Thursday, March 26, 2009

dying for a fix

after good mindjobbing with Jvo, J, and Lori we've decided to focus on the idea of "dying for a fix" this easter.

it's cool: fix refers to "fixing the world + us people", and it also has some kind of addict-connotation...as if jesus is addicted to healing the world

which, of course, he is

and - if we love him - we are too

and not just healing injustice (though that is critically important), but healing we who are unjust

so we must die to ourselves in order to fix our marriages, our relationships, our finances, our children, our vocations, our spirituality, etc.

dying for a fix...

yup - i diggit

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

from "Four Quartets" by TS Eliot

In order to arrive there -

to arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
you must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.

In order to arrive at what you do not know
you must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.

In order to possess what you do not possess
you must go by the way of dispossession.

In order to arrive at what you are not
you must go through the way in which you are not.

...

now the Word had fallen silent
and the water had run dry

the bread had all been broken
and the light had left the sky

the flock had lost its shepherd
and the seed was sadly sown

the courtiers had betrayed their king
and nailed him to his throne

o sabbath rest of Calvary
o calm of tomb below

where the grave-clothes and the spices
cradle him we did not know

rest you well, beloved Jesus
caesar's lord and israel's king

in the brooding of the spirit
in the darkness of the spring

single greatest idea ever

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jvo and I @ science fiction museum

"you've gotta do a better job of getting it out there"

these were len's famous (and formative) words to Jvo and I on Orcas Island.  He was super-complimentary about the winds - told us that there was no one doing the stuff we were doing, that we were underestimating our potential for impact, etc - but he nailed us for doing such a poor job of resourcing the church.

he said that the purpose of R & D isn't just to experiment, but to provide models of experiments that others can replicate.

A + for experimentation

C+ for modeling and replication

it was a very important conversation for Jvo and I to have together with Len (yesterday am over breakfast), because we both get really nervous about being self-aggrandizing.

His advice?  

"Get over it...your job is to carve new paths, and you have to tell people what works for you and why or else you're just working too hard for a local church that probably doesn't fully understand how significant this truly is."

wow.

p.s. that "quote" above was really more a smashing-together of a 15minute manifesto...which we're both still processing :) 

home...finally!

got home around 7am this morning from my 13 day trip to the pacific northwest.  

all told, i read 18 books, 
attended 2 conferences and 7 services from 4 very different churches, 
met about 2 dozen new friends in ministry of very like-mind to the winds, 
was able to get together with 3 very significant spiritual voices in my life (rob, paul, rob d) and thank them for their influence, 
spent 3 days with mom and dad and 2 days with len sweet and jvo.

so...i'm a little tired :)

the trip was very good, though, and i feel like i've come away with 4 or 5 big things that will ultimately shape the future of the winds - not in huge-right-hand-turn kinds of ways, but in renewed emphases and sharpened insights, etc.

anyway - i'm happy to be home and especially to be with my kids

thanks you, god!

last of the trip reading

finished resurrection by eugene peterson - again, this was a great book...devotional, but still thought provoking

resurrection: history and myth, by geza vermes - this guy is one bitter, secular, jewish bible scholar...the book has good info, but the tone is a bit much to take all at once

resurrection: the power of god for christians and jews, by jon levinson and kevin madigan - solid book that takes an excellent beginner's look into jewish apolcalytic and the history of belief in a literal bodily resurrection

twilight, by stephanie myers - my guilty pleasure on the red eye flight home

fan the flame, by rob decotes - rob was a very important voice to me as a young pastor...he introduced me to the contemplative life, deconstructed the "magic" of church growth and really taught me how to pray...he has a sequel that i bought for lori (she tends toward the contemplative, i think)

resurrection: interpreting the easter gospel, by rowan williams - this is dry (dry as a banana pancake in the sahara), but he has some really great thoughts...though, i'll admit, i tend to despair when there's such a huge emphasis on justice without any commensurate emphasis on discipleship

city of god (book 1), by st.augustine - i read this as a refresher...there's a young guy at the winds who's expressed interest in historical theology and he'd read book 1 before i left.  maybe this will give us something to talk about

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

how can i keep from singing?

after spending a few hours with my friends paul and heidi yesterday, paul called me with one more thought. see, we'd talked a lot about the high failure rate in ministry - and particularly about how our own lives had been harmed by pastors who'd refused to stick to the straight and narrow - so his final thought, from an old quaker hymn, was quite touching:


when friends, from shame, are undefiled
how can i keep from singing?

