Monday, May 29, 2006

Henri Nouwen on Forgiving the Church

Dan Kimball @ Vintage Faith has this quote by Henri Houwen
"When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too.

The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.

It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer."
Henri Nouwen

Nouwen often speaks great truth.
Anyone who has been part of the church, has been wounded by the church at some point in their history - either that or they are lying. Because the church is not "over there" but people just like us - often weak, struggling, self-protective people who unintentionally hurt people - often because we are too busy building walls of protectionism. "The church" continues to talk about forgiveness... but does the church really practice and live out of and in forgiveness.? Apart from forgivness the church is impotent.

Obedient to Our Visions

If we were each obedient to our visions, the cities would have green spaces, birds in their trees, and architecture to quicken awareness of the divine life throbbing in the whole of the world. And the towns? The towns would have galleries to hold the works of their artists; theaters for the performing arts would spring up in their squares; scientists and poets would confer with each other; students would gather for debate and reflection, children would want to continue in life, and church congregations everywhere would be struggling “to make serious use of the wings the creator had given.” Everyone would know what it meant to be the servant of the Most High.
Elizabeth O’Connor, Each of Us Has Something Grand to Do
Link: Inward Outward

Saturday, May 27, 2006

life, love, law & the kingdom

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
One of the major claims of Jesus was that he came to give life and life to the full - abundant life; life overflowing; life that comes from and through God. He came to fill us with his presence, his life.

The story of freedom, grace and love that has drawn folks to the feet of Jesus has sometimes been translated by particular doctrines of the church into laws that people cannot bear; rules and regulations that oppress people and take life.

There’s talk about freedom and grace but many within the church seem to be blinded by the rules that one must adhere to or else run the risk of falling from this grace. To think that parts of the church hasn’t taken the command of love and life and turned it into a law of death and fear is denial.

For Jesus, love gives life. It is love of God, self and others that Jesus encouraged and demonstrated by his life’s example. That is the greatest command. Love sums up the whole law.

Jesus used some of his harshest words on religious leaders:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." Matthew 23:13
It is hard to draw near to God when one is trapped in law and religion. As Jesus' followers we are not the gatekeepers of the kingdom. To think that we are gatekeepers is to stand in opposition to Jesus' life and ministry like the religious authorities did.

Jesus has kicked open the doors to the Kingdom of God and all people are invited in. That's Good News. Evangelsim is pointing toward God's open door. He said I am the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through me.

In Christ, you have been set free, don’t allow yourself to become in bondage again with the yoke of slavery. Break free from the grip of religious legalism and run toward the open door. Jesus is there with his arms stretcheded-out wide to welcome you home. Jesus said, you are no longer slaves, now I call you my friends.


john o'keefe @ ginkworld
was watching "ghost whisperer" tonight and heard a line that ihink is the coolest line i had ever heard - it dealt with forgiveness and the actor said [winging it], "not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die" - oh, how cool is that?
I think I heard Neil Anderson say that on his beta series

The source is not what's important, but the priority of living and walking in forgiveness. Jesus said that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. Or in other words, forgive, or your unforgiveness will kill you.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Real Christians of Genius

One of the marks of Christian maturity is the ability to laugh at yourself. There's a church called liquid church that has learned that. Here's a video clip that will make you laugh, or at least giggle at our ways of trying to speak the gospel.

Press the PLAY button on the window in the link to view it.
The Apostle Paul challenged Christians to relate to all people for the sake of spreading the Gospel. The heart of Paul’s message was that Christians learn to truly understand our non-believing friends & neighbors so that we might share our faith with them effectively.

Too often, we over complicate our faith or fail to express the beauty & relevance of the Gospel. Other times, we only try to be understood instead of also trying to understand. This clip serves as a gentle reminder for Christ followers to share their faith in a manner that's relevant to outsiders.

Nouwen on Community

Len Hjalmarson quotes Henri Nouwen on community:
“The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not “How can we make community?” but “How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?” Henri Nouwen: Bread for the Journey

The Henri Nouwen society includes the opportunity to subscribe to a weekly reflection or even a daily meditation. The quote above is from their daily meditation. They are also offering a blog which discusses his writings.


Janice (my wife) grew up on a farm, her brother Keith still farms the home farm. So I couldn't resist when I saw this link to MooTube [Macromedia Flash Player]
The world has long been familiar with the phrase “a birds-eye view”. Well, as a result of this website, the web-browsing public may become intimately familiar with the phrase a “cows-eye view”. Developed as part of the Texas Ranch House television program on PBS, this website offers a first-hand look into how cows view the world. Basically, a number of cows (including Two Night Beauty and Chastity) were outfitted with a series of cameras that allow the viewer a glimpse into their world as they move about during the day. First-time visitors to the site can skip through to some of the Cow Cam Archive, which highlights some memorable bits of activity, as well as browse through the blog created for this rather unique endeavor

Link via The Scout Report

I have sent them into the world

I was reflecting on Jesus' prayer in John 17 this week. I think this is vital to our understanding what we are called to & empowered to do - what it means to be missional.

Jesus has shared the last supper with his disciples;
shared with them his farewell address - reminding them that they are rooted & grounded in him, he commands them to "love one another".
Then he prays for them as he was about to take those next steps toward the cross, and the resurrection and ascension into heaven.

I think it is important to note that Jesus did not call his followers to any other agenda but to go out into the world (after he explained what that meant) just as he came into their world, as one sent from the Father.

In his prayer, Jesus prayed to the Father, "I have sent them." The sending had already been done. It was part of the spiritual formation that took place in their lives as they walked the dusty roads of the land with Jesus on their way to somewhere Jesus knew God wanted him to be, as they ate and drank together, as they traveled across the Sea of Galilee, during times of healing and compassion provided by Jesus.

In this prayer, Jesus was confident that he had already sent them. He also knew that they would need to be reminded that they were sent and that this meant they were to be going. Their temptation, like ours, Jesus knew, would have been to be ignore the "being sent" part of spiritual formation.

I wonder if we [I am speaking of the Canadian / North American context] get it backwards. We would rather call for the world to come out of the world and into our building. Once they arrive in our buildings, then we can give them a great performance and display of Jesus, at least our image of who Jesus is for our group. [I won't even attempt to list some of the crazy / dumb things churches do to get people to come to us - nor will I ask what kind of Jesus we are displaying.]

