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Monday, June 26, 2006


It's hot, humid and smells like a sneeze.

How I love LA.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


I've been a total hobo-blogger. (and no one called me on it, come on people)

I'll get to some stuff this week.

Topic posibilities: (don't count on anything)

General Assembly related issues.

Urban vs Suburban churches

Post Minnesota thoughts

Random musings about howler monkies

The health benifits of foot cream

Reasons why I love Traders Joe's

A vlog

or maybe even an update to the Ghetto Blog

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I am home.

After a pretty relaxing day, spent first with meeting with the pastor over at Knox pres, I hung around the Barnhill's house hanging with the kids and relaxing. Then finally I got myself to the airport and since I knew I was going to be at the airport for quite some time, I had pre-paid for entrance to the "lounge" for Northwest airlines. Basically it's for first class members and there is free everything. Free wi-fi, free snacks, free drinks (all kinds)(cha-ching!) and a nice relaxed atmosphere. There was a dress code explained on the website as "business attire" so I did the whole shirt and tie routine, but there were people far under that standard, so I dressed up for nothing. And right before the flight I was able to catch up with JR who was on the same flight as I and we had a great conversation.

The plane was supposed to leave at 9p but we got delayed an hour so I ended up getting in 40 min late, and then on top of that the bus I took from LAX to my car ran into traffic at 12:30a, only on the 405 and only in LA.

I finally got home sometime after 2a. Boy I was quite tired. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MN update 11 

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Here is what I remember of the last day. I must note that my memory is fading fast as I am quite depleted of any mental strength at this time.

If I have missed something in my own recollection please check out Jamie's blog and this entry as he has written about the day as well.

After we finished talking about the emergent women's issue (see update 9), we moved on to the not-quite-so-interesting topic of finances. Which isn't my favorite thing to talk about, though I realize that it is an important and necessary topic to cover. As Emergent Village becomes more and more established as a corporation and a non-profit group it is a given reality that funds need to be sought and raised. Whether this is a good thing or not is an entirely different conversation. Basically as most any organization does, there is a need for greater financial support. The bottom line is the more money we get the more things we can do. Not only on the smaller levels but also on the national levels. While some may think that the organizational aspect may lead towards a divergence from some of the non-structured ideals that are present within the emergent ethos, it may in fact feel somewhat like compromising values or selling out, but if we really want emergent to reach a good number of people we definitely need to begin to think in realistic ways of how to make that happen. Granted I, myself did have somewhat of an uneasy feeling as we were talking but for the average person who is involved in Emergent Village and cohorts it shouldn't have too great of an effect on them. Emergent Village is still about fostering conversation and building relationships, it is not about paying for membership into a club, it is still relational and friendship based. So do not be put off, give if you are able, but do not feel obligated.

Other than the lengthy conversation of the direction of finances, it moved almost seamlessly into conversation about Tony and his job as national coordinator. I will take this time to basically affirm Tony for all the hard work he does in order for Emergent Village to continue to be a robust amalgamation of people who are in love with following Jesus. Thank you Tony for everything you do.

At lunch time I was invited to participate in a discussion/planning meeting about what we can call Mainline Emergent. For those of us who come from mainline backgrounds, we will be working in conjunction with mainline institutions to help the conversation move in the direction of systems that generally seem somewhat closed to the conversation. The good news is that more and more we are finding people who are involved in mainline churches, but wanting to be a part of the emergent conversation. We hope to be the bridge to these people and these conversations. More in the months to come on this topic. But I was fortunate enough to sit with some great people who all share the same vision as me, for introducing emergent themes into mainline churches, so that the church might be open to a well rounded aspect of worship, life, spirituality. All that to say that Emergent Village is not "mad", "upset", "vicious" towards the mainlines. One of the greatest comments I heard all week was that every single person in the room has the mainlines to thank for the place that we are at now. Almost every person in one way or another had experience in the mainlines that led them to the place that they are now.

Lastly we finished off the day and the meeting over all with some vibrant conversation about the dreams for Emergent Village, in regards to the possibility of doing a large even in 2008. I will not go into detail here about what was discussed, people came to this conversations with a myriad of ideas and hopes. Nothing was completely resolved or set in stone. The topic is a big one including trying to discern how we can have the foresight to know what is the best for 2008. Just know that no matter what happens between now and then, a lot of smart, good, Jesus-loving people are thinking hard about what to do.

