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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Found this quiz on another blog this morning. Not sure what it means, how it defines the categories, etc but for the most part I agree with the findings for my profile (see below). If you want to take the quiz click on the link below.

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern, You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don’t think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this. 

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan
Neo orthodox
Classical Liberal
Modern Liberal
Roman Catholic
Reformed Evangelical

What’s your theological worldview?created with

Taylor continues with a conversation she had with another friend…

A friend of mine, who was for a time in charge of continuing education at a seminary in lower Manhattan, challenged this idea (see part 1) by reversing the usual polarity between the school and the city. Instead of inviting people to General Seminary to learn about God, Harry invited them to stay at General Seminary while they learned what God was doing in the city. After days on the streets and nights at the theater, the pilgrims returned to the seminary to process their encounters with the divine.The clear message was that God did not live at the seminary. God lived in the world. The seminary existed so that people had a place to try and make sense of their experience in the world, as well as a community to support them while they did.If churches saw their mission in the same way, there is no telling what might happen. What if people were invited to come tell what they already know of God instead of to learn what they are supposed to believe? What if they were blessed for what they are doing in the world instead of chastened for not doing more at church? What if church felt more like a way station than a destination? What if the church’s job were to move people out the door instead of trying to keep them in, by convincing them that God needed them more in the world than in the church?I may have left the house, but I have not left the relationship. After twenty years of serving Mother Church at the altar, I have pitched my tent in the yard, using much of what she taught me to make a way in the world.  


Is it time for us to open the doors and walk out and join Christ in his redemption of the world or do we keep the doors closed? Death to the old self and habits is hard, but life begun anew is harder and will make us rely on the creator and sustainer. We have a choice to make. We can do neither or both, but there is no middle ground. 

I’m wandering through Barbara Brown Taylor’s “Leaving Church…A Memoir of Faith” and find the following passages relevant to my current questions about church…

All these years later, the way many of us are doing church is broken and we know it, even if we do not know what to do about it….We follow a Lord who challenged the religious and political institutions of his time while we fund and defend our own. We speak and sing of divine transformation while we do everything in our power to maintain our equilibrium. If redeeming things continue to happen to us in spite of these deep contradictions in our life together then I think that is because God is faithful even when we are not. 

I wonder why we live through this pain and refuse to consult the healer? Why do we keep making the same mistakes? Is it because we know the truth of this last sentence? We say it all the time that we are blessed more than we can ever see reason, and yet we fail to realize the possibilities of what could be if we were more faithful to what Christ envisions for his church.Taylor then quotes the novelist Reynolds Price who is stricken with cancer, “When you undergo huge traumas in middle life, everybody is in league with us to deny that the old life is ended. Everybody is trying to patch us up and get us back to who we were, when in fact what we need to be told is…’You’re dead. Who are you going to be tomorrow?'”

This is the gospel truth, as true of the church as of her members. All the church ever needed to rise from the dead is memory, bread, wine, and Holy Spirit—that, and care for the world that is at least equal to her care for her own preservation. Where church growth has eclipsed church depth, it is possible to hear very little about the world except as a rival for the human resources needed by the church for her own survival. 

This is the trap that easily snares us…the need to accomplish something that is tangential to what we perceive the church should be. It’s about buildings instead of neighborhoods. It’s about numbers instead of relationships. It’s about agendas instead of listening to the other. Why do we keep making the same mistakes? More importantly, what do we do about it? Or, should I ask how do we begin to rely on God instead of ourselves so that we may begin to help our neighbors to embark on the journey with us? Do we have to be healed before we step outside the door, or is it the encounters with those outside the church that will begin to heal us?I’ll finish Taylor’s thoughts on new life for the church in the next post. 

As I reflect on what it means to be the church as people called to live with the power and grace of Christ, I wonder how do we reflect his glory so that others see we stand as a counter-culture to self-indulgence, greed, and callousness? The post below from Larry James speaks to this matter. When we take the time to listen to the deep-narratives of people (rich and poor) we will begin to see a vision of what the church can and should be, and when we learn to listen we begin to develop an ethos or “accustomed place” in Christ that does rescue us from the currents of the culture pushing us about. In these deep relationships built with time and effort we become what the triune God is and more importantly what He desires for His world and to me this is truly good news… 


Asking for money vs. caring for people

Yes, I ask people for money all of the time.But, a surprising thing has happened to me over the past 13 years in the city. I care less and less about the gift.When I say that my focus today is the giver, please don’t hear me commending myself. I’m not patting myself on the back, not at all.There is just no other position to take in the matter if I want to sleep at night!Major wealth is a challenge and, I have come to believe for many/most people, at times a special burden.I find myself asking for money less and less often. What I am inquiring most about these days is the life of the wealthy person who expresses interest in what we are doing.Important questions, having nothing at all to do with what a donor may or may not decide to do for my organization, need to be posed to the very wealthy.As a new friend told me recently, “It is a grand time to be wealthy.”That is certainly true from the standpoint of the growing wealth of the very wealthy in the U. S.But, with multiplying wealth comes all sort of unique problems and specialized issues.Taxes are a huge concern for most mega-wealthy folks. Thus, the proliferation of the family foundation as a means of managing that special set of challenges. Many people create foundations to handle tax burdens, but have little if any idea as to what the mission of their foundation will be.Children as heirs is another gigantic concern for the very wealthy. The rich care about their children just as I care about mine. But the transfer of wealth to the next generation is not something that can be taken lightly. Parents worry about this significant passage in their lives and the affect it will have on the next and succeeding generations.We are all on a journey through life.My obligation, it seems to me, is to ask about the life stories, the dreams, the interests and the hopes of people–rich and poor alike.I’ve noticed when I communicate to a wealthy donor that I care most about his story, her journey, his hopes and her mission, our conversations turn inward and go deeper. These conversations allow space for “safe reflection” and processing along a path of personal and community growth.I’ve come to a place where donations just aren’t the point.Shared life, authentic understanding and productive action as community is what the journey entails.Loving wealthy people is all about understanding and listening and really caring.Just like loving poor people.Posted on 

I took the following from the blog post excerpted from a book by Sally Morgenthaler…The question I want to focus on is third on the list. This is moving from community to communitas and I understand the concept, but have no idea how to actually mobilize a congregation to begin. I dare say it’s not happening from the pulpit, I’ve had a great preacher saying all the right things for two years. I think it needs to be cultivated via one-to-one relationships that are not afraid to ask the hard questions of people. By having those close relationships maybe I can ask, “Joe, you’re great at mobilizing people in your business to produce great products, how can I convince you we need your skills, your time, your effort to help us do kingdom work?” 

 Leadership in this century will be more about convening conversation:

  • What do the people see that needs to happen in their neighborhoods?
  • What gifts do they have for meeting the needs around them?
  • How can we gather people around a common vision and then release them to do what they’re really good at doing?


I keep asking the same questions. Can an old church built upon the frameworks of modernity survive and thrive in today’s world? Or, do we have start anew to begin the conversation with those who would not darken the doors of the church as they know it to currently exist? One of the key issues we have to consider is how leadership perceives itself and more importantly how leaders engage those who trust them. Below is one perspective as it relates to mega-churches and the “super-pastor” as Rob Bell calls it. I think we need to reframe this point of view as it applies to elder-led churches for the sake of our current situation and begin to ask the hard questions of ourselves before we begin to question those who lead, and then hopefully we will begin to speak in truth to each other to seek God’s glory above our own.

 Here is the link to “Shepherds or CEOs?”