Jesus used the word "sent" and so we must go. But how do we keep the tension between being a place of worship and a missional community; between gathering and scatttering?


Thursday, May 25, 2006

"fridge" magnets

Sometime playing with words can be a lot of fun and lead to some interesting phrases. Here is an online version of those fridge magnet poetry books. It uses AJAX, so there is no need to refresh.
Thanks to michael lee @ addison road.

Now this is a t-shirt!

Kent Shaffer highlights this t-shirt
Gadget-Box is selling the T-Qualizer, a t-shirt with a sound sensitive graphic equalizer panel embedded into the cotton fabric. Simply make some noise and watch the green, yellow, and red lights respond. It only comes in one color (black) and three sizes (small, medium, and large). Gadget-Box is based out of England, but they ship globally at reasonable prices.
Trend Hunter also highlights the t-shirt.
I think I would be tempted to get one if they were available in Canada.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


It is a great mistake to think of the gospel as purely spiritual in nature. There are spiritual religions, but Christianity is not one of them. Throughout Christian history there has been concern for bodies as well as souls. There has been almost as much emphasis upon hospitals as upon places of worship, and the feeding of the hungry, including those formerly known as enemies, has been a marked feature of the modern Christian age. This effort to minister to the whole person, rather than merely to spiritual needs, does not represent a departure from the Christian genius, but is deeply rooted in the original gospel. Elton Trueblood
Someday I want to preach a sermon: on being materialistic christians

Link via inward outward

some thoughts on missional

Is a church that is not missional really a church?
A church exists by mission as the sun exists by burning. When the sun loses its burn it ceases to be the sun. When a church loses its mission, it ceases to be a church.

Missional is an adjective describing all of the activities of the church body as they are brought under the mission of God to bring salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus said in John 17:14-16, 18 "
...the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not. I'm not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one... As you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world."
A missional church understands it has been sent into a world that doesn't know God in order to proclaim the Gospel (in all of it's dimensions & fullness) that is made possible by Jesus' sacrifice for our sins and the Father's love for us. Every believer is sent into the world by God just as Jesus was sent into the world.

To respond to this calling is to be missional. To neglect it is to disregard the mission of God and to cease being the kind of church that is following Jesus.

The mission of the church is to be found in the mission of God. God, who is always doing "a new thing" (Isaiah 43:19), calls the church to participate in God's mission in the world (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8) - a world that has radically changed in North America in the last generation.

The church in every generation is called to bring the good news of the kingdom into a spiritual encounter with the aspirations and challenges of the culture where it resides. We are on a mission from God.

The church in every generation is called to proclaim the glory of God to the next generation. We should be more focused on helping the next generation(s) walk in the fullness of God's kingdom.

To speak into or to engage today's world with the good news requires the formation of a disciple community [the church] - to be a visible representation, witness and instrument of the purpose and pathway of God in every aspect of our lives.

A missional church responds to the changes in culture, the leadings of the Spirit, and the needs of the world as it attempts to follow Christ's mission (Luke 19:10).

Since Christianity is a minority voice in the postmodern culture, the church must adopt an approach to ministry learned from the foreign missionaries who communicate and relate in understandable ways to the godless inhabitants in their respective cultures (1 Cor. 9:22).

apostolic passion

In this brief article, Floyd McClung presents one of the best treatments I know of regarding the nature of what it means to live “apostolically.” McClung is the founder and director of All Nations Institute in Trinidad, Colorado. For many years, he served as International Director of YWAM. He began his international ministry in Afghanistan.
via Sam Metcalf at Under the Iceberg.

It's a short article, only 5 pages and well worth the read.

Download Apostolic Passion.pdf.

spiritual formation

I find Eugene Peterson both refreshing and challenging. I had the privilege of taking a couple of classes with him at Regent College a few years ago. I recently picked up his Living the Resurrection

Peterson talks about the elements of surprize around the resurrection: unpreparedness, uselessness of experts, prominence of marginal companions, quiet out-of-the-wayness and fear.

Then he says this:
Without wonder, we approach spiritual formation as a self-help project. We employ techniques. We analyze gifts and potentialities. We set goals. We assess progree. Spiritual formation is reduced to cosmestics.

Without wonder, the motivational energies in spiritual formation get dominated by anxiety and guilt. Anxiety and guilt restrict; they close us in on ourselves. They isolate us with feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness; they reduce us to ourselves at out worst. Spiritual formation is distorted into moral workaholism or pious athleticism.
[emphasis mine]
I wonder if wonder is part of what so many are missing? I can identify people I have known who fit these reductionistic views of spiritual formation - and lack of wonder would certainly describe them. In a similar way, Nehemiah declares "The joy of the Lord is my strength;" then is it any wonder the church is so weak... because there are a lot of Christians & churches that are not filled with a lot of joy. Joy and wonder are certainly connected.
I sometimes wonder why we settle for so little?
Why we are so afraid of the "out of the ordinary"?
Why we hesitate to reach out to others?
Why we both dislike the blandness but don't want to move out of it?
I wonder, what it will take for us to come to the place where we die... because only then can there be resurrection.

Old time swing dancer video set to hip-hop

This video shows a pair of extraordinary gifted swing dancers from some black-and-white era set to modern hip-hop with a lot of eerily serendipitous synch-ups between the music and the video. The dancing is nothing short of amazing and set to the contemporary music, it's even nicer. via boing boing
link to video

Get this video and more at

types of churches and the times

I'm reading Mark Driscoll's book Confessions of a Reformission Rev: hard lessons from an emerging missional church. Mark is founder of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the Paradox Theater and the Acts 29 churchplanting Network.

In Chapter Zero (this is emerging stuff - you do things differently) Mark raises the issue of type of church:
The age of Christendom [that time when culture was dominated by judeo-christian values] was dominated by the traditional and institutional church with values like:
Missions is solely funding Americans to evangelize in foreign coutries.
Culture is where the church expects to occupy a privileged position of influence.
The primary culture to reach is modern.
Theology is liberalism or fundamentalism, with fighting between the two side.
Churches exist largely to meet the needs of church members3.
Churches grow through births and attracting people with denominational loyalties.
Community means the church is a subculture that is closed to outsiders.
Pastors are selected and trained in seminaries, outside of the local church.
Pastors are servants and teachers who do most of the ministry, especially evangelization of the lost.
Lost people are not frequently pursued for evangelistic relationships.
Faith is private and personal.
Worship services are based on traditions (e.g. robes, hymnals, organs, liturgy).
Church buildings are considered sacred places (e.g. crosses, stained glass, icons) where people are to dress and act formally.