It was hard to say goodbye to so many people that even if at the beginning of our conversations were strangers, we were now intimately connected to in one way or another. The great hope is that we will see each other again and continue living a life of community together acknowledging what God story is running through the veins of our lives.

Thank you to Solomon's Porch and Doug Pagitt for hosting us for the week. Thank you to Tony Jones for your leadership and friendship. Thank you to my fellow coordinating group members as it was amazing to sit and soak in your presence and gifts. I enjoyed meeting many of you and am sorry that there was not enough time to connect with everyone. Blessings until we meet again. Or feel free to email me and we will continue many unfinished conversations.

MN update 10 

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Well the meetings ended yesterday afternoon and sorry I didn't get a chance to post about the rest of yesterday. I do have some things to share about most of the topics covered. And I do have a list of a number of the blogs of people who were there. I will try later today when I have a bit more time than now to sit down and fully try and put some final general observations about the few days down. And then later this week (most likely next week) I will try and do some really hard and thoughtful consideration about some of the issues.

So you can probably expect one or two more MN updates, and then we will return to our regularly scheduled (or un-scheduled) blogging about other things.

Thanks to all of you who have stopped by this week and who have been following what was going on. I would love to hear thoughts, reflections, questions, and anything else you would like share. And I also will leave you with an open invitation to continue discussion and sharing in the comments on any of these posts or upcoming ones as well.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MN update 9 

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Good morning everyone!!
It's the last day of the emergent village coordinating group, and over the course of the day we will be seeing people go so the crowd will start to dwindle and say their goodbyes.

Although it's not over yet, it has been an amazing time meeting people, hearing their stories, knowing their hearts and knowing that we are a community of people that are often spread by distance and situations, but in this time together we exhibited the characteristics of a true family, loving each other and being willing to care for one another in many real and genuine ways.

This morning we have a few items on the agenda, the current one being of gender issues in the emergent village. Elizabeth Potter who is heading up a growing number of women who are asking questions about the place of women in emergent as well as the larger scope of ministry. Our community this morning is being willing to sit and listen to each other in an opportunity to be able to support the ideas and thoughts of many of the people present. This discussion is also closely tied to the issues of racial diversity, but we can save that for later.

But even though we are the emergent village and are trying to be people who are progressive and holistic, we still deal with these issues, but that's just part of who we are.

I don't know if I can encapsulate the feeling of this discussion, but there may be other thoughts out there about this. If I find any I'll post the links.

Monday, June 12, 2006

MN update 8 

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After we had wrapped up our "meeting" portion of the day we were all invited over to Tony Jones' house for some dinner, conversation and business. It was a totally unstructured time of getting to know people and enjoying one's company.

It was so enjoyable to get to talk to people hear their stories, share mine, our lives and our love for God and doing God's work in the world in so many different manifestations. I got a chance to fully talk with a lot of people and really started forming relationships. And to those of you who were there and read this and I talked to, I truly value you and the conversations we had, I enjoyed being able to meet you on a Jesus level and share in pain, joy, hope and life.

In essence, this is what emergent village is all about. Being a village of people who love Jesus and who love each other as Jesus loves us. I truly felt I was a part of this community that is gathered for a few days, many of us not knowing each other, but the fact that we desire greatly to see faith and God expressed in the world today in some amazing ways. If we could put just these stories down on paper and publish them, I think it would be an encouragement to anyone who has faith and wants to know where God is and how he's working in people's lives. It was clearly evident tonight as we ate in a backyard in the middle of Edina, Minnesota. This will for sure be my highlight of the entire trip, the new friendships and the old ones, all in harmonious convergence and resonance.

Not to mention the abundance of wine was good too. Thank you all for being exactly who God made you to be.

PS to Julie for her rousing karaoke. The smile has yet to leave my face.

MN update 7 

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Today we discussed many of the "internal" issues of emergent village (yes that's the NEW/official way we are going to refer to Emergent) and in light of the discussion about things to come and some other things, I was not as participatory and did not take many notes. That is not to say that emergent village is trying to be secretive in any way, and I do not, will not, have not officially spoken for emergent village, so please take these accounts as my personal accounts and not use them to "define" or "measure" emergent village as/by.

