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Monday, June 12, 2006

MN update 5 

start a conversation...

update 1
update 2
update 3
update 4

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 

2 people having a conversation

update 1
update 2
update 3

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 

2 people having a conversation

update 1
update 2

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 

start a conversation...

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 

2 people having a conversation

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

going 

5 people having a conversation

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 

start a conversation...

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.


link-a-licious 

4 people having a conversation

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.

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


Thursday, June 08, 2006

pause 

4 people having a conversation

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

alexi 

1 person in the conversation

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).
UPDATE:
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

ouch 

1 person in the conversation

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 

4 people having a conversation

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 

7 people having a conversation

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.
Amen.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

inflate 

start a conversation...

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.