"how can i keep from singing?"

Fantastically encouraging day

Had a great breakfast with mum and dad, then coffee with my friend rob teasdale - we talked Jesus and finance - Lunch with dad at Earl's (just like old times) and then to visit Paul and Heidi Hughes - my model for remarkable intelligence coupled with devout faith and supernatural expectation - then (belated) birthday dinner with my family (including dwayne + staci + their kids), a hot tub with vince and dwayne, an 11pm showing of the international (complete with poutine and a polish sausage no less) and now home to read a little more on the resurrection-hope of second temple Judaism before bed.

Wow.

I miss my wife and kids :)

My time with Paul and heidi was particularly cool...had great conversation and was introduced to soaking prayer. we ended our time together with prayer for each other, which was special because we've all had our share of experiences in the last 4 years and are marked by them...in good ways...that sponsor thanksgiving together

I've said it many times: I feel blessed and happy and lucky in this life. God is so very good. I hope - with everything I have - that my children begin to see how specifically and acutely God works on our behalf.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

next set of books i've read

kingdom ministry, by john wimber...i'm on a john wimber kick right now, he thinks like i do and i feel like god is drawing me into a greater awareness of the spirit through him


experiencing the resurrection, by henry and mel blackaby...we've got a series upcoming on the resurrection so i'm reading a lot in that stream now. this one is only so-so.


renewing the mind, by casey treat...casey has his flaws, but his teaching on the importance of being taught and submitting yourself to scriptural understanding is first rate


the meaning of the city, by jaques ellul...this is undoubtedly one of the most complicated, yet meaningful, theology texts i've read in the last 2 years. i'll be re-reading this for the next decade (this trip was re-read #2).


remnant, by larry stockstill...i was given this book at the vision conference as a reminder to not screw up my life with sin. it's a quick read, written by the head of ted haggard's accountability team.


and i've just begun "living the resurrection" by eugene peterson, which - so far - is a fantastic read...i'm about 1/3 through and it feels really good

the coming evangelical collapse (reprint)

The coming evangelical collapse
An anti-Christian chapter in Western history is about to begin. But out of the ruins, a new vitality and integrity will rise.

By Michael Spencer
from the March 10, 2009 edition




Oneida, Ky. - We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.

Why is this going to happen?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.

What will be left?

•Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.

•Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

•A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches.

•The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision.

•Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.

•Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy.

•Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity?

•Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate. A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.

Is all of this a bad thing?

Evangelicalism doesn't need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral. But what about what remains?

Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches.

Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones.

The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing.

Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity.

Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.

Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success.

The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society." That doesn't mean they'll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a countercultural movement with a message of "empire subversion" will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement.

Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, "Christianity loves a crumbling empire."

We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.

We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.

I'm not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential?

• Michael Spencer is a writer and communicator living and working in a Christian community in Kentucky. He describes himself as "a postevangelical reformation Christian in search of a Jesus-shaped spirituality." This essay is adapted from a series on his blog, InternetMonk.com .

lots and lots and lots of church

i've been through a gauntlet of sorts this week...and it's been good. there's been so much input, though, i'm having some difficulty ensuring that i give God space to speak to me directly.

i feel like there's some change, or a surge of growth/preparation, that i am just now beginning to experience. i feel like god wants to do something new in my heart and i want to be open to that.

all my life i've felt like things could (and should) be different with church, and with the experience of believers and the spirit...i've always felt it should be different with me, too. the nature of that difference has sometimes eluded me - though, as i'm sure you can imagine, i have pages and pages and pages of notes and thoughts and curiosities about it in the back of all my bibles and every notebook i've even blinked at.

but really, any "differences" are only rhetorical so long as there are parts of my heart that are un-yielded to the spirit. and the more i give myself to him, the more i realize how much more there is to give.

so very much more.

so, yeah, i'm in a spiritual and intellectual wormhole right now but am also deeply confident god will bring me through this one like he has all the others. truer. sweeter. more full of grace and love.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reflecting on friendship

One of my lifelong failures concerns friendship. I form attachments fast - I become friends with people WAY before they begin considering me a friend.