One thing that I'm excited for as I mentioned in the last post was the new emergent village website that is coming sometime in the future. There was much discussion about how emergent village wants to portray ourselves when people come looking for information about emergent village or wishes to participate more fully within the conversation. Those groups and conversations that we had today were great in the sense that while we disagreed on a few things the general consensus was that it is definitely important to maintain a sense that everyone is invited to be a part of community both on-line and more importantly off-line face to face with other people working through issues that arise.

We also spent a fair amount of time talking about emergent village's upcoming/current relationship with publishers and how that effects the stream of things. Bottom line, expect some good books, from emergent thinkers in academics/theology, church life (think for people working at churches) and then also general christian spirituality books. It should be great to read through these resources and view where people's minds are going.

One of the other things that we discussed that I think warrants mention is a topic that was brought to us by Dwight Friesen about scale-free networks and their relation to church and the operation of faith communities. Long conversation short, is that with the naming of this social organizational pattern somewhat forces us to re-evaluate how we are to be most effective if we hold a position that desires to keep fluidness and authority in the hands of many instead of in the hands of few or one.

This may be something that I look at more in depth post-gathering. So you may in the few weeks be asked to discuss this further.

It was a long day and very taxing on the mind to have conversations over the course of a few hours that could probably take place over a year or years.

MN update 6 

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Right now Tim Bednar of echurch.com is speaking with us about the digital future of emergent village the site is going under heavy re-construction. The hope is that the website is going to be a hub for people to connect, gain information and find resources. Tech and church have been something that people have either been really interested in or really afraid of.

A lot of the discussion has revolved around people entering into the conversation as well as trying to figure out the best ways to present information to a lot of people. It is a long discussion and will be interesting to see what the final product will be once the site is up and running (don't know when yet). But most importantly this is something that needs to be addressed and I'm glad that I'm able to sit in a room with so many people who need to be involved in this conversation and will be able to distinctly shape the future of what this will come to be.

Note: Once again all these posts and thoughts are on the fly and they cannot and will not fully capture the essence of what is happening. It is just as fast as I can type, as I try to coherently document and re-iterate what is going on here for those who are not able to be here and be a part of the conversation. My email is on the left if anyone wants to contact me, since we are connected, I may be able to respond in real time.

MN update 5 

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The start of day 2.

We are just starting to gather and we are being blessed by Ryan and Holly Sharp sharing their gifts of song and worship. What a blessing to have such gifts amongst this group.

Don't know how much time there is going to be to process all that is going on but aside from taking notes I'll try and do some thinking and processing and applying the many different ideas and thoughts that will be surging through my head these next few days.

Well...more to come later.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

MN update 4 

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Here are some un-edited (slightly random and incoherent) notes from tonight's meeting (1st session). There are plenty of amazing people here and I'm excited to get to know them , share life with and fellowship with over the next few days. If we complie a list, I'll try and get it up.

Otherwise these notes skip around a lot and don't come anywhere near covering everything we talked about, shared, dreamnt, and prayed about. So please excuse the mess and if you need clarification please ask and I will do my best to clarify the situation. Many of the ideas may not make any sense or contridict each other, but please note that this is a very diverse group of people who probably agree on less than 3 things in total. But we all love Jesus and want to dialogue together and that is the point, it is not to all agree or sway each other, but to be with one another.

Mainline discussion topic, in terms of understanding the "hybridness" of emergent vs the understanding of at least a curious notion from mainline denominations. How do we begin to have discussions that move beyond curiosity and move to places of actualization without completely disrupting the already existing structure of denominational churches.

General note: that when we discuss many topics that we need to make sure we clarify how, what, who, when, anything when it comes to the discussion, assume nothing when we understand this is a broad conversation.

The shift has occurred over the past few years in terms of emergent that there is now a larger contingency of people who represent a mainline denominational stance instead of the majority being from evangelical tradition who is willing to stand out side of convention.

The emergent conversation is based on the fact that we continually need to break down barriers and walls and boxes that hold us to a certain understanding of church and its forms.

There seems to be a need to actively seek out ways to make sure that we are continuing to welcome people into the conversation and also at the same time be trying to help people deal with the "grief" stage and then also to start/catch up to the re-construction stage that is seen not as negative and more for understanding how to build/live out this intentional way of Jesus.

The movement isn't necessary a linear object, we possibly need to look at the understanding in a non-linear fashion.

