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An Interview with David Fitch

March 29, 2006

David Fitch, author of the Great Giveaway and one of the presenters at the Conference on Christianity in a Consumer Culture, has an interview by KTIS (a local evangelical radio station) here:

http://podcast.kimjeffries.com/index.php?id=328

Skip ahead about 1/5 of the way.  She seems to completely misunderstand some of David’s responses, misconstruing his mock-offense at being asked certain questions for genuine defensiveness.  Interesting.

Customer Evangelists

March 28, 2006

From the Customer Evangelism Manifesto:

A customer evangelist not only purchases from you regularly, she feels compelled to tell others.

This isn’t a religious site at all…marketing folks are employing religious terminology more and more.  It is interesting to see the growing cross polination between Christendom and Consumer Culture.  If you substitute the words "purchases from" with "worships with," then you’ve got the modern evangelical definition of evangelism.  We really need to get back to the business of being the church.

Googlemap + Census Date = Freaking Amazing

March 28, 2006

My friend Jesse pointed this little innovation out to me: http://65.39.85.13/google/default.htm

Just type in and address and it shows you a map with census data for a 1, 3, and 5 mile radius.  Simply amazing. 

An Important Spring

March 27, 2006

This spring is very significant for me.  I earnestly desire your support and prayer about some of the important things happening this spring. Please keep me in your prayers:

  • I’m in my final quarter at Bethel Seminary as a student, and I’ll be doing lots of stuff to wrap up my studies there. 
  • This Thursday I start teaching ML250: Re-envisioning the Church at Bethel Seminary.  I’m pretty excited.  As you probably know, ecclesiology is something I care about deeply.  Joel (he’s the other teacher for the course) and I have about 15 students.  It should be a facinating quarter. 
  • I’ve got the Conference on Christianity in a Consumer Culture coming up at the end of April.  There are a lot of things that still need to be nailed down before we are ready.    It is addressing a very important set of issues.  We are naming the Principality of consumerism and calling the Church to Kingdom faithfulness.  I really believe a lot of good will come from the conference.  We need at least 200 people to register to cover our expenses (which we have kept incredibly low). Please register for the conference.
  • Over the next few months or so, I need to raise $4500 a month for Missio Dei’s new co-venture with InterVarsity.  This is an exciting new venture.  Missio Dei serves the West Bank…and there are a lot of students and several college campuses on the West Bank.  Because there are very few student ministries focused on the West Bank, Missio Dei and InterVarsity have teamed up to start something.  This new venture will be directed by yours truly.  I’m really excited about the direction Missio Dei is headed in right now, but a big concern of mine is my income.  In the future, my income will come from the support I raise with InterVarsity, since InterVarsity has a much better accounting setup and can get better benefits. Please consider supporting me in this new ministry opportunity. For more information, please send me an email.

David Fitch’s Five Theological Issues in Emerging Church

March 23, 2006

I think David Fitch is correct in pointing out these five theological areas being addressed within the emerging church:

  1. THE AUTHORITY, INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE, AND COMMUNITY
  2. SALVATION, SANCTICATION AND THE ATONEMENT
  3. JUSTICE AND THE CHURCH
  4. PLURALISM AND CHRISTIANITY
  5. ECCLESIOLOGY

In his post, David Fitch encourages those of us coming out of evangelical or conservative traditions to avoid the trap of simply applying liberal answers to the questions we’re asking.  It is easy to do–and I see it all the time: upset evangelicals rebelling against the inadequacy of their system to the extent that they take up liberalism in its place.  It is important for emerging folks to avoid such an impulse. 

I also recommend that they avoid simply picking up one of Brian McLaren’s books or Tony’s or Doug’s books and treating them like templates for "doing" emergent.  I think these gentlemen would agree–the beauty of being a part of this emerging movement is that there is freedom to struggle through these sorts of issues with a fresh pair of eyes, with a sensitivity to history and the Tradition, and within whatever particular context you are in.

In other words, don’t rush things.  Take your time to struggle through the issues.  Dialogue with folks.  Think through the issues.  Live out your faith in context.  And be the Church that God is calling you to be. 

Thoughts from Graham

March 21, 2006

Here are some good thoughts from Graham at Leaving Munster:

In the mid 1990’s, I served for two years with YWAM,
whilst simultaneously preaching against the doctrine of everlasting
conscious torment. Missions and Hell needn’t go hand in hand.

My
motivation was not saving people from Hell and I think I can honestly
say that it never crossed my mind. Combined with the previous two
points, my motivation was sharing the difference that Jesus has made to
my life now and how he could change the lives of others.

The
fact is, if I knew you were suffering from painful Stomach cramps that
mean you cannot hold down a job, thus keeping your family in poverty,
and if I could cure that, I wouldn’t lack motivation just because I
knew that the cramps would not kill you.

If I see my daughter
stick her hand into a fire, I’m not about to sit back and do nothing,
even though I know she’ll pass-out before she dies! If I love her,
surely I’ll do whatever I can to ease her suffering now. (Read the rest here).

