for why my tagline shouldn’t be interpreted to fit into such a category (btw, many people conversely have overly-humble sounding taglines that stress how utterly postmodern they are).

If you know me well, you know that I think intentionally cheesy things are pretty dang funny.  The operative word is intentionally. My tagline is a bit funny to me because it sounds so darn dramatic, thus qualifying as intentional cheese.

Beyond the humor of it (though many of you might not think its all that funny) the tagline is pretty descriptive.  I think it is our job as Christians to incite allegiance to Jesus Christ.  Notice that I don’t advocate rebellion against the world.  It is one’s allegiance to Christ that should cause one’s subversiveness.  I think the church of my generation (I’m 29) sometimes blurs their counter-cultures, linking allegiance with Christ with elements of style.  Notice also that I’m emphasizing the distinction between the church and society rather than our commonality.  This is intentional.  I have more in common with the anabaptist branch of Christianity than any other branch…and this tagline expresses some anabaptist influences. 

Finally, I do think the world has gone mad.  Allegiance to Christ is sanity.  The funny thing about that is to the world, Christianity seems foolish (at least it should if we’re doing it right).

Persecution and the Spirit

July 26, 2005

Tonight our house gathering studied parts of John 14-16 as we work our way through that Gospel.  In particular we talked about persecution, which comes up as a theme in this section.  You can’t read that passage in the West without feeling a sense of disconnect.  It would be tempting to assume that the reason we aren’t particularly persecuted in the U.S. is because we have "freedom of religion."  But if we assumed that, we’d be wrong.  I think the severity of persecution may be less here, but I believe that persecution of some form is a natural outcome of one’s fidelity to Christ. 

Take a look at these verses, and bear with me as I explain why I think persecution goes hand-in-hand with fidelity to Christ:

John 16:7-11 Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

It seems to me that if we are cooperating with the work of the Spirit (and it seems that many–if not most–churches have intensely weak pneumatological thinking and praxis) in the task of conviction (ie. showing what is wrong with the world), then people will get upset with us.  In other words, there should be a positive correlation between a culture’s resistance to the Spirit and their resistance to the Church.  Thoughts?

What is your ecological footprint?

July 25, 2005

Ever wonder just how much food and energy you consume? Check out this quiz here. I’d be curious to hear your results.  Apparently, my footprint is 13 acres.  That means that if everyone lived the way I live, we’d need almost 3 planets to sustain life.  The average American’s footprint is 24 acres.  The earth only has 4.5 biologically productive acres per person.

I know I can lower my number by driving less, eating less meat (especially beef), and buying more local grown, unpackaged, unprocessed foods. 

The current things I have going for me is that 6 people live in my home, I don’t generally drive very much, and I tend to avoid processed foods.

However, as a Minnesotan, I will consume more than others, since we require heating for a large potion of the year. 

What did you score?

Church follows Mission

July 25, 2005

Check out a great conversation that is happening at Radical Congruency (here and here).   Here’s a snippet:

all attempts to try [to] contextualise spirituality, theology,
and worship divorced from, and prior to, an active missional engagement
remain futile and frustrating
.

I’m not exactly sure I jibe with this statement.  If the church IS mission, then any active missional engagement that is done by 2 or more in the name of Christ IS church.  However, if by "church" we mean something more institutional or ritualized or more of what we think of as "church," then I wholeheartedly agree.  At any rate, it is a worthy matter for discussion.

StrengthsFinder

July 20, 2005

Though I am not usually a fan of personality tests, one that I really see alot of strength in is StrengthsFinder by Gallup.  My friend Joseph Dworak has done alot of interpreting of people’s Strengths.  He is currently analyzing me on his blog.  I heartily encourage those of you who know me in the flesh to check out his analysis and chime in. It would really help me to understand how I can best utilize my strengths.  Check out Joe’s read of me here. 

Here are my Strengths:

Strategic
Communication
Input
Activator
Command

Organic Church Post

July 20, 2005

I have a new post on OrganicChurch.  Check it out.  Here’s the intro…go to the post to read the rest:

One of my struggles in church leadership has been in trying to lead
effectively from “alongside” and not from “in front.” People talk about
doing leadership in a decentralized, non-hierarchical way all the time;
despite the simplistic ways in which the topic is often discussed,
leadership from “alongside” is a difficult task that requires a great
deal of thought. The reality is that most cultures affirm and value
top-down leadership. The leader may be able to function in a way that
is “alongside” but if others in the community think in conventional
categories, they will do and say things that put the leader back on top.

When leaders realize this dynamic, I?ve noticed that they do one of two things: 1) they become laissez faire
leaders, thinking that if they step back, others will “step up” or 2)
they re-enact the conventional hierarchical ways of leading, but they
use less hierarchical language. Neither of these approaches work. When
one realizes that we have a disempowered laity that doesn?t think of
itself as minister and as priests, being a laissez faire leader could just enable them to stay as they are, often making the system more dysfunctional. A hierarchical leader (but without the trappings of hierarchy) will only succeed in making things seem better.

Church Planting and Church Revitalization

July 19, 2005

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend named Dan.  We were talking about what ails the church and he suggested that church planting is not the way to bring new vitality and health to the church…he likened it to the dysfunctional couple that decides to have a baby to heal their marriage.  The youngster has lots of energy and is cute…and can therefore get away with alot, but ultimately inherits the traits of his/her parents or, as is often the case, creates new patters of dis-health by reacting against his/her parents.  In either case, the child can often be enslaved to its parent’s unhealthy ways of relating. This is a funny conversation, since Dan and I are both church planters (well, he was about 5 years ago).   

What is the alternative? Revitalizing our current institutions, right?  Let’s all just try to make our institutions more healthy and productive…right? I don’t think so.  I think the solution IS church planting…but church planting of a different sort.  Most conversations about church planting or church revitalization assume something: the church is an institution.  What if, we had a more fluid definition of church…one that included both its institutional expression AND its uninstitutionalized dynamic expressions? What if a group of friends at First Church decided to start intentionally relating to one another in loving ways and did their own outreach out of that…but resisted the urge and desire to either leave their unhealthy church to start something new, or the urge to force their own "revival" onto the institution?  In this sense, these people would be starting an intentional community within their existing institution–a sort of "church within a church" but one that is not institutionalized, like the many "church-within-a-churches" that are either young people’s worship services or a seperate institution?  These church-within-a-churches reinforce homogeneity.  The fluid way of being a church-within-a-church is low-key, and centers around having meals with friends and building relationships…and cultivates meekness instead of trying to "change the system." 

I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions…I know my thoughts are rather embryonic; help me flesh them out a bit…

Sill-a-buss

July 13, 2005

As I promised, here’s the working draft of the syllabus for the course I’ll be team teaching this coming school year.  I’d love to hear your constructive crticisms and/or anything you think really works. 

Bethel Seminary

July 12, 2005

Yesterday my friend Joel Nelson (Director of Church Mobilization at the Minnesota Baptist Conference) and I had a meeting with Greg Bourgond, Dean for Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary.  We’ve met with him before to discuss the possibility of having us teach a course called "Re:Envisioning the Church–An Adventure in Applied Ecclesiology."  Well, Dr. Bougond made the decision to run with it, so in Winter or Spring quarter of 2005/2006 I will be an adjunct instructor at Bethel! I’ll be taking classes as a student while I am teaching. Im both excited and weirded out.

I’ll post parts of my syllabus and whatnot later; I’d like to hear your feedback so that the class is worthwhile.

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