Archive for June, 2003

Speaking on First Nation's Issues

Speaking on First Nation’s Issues
Tonight I’m helping Jackie Ottmann at Mars Hill tonight.  I’m not expert on Native Issues but I’ve done some research and more importantly listened to some stories.  Over the last year I’ve encountered a big shift in my thinking.  More and more I’m convinced that the plight of the First Nations people is the most important social justice issue in our country.  An issue the church has almost completely ignored. 

It pains me to see how the evangelical church is outraged by the decision to allow gay marriage (even though more than 1/2 the population is ok with it and we live in a democracy) and organizes prayer vigils against Harry Potter yet we stand silent while an entire people group are oppressed in an industrialized western nation. 

White people have a long history of trying “fix” aboriginal problems with little success.  I don’t advocate that white people should try again but we should deal with our own issues.  We still hold racial bias and we live in ignorance.  We are content to accept the skewed perception of the media on First Nations issues even though the media misrepresents Christians all the time.  I think the biggest thing non-aboriginal people can do is learn to listen and be humble enough to hear what we are being told. 


Internetworked Theological Training

Internetworked Theological Training
Effective use of the Internet could transform the way people learn the deeper aspects of the Christian life.  I’m trying to wrap my head around what that would look like.  I’m pondering the concept of decentralized learning communities.  These are groups of people who come together (offline) to learn.  They are also connected to the rest of the network online.  On the network the advanced people provide material and review for assignments submitted online, possibly through blogs.  The “analog” learning communities would share discussion and conduct peer reviews of each others work.  The online community would do the same.  Class discussion becomes a global discussion.  The focus would be less on listening to the specialist and more learning together as a team. 

The decentralized online/offline learning community could plug in well in to any mission or service opportunity. 
Peer reviews, global online community and self learning bring the cost of education down.
A massive peer-to-peer learning network creates a searchable database of media, research and information
No tiers of certification, just an online history of conversation and work submitted


My ideal discipleship/training centre

My ideal discipleship/training institution
I’ve been trying reimagine discipleship, biblical education and ministry training.  I think the best type of institution would integrate intuitive learning with an indepth concrete missions or service experience.

Scholatistic style education facilitated by a college, interchurch effort in a city or the Internet.  A combination of the 3 would work as well. 

Analyze and interpret the bible and culture
We need top stop “feeding” people and teach people how to “feed” themselves.  Use the bible and culture as the testing ground for these new skills.

Connect with God
This would involve exploring spiritual disciplines such as fasting, prayer, solitude and simplicity.  To be empowered by God we need to move beyond shallow spiritual experiences and connect with Him on his terms.

Christians need to learn how to speak, write and understand online communication. Blogs could be a huge component in this.

The would involve leadership, conflict management, and peer to peer relationship building.

A half time ministry or service experience that would do the following.

Give people a passion for the mission of God
It’s imperative that we train people who are motivated more by kingdom values than by institiutional values or personal achievement.  The best way to do that is put people in a place where God is working.

Give opportunity for hardship and suffering
The forgotten value of the early church is suffering.  There is no growth without pain.  There is no maturity without failure.  We don’t truly learn in a sterile safe environment.

Couched in a mentoring relationship
Throughout history masters taught apprenctices by working together.  In this model one learns more than knowledge.  They can draw from the mentors entire life. 

Learn to rely on the power of God
The main missing component in church today is God’s life changing power.  Our sterile ministry environments are so controlled there is no need for God’s involvement. 


Seminaries must be destroyed?

Seminaries must be destroyed?
“Alright, so I’ve attended seminary for two semesters. What are my thoughts so far?

My most important thought: I think the institution of the seminary is fundamentally flawed. Seminaries must be destroyed for Christianity to flourish.”

Link from John 


I hate accounting

I hate accounting
I truly hate accounting with every fiber of my being.  I hate doing anything that requires the utmost in precision and detail.  I hate the fact that I’ve wasted hours upon hours trying to reconcile my assets/liabilities with my income just to finish off this stupid corporate tax return. 

Next fiscal year I’m getting an accountant, I don’t care how much its costs!

