July 29, 2008
How can people engage the culture we presently live in without seeing themselves as an ongoing learner? The world is changing, the church (people of God) must change to be faithful to the message of Jesus. The default mode of “doing church” that we have been handed is clearly in need of rethinking, re-envisioning and every other “re” word that’s out there. How do we get an imagination for continuing to look at what it means first to “be” the church, discovering the essence and nature of the church to then organizing how we “do” church in our specific communities? We live in a time of seismic change and every devoted follower of Christ needs to be asking the question, “what does it mean to be faithful to the Message in our time?”
I am constantly amazed when I hear people talk about the current conversation regarding the tectonic changes that are occurring in theology, church, and what it means to be a follower of Christ today in our changing world and think that they get it “let’s move on”. All through the Scripture we see the motif of God’s faithfulness, rescuing humanity, Israel from exile, unfaithfulness in one form or another. Why, because we forget our story. We don’t remember the real story. We think we know it but we get to places where we are handed a story that we think is the biblical story but it is just one piece of it, or because of context and history it got off course and we don’t even know it.
There are a plethora of prophetic voices today calling the Church in North America back from mission drift, calling for a course correction, to remember our Story. The missiologists, Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, George Hunsberger, are brilliantly helping us recover our roots, our story and a way forward.
I am 51 years old and in the last four years have probably learned more about God, church, culture than I have in my entire life and I have realized that I have so much more to learn in this journey of faith. It will be a life long process and that notion is exciting to me. Rich and I were talking last night about different ways to create learning opportunities for people to continue to learn while the reality is that most people we know have very full lives. One opportunity that we didn’t create but are very excited about is Missio Dei Learning Community. The emphasis for Missio Dei LC will be on Kingdom, Spirit and Mission.
This learning opportunity if for anyone wanting to engage and learn in an online community around recovering our Story, learning to be authentic real Christ followers, the implications and adventure of the journey and what it means to “be’ the Church.
From the website:
The church exists because there is a mission. The Triune God is the center of the mission, the church is the agent. In an ever changing culture, God is going before us and preparing our way for his mission. Missio Dei Learning Community is focused on helping its students comprehend the Missio Dei within the Grand Narrative of Scripture so they can more effectively work as the agents of God for the recreation of his creation.
This Learning Community is sponsored by the Vineyard Northwest Region and will be led by Winn Griffin, author of God’s Epic Adventure. Winn holds several degrees including a D.Min in Biblical Studies and most recently a D.Min in Leadership in the Emerging Culture from George Fox University.
The first two courses will be centered around the books, Missional Church and The Shaping of Things to Come. I hope you will check out the website and consider enrolling. It is a wonderful opportunity to continue growing and learning in what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world.
July 25, 2008
It has been four years since we leased the facility in Shoreline. Today, as I write this post here is what’s happening at the facility:
8:30-3:30 – one of the local social service agencies we often partner with needed space to run their summer kids’ camp. They use the main room and another large room four days per week.
3:30-5:30 – the same social service agency has a program to serve young adults – 18-25 that have served time or are recovering from substance abuse, the group meets in our “living room” three times per week. It’s a highly directive (tough love kind of) support group helping these young adults get back into a functional life, resolving family, relational issues and job training. Once a month on a weekend this same group uses the facility for “Family Night” there can be up to 80 folks (family and counselors) that are an integral part of the recovery process.
Every Tuesday an AA group from the community uses the facility for a Tuesday lunch meeting. They are there from about 11:30-1:30. We first met the leader of this group while we were doing the renovation. He asked if when we were finished if they could use a room for their weekly lunch meeting. They have been meeting in the facility for four years (they are one of the longest running AA groups in the Seattle area) and have more than tripled in size.
These are just examples of many who use the facility for free or a very minimum fee. Everything from funerals for folks who do not have a faith community, to non-profit organizations in our city that need a space for meeting, training etc. to the local community college small dramas, to the yearly city celebration, our facility will be one of several hosting a jazz band, food, wine and beer for the annual jazz walk that will have about 1000 folks in attendance.
We partner with the City, the School district and Social service agencies from all over our city.
We didn’t get to this place without a lot of wrestling both philosophically and practically and that will be my next post.
July 22, 2008
I am writing my dissertation on morphing a conventional church into a mission-focused community. I need to read those that would disagree with my thesis and those that are trying to solve the problem another way. Any suggestions? I am thinking of a couple:
maybe DA Carson
maybe (I can’t believe I am saying this) Mark Driscoll
July 19, 2008
There is a lot of discussion in the “Missional Church” conversation around the issue of having a building for gathering and functions. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer, as I think this issue must be considered within the context, mission and vision of the faith community the building will serve.