The "how" is the next part of the "organizational" point of order, everyday we encounter people who are in a different place in terms of their interest in being a part of the conversation. Do we need to set up structures/people who are willing to be facilitators/a place where people can come first when entering the conversation.

Defining emergent in a functional way instead of as an identity. The collection of emergent is based on the fact that these people who are involved with the practices instead of just trying to sit around and define what it means to be emergent.

Identity is an issue, we struggle to find the difference between items that identify us as "emergent" vs being in relationship with people who are discussing ideas that are similar to each other.

Emulation in the emerging church is not the point, how then do we foster discussions about what it means to live out a missional life of Jesus within a community of people, how do we train/engage people to not see emergent as something to do, but something to engage with, especially engaging with Jesus for today's world.

Seeing conversations as starters to connect people with other people who are willing to discuss the ideas and challenges that surround the current situations that people are dealing with inside of a church community.

We have an obligation to do something from these few days, we cannot look at this as a mere network opportunity, there are too many gifted people at this gathering to not have some big things happen. These things can be anything and everything in terms of the sky is the limit.

How do we as a group make sure we are focused on the things that are culturally significant and being focused on a direction to be headed instead of just trying to discern identity and semantics.

There is a call to expand diversity not only to race, but other people outside of the pastor realm.

Emergent could quite possibly become a hub for training, resources, and other items that allow people to engage more heavily and deeply which is based on relationships but also is supported by books and events.

An idea that through an umbrella structure we birth ideas and event, but are not completely responsible for seeing them through, the growth and application is from those who choose to pick them up and go with them.

The power is transferred to the people instead of taking credit for the ideas and structures.

A collective energy of those who are wanting to make a difference, harnessing this energy to help start, propel structures and programs that will make a difference in the global community.

MN update 3 

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I got to worship at Solomon's Porch this evening. Let me just say it was amazing. Probably never before had I felt the actual anticipation there was for how Christ was going to intersect our lives before we even got started.

It was an amazing gathering and has spoiled me for life. I'm now doomed to groan and complain.

I did really enjoy seeing the whole operation in action. Doug is a great leader and the community is clearly involved and cares for each other. Though for the sermon time Doug surprised us and asked the 30-40 emergent leaders to host their own "mini-sermon". It totally caught me off guard and I questioned my gifts and whether or not I had anything of value to share with this community. It turned out to be quite an amazing experience. I was totally encouraged and felt a surge of the spirit while I shared how God had been directing me and the things I was involved in, in my life in ministry.

There are parts of me that would move here just to be part of this community. But I know God has other plans for me.

If you ever get a chance to spend time with this community or are looking for a church in the minneapolis community, please stop by.

MN update 2 

Here's update 1

Well I finally met up with Lilly after a while. I'm now at the house of Carla and Jim Barnhill a couple of people from the Solomon's Porch community. After I went to church I wondered around for a while and got a drink, and then spent some time walking around (mind you this is with a big backpack and a bag with my computer and stuff, which I think weighs more than my bag with my clothes), I ended up at a park while I waited for Lilly to call me, and even took a little nap on a park bench. But all is well and fine now. I pretty sure there's wi-fi at Solomon's, so I may be able to do some live blogging from the service, but I can't say for sure.

Anyways, it was good to get a nap in and now it's even better to be able to sit in a real chair that's not a park bench, plane seat, patio furniture, or other uncomfortable seating arrangement.

Well more to come later.

BKing IT 

I made it to minneapolis, I did manage to get about 2 hours worth of sleep on and off. Mind you it was coach and my butt fell asleep multiple times and every time I woke up it didn't feel like I got more than 5 min of sleep at a time.

It's now 7:10a here, and you may be wondering how the heck is he blogging. Is he still at the airport? Nope.

I caught the light rail from the airport to the place where I'm supposed to catch a bus. I only over looked the fact that on Sundays the line that I need to ride on starts service at 8:15a and it may not exactly get me to where I need to go. That's all part of the adventure. Back to where I'm blogging from. I would have never expected this in minneapolis, maybe San Fran, and I know there aren't any that I know of in LA. But I'm at a BURGER KING!!! All hail the king.

I got me a croissan'wich and hashbrown nuggets and a cup of joe. I'm set for the morning until I can make it to the church that I'm visiting this morning then I should be able to meet up with Lilly for some lunch.