The end of Christendom and the transition to a post-Christian culture is dominated by contemporary and evangelical churches with traits like:
Missions is a church department that sends people and money to foreign countries.
Culture is where the church battles to regain a lost position of privileged influence.
The primary culture to reach was modern and is transistioning to postmodern.
Theology is conservative and is built on a modernistic view of truth and knowledge.
Churches exist to meet the felt needs of spiritual consumers.
Churches grow through marketing that brings people to church events.
Community means the church is a safe subculture that welcomes lost people into the church.
Pastors need not have formal training or ordination.
Pastors are CEOs who lead and manage their staff, which is responsible for ministry.
Lost people are invited to evangelistic church programs that target seekers.
Faith is private and personal but is openly shown at church.
Worship services are based on styles from the 1980's and 1990's (acoustic guitars, drama, etc.)
Church buildings are functional places (e.g. no crosses, no stained glass, no icons) where people can dress and act informally.
Then there is a 3rd incarnation, what Mark calls the emerging and missional church with traits like:
Missions is every Christian being a missionary to their local culture.
The church accepts that it is marginalized in culture and holds no privileged position of influence but gains influence by serving the common good.
The primary culture to reach is postmodern and pluralistic.
Theology ranges from ancent orthodoxy to heterodox liberalism built on postmodern denials of true truth and known knowledge.
Churches are the people who love Jesus and serve his mission in a local culture.
Churches grow as Christians bring Jesus to lost people through hospitality.
Community means the church is a counterculture with a new kingdom way of life through Jesus.
Pastors need not be ordained or formally educated in theology and are trained in the local church.
Pastors are missiologists who train Christians to be effective missionaries.
Lost people are saved by the Holy Spirit when and how he determines.
Faith is lived publically together as the church and includes all of life.
Worship services blend ancient forms and current local cultural styles.
Church buildings are sacred, as is all of God's creation.
We can probably quibble about some of his distinctions (any time you create lists like this, there are always exceptions). The issue is not which one is better than the others, but which one...
1st, are we now?
2nd, will be most effective in reaching the people around us?

All 3 models are effective in certain times and places.
The 1st (traditional) will flourish in an older demographic.
The 2nd (contemporary) will tend to reach baby boomers.
The 3rd (emerging) will probably be more effective reaching young creative types.
These are, of course, generalization. But, the point is, do we know what we are trying to do, who we are trying to minister to, and therefore what we are going to look like? These are important questions for any church that wants to look beyond itself.

There several other questions, the answers to which, will shape how we think of church and mission. For now, I'll simply list the questions:
Will your church... an emergent liberal or an emerging evangeical church?
...proclaim a gospel of forgiveness, fulfullment, or freedom? attractional, missional, or both?
...have a mission of community or be a community of mission?
Will your leaders work from guilt or coviction?
Do you have the guts to shoot your dogs?
Can you wield a sword and a trowel?

city church

Len Hjalmarson over at next reformation blogs about talking
... about Jesus, the gospel, the church and the kingdom.
Len's post resonates with a number of things I have been thinking about.
I saw more clearly that one of the large problems with church as we have known it is that identity easily becomes invested in the system itself. We became less clear about who we were and what we were called to do.. more invested in personalities and less invested in Jesus.. less likely to follow Jesus and more likely to follow the crowd. We became tied to structures, place, buildings and programs, and invested in those things more than in the purposes they served. When church is person, place or event it is a house built on the sand. How odd that idolatry can lie hidden in our very pursuit of God.

On the other hand, discovering who God has made us to be and becoming more intentional in pursuit of the kingdom and living for Jesus day by day is an incredible journey. It requires faith and risk, and it takes more discipline to be a disciple apart from the crowd than within it. This is a journey to the heartland, and like all true journeys it is intensely personal. But once we attain it we are founded on something much more secure than social structures or religious practices, and it is the only sure foundation for a free association and intentional belonging.
Len is right in referencing our tie to structures, place, buildings and programs - all things that are designed to help us in what God calls us to - disciple makeing - but which too easily, takes over from that calling.
Is there one church in a city, or many churches? I find myself thinking that there is really only one church in a city, with many expressions. I don’t think we attempt to organize this reality.. but we can partner with God in discovering it. Any attempt to organize it.. appoint an apostolic head, for example.. is wrong and dangerous. But organization is not the same as intention.

It might help to quit calling various local gatherings “church of Christ” or “First Baptist church” and start thinking about them as nodes in a larger network.. partial expressions of a single invisible reality. They are 2d pieces of the larger 3d hologram. If we were able to make that mental shift, I wonder how it would affect our thinking about missional structures and parachurch structures?
One of the things that City Watch here in KW is starting to think and live out, is seeing the church in the city as one and the churches as cells.

da vinci code spoof

Who needs Tom Hanks when you have Barney Fife, Jr.?
The norman rockwell code
The complete movie (34 minutes) is on the net, or here's the 3.5 minute trailer.

search engine

I have been playing around a little with this new (to me) search engine: snap. It has a split screen which gives you a view of the web page.

how we see people

Jeff @ demerging has this interesting post:
Sometimes I wonder if Christianity is about me at all. Maybe it's just about freeing us from seeing other people the way we've always thought God would treat them. Certainly, we all treat people the way we think God treats people. The problem is, when we don't understand what the cross accomplished, we miss out on the main message... how great God's love is! If we continue to see Him as someone who only loves others who love Him, we will only love others that love us. If we see God as quick to condemn others for not "measuring up", we will condemn others for not measuring up. If we see God as blessing only those who deserve it, we will only put our blessing on those who we think deserve it.

When we miss the point of the cross, and the message of redemption to all mankind, we are doomed to suffer through life treating others the same way our misguided perception of God tells us to. Maybe we can find salvation from ourselves and our ideas of a God who expects us to perform to His standards. Until we learn that it's not about performance, and simply about acceptance, we will only realize a glimpse of the goodness of life with God.