For us a building became important in order to carry on our desire to continue to serve a specific community. In 2004 we took the step to lease a building. Prior to 2004 we were renting space in the basement from a local congregation for Sunday gatherings. When we were given a year’s notice to vacate, we began to ask the hard questions regarding leasing a space. We were at the very beginning of a journey, listening and interacting with the myriad of voices discussing the times we live in. We asked question after question trying to grasp what the tectonic change in world history we (the global community) are living through meant for us to be faithful as a local faith community.
We began a Tuesday evening dinner and book study. For eight months we met at our home for dinner and discussion. We discussed chapter after chapter of “Missional Church”. We were trying to wrap our brains around the concepts in the book and understand what those concepts might mean for us.
We discussed the pros and cons, the why’s and why not’s of taking the step of leasing a space. Our biggest fear was that we would lose sight of the congregation as the church. You see when we rented a basement room for Sunday worship only, everything else we did as a faith community happened in our neighborhoods, the host community and in homes. Moving into a leased space that we would have 24/7 access to could endanger us to put the emphasis on the building as the church rather than the church being the people.
Can you feel our dilemma? We prayed for discernment and direction regarding leasing a building or not. One morning as I was reading through the Gospel of John in Eugene Peterson’s, Message, I came to John 1:14:
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
my heart lept as I read those words. I literally felt like something ignited inside. I knew that it was the Holy Spirit saying, “this is why you can lease a building”. I knew then that we could lease a building and it would be right for us as long as we knew that the building was to be a tool, a gift to serve a specific neighborhood. As a congregation we were to move into a neighborhood and be the presence of Christ to that place.
July 14, 2008
Jessica was amazing when she sang with Sting on Saturday night at the Gorge. You can see videos of the sound check that led to Sting’s discovery and the actual concert here. May I just say that Jessica is not only an incredible talent, she is one of the most genuine, kind people I know. I am so, so happy for her.
July 12, 2008
Tonight my friend Jessica Ketola is singing with Sting at the Gorge! I knew she was born to be a rock star…good luck Jess.
The company she works for is one of the concert sponsors. Jess, her husband and friends had VIP tickets and went backstage to meet the band. Well one thing led to another and Sting invited Jess to sing with the band tonight…I was already sad I couldn’t go, now I am really sad to not be there but soooooo happy for Jess.
July 10, 2008
I don’t want to come off as super critical of Todd Bentley and the whole Lakeland thing (I’m not sure it’s a revival), but on the other hand we have to ask questions. God does not ask us to check our brains at the door, he asks us to use discernment. So I have to ask…
Can someone tell me how this is any different than the selling of indulgences?
July 9, 2008
Recently at our Regional Conference, Todd Hunter brought up some very good thoughts. Not all new, but good to think through…
Evangelism is a subset of Mission. We are to announce, embody and demonstrate the Gospel. At one time culture was such that announcing was effective for people to understand the Gospel. When people wanted to hear our role was to talk. In North America, at least where I live in Seattle, people don’t really need a lot of words. Their perception of Christians is skewed (rightly so in many cases, not in others). People are talking and observing their way to faith in Christ so our role is to listen and embody the Gospel. This is why “belonging before believing” is not just a hip cliché. It is a necessary course correction for those of us that want to embody our faith in a way that others can see if it is real. I will repeat that last line because it is so important…people want to see if it’s real. This means that many people will follow Jesus after years of relationship with (and observing the embodiment of) a congregation/community. Here is where it gets tricky…and actually messy….what does it look like in your faith community, your congregation to welcome people into community before they believe or follow Jesus? What if evangelism now means for the majority of people (especially those that have been brought up in no faith tradition) more embodiment and demonstrating and less announcing?
July 6, 2008
Phyllis Tickle adds much to the current conversation here
I have an easier time listening to the voices that are educated, don’t paint with broad strokes, are not speaking out of complete deconstruction and have hope in the midst of liminality.
July 2, 2008
On Sunday morning I woke up with a very irritated eye. It was blood red, almost like I had scratched it. I thought maybe there was some sort of particle in my eye and I rubbed it red in my sleep. It didn’t feel like anything was still there so I used some Visine and figured it would get better. Today it was still bad so I went to the doctor thinking maybe I had some new-found allergies. After questioning me and examining my eye the doctor asked, “do you read a lot?” To which I replied, “ahh yes.” It seems that all the reading I have been doing recently caused muscle strain which then caused blood vessels to burst. He gave me drops, told me I had to take a bit of a break in reading and needed to rest my eyes.
Who ever heard of such a thing? It’s not what you want to hear when you are on a reading schedule of 75 pages a day so you can finish course work…hmm, maybe I can get Rich to read to me:)