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Conference Today

April 28, 2006

The conference is finally here! Today and tomorrow, I’ll be mingling with some of you as we challenge consumerism as Christians.  Good stuff.  I’ll post some highlights next week.  We’ll also have most, if not all, of the presentations up for your listening pleasure in the very near future.

Conference Interview on KTIS

April 27, 2006

If you’re interested, my interview on KTIS is here.  You may have to get a username and password from KTIS before you can continue ahead to the podcast archives.

Consumerism Interviews

April 24, 2006

FYI:

You can listen to my consumerism interview from last week here. 

If you want to hear me this week…tune in on Wednesday at 1pm to AM900KTIS.

Malcolm Gladwell on the Church

April 20, 2006

From Malcolm Gladwell:

Churches, like any large voluntary organization, have at their core
a contradiction. In order to attract newcomers, they must have low
barriers to entry. They must be unintimidating, friendly, and
compatible with the culture they are a part of. In order to retain
their membership, however, they need to have an identity distinct from
that culture. They need to give their followers a sense of
community-and community, exclusivity, a distinct identity are all,
inevitably, casualties of growth. As an economist would say, the bigger
an organization becomes, the greater a free-rider problem it has. If I
go to a church with five hundred members, in a magnificent cathedral,
with spectacular services and music, why should I volunteer or donate
any substantial share of my money? What kind of peer pressure is there
in a congregation that large? If the barriers to entry become too
low-and the ties among members become increasingly tenuous-then a
church as it grows bigger becomes weaker.

One solution
to the problem is simply not to grow, and, historically, churches have
sacrificed size for community. But there is another approach: to create
a church out of a network of lots of little church cells-exclusive,
tightly knit groups of six or seven who meet in one another’s homes
during the week to worship and pray. The small group as an instrument
of community is initially how Communism spread, and in the postwar
years Alcoholics Anonymous and its twelve-step progeny perfected the
small-group technique. The small group did not have a designated leader
who stood at the front of the room. Members sat in a circle. The focus
was on discussion and interaction-not one person teaching and the
others listening-and the remarkable thing about these groups was their
power. An alcoholic could lose his job and his family, he could be
hospitalized, he could be warned by half a dozen doctors-and go on
drinking. But put him in a room of his peers once a week-make him share
the burdens of others and have his burdens shared by others-and he
could do something that once seemed impossible.

Read the rest of this interesting article here.  Gladwell goes on to extol the virtues of Saddleback.  Apparently Saddleback is a beautiful expression of the cellular church model.  Gladwell paints a favorable picture of Saddleback.  While I am not a fan of the megachurch, I can see that God does indeed work powerfully through Saddleback and Rick Warren.  He does a very faithful job with what he has been given. 

Pub Gathering Reborn

April 18, 2006

On the first Wednesday of every month, Missio Dei has what we call a
"Pub Gathering." The Pub Gathering is an open discussion group that
explores issues of faith and culture.

On May 3rd, we’ll have our first Pub Gathering in the new location (the Corner Bar)
and new time (7:00pm). We’ll be meeting in a side room at the Corner
Bar (they use it for the Corner Bar Comedy Club on weekends), so we
won’t have to worry about noise levels like we did at the Town Hall
Brewery.

For this first Pub Gathering at our new location, we’ll be joined by several representatives from Minnesota Atheists. The theme for discussion is "Why I am an atheist."
This is NOT a debate. We aren’t pitting an athiest against a believer
to see who argues better. The evening is an honest exploration of why
some atheists believe what they believe. The posture is to learn from
our atheistic friends, not to prove them wrong.

We’ll also be changing up our format. We’ll start with a few words
from a presenter, followed by some Q&A with the presenter, and then
we’ll have an open-ended time of discussion.

Invite your friends.  All are welcome.

Learning from Monasticism

April 18, 2006

Sorry for my sporadic posting…April is a busy month for me.  The good thing, however, is that once we hit May you won’t hear me spout so much about consumerism and the conference. 

An issue that comes up often with emerging types is figuring out how to work within exisisting structures.  Denominations and other structures offer money and resources for church plants and exisiting churches, but they unfortunately have certain values or bad habits institutionalized which can be counter-productive to certain emerging values. 

I tend to work from the margins of the systems of which I am a part.  Recently, however, a few friends have encouraged me to get more involved within the system.  If feels like one is forced to choose between gaining a voice within the system (which means taking on more and more institutionalized power and resources) or staying in the margins.  But is there a 3rd option?  Is it possible that different emerging approaches to church can exist within larger systems as monastic orders existed and exist within the Catholic Church?  Perhaps the best way forward within denominational systems is for denominations to create alternative space for new approaches without fully embracing these new approaches nor squelching them.  What would this look like?  How should funding and networking exist for emerging churches within denominational systems?  I’d like to hear how y’all manage doing new things withing established systems. 

Ron Sider Interview

April 16, 2006

To all you Twin Citizens: tune in tomorrow, April 17th, at 4PM for an interview with Ron Sider on AM980 KKMS.  This is a promotional interview for the Conference on Christianity in a Consumer Culture.

Christianity in a Consumer Culture Interviews

April 14, 2006

All ye Twin Citizens tune in…

Monday, April 17th at 4PM:
An Interview with Ron Sider on AM980 KKMS’s Live! with Jeff & Lee

Wednesday, April 19th at 5PM:
An Interview with me and Robert Osburn (Executive Director of the MacLaurin Institute) on AM980 KKMS’s Live! with Jeff & Lee

Wednesday, April 26th at 1PM:

An Interview with me and Robert Osburn (Executive Director of the MacLaurin Institute) on AM900 KTIS’s Along the Way with Kim Jeffries

Funding a Matthew 25 Church

April 12, 2006

Earlier today, as I was catching up on my blog reading, I read the following from Sam Rima, a professor at Bethel Seminary, in regards to Matthew 25:31-46:

Then he will summon the sheep and say, "Come, you who are blessed by my
Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
world." And the basis of this selection is how the sheep treated the hungry, thirsty, alienated, naked, sick, and imprisoned
people of the world. It is not a passage we hear preached much in our
churches today; and no wonder, it is quite convicting. Jesus seems to
be saying that how we deal with the marginalized of the earth is a true
reflection on our relationship with him. It is a sobering standard of
true spirituality. And yet, for how many of our churches is this a
PRIMARY concern? Do we see as our primary mission on earth Loving Jesus
by genuinely loving and engaging with the hungry, thirsty, alienated,
naked, sick, and imprisoned people of the world? What will it take to
reorient the evangelical Church to this revolutionary standard? What
can each of us do to help reorient our own community of faith and give
leadership to a vibrant, church-wide ministry to "the least of these"
among us?  Any ideas or thoughts?

Below is my response, which I posted on his blog, followed by a few questions of my own.

Read more

Join us for the Twin Cities Emergent Gathering Thursday

April 8, 2006

On Thursday, the Twin Cities Emergent Cohort will be discussing the future of denominations.  Many inside (and outside) the emerging church have eagerly anticipated the demise of the denomination.  Others believe a vital role can be played.  Please join us this Thursday, April 13th at 9pm at O’Gara’s on Snelling Avenue and Selby. 

I think we’ll have some good conversations.  In addition to the regular group of folks (who come from various denominational backgrounds), I’m bringing my applied ecclesiology class (we’re leaving early to go on a "field trip" to the cohort meeting).  Most of my students are from the free church traditions, but we do have some from mainline backgrounds as well.

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