Friday, May 19, 2006

paper folding

Here are some incredible pieces of art made from paper - there is no cutting involved.
There's more at the web site of richard sweeney

nerd magnet

This is for all my apple/mac friends. Yes, even through you have left the pc way... I still call you friends. Boing boing has a post about the new apple store in New York.
It's just an empty glass box now, but this site will become the world's most powerful nerd magnet tomorrow. Expect to see geeks flying through the air towards it, whoosh! over Manhattan, like steel dust drawn to a neodymium disc. Many thanks to literary uber-agent John Brockman for the photo. Link to full-size (jpeg).
It looks neat.

Christian ad about Code gets pulled

The National Post carries an article: Christian ad about Code gets pulled: Theatre chain drops spot that was to appear before film

Brian Hutchinson, National Post
Published: Friday, May 19, 2006
VANCOUVER - A movie house commercial that encourages churchgoers to see and discuss Hollywood thriller The Da Vinci Code has been dropped by Canada's largest cinema chain, which said the ad was part of a religious campaign to "stalk" unsuspecting film patrons.

The 10-second spot was produced by evangelical Christians and was to be shown for the next month inside 65 Cineplex cinemas in Ontario and Western Canada.
We are just nasty people - we now "stalk" unsuspecting film patrons.
The ad directs people to a Christian Web site devoted to the controversial film, which opens across North America today.

Cineplex Entertainment LP is promoting the movie heavily; however, on Wednesday, the company abruptly cancelled its $63,000 advertising deal with Campus Crusade for Christ Canada, a B.C.-based affiliate of the world's largest evangelical Christian organization, CCC International.

The decision was announced after a story about the Campus Crusade ad appeared this week in the Toronto Star.

In addition to producing the ad, the Star reported, Campus Crusade had "mobilized a small army of volunteers from Toronto to Vancouver willing to stalk moviegoers in the line outside cinemas" and to press upon them "biblical tracts," debunking contentious claims about Jesus Christ said to be in the movie treatment of The Da Vinci Code.
Notice the difference: the direct statement about christians who "stalk" and the weasel words: "claims... said to be in the movie"
Cineplex made direct reference to the Star article in an e-mail to Campus Crusade yesterday.

"With the knowledge that this organization plans to 'stalk' our moviegoers outside of our theatres handing out unapproved material concerning a film we are presenting, we cannot lend support to this activity by running this campaign," wrote Cineplex ad saleswoman Diane Rajh.

Campus Crusade's marketing director was flabbergasted when he read the Cineplex e-mail.

"We never planned to stalk anybody," Braden Douglas said yesterday.

"As I told the Toronto Star reporter, rather than throw up walls, we want to encourage people to see the film and to discuss it."

Campus Crusade distributed cards and brochures that promote its Da Vinci Code Web site; the material reached as many as 30,000 individuals and churches across Canada. While the brochures contain a brief gospel message at the bottom, "they are not what most people would consider as biblical tracts," Mr. Douglas noted.

"Ten students in Montreal said they might go out to a few theatres and hand out the material," he added. "A handful of students in Calgary said they might as well. This is not some massive army we have assembled."

Reached at her office in Toronto, Cineplex spokeswoman Pat Marshall said it was not, in fact, her company's view that Campus Crusade planned to harass moviegoers. The e-mail that Cineplex sent to the organization was a "mistake." Ms. Rajh, she added, "is misinformed."

Cineplex's decision to drop the brief spot was made because the company "does not show any religious advertising at all," Ms. Marshall explained, even if it promotes a film the company is showing in its theatres. The contract with Campus Crusade was made in error. "It slipped though the cracks."
Do you hear the sound of Cineplex backpeddling: Campus Crusade stalks... no they don't... we don't allow religious advertizing... except of course if they are showing a religious film.

Give full marks to Campus Crusade for trying to open dialogue.

da vinci code

via cartoon church

da vinci code reviews

Here are some reviews of the da vinci code.
These all come the site rotten tomatoes, which as of 8:30am est on Friday, 19 May, shows it at 18 tomatoes.

"You know a movie's a dud when even its self-flagellating albino killer monk isn't any fun." John Beifuss, COMMERCIAL APPEAL (MEMPHIS, TN)

"So Dark, the Con of Dan...." Joe Utichi, FilmFocus

"Way too long and duller than watching Da Vinci's paint dry...." Edward Douglas, ComingSoon

"Here's the gospel on The Da Vinci Code: It's a total snore." Tom Long, DetroitNews

"The most controversial thriller of the year turns out to be about as exciting as watching your parents play Sudoku." Ann Hornaday, WASHINGTON POST

"The truth is that The Da Vinci Code is a pretty-good-but-who-cares effort, a moderately interesting diversion that will hold audiences in the moment but leave them unmoved and unchanged." Mick LaSalle, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

You could argue I picked & chose those quotes... but there are not many positive reviews on rotten tomatoes and the ones that are a kind of vague... they could have been written for another film.

Anyone plan on going to see it after these ringing endorsements.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Conversation–it’s the new debate

nanochurch has a post entitled Conversation–it’s the new debate.
Nanochurch quotes a washington post article:
Da Vinci Code movie a target for US evangelicals
“A boycott at this point would not do any good. When you have a tsunami coming it doesn’t help to build a wall,” said Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Bible Church in Chicago.

“I have never in my 30 years of ministry had a time when so many people are interested… We as evangelicals welcome the debate,” added Lutzer, who wrote “The Da Vinci Deception” which has been turned into a video teaching kit on the subject.

“This is the engagement option,” says Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

This has become the favored approach among evangelicals, instead of boycotting the movie, said Bock, author of “Breaking the Da Vinci Code: Answers to the Questions Everyone is Asking.”
While there are some for are taking the boycott approach, this seems to be
the “favoured approach,” according to my exhaustive, extensive, scientific research of scanning the web and blogosphere. and this is heartening news. remember the days of boycotting Procter & Gamble because it was satanic? (it’s not.) remember the emails calling for the boycott of Tommy Hilfiger because they’re anti-Christian? (they’re not. (and they’re not racist either, not by policy.))