Graham has always made me feel uncomfortable with his rejection of the "classic" idea of Hell.  I want to go there with him, but my understanding of Scripture can’t handle such a move.  Maybe I’m too evangelical for my own good.  Nevertheless, I agree with the quote above.  I don’t think I’ve every proclaimed the Gospel or ministered out of a motivation to save someone from Hell.  That motivation hasn’t ever really clicked for me.  I’ve been more interested in being motivated by the positive (worshiping God) than the negative (saved from fiery torment).

“God Loves You” (A Few Reasons To Doubt The Existence Of A Loving God)

March 18, 2006

From August Berkshire of Minnesota Athiests:

abscesses, acne, addictions, adenitis, adenoids, AIDS, albinism, allergies,
  ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, anemia, aneurysms,
  angina, anorexia nervosa, anthrax, anxiety attacks, aphasia, appendicitis,
  apoplexy, arteriosclerosis, arthritis, asphyxia, asthma, astigmatism, athlete’s
  foot, attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism, avalanches, back aches, bedsores,
  Bell’s palsy, beriberi, bipolar disorder (manic-depression), birth defects,
  blackouts, bladder infections, blemishes, blindness, blisters, blizzards, bloating,
  boils, bone cancer, bone spurs, botulism, bowlegs, breast cancer, brain cancer,
  breech presentations, Bright’s disease, brittle bone disease, broken bones,
  bronchitis, bruises, bulimia, bunions, bursitis, calcinosis, canker sores,
  cardiac dysrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, cataracts, cellulitis,
  cerebral palsy, cervical cancer, cervicitis, chapped lips, chickenpox, chlamydia,
  choking, cholera, cleft lips and palates, clubfoot (talipes), cold sores, colic,
  colitis, colon cancer, color blindness, comas, common cold, concussions, congestion,
  congestive heart failure, conjunctivitis, constipation, convulsions, coronary
  occlusions, coughs, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, cyclones, cystic fibrosis, cystitis,
  cysts, dandruff, dangerous plants and animals, deafness, deformities, dehydration,
  delirium, delirium tremens, delusions, dementia, dental problems, depression,
  dermatitis, detached retinas, deviated septums, diabetes, diaper rash, diarrhea,
  diphtheria, dislocated joints, dizziness, Down’s syndrome, droughts, dysentery,
  dyslexia, dysphagia, dysphasia, dysuria, ear infections, earthquakes, Ebola
  virus, ectopic pregnancies, eczema, edema, elephantiasis, embolisms, emphysema,
  encephalitis, endocarditis, endometriosis, enteritis, epidemics, epididymitis,
  epilepsy, Epstein-Barr virus, erectile dysfunction (ED), excessive ear wax,
  fainting, fallen arches (flat foot), farsightedness (hyperopia), fevers, fibrillation,
  fibromyalgia, fibrosis, fistulas, flatulence, floods, frostbite, gallstones,
  ganglions, gangrene, gastrinomas, gastritis, gastroenteritis, germs, gingivitis,
  glaucoma, goiter, gonorrhea, gout, granuloma, Graves’ disease, halitosis, hallucinations,
  hay fever, headaches, heart attacks, heartburn, heart murmurs, hematomas, hemiplegia,
  hemophilia, hemorrhages, hemorrhagic fever, hemorrhoids, hepatitis (A,B&C),
  hernias, herniated and slipped disks, herpes, hiccups, high blood pressure
  (hypertension), HIV, hives, Hodgkin’s disease, humpbacks (kyphosis), Huntington’s
  chorea, hurricanes, hydrocephalus, hyperactivity, hypercholesterolemia, hyperemia,
  hyperglycemia, hyperthermia, hyperthyroidism, hypertonicity, hyper-uricemia,
  hypochondria, hypoglycemia, hypothermia, hypothyroidism, impacted teeth, incontinence,
  indigestion (dyspepsia), infarctions, infections, infertility, infestations,
  inflammations, influenza, insanity, insomnia, iritis, irritable bowels, ischemia,
  itches, jaundice, Karposi’s sarcoma, keratitis, keratosis, kidney failure,
  kidney stones, knock-knees, labor pains, laryngitis, Legionnaires’ disease,
  leprosy, lesions, lethargy, leukemia, lice, lipidosis, lipomas, liposarcoma,
  liver cancer, lockjaw/tetanus, lordosis, low blood pressure (hypotension),
  lumbago, lung cancer, lupus, Lyme disease, lymphangitis, lymphedema, lymphocytosis,
  lymphomas, macular degeneration, malaria, malocclusions, manias, mastitis,
  measles, melancholia, melanomas, meningitis, menorrhagia, menstrual cramps,
  mental illnesses, mental retardation, migraines, miscarriages (spontaneous
  abortions), mononucleosis, monsoons, morning sickness, multiple personality
  disorder, multiple sclerosis, multiple system atrophy, mumps, muscle cramps
  and spasms, muscular dystrophy, myalgia, myasthenia gravis, myelitis, narcolepsy,
  nausea, nearsightedness (myopia), necrosis, nephritis, nephrosis, nervous breakdowns,
  nervous tics, neuralgia, neuritis, neuroses, night blindness, nosebleeds, obesity,
  osteitis, osteodystrophy, osteoporosis, otitis, ovarian cancer, Paget’s disease,
  pain, palsy, pancreatic cancer, paralysis, paranoia, parasitosis, Parkinson’s
  disease, pericarditis, periodontitis, peritonitis, phantom pain, pharyngitis,
  phlebitis, phobias, pimples, pinched nerves, plagues, pleurisy, pneumonia,
  poisons, polio, Pott’s disease, premature births, premenstrual syndrome (PMS),
  prions, prostate cancer, psoriasis, psychoses, psychosomatic illnesses, ptomaine
  poisoning, pulled muscles, quicksand, rabies, rashes, Raynaud’s disease, resistance
  to curative drugs, retinitis, retinitis pigmentosa, retroviruses, Reye’s syndrome,
  Rh incompatibility, rheumatic fever, rheumatism, rhinoviruses, rickets, riptides,
  Rocky Mountain spotted fever, rubella, ruptures, salmonella poisoning, sandstorms,
  sarcomas, scabies, scarlet fever, schizophrenia, sclerosis, scoliosis, scurvy,
  seizures, senility, septicemia, severe thunder storms, shingles, shock, sickle-cell
  anemia, skin cancer, sleep apnea, smallpox, sneezes, sore throats, sores, spastic
  colons, speech disorders, spina bifida, sprains, stillbirths, stomach cancer,
  strep throats, strokes, styes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), sunburn,
  sunstroke, swelling, syphilis, tabes, tardive dyskinesia, Tay-Sachs disease,
  teething pains, temper tantrums, tartar, tendinitis, testicular cancer, thrombosis,
  tidal waves, tinnitus, TMJ, tonsillitis, tooth decay, torn cartilage, tornadoes,
  Tourette’s syndrome, toxemia, toxic shock syndrome, transplant rejection, trauma,
  tremors, trench foot, trichinosis, tropical storms, tuberculosis, tumors, tunnel
  vision, typhoid fever, typhoons, typhus, ulcers, uremia, urethritis, uterine
  cancer, vaginitis, varicose veins, vertigo, viruses, vomiting, warts, whooping
  cough, wounds, yeast infections, yellow fever

