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.
June 25, 2008
If you read my blog you know that I care about gender equality. I have recently come across a blog by a young female professor that is very interesting to me. Jenell has a perspective that I find myself sometimes cheering (see an insert from her blog below) and other times reflecting (wondering if I would agree)…she has an article up at CBE (Christians for Biblical Equality). What strikes you as you read her article? What makes you say “yes” and what makes you wonder?
Recently I was at our Regional Conference and was facilitating a time for women in leadership to meet one another. I won’t go into all the details but another woman leader said to me (to be fair she probably meant in this setting) “I don’t think we need to activate women for a cause.” I was a bit taken back by this. This came as a response to my question, “do you think many women in this room come from churches that do not recognize women in senior leadership?” Because I was taken back I have been reflecting on why…why did that response hit me wrong?
I guess I am actually feeling the need to activate women for a cause. The cause for biblical equality is not just personal…it feels to me a bit like…well we don’t have slaves on our plantation but let’s not activate the neighbors slaves to think they could be free…
I am thinking about this more and more. Thank God Lucy Burns and Alice Paul felt it was their place to activate men and women for a cause.
Looking back on many of the civil rights or social movements there has always been those (usually Christians) who activate men and women for the cause.
I am not of the persuasion that women in leadership fall into “disputable matters” (adiaphora), rather I see it as a justice issue. So in my own movement, I wonder if at some point I (along with others) will be seen as an agitator, activating men and women for a cause rather than those trying to participate in Kingdom Come?
From Jenell’s blog on this topic:
“I believe that the young Reformed movement legitimates and reinscribes the repression of women for a new generation, carrying an ages-old injustice into the future of the church. They may do it via what Mary Stuart Van Leeuwen dubbed ‘soft patriarchy’, a gentle, well-intentioned protection of and headship over women, sometimes even allowing all manner of social equality short of access to the pulpit, or they may do it through more blatant discrimination or even misogyny. Soft or hard matters sometimes, but not in this case — it is what it is. If your movement excludes women from full equality with men, then just call it a men’s movement and don’t try to make me pay attention to it.”
June 24, 2008
Do we all have a specific “destiny” predetermined by God?
Is the question even valid? Does God give me life and actually let me have free choice as to what might life will be about?
What about the Jeremiah call? Is that the only way we can know God’s will for our lives by a specific call that is often interpreted as “destiny”?
What are your thoughts or questions on what is often called referred to as “destiny”?
April 22, 2008
Rob Bell (though he was a huge part of it) was not the only reason last Tuesday evening was such a great time. Person after person that I have talked with have commented that this is the way church ought to be. Walking in the door there were smiling faces, tables of food, wine flowing, great live music. Right away you knew you were entering a party and you were welcome. People were hanging out, lots of laughter, lots of conversations around the room. Over the next half an hour the space filled.
Jim Henderson master creator of all things OTM is brilliantly skilled at creating great spiritual conversations. He knows how to network people (from very different backgrounds and ideologies) and bring them together. He asked Rob Bell to talk about his new book, Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Zondervan) coming out in Fall 2008 Everyone there loved his talk, so much to think about.
Rob and I had talked about the conversation we would have about women in leadership. I was excited for this conversation because I knew how Rob had courageously led his own church through the change of an all male leadership structure to include women on every level of leadership.
Another surprise hit of the evening was Andy Himes’ monologue about his growing up in the South in the 60’s and the injustice that surrounded him, even in the church. It caused him to lose his faith as he saw blacks repeatedly mistreated. It was powerful.
It was all so good, I wish we would have had more time to hear more from Doug Pagitt, Todd Hunter and Sunil Sardar. Sunil Sardar is the founder of Truth Seekers, an organization dedicated to end caste in India. Did that register? Ending caste…please pray for Sunil and Truth Seekers.
We, Vineyard Community Church say thank you to all who came and participated. Everyone made it a great happening.
March 14, 2008
I don’t think many people would disagree on times are changing. The question to followers of Jesus becomes, what does it mean to be faithful in our time, what does it mean for the church to navigate the waters of societal change?
“Every few hundred years in Western society there occurs a sharp transformation…within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—its worldview; its basic values; its social and political structure; its arts; its key institutions…fifty years later, there is a new world and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are currently living through such a transformation.”
Peter Drucker. Post-Capitalist Society, New York: Harper’s Business. 1993. p. 1.