* it’s good news when Jesus’s followers think.
* it’s good news when Jesus’s followers respond instead of react.
* it’s good news when Jesus’s followers engage people in conversation instead of yelling at them.

conversation is the new debate.
right on.

One of the things I'm hearing as a listen to the debate / conversation / discussion around the da vinci code is that many (including evangelicals) don't understand that when Brown talks about the church, he is talking about a hierarchical view of the Roman Catholic church. Maybe the real debate /conversation / discussion is not about the art-history-geography-theology misunderstandings but about who Jesus is and what his church is be.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

On Churchgoing

“We have a great deal of churchgoing in America. But we’re not relating this churchgoing to our personal daily lives. We have a hundred million people attending church in America, but those hundred million people are not going into their homes and their shops and their offices and in their business and putting Christ into effect. and that’s one of the reasons that I’ve been trying to emphasize in my preaching the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, trying to tell people how to apply Christ in their daily lives and in their social intercourse.”
A great quote.
It could have been pulled from one of many emerging or missional blogs that some people get so bent out of shape about, or from George Barna’s Revolution, or one of those house church groups.

It’s Billy Graham on Meet the Press in 1957, featured as the “Meet the Press Minute” at the conclusion of the 4/16/06 edition of MTP.

Thanks Brian for the quote.

It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The issue remains the same: do we go to church or do we live as God's people. The first one is easy to do... doesn't take much time... the problem is, it's not God's way.

word verification comments

I have had to add word verifiction on the comments.

I have been hit by almost 200 annoymous comments sayng what a wonderful site/blog I have.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

da vinci code anagrams

business innovation insider has a link to anagram geniuses. If you have been following the debate/discussion on the Da Vinci Code book, you know that some find clues about Dan Brown's true intentions: i.e. "So Dark the Con of Man" is really an anagram of "Madonna of the Rocks," but what about "The DaVinci Code"? Is that really an anagram for something far more insidious and controversial? You be the judge:

Here are some that business innovation insider lists:
(1) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Do divine cachet"
(2) "The Da Vinci Code" = "The candid voice"
(3) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Vet. Coincided. Ah!"
(4) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Convicted. Die! Ha!"
(5) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Hectic video, Dan."
(6) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Addictive con, eh?"
(7) "The Da Vinci Code" = "I'd have cited con."
(8) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Naive? Odd... Hectic!"
(9) "The Da Vinci Code" = "Avid! Hectic! Done!"
(10) "The Da Vinci Code" = "An odd vice ethic."
Last but not least:
"The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown" -> "Odd cheat; now binned by vicar."

There are more at anagram geniuses as well as other phrases from the book.

Monday, May 15, 2006

birth pangs

inward/outward, the blog of Our Church of the Saviour, Washington DC, has this quote:
"Now I am aware of the fact that there are those who would contend that we live in the most ghastly period of human history…. They would argue that we are retrogressing instead of progressing. But far from representing retrogression and tragic meaninglessness, the present tensions represent the necessary pains that accompany the birth of anything new." Facing the Challenge of a New Age - Martin Luther King, Jr.
We live in interesting times. We live in a age of both hope & hopelessness; of faith and faithlessness; of change and not wanting to change. As the blog says:
We stand today between two worlds - the dying old and the emerging new.
We need to remember this in times of turmoil and change. To use a cliche... "it's darkest before the dawn"

how to make church brilliant

Thanks to Dave Walker of Cartoon Church.

the conpiracy game

Barna Films has a 6 miniute video spoof entitled the Conspiracy Game
The Da Vinci Code opens this Friday (May 19). If you’re seeking a resource to direct people’s attention to a sermon or class regarding the merits of Dan Brown’s arguments, why not use a free and humorous 6-minute video created specifically for the occasion? BarnaFilms and Highway Video have partnered to bring you a free download of The Conspiracy Game – a tongue-in-cheek response to the outrageous and inaccurate beliefs that form the foundation of the movie. For more information on this original download, click on the link below. This offer expires on Thursday, May 18.

Go to the link above, and click on the Conspiracy Game dowload.

Ward Gasque on Da Vinci Code

Here is a video of Dr. Ward Gasque on: The da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?
Ward Gasque, is President of the Pacific Association for Theological Studies, the principal consultant of CITE [Center for Innovation in Theological Education], he was one of the co-founders of Regent College, Vancouver, BC, where he served for more than 20 years; founding president of New College Berkeley, California; first provost of Eastern University, Saint Davids, Pennsylvania; and Vice President and Academic Dean at Tyndale Seminary, Toronto, Canada, at a time of transition. His Ph.D. is from Manchester University (UK); he is a graduate of Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Leadership (1993).

Saturday, May 13, 2006

da vinci code links

Stephen Shields at emergesque has one of the best set of links to da vinci code resources

afraid of the dark

Andrew Hamilton of Backyard Missionary> posted this back on Good Friday.
One of the things Neil Cole said... that I deeply resonated with was that ‘most Christians don’t believe that light is more powerful than darkness’ or words to that effect otherwise it would show up in the way we live.

I have seen people stay away from ‘dark places’ and ‘dark people’ out of fear.

Fear of what?…

Why do we talk so tough and live so weak?
I am more and more convinced that fear and anger and "being offended" and selfishness and a whole bunch of other stuff that characterizes far too many christians is because far too many people settle for the religion of christianity, settle for some sort of idea about God, when it is very clear in the New Testament that God calls us to be "salt and light" - not because of who we are, but because of who God is, in us and us in Christ.

If I was a betting person, I would put money on this: that if we did a survey tomorrow AM [Sunday - Mother's Day] in our church buildings across Canada, the majority would not be able to give a clear statement about who they are in Christ and that means for how they live on Monday AM - in schools, factories, businesses, shops, wherever.

& I would suggest that part of the problem lies with our model of church - we are so focued on the Sunday AM gathering as a "do everything event". I'm not saying do away with the larger gathering... but that is only part of who & what the church is.

I would also suggest that part of the problem lies with our inadequate model of discipleship. In many of our churches, our discipleship model is so informal, it's hard to find. I'm not saying we need a rigid structure, but I don't think the church in Canada is doing a very good job of discipling people.