Volunteers Needed

March 15, 2006

The Conference on Christianity in a Consumer Culture is coming up at the end of April.  We currently need about a dozen volunteers for the conference: to be room hosts for presenters, to help pick up our main speakers from the airport, to help at the registration table, and to just be general all-around helpers.  You don’t have to do much, and the benefit is that you can attend the entire conference for free! You heard me…I said FREE.  No need to pay the registration fee.  You can trade help for consumer conference goodness.

Cultivating Communities of Resitance

March 14, 2006

One of my frustrations these days is how much crap is being published.  There are many good books being published, but some are just terrible.  Even people I respect have published books that are poorly written, with half-developed ideas.  I sometimes wonder if some people care more about writing a book than they care about having something to say.  I’ve daydreamed about writing a book–lots of us have.  But I only want to write a book if it really serves the church.  And I only want to do it if it is tastefully "packaged", non-hypey, and doesn’t reek of self-promotion. 

Every once in a while someone suggests that I write a book…a few times the person suggesting has been prominent or connected enough for me to think "I really could write a book if I wanted to." But up until this point, I am a bit ashamed to admit that I cared more about writing a book than I’ve cared about having something to say.

I really think I’m at a place where I have something to say, and could say it in a way that honors Christ.  The idea is this: Cultivating Communities of Resistance–a book written by practitioners who have struggled to help shape the local church into a faithful community which resists some of the "powers" in our culture.  Communities which resist racism, consumerism, poverty, etc.  I think a book like this should be written, offering real examples of communities that are trying to live out their faith.  And while I think I can contribute to this book (in the area of consumerism), the book would be much better if there were others contributing as well.  And so, I am actively looking for folks that are intersted in contributing to such a work. 

If you’re interested, send me an email: mark [at] missio-dei.com

Ecclesial Grievance #1: Employment Over Conviction

March 13, 2006

One of my ecclesial pet peeves is when someone compromises on their inner conviction about how they ought to do church or ought to be involved in a church so that they can get a job.  This happens with seminary students all the time…they have convictions about how to do church, and they have a conviction that they shouldn’t be the "go to" guy or gal in a church.  Yet, because they have bills, they get a job at a church that they don’t really respect and become a "go to" guy or gal in the church, even though they don’t believe in a clergy/laity distinction. 

I can sympathize with this peeve of mine–because I went through a season where I felt an inner-contradiction within my soul.  I made decisions for economic reasons that I shouldn’t have made.  However, my beef is with folks that know full well that they are contradicting their own convictions in the name of pragmatism.  I’ve even heard folks say things like: "Well, I feel like God is really telling me to do X, but I’ve got bills to pay so I’ll serve in ABC Church as an associate pastor for 4 years, even though I’ll be contributing to a system that I disagree with."

Come on folks.  Let’s have a bit more faith than this.  Let’s challenge one another, encourage one another, and empower one another to be faithful to what we know to be good.  Let us live according to the Kingdom of God even when–especially when–it challenges the pragmatic way of doing church.  And let us be willing to suffer for it. 

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