Well more to come later. That is if there are wi-fi spots at other burger kings in the city.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Starting at 12:30a on Sunday June 11th I will be out of town for a few days.

I get to go to Minnesota (no fargo jokes), to hang with a bunch of Emergent folks. We're getting together to have some discussion and fellowship over the course of a few days. We are fortunate enough to be hosted by Solomon's Porch and will be worshipping with their community Sunday night. Since my flight gets in at 6am on Sunday and I don't have to be anywhere until 5 pm, I think I'm going to try and visit another church in the area, thank to the interweb, I was able to locate a presbyterian church nearby, so look out Knox Presbyterian church, I'm coming to meet you.

Other than that I'm really looking forward to the time, it's gonna be nice to get away for a few days as well as meet some new people. Here's a short list of some people that I know of (mostly through blogs) that I'm excited to meet.

Jamie Arpin-Ricci

Nanette Sawyer

Mark Scandrette

Doug Pagitt

And then there's always old friends like Lilly Lewin and Tony Jones

And last I heard Scot McNight might be able to make it, it would be cool to meet him if he does.

I may or may not be blogging while I'm there, I don't know about getting internet, but I do know I'll have things to share when I'm done, as well as John as asked me "to come up with my own church" so those thoughts are in the works about what I'd value in starting a church.

Stayed tuned folks and hope you have a good week.

I'll be back late Wed or early Thurs.

Friday, June 09, 2006

nooma 13 

In case you haven't heard that the newest NOOMA is now available. It's called rich and I was fortunate enough to see a preview of it last fall, here's my blog entry from then.

And if you haven't heard Rob is going on "tour" this summer in what he's calling the Everything is Spiritual Tour. I'm going, so I hope you'll join me either July 5th or 6th.


Ok I've updated the links on the Alexi post, so you can now listen to the performance and watch the video.

And since it's friday I thought I'd leave you with a number of interesting links for you to follow. They are on a varying different array of topics but they are fun.

Interesting internet story about a stolen sidekick. (In progress, the web page is only like 2 days old)

Stupid LeftBehind videogame, cool/funny review.

These guys take diet coke + mentos TO THE MAXXX they even got npr coverage.

Feel free to leave anything interesting you've found lately.

6-10-06 12:57a
5 words
Ask A Ninja Dot Com

Thursday, June 08, 2006


You know that little button between the play and stop button on the remote.

Here lies the question for my life, my ministry, my understanding.

In pause, we live with the options of going forward, staying put or going back. As I think about my situation and ministry I am at a juncture. I have deliberately paused some things in order to take scope of the situation. Parts of me wants to spend time looking to the future, preparing, thinking, dreaming, trying to better understand where I am headed. Then there's the part of me that feels I should use the time to focus on the present, the still image burning itself into the screen. Should I take time to study it, dissect it, ponder it, stare in awe at the intricacies? Or should I take it back a few frames and try and understand how we got to the point that we are at?

I think all three are important, but the problem is that I can't do all three at the same time.

The past allows me to gain a grasp on what has shaped me. What mistakes and lessons are to be learned from my experiences, further shaping the future and giving insight to the current situation. We cannot live our lives and be involved within our ministries if we are not aware of our pasts.

The present, is where we are. It is the here and now. Too often being caught up in the present can consume us and overwhelm us. When we are so wrapped up in the present we are unable to see anything else. Where is the balance of being self aware, but also being aware of the crack in the sidewalk right in front of us. Though being in the present allows us to stop and notice the things around us. The sun, the light, the air, the smell of a flower the conversation we are having. All these things are a result of being willing to live in the present. We cannot live our lives without being willing to notice the things around us.

The future, a place that is concrete and fluid all in the same. We are capable of grasping this place in our minds but never sure of what it will be once we get there. It is a place of hope and dreams. Fears and unknown. It is and can be anything at all. It is the place that helps us escape the vivid realities of today and the hauntings of the past. If we are not willing to embrace the unknown then we are doomed to be subject to the flailing of the winds. The winds will always be coming but we can at least be prepared and not caught completely off guard.

These last few months I have struggled in understanding which portion of my life to undertake. As I continue to move forward in my learning about ministry and the life of the church, I am in need of guidance on how to best make use of my time and my efforts. There are so many desires and trains of thought running through my head these days. As I contemplate my role as pastor, as my role in the midst of human relationships, as my understanding of the future of youth ministry, of the future of my current ministry, and of the future of the church as a whole. In some ways there is more that I am curious about than I am capable of having a part in. Many of them I have just started to immerse myself in, the time may come soon, where I am forced to make some hard decisions about where my efforts can continue.