& so if we don't understand who we are... no wonder it's easier & safer & more comfortable to stay in the fortress.

on leaders

Len Hjalmarson over at Next Reformation has a quote on leaders and a summary of Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak.
“A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there. A leader shapes the ethos in which others must live, an ethos as light-filled as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A good leader is intensely aware of the interplay between shadow and light, lest the act of leadership do more harm than good.” Parker Palmer, “Let Your Life Speak”

If we as leaders are to cast less shadow and more light, we need to explore our shadow selves and experience the transformation that can happen as we grow and mature. There are five interior monsters according to Palmer.

1. insecurity about identity and worth. Many leaders have an extroverted orientation that makes this hard to see. But often extroversion is a way to cope with self-doubt; plunging into external activity to prove that we are worthy.. or simply to evade the question. When we are insecure about our identity we create settings that deprive other people of theirs as a way of buttressing our own.

2. the conviction that the world is a battle-ground, hostile to human interests. This metaphor grips the imagination of some leaders, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that creates high stakes games, intense competition, and requires fierce loyalty. The fear of losing the fight creates conditions where people feel compelled to live as if they were at war.

3. functional atheism, the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us. This shadow leads us to impose our will on others, and often results in depression, burnout and despair. It explains why the average group can barely tolerate fifteen seconds of silence. If we are not making noise, nothing good is happening and perhaps something is dying.

4. fear, especially fear of chaos. Many of us are deeply devoted to eliminating chaos in the world. We want to organize and orchestrate thigns so that messiness does not intrude and overwhelm us. We especially want to avoid change, dissent, and pain. This shadow results in rigidity of rules, creating an ethos that is imprisoning rather than empowering.

5. the denial of death. Behind this denial lurks the fear of failure, and the belief that failure reflects on my deep identity. In most organizations failure means a pink slip, and deep shame. The best leaders know that failure is a source of profound learning, and they reward risks. Faith is spelled R I S K.

I think Palmer has hit the nail on the head for many of us in leadership. Has he been reading my notes?

swimming & a degree

Until fairly recently, it was a requirement that to graduate with a degree in the USA you had to pass a swimming test - you had to swim 50 yards & tred water for 5 minutes. CNN has an article on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the last schools with the requirement.

Interestingly, Mortimer Adler, philosopher and author of How To Read a Book (among others) earned a PhD, but dropped out of high school and never completed the swimming requirement of his bachelor's degree.

fair trade

Apparently every 2nd Saturday of May is World Fair Trade Day.
I didn't know that... but then again there is a national or world day for just about everything.
You can find more at the above link. I get my fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate at Ten Thousand Villages, 80 King St S in Waterloo.

Friday, May 12, 2006

protesting da vinci

The Vatican is calling for a boycott of the da vinci code.

As anonymous said over on on her toes
protesting a movie is nuts - that's my theological word for it - it's simply stupid - it didn't work or do anything around "the temptation of jesus" or any other jesus film, that someone or somegroup decided we should protest.
A think a boycott simply draws more attention to the film. Barbara Nicolosi of church of the masses [she's a screenwriter and teaches at Act One & Azusa Pacific University among other places] suggests an othercott - go see something else. It's an idea that some will follow, and that's OK.

But I think we can use the book/film as a jumping off point for talking about the real Jesus and about the real bible. However... you knew there would be an however...

I don't think very many Christians are aware of enought history to respond to what anonymous calls the "ahistorical mumbo-jumbo that brown serves up".
I don't think there are a lot of Christians who are so aware of who they are in Christ that they can speak clearly about Jesus in non-religious terms.

That said, I think a book/film like this is more useful than Narnia, probably more useful than the Passion as a discussion starter about Jesus. The hype around those films as the great witnessing tool really bothers me. John said it well:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our[a] joy complete. 1 John 1:1-4
We show the reality of the presence of Jesus in our lives and experience and the lives and experience of brothers and sisters in Christ throughout biblical/church history.

Instead, we in North America, like vicarious experiences - we live through the experience of others. And so rather than know who I am in Christ, and be able to articulate that, we let hollywood do that for us. I wonder when hollywood became an agent of salvation for the church?

So, if people don't know the historical truth, where can they find it?
Stay tuned for some links...

dan brown has a great idea

In case some of you have been living under a log for the last few weeks, a week from today, the most over-hyped film of the year comes out: the da vinci code. Directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, it is based on the novel of the same name by Dan Brown.

One of the questions that comes up in talking about this film: is why bother talking about this at all? After all I don't think too many people got upset over the inaccuracies and false portrayals of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. So what makes the da vinci code different?

The problem is the quote on page 1 [emphasis is mine].
"All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."
This statement is a masterpiece. By making this statement, before the novel begins, Brown sets the story in a different class than Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And, at the same time, enables him to say - "It's just a novel."

What a wonderful tactic - you can use truth, falsehood and everything in between to present your view of history and reality, and never have to defend your beliefs. You can claim it is fiction and claim it is rooted in "truth" [that is, Brown's version of truth] all at the same time. In this sense it is truly post-modern.
Why bother with an accurate view of history if you can create your own view?
Why settle for what is documented, when you can create your own documents?

That said how do we respond to the da vinci code?
Over the next few posts, I'll post some thoughts and resources.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mother Songs

Andrew Careaga follows the thursday thirteen regularily. In recognition of Mother's Day, which is Sunday, the theme for the meme today is pop/rock songs referencing mothers in the title or that mention mothers prominently in the lyrics.

Here is his selection, in no particular order:
1. "Mama Tried." Merle Haggard's classic hard-country song about how "Mama tried, Mama tried" to steer the young rebel away from a life of ruination and misery.

2. "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys," by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. Don't let 'em pick guitars and drive them old trucks/let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such. Willie and Waylon's cautionary tale for mothers everywhere.

3. "Your Mother Should Know," by the Beatles. A song about dancing to a song "that was a hit before your mother was born."

4. "Tell Mama," by Savoy Brown. Tell Mama/And all the folks back home/Sometimes a man just feels/He's got to make it alone.

5. "Tell Mama," the Janis Joplin version. A much different tune than the Savoy Brown song. Tell your mama, babe/What you want/Tell your mama, babe...

6. Pink Floyd's "Mother". A boy asks his all-knowing, all-benevolent mother what he should do with his life, and what the world out there holds for him. Should he build a wall? Should he run for president? To which consoling Mother replies: Momma's gonna make all of your nightmares come true/Momma's gonna put all of her fears into you/Momma's gonna keep you right here under her wing/She won't let you fly, but she might let you sing. Good Mommy!