While this may, at first, sound supercool on my part it's really not.

Because most people can't cope with the kind of friend I tend to be.

I tend to be curious despite long absences and ruthlessly sincere in all moments.

Anyway...I suppose the only reason I'm writing about this now is because I'm having a good time with my friends Vince and Deb...while also excited about seeing all my other friends in Van...and missing Jvo and the crew at the winds...and really missing my best and sexy friend Carmel.

PS don't be deceived: travel is not glamorous...hotels suck and restaurants all taste the same by day 4 :)

Of Course

Of course there's a bunch of weirdness and nonsense at this conference I'm at

Of course there is an unhealthy emphasis on money

Of course there is a severe imbalance towards tongues over and against the other gifts

Of course the teaching uses scripture in a at that will make most theologians uncomforable

Of course the my-church-is-bigger-than-your-church attitude feels like a pissing contest

Of course!

But...regardless of how they abuse it, I can't ignore that - in my life at least - the financial principle of sowing and reaping has always worked, been spiritually rewarding, and taught me to trust God more

But...for all their made-up teaching they do place a special emphasis on the importants of renewing your mind with the Word and I'd love to see that fostered in more of our people

But...their worship - while "vainglorious" at times - is concerned MOST with getting people into God's presence and keeping them there A LONG TIME

But...they do not coddle failure or tolerate stupidity in ministry - when u fail, they help u start again better

These guys are flawed - like us, tho maybe in different ways - but they're real

I watched all of the big wigs serve meals and deserts to pastors, eat last, take the leftovers, and spend time just talking with the small folk and it was pretty cool

I may not want to climb back into this stream of ministry, but I'm glad I've come because I'd remembered their flaws and forgotten all of their example

come dirty (tv spot for the winds)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Convicted...

...last night Kong Hee made an off-hand remark thAt the church is called to be a light to the world, not a light to orhar churches

And I was quite convicted

Truthfully, I don't spend a ton of time thinking about leading other churches by example or outdoing them or anything like that...but there is an expectation of the winds (both inside and out) to be on the leading edge

That's cool

That's part of our DNA, our story, our gift, etc

But I felt released from some of those expectations last night in a new way

That moment coincides with a recent conversation I had with Ben re the winds where he expressed a certain shock at my lack of deep concern for making sure ww was at the top of the creative church heap

But- there again - it's not being cool that truly drives me

I don't want to be a light to other churches

I don't want the winds to focus on being a light to other churches

I want to bring light to the world

I want more people to know Jesus better
I want more people to walk in closer step with the Spirit
I want more people to better obey the Father

I want the world to know that a better life is available, with a deep and meaningful joy available for all

Yup

That's what I'm after, and - God - please remind me of that higher calling everytime I let it slip

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Books I've read so far...

Ok...productive (and long) flight:

Christians t he cross, by NT Wright - good, but not great ...bit standard, really

The pastor as minor poet, by M Craig Barnes -good insight , well written, may recommend to Jvo

Zag, by marty neumeier - great, short, book on branding...should get staff and elders to read...but probably won't cause everyone is a little swamped now

The prodigal god, by tim Keller - I like him, but this book wasn't so hot

The way in is the way on, by john wimber - loved this ...cried on plane, but the strength of the book is more holism than sentiment...will re-read several times I think

Traveling again...

At DTW...feels like I just left the last time. Slept on the Michigan flyer, tho I probably shouldn't have...got lots of work to do on this trip and I'll need every spare minute.

I also have a couple of qiestions for god...questions I'm holding close to my chest about the nature of the Spirit and kingdom and resurrection and hope and failure and struggle and destiny and futility

Anyway...both kids cried when I left and I'm a bit sad. It's simply impossible to love them enough.