I hope you will continue to be with me as I try and discern which direction my life and ministry are headed. I am fortunate to know that this journey is much like my walk in faith, as God is directing me in unfamiliar ways and paths, but as long as my trust remains in him and his love, my path will be true and right.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


As I'd mentioned before, Alexi Murdoch's
album finally came out this past tuesday.

His original EP Four Songs launched him to fame, yet we waited a long two years before his first official album was finally released.

Time Without Consequence
is a great mix of new songs and newer versions of many of the songs (well 3 of 4) from the EP.

If you haven't heard him live, that's the best way to do it. So be sure to tune into KCRW tomorrow morning at around 11:15-11:20 as he'll be live on Morning Becomes Ecletic. (I'll post the links to the archives of audio and video when they are up).
listen (it's a quicktime file) go here if you want other options
watch (you need real player to watch)

And go out and pick up this album.

And if you are going to be in LA on Monday June 12th (which I won't and I'm totally sad) head down to the Hotel Cafe and see him live.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


My friend Rachelle (pronounced Rachel) and her car got a boo-boo today. Looks like the car got it worse than she did. She's got a bit of a big headache and some bumps but she'll be ok. Prayers for her would be appreciated. Thanks!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

AIDS pt 2 

pt 1

Today my prayers are for those who have died from AIDS.

Those who are suffering with AIDS.

And anyone who's life is now different because of AIDS.

Lord, hear our prayers.

Friday, June 02, 2006

AIDS - 25 years 

AIDS has been around for everyday of my 25 years minus 4 months and 4 days.

June 5th marks the 25th anniversary of AIDS being an official disease.

It is staggering to think about the rapid growth of this preventable disease. It affects millions upon millions of people around the world, threatening to wipe out entire generations and nations.

There is no one who would argue that this isn't a problem. According to some news stories that I've been hearing this week, despite billions of dollars being spent each year in hopes of trying to find a cure, this disease continues to flourish, due to ignorance and irresponsibility.

Are we as a church doing all we can to live out the mission to minister to the sick, the poor, and the outcasts? There are a few easily identified groups in today's modern world that have taken the place of the lepers and the lame. Easily we can identify the outcast as the homosexuals and the victims of AIDS.

Yes we have come very far in the acceptance and education of the AIDS virus. But we still have a long way to go, especially in our response as Christians.

I'm not saying that it is an easy subject to tackle, but I think it is something that we need to be more involved with. Not to mention injustice, the poor and others, but this post is about AIDS.

When is the last time you heard a sermon about the Christian response to those who live daily with AIDS? Or what we as a congregation can do to start to care for and love those who suffer with AIDS?

Do we really even care?

Or would we rather turn a blind eye and remain comfortable with our lives and our "problems" that seem insignificant when we hold them up to the children in Africa with no parents living day to day wondering when the disease is going to take them away.

Has the time come when our mission trips should be less focused on "spreading the gospel" and more on taking care of those who have no one to care for them?

In a way I think the gospel is more affectively spread through our care of those who cannot care for themselves, as opposed to talking about Christ. When we become Christ and imitate his actions, his voice becomes louder and stronger than any disease or condition.

It may be time to send people by the thousands to Africa and Asia and other 3rd world countries with education and awareness about AIDS.

In my mind I find it possible to eradicate AIDS within my lifetime, without drugs and vaccines. This will only happen if more people, especially Christians, step up to the call to be lights into a darkness that is symbolized by 4 letters.

If we are a christocentric nation then shouldn't the concerns of Jesus be the concerns of our country? While they may not be doing things in the name of Christ, I am grateful for the few celebrities and high profile people willing to draw attention and awareness to this crisis.

We live in an era where there are new crises every few month, from new natural disasters to threats of biological and nuclear war, preventable diseases take a back seat to the things that rear their heads louder than the soft, faint cries of those who have no voice left to cry out.

If it were possible I could see myself spending large amounts of time in impoverished nations, working to help stop the spread of AIDS and educate those who are aware of the problem, but do not know enough to be responsible about the situation.