7. "Welfare Mothers," by Neil Young. According to Neil, they make better lovers. Next time you're at the laundromat, pick up what ol' Neil's putting down.

8. "Motherless Child," an old negro spiritual remade by Peter, Paul and Mary. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child/A long way from home...

9. "Motherless Child," the Eric Clapton version. Nothing like the old negro spiritual. Being a motherless child is his excuse for mistreating the "pretty mama," but he also "did more for you, girl, than your daddy ever done/Well, I give you my jelly, he ain't give you none."

10. "Mama Told Me Not to Come," by Three Dog Night. Yet another song about a young man not heeding his mother's warnings.

11. "Surrender," by Cheap Trick. A song about a boy whose parents make out on the couch, getting high and listening to his KISS records. Mommy's alright, daddy's alright/They just seem a little weird.

12. "Black Dog," by Led Zeppelin. "Mama" is mentioned in the first line: Hey, hey, mama, said the way you move/Gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove. I don't think Zep's singing about Mother Dearest, though.

13. "Smoke on the Water," by Deep Purple, makes the list because of a reference to "Frank Zappa and the Mothers." Give me a break. It's tough to come up with 13 songs with "mother" in the title.

He missed "Mother" by John Lennon. Thanks Michael for the song.
Any other "Mother" songs?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

service notes

How's this for honesty in an order of service
Most churches have an order of worship where they tell you in advance everything you are to expect from the service. We're too cheap to print out a bunch of flimsy handouts to get trampled on the floor of our church and turned into paper airplanes, so this is what you get instead.

The disclaimer:
Order of worship is subject to change without notice. All rights reserved. Your mileage may vary. Subject to availability. Void where prohibited. Subject to restrictions. Contents under pressure. Some settling may occur in transport. We incur no responsibility for any spontaneous combustions that may occur during our worship time. No guarantees or warranties express or otherwise are made.

Coffee and bagel time
Coffee and bagels are available for the early birds who show up before the service starts. That would be most of us. We ask for a donation in the paper cup centrally located on the table. No pushing or shoving. No running. Fisticuffs are to take place outside on the sidewalk or out back in the parking lot, with sleeves rolled. No flailing and hair-pulling or knock-down drag-out fights in the art/trophy area, where the bagels and coffee are located. Please try to avoid bringing coffee into the sanctuary no matter how desperately you may need it. Despite how smart and conscientious you may be, there will always be at least two people less caring and civilized than you, usually with one chasing the other, who will more likely than not knock it over and leave a big nasty stain which won't get cleaned up until Saturday. We hate cleaning the carpet. Please don't make us do it more than we absolutely have to.

The call to worship.
Once your coffee is almost cool enough to drink, and you're about halfway done with your bagel, someone will get on the microphone and begin yelling for people to please come sit down so we can get started. Usually this will be Andy or Mary, but other people have been known to take part on occasion as well. Once the shrieking and hollering starts and your friends begin disappearing, it's usually a good time to follow them into the sanctuary. Don't make us turn the lights on and off.

Once all of us have drifted in like sheep, and chair disputes have ended, worship begins. Usually there are about five or six songs. Please, no stage diving. One of the people authorized to sign our checks is likely to get crushed and then nobody will pay your bail. You'll notice that our drummer is in a Plexiglas cage. Most sound guys will tell you that that is to balance out the sound so he can play loudly without our getting sued for eardrum damage. Don't listen to them. The real reason, as all of us who have seen Spinal Tap know, is because drummers are prone to spontaneously combust. (Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year. It's just not really widely reported.) So to protect our hefty equipment investment, and our fellow worshipers, we have installed a durable Plexiglas blast shield for your protection.

During our worship time, near the end, you'll notice pairs of people coming up and standing in front. These are the virgin sacrifices. Actually that is a blatant flat-out lie. We apologize. They are actually our prayer teams. If you want prayer for something, go up to them and they'll agree with you in prayer. All prayer requests shared are kept strictly confidential, so feel free to cut loose.
Click on the link for the rest of the notes.

Feminine Images of God


Mother's Day is this Sunday. I don't like Mother's Day. How's that for a heritical statement? I don't like Mother's Day for a number of reasons:
1) ...the pain of those without mothers,
2) ...the pain of mother's who had an abortion,
3) I don't like it when the church makes more out of day like Mother's Day than we do key days in the church calendar,
4) I don't like the syrupy poems that seem to a standard of mother's day services,
5) I don't like Mother's Day sermons that make mothers sound like wonder woman,
6) ... couples who can't have children,
7) ... single women - sometimes we make it sound like they are second class.

Having said that, Dr. Margo G. Houts, Professor of Religion and Theology at Calvin College has an article that identifies the FEMININE IMAGES FOR GOD

Both the Bible and church history use many masculine names for God: "Father," "King," "Jesus," "Lord," and "He." But the Bible uses a fair bit of feminine language for God. God is like a mother in Isaiah 49:15 and like a father in Luke 15:11-32.

What follows is a condensed version of Margo Houts notes:
A: Female images for God (drawn from women’s biological activity)
1. God as a Mother:
a. a woman in labor (Isa. 42:14)
b. a mother suckling her children (Num. 11:12)
c. a mother who does not forget the child she nurses (Isa. 49:14-15)
d. a mother who comforts her children (Isa. 66:12-13)
e. a mother who births and protects Israel (Isa. 46:3-4).
f. a mother who gave birth to the Israelites (Dt. 32:18)
g. a mother who calls, teaches, holds, heals and feeds her young (Hosea 11:1-4)
2. Other maternal references: Ps. 131:2; Job. 38:8, 29; Prov. 8:22-25; 1 Pet. 2:2-3, Acts 17:28.

B: Feminine images for God (drawn from women’s cultural activity).
1. God as a seamstress making clothes for Israel to wear (Neh. 9:21).
2. God as a midwife attending a birth (Ps. 22:9-10a, 71:6; Isa. 66:9) (midwife was a role only for women in ancient Israel).
3. God as a woman working leaven into bread (Lk. 13:18-21). This feminine image is equivalent to the image of God as masculine in the preceding parable of the mustard seed.
4. God as a woman seeking a lost coin (Lk. 15:8-10).This feminine image is equivalent to the image of God as masculine in the preceding parable of the shepherd seeking a lost sheep. Both Luke 13 and 15 contain paired masculine and feminine images for God, drawn from activities of Galilean peasants.