It’s been said that there are people with a keen mind for this kind of detail.  People who actually enjoy the mind numbing torture that is accounting.  CRAZY!  I’ve always said to myself, “Leighton, you are a talented guy, you can do anything you set your mind to, all you have to do is try hard enough and work at until you get it right”.  I can do lots of stuff.  Programming – sure, databases – great, graphic design – no problem, preaching – wonderful, counseling – let me at him,  but accounting.  Accounting can burn forever in the flaming pits of gehenna. 

Mark my words, when I get the little yellow audit warning off my GIFI statement, I will run outside to the back yard leaping and shouting I am a golden god.


Church as a Home

Church as a Home
I’ve always kind of viewed church as a home. A home is the people you live with and it is also a set of walls, windows, rooms and doors. A house with no people isn’t a home.  People with no house isn’t a home either.  However the heart of a home isn’t the house, it is the people. You can change the structure of a house all you want, as long as the structure provides shelter, the structure is fulfilling its purpose.

In regards to church, I think some people view the structure as the church, and the people as the less relevant portion.  Maybe that is why we have such difficulty letting dying churches truly die?  Maybe thats why there is so much fear concerning alternative forms of church?


Why do you want me to get married?

Why do you want me to get married?
In some of my recent posts I’ve talked a little bit about the pressure from church people to get married.  Similarly there is pressure on young couples to have babies.  I’ve often wondered why this is the case.  Do people just want more people to become like them?

There is a strange paradox.  On one hand many married people realize that marriage isn’t all they thought it would be.  It didn’t solve their self image problems or their loneliness.  It isn’t a utopian existence of effortless intimacy.  Even sex can be extremely frustrating.  Yet people seem to maintain that this lifestyle is inherently superior. 

The biggest hurdle to overcome as a single person is the mindset there must be something wrong with you because you are single.  Everyone wants to get married so if you are single then it’s because no one wants to marry you.  You must have some sort of fatal defect.  It is believing this lie that caused me a lot of grief.  There is a certain freedom and satisfaction when you can look back at the last 5 years of your life and appreciate how truly good they were. 

The biggest downside to singleness that I’ve found is finding purpose.  It is very easy to just live for yourself, do all the cool stuff, buy all the best toys and just entertain yourself to death.  It is important for single people to find some purpose to serve.  Life can get meaningless when it is self centered.  

Loneliness can be a hurdle.  I’ve always lived with friends that I care about.  Living with roomates can be messy at times but it is often a lot of fun. 


Getting direction from God

Getting Direction from God
How much does God wish to direct our lives?  Does everyone have specific callings for specific aspets of their life?

After a quick run through the NT I saw two types of calling.  The call to Christ and the call to be something in Christ.  Paul was called to be an apostle.  Beyond some of these major things I think God gives us a lot of freedom.  Gal 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free…”  Sometimes God does give us specific instructions in specific situations, like Paul’s man from Macedonia, but I think this is more the exception than the rule. There is so much practical wisdom in scripture it seems to indicate that people in the early church were given a lot of choice. 

In some cases I think that the desire to spiritualize decision making is really attempt at averting responsibility.  Sometimes making a hard decision requires understanding, patience and research.  Instead of trying understand themselves and their situation some people would rather hear a word from the Lord.  I believe very strongly in listening to God and receiving divine revelation.  My experience has been that it is very easy for my emotions to influence what I think I am hearing from God.  It’s vitally important to be anchored in wisdom and understanding.  Seeking spiritual direction without seeking wisdom and understanding quickly degenerates in to a quasi-spiritual ignorance.


The List is growing

The List is growing
Over 40 Canadian Christian blogs.  Over half of them from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Canada’s Greatest City).


Do you like America?

Do you like America?
The CBC just aired a one hour show that examined world opinion of the United States.  Canadians like American culture but on average view America as arrogant, less cultured and a poorer place to live. 

During the program a number of Americans were interviewed.  Many American’s believe that their country has a mandate to promote their form of freedom across the world.  The rest of the world, including Canada finds this pretty creepy.

96%of Americans believe everyone wants to move to their country.  90% of Canadians think Canada is a better place to live.