It is my hope that this generation of Christians will become more and more critical and discontented with the current situation of Christians. I hope we will be a generation that will live out the calls of Christ to give up everything and spend time with the least of these.

My prayer today is:
God we seek your face, we desire to hear your voice. We turn to pastors, academics, theologians and anything else that attracts our attention. Help us to find you in the face of the small, the weak, the sick, the dying. Draw us spiritually and physically to those places where your presence is the greatest. Bring us to the dirt, the slums, the shanties and the dark places of the world, so that we may bring your light. Not through words and camps and conferences, but through the basic act of love and care. Speak to us in your quiet voice, let us stop long enough to hear it. Be with us as we journey into the unknown, carry us when we do not know the way. Let our love for you, be expressed to those who you reside in.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Is church growth something to be desired or is it something that "happens"?

I'm not sure if this question is a theological one or a practical one.

When we look at scripture we hear from Jesus, go and make disciples, and we see from the work of the 12 that early church growth was bountiful.

Though when we look at the idea of how to minister to people we come across a few differnt idealoligies. One being that we should actively seek growth because of what we are doing as a church body. Meaning that we are actively seeking ways to grow the numbers of people who are commited to a church body, not because numbers matter, but because it is the command of Jesus that we should include as many people as possible in ministry. The other idea being that we need not worry about growth (numerically speaking), but that we should be concerned with the people who are already a part of our ministry situation. Our focus is not on how to attract people and how to best minister to them, but a true contentment with the people who are already there and doing what is necessary to help them best develop spiritually. Growth in this secnario is subsquent to the fact that we are doing quality work, that leads to the people involved in the ministry to draw others into as well, but that is not the primary goal of the ministry.

I come from the latter camp. Taking after such people as the late Mike Yaconelli's vision of "the slowest growing church in America" and after Rob Bell's attitude of doing things for the sake of Christ and anything that happens otherwise is a blessing.

Taking an example of Rob's Church, Mars Hill in Michigan, he recounts the beginning of his church in the book Velvet Elvis.
We started a church in Grand Rapids, Michigan...Please realize that to this day I have never read a book on church planting or church growth or been to a seminar on how to start a church. I remember being told that a sign had been rented with the church name on it to go in front of the building where we were meeting. I was mortified and had them get rid of it. You can't put a sign out front, I argued; people have to want to find us. And so there were no ads, no flyers, no promotions, and no signs...And the strangest thing happened: People came on the first Sunday.
Rob goes on to explain that the first sunday there were over 1000 people there and that over the next few months the people kept coming and coming, and to top it all off he was teaching from the book of Leviticus for the first year.

Mars Hill is a prime example of where growth was not a focus but Jesus was, and because of this it grew. Then we have Mike Yaconelli's church, which for the years that he pastored it remained around 30 or so people. And he was fine with it. Growth for Mike was anchored in the lives of the people who were entrusted to him. When I read stories of the people in Mike's church, they are spiritually developed, not in a "I have every answer" or a "purpose driven kind of way", but in the sense that they are willing to be transparent with their brokenness and their need for God and eachother. These people have hearts for the poor, the weak and for each other. They are well matured people of faith, who have been lead to growth by their pastor.

My view of minsitry is that no matter how many people show up, I am happy, I am just glad to be with them and share my love of Jesus with them. If 2 show up or if 100 show up, to me it doesn't matter. If my ministry was to remain at 5 for 3 years I would like not to stop and think why we have not grown numerically. I would stop and see where God has led us. I would ask if these indiviuals were more in love with Jesus than they were 3 years ago.

I don't think that either the seek growth or don't seek it way of doing church is bad. I just have to wonder if the two theologies can co-exist. Will the pressures of either one, create conflict about the way we do minsistry? Or will the two be able to find the value in the other and affirm and support eachother?

If my minsitry was to take off in growth I would hope that the reasons behind it would not be active seeking of growth, but a true desire to authentically minister to those who are present. And because of this reason the particpants would want to draw others into this minsitry.

I don't know if I've adequately expressed my thoughts here. My words fail me in describing the push and pull of growth within churches.

We cannot deny that Jesus desires his church to grow and flourish. I do question the motives that we hold for wanting church growth. And I acknowledge the differences in methods, but I resign myself not to actively seek growth but allow it to happen not of my doing, but as a result of my deep desire to help people know God and live with him in their daily lives.