C: Additional examples of the divine feminine.
1. Female bird imagery. Yahweh is described by an analogy to the action of a female bird protecting her young (Ps. 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 91:1, 4; Isa. 31:5; Dt. 32:11-12).
a. The eagle: Dt. 32:11-12 Cf. Ex. 19:4, "I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself," and Job 39:27-30.
b. The hen: Mt. 23:37 (par. Lk. 13:34; cf. Ruth 2:12)
2. God as Mother Bear (Hosea 13:8)
3. Holy Spirit (in Hebrew, feminine; in Greek, neuter) is often associated with women’s functions: the birthing process (Jn. 3:5; cf. Jn. 1:13, 1 Jn. 4:7b, 5:1, 4, 18), consoling, comforting, an eschatological groaning in travail of childbirth, emotional warmth, and inspiration. Some ancient church traditions refer to the Holy Spirit in feminine terms (the Syriac church used the feminine pronoun for the Holy Spirit until ca. 400 C.E.; a 14th c. fresco depicting the Trinity at a church near Munich, Germany images the Holy Spirit as feminine).

history of dance

For your tuesday am laugh - here is the history of dance [since elvis] in 6minutes

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

church planting quotes

Steve Addison posts some quotes from the US National Church Planting Conference:

What you do with your first convert determines whether you will become a church planting movement.
Bob Logan

God blesses the mega church in Korea and the house church in China. Hold to your models loosely and to Jesus firmly.
Ed Stetzer

If you want to win the world to Christ you’re going to have to sit in the smoking section.
Neil Cole

You have a Church Planting Movement when it’s growing so fast you can’t count it. It’s growing so fast that your systems can’t cope.

You would be wrong to think that church planting movements are a white man’s idea. They are not. We are trying to implement in the West what we are seeing God do all over the developing world. We have been the last to get it.

Bob Roberts

losing touch with the gospel

Darryl Dash posts this reflection from Mark Riddle
Is it any wonder it's easy for us to lose touch with the gospel when we can't even identify what it means to take up a cross?

Christ didn't die so we could have worship services that meet our needs.

Christ didn't die so we could be treated with kid gloves like a fickle consumer on sunday mornings.

Christ didn't die so we could get something out of bible study or small group.

Christ didn't die so the church could be active and busy.

The central theme for far too many churches seems to be comfort and customer satisfaction.

The central theme for christianity is suffering, the executioner's cross, the blood spilled and body broken of Eucharist, baptism's metaphor of death burial and resurrection.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

king of the hill

This video clip from king of the hill has been floating around the net for the last couple of weeks.
I have only ever caught the tail end of the show - this clip is "clean".
It's a good spoof on the "mega-church" movement.

Jesus Loves Righteous People

Thanks to Dave Wainscott at holy heteroclite for these links to Elevation Church in Idaho. The website is set up like a ski resort.

These are great clips - they'll make you laugh or cry or get mad. They are part of series entitled Misconceptions of Jesus:
click to watch: Jesus Loves Righteous People
as well, check out:Jesus Sells Insurance.
There are others at Elevation Church click near the middle of the page: "Services/Resources."

Africa has 6 out of top 7 "Failed States"

More disappointing news today about Africa: Six of the top seven "Failed States" are in Africa.

According to the list compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace think-tank, Sudan is the world's top "Failed State" and the country that is the least viable. In addition to Sudan at number one (not the sort of number one you'd like), eleven of the top twenty least viable countries are in Africa. You can read the article for the list of twelve criteria on which the report was based.
Top Ten Failed States, 2006

1. Sudan (3)*
2. DR Congo (2)*
3. Ivory Coast (1)*
4. Iraq (4)*
5. Zimbabwe (15)*
6. Chad (7)*
7. Somalia (5)*
8. Haiti (10)*
9. Pakistan (34)*
10. Afghanistan (11)*

* Position in 2005 report


for you old school computer geeks, gordon college talent show had some one do mario live

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church

Phil Wilson posses 6 questions for the church. He raises these from the book The Present Future by Doug Sanders.

The issue is how does a congregation practice the action of helping its members become disciples.
So, the six tough questions. Well, first off, they're not really questions, although the tough questions are within the chapter itself. They're new realities that the author, Reggie McNeal has identified. McNeal, by the way, is the director of leadership development for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

1. New Reality Number One - The Collapse of the Church Culture
Tough Question: How do we convert from Churchianity to Christianity?
Totally on board with this one. One of the ideas that McNeal talks about here is that churches have become more like clubs than outposts of the Kingdom of God, which leads to...

2. New Reality Number Two - The Shift from Church Growth to Kingdom Growth
Tough Question: How do we transform our community? (How do we hit the streets with the Gospel?)
Again, totally on board with this too. It's been amazing to me the way that thinking has grown in this area.

3. New Reality Number Three - A New Reformation: Releasing God's People
Tough Question: How do we turn members into Missionaries?
This is where the missional stuff really started. The idea here is that if people change from being club members to being missionaries, what does that mean for the church, specifically does that mean fewer programs at the church building and more in the community?

4. New Reality Number Four - The Return to Spiritual Formation
Tough Question: How do we develop followers of Jesus?
Here's the great irony of the new thinking to me. On one hand, a lot of the new thinking is very communal in its nature and rightfully so. However, there's a very introspective aspect to it and this is something that congregations need to address. It's a very interesting ideology, but it's amazing how this is playing out. There was a lot in this chapter about learning and shifting away from a classroom model.

5. New Reality Number Five - The Shift from Planning to Preparation
Tough Question: How do we prepare for the future?
Here's where the book started to lose me. This is when it got into vision and values and that kind of thing doesn't interest me very much. I realize that some people have to prepare and think about those things, but that's just not my bag (baby).

6. New Reality Number Six - The Rise of Apostolic Leadership
Tough Question: How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?
Again, another section that really seems to be geared more toward congregation leaders, rather than laypeople like me. I think people will find some value about new models for leadership interesting, but just not me.
These are some good questions for faith communities to reflect on.