February 8, 2008
I have been trying to wrap my brain around this statement made by N.T. Wright in regard to resurrection. This afternoon I was studying Walter Brueggemann’s “Interpretation Genesis” for the series we are teaching on Sunday mornings. As I was reading the commentary on the text from Chapter 16 -18 Brueggemann (speaking of the promise) states:
“At the end of 18:15 there is still no resolution. The promise is still in limbo. Sarah is still without child. The whole narrative presses to the birth in chapter 21. The task of the exposition is to portray the anguish of these texts. That anguish turns out to be labor pain, but that is not known here. These texts present the creation “groaning in labor…groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as children, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved ” (Romans 8:22-24). These first parents of faith might well have made that same statement. The story of their lives is the story of hopeful but impatient groaning as they wait for the redemption of their bodies and of their history.
I wrote in the margin of my book — this is it, this is life after life after death…then I typed in my notes…how did we lose this ultimate hope in our teaching in the church…how did this core Christian tenet of faith get reduced to “going to heaven when I die”
I am thinking about this a lot as we journey with Jesus through Lent and to Easter…contemplating on Resurrection and what that means for us today – how do we re-imagine our faith around that story…
Then I read the following from Bob Hyatt’s blog and it came just a bit clearer. N.T. Wright in Time Magazine makes it pretty clear. What do you think?
February 3, 2008
We are teaching through some of the key themes of Genesis this month. When studying the narrative there are so many things we cannot explain nor should we…not an acceptable way of study for many of us that have been raised in the western rational way of thinking…the Old Testament is hard for many. God doesn’t seem like the Loving Jesus of the New Testament, at first reading God can actually seem pretty angry, cold and calculating when things don’t go the way he wants them to go. Here is a line that Todd Hunter used last year when he was with us. I think if we start with this view of God and really can get it deep into our soul we can (and I think this could be what faith is about) let the gaps be, we don’t have to have God make rational sense in every way possible.
“What lies behind the universe is TOTALLY COMPETENT LOVE – Behind the known world is totally competent love”
If this is my starting place I can let the mystery be.
January 6, 2008
Last week at VCC we did a reflection – looking back at 2007 and asked these questions:
- Who were the significant people in your life?
What books or Bible study instructed your mind and heart?
- How were you a gift to a person or a community?
- What was your greatest joy this year? Your greatest sorrow?
- In what areas did you grow? Were these areas related to your joy or your pain?
- Did you root your life more firmly in Scripture and in prayer? Did God seem near or far off?
Is there anything you feel God is saying to you as you look back on the year?
This morning we will reflect on looking ahead at 2008 with these questions:
- Who are the people with whom you would like to deepen your relationships in the year to come? Do you have relationships that need to be healed? Are there places in your own heart that need healing?
- Is there an aspect of your character you would like to develop, or one of the fruit of the Spirit you would like God to grow in you? (“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Gal.5:22)
- Are there any other goals, in the area of mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional growth that you’d like to name before God, asking his help?
Most of the time we encourage living in the present, this real day to day, ordinary life and see all aspects as holy. Spiritual formation is happening whether I am watching Fox News, CNN or eat dinner with my family. All of life is forming me. There are a few times during the year that it is good to reflect on the past and ask what do I hope for in the future. As followers of Christ we live in three time zones, the past, the present and the future. The Kingdom has come, is here and our prayer, “Kingdom Come”
September 15, 2007
Five years ago I read, “Call to Commitment” by Elizabeth O’Connor. Elizabeth’s written record of the journey of the COS was more than inspirational to me. It was a large piece in informing the paradigm shift that I and my fellow travelers at VCC were experiencing.
Sometime after first reading Call to Commitment, I had a dream. It was a short dream. At the time our church was renting space for our worship gathering in the basement of another church. In my dream, I was sitting with about 12 other people in that space. Elizabeth O’Connor was sitting on a high stool with a music stand in front of her and she was teaching us.
Since that dream I have embraced Elizabeth O’Connor as one of my mentors. She and her colleagues at COS have taught me a great deal on how to think about things such as:
- What is the essence of Church in our context?
- How do we encourage VCC members to work primarily outside of the internal community of VCC in mission groups that bring healing in the personal, local and global realm of life? How do we look to see what God is doing in this world and become participants in God’s redemptive work.
- How do you continually hold paradox while leading a local congregation committed to a center set model of belonging?
Where do call, gifting, passion, talent fit in the journey
How to live in the tension of belonging to a community where the redemptive work and purposes of God occurs without falling into delusion (think Bonhoeffer here) of finding a community where everyone is mature, healthy and like-minded.
To appreciate the Church in all its forms
Later I will post on Turning Point One Year Later