Archive for September, 2003
Making Sense of Church
I just finished Spencer Burke’s “Making Sense of Church“. I really enjoyed it. It seems like Spencer is deeply involved in the emerging church conversation. His tone is honest, open and mature. He doesn’t give any concrete models or definitions but at the same time what he says reflects some very concrete experiences. I came away from the book thinking that Spencer really had something he wanted to say and he wasn’t just writing a book.
His book looks at handful of necessary transitions.
Tour Guide to Traveler
Teacher to facilitator
Hero to Human
Consumer to Steward
Retailer to Wholesaler
Adversary to Ally
Warrior to Gardener
The teacher to facilitator section interested me the most. I work at a Bible College and I believe strongly in effective bible teaching. I would have used different words than Spencer to illustrate the contrast he identifies because the best teaching is inspiration and facilitation. His main point is that we need to learn together. Our sermons are just thinly disguised university lectures and aren’t particularly effective at fostering learning. The acquisition of knowledge is only one piece of the puzzle and by itself isn’t terribly useful.
The retailers to wholesalers illustration is a great way to look at our partnership with God in ministry. We are called to do our part, deliver the raw goods, and then God can do His thing. Some churches over package everything shutting God out of the picture, and others expect God to making something out of nothing.
The Hero to Human transition is one that I’ve personally encountered. I’ve always wanted to be a hero. That seems to work well until you realize you aren’t a hero, you’ve failed bitterly, and it seems like too much work to keep of the façade. I don’t know how one can be human in larger established programcentric churches, but in a house church I think revealing one’s weaknesses and humanity is essential.
The Adversary to Ally transition is the one I struggled with the most. Spencer describes a reshaping of Christian’s view and relationship with other religions. He also carries the concept to different faith traditions that seemed to be at odds with one another. I’m totally with Spencer when it comes to evangelicals, mainline Protestants, Roman Catholics, Orthodox starting up a real learning dialogue. I’m less enthusiastic about approaching other religions with the same openness.
I spent a lot of time in conversation with Mormons and JW’s. Two groups which most evangelicals would consider outside the realm of God’s saving grace. My conversations have forced me to rethink my prior assumptions. I’ve had to ask myself “How much does God care about theology?” If they follow Jesus, even if it’s a redefined Jesus, would God look past the heresy? I honestly don’t know but I learned a lot about them and having a loving open relationship has certainly helped me share my perspective.
The danger I see, and it doesn’t seem to be mentioned in the emerging church circles, is that we may embrace error with the truth we take from other religions. Paul was brave enough to redefine the unknown God, but he stood fiercely against gentile circumcision and the “empty deceitful philosophy” of his day. How much does theology matter when it comes to salvation? I don’t know. I don’t know if God looks past deception. How much does it matter in life of the church? A lot! There are a number of warnings in the scriptures about false teachers. Paul speaks of doctrines of demons and Jesus speaks of the traditions of men. I think the church can be discerning as they learn from others.
I recommend people pick up this book.
I learned a few new things about teaching last week. When trying to get the group to discuss something its sometimes better to provide a few different possible answers to a particular question. Last week I had a discussion about effective character transformation. Instead of asking “How do you change your character”, I gave the students 4 options and then asked them which was the best option. I’m finding that framing the discussion gives people a starting point they can work with.
Church of Trogdor Burninates
I had a great time tonight. The first meeting of the house church went very well. I met some really great people. We talked about our journey and what we are looking for in church. I sensed God’s hand on the meeting. About the only downside to the evening was my choice of pop. Sprite Ice is carbonated Scope.
Look for some new bloggers to arrive on the scene soon. One thing we need to figure out is our name. Next week we will meet at Stereotrap’s CD release party!
Getting Ready for the Meeting
Tonight is the first get together for all the people interested in forming this house church. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. The house is going through a generous cleaning! I hope I can have everything ready so I can particpate in the emerging church chat in a few hours!
L4U Library Automation Software
If you are considering Kelowna Software’s L4U Library Automation System I recommend thinking again. Support is slow and expensive. Our library records database is continually corrupted forcing us to run their “tools” to repair it or restore from a backup. It wreaks havoc on our circulation. The boolean searches don’t work properly. No one here is happy with it.
Today’s classes went really well. Today I was covering for Doug in his Issues and Ethics course. Normally I find it difficult teaching someone elses material, but today was probably my best stab at it. I’m finding it is really important to take ownership of the material and find my own illustrations. I was nervous about today’s class because these are many of the people I taught last year in Spiritual Formation. The people that gave me some poor evaluations last year.
I really love the scriptures
I’m working on an Issues and Ethics lecture I’m going to give tomorrow. I’m looking through bible to find references that talk about character transformation and obedience from the heart. The scriptures have an amazing way of pointing me to the hope that I have in Christ. They radically reorient me to the things that matter, the things that dim from view when I’m busy thinking about all manner of stuff.
Teaching takes a lot out of me
There is a definite pattern I go through when I teach. I start off nervous, especially if I haven’t taught in awhile. Then slowly I warm up. The better I know the material the quicker I become comfortable with the class. There are times when real heart felt emotion and passion just kind of slides through. I’ll just be going on and I will just slide in to a very fluid mode and I feel like I’ve become this conduit for God’s Spirit. Those are the best classes, but man I feel wiped after them.
I’m not one to hide much, and may be too careless with my disregard for my image. I often talk about my failures and struggles and I don’t generally care if I look stupid. Sometimes that sinks me and I lose my audience. Being authentic is great when I’ve earned the trust from my hearers, it doesn’t work so well when I haven’t earned that trust.
House church meeting
There is a meeting at 7:30 on Thursday night for anyone interested in being part of the house church Jer Olson and I have been talking about. If you are interested in checking it out you can contact me here.
The rest of this post describes what the house church will look like. Feel free to look it over to prepare some questions or suggestions for the meeting, or put them in a comment. Be sure to check the comments to see if something has been clarified.
Our desire is to become a Christian community where
People know they are heart of the church
Ministry is relational and gift oriented
Christian mission and service are integral
People are taught how to think, not just what to think
Spiritual formation and the practice of spiritual disciplines are encouraged
We are a group of friends, not just a friendly group
Everyone has a voice and role to play
Dialogue and conversation are part of the normal life of the church
Leadership guide but do not dominate
There is a clear line between what we do and the mission of the kingdom
We explore expressions of worship that are non manipulative
We connect with the rest of the body through a decentralized network
We allow for theological diversity
We take full advantage of the Internet to enhance physical community
We use or financial resources to support the cause of social justice and other churches
We submit ourselves to the scrutiny of other devoted followers of Christ
We continually train new leaders to lead other church plants
We practice communion by having a meal together
We grow in love for each other as we work in mission/service together for a purpose that is greater than ourselves
We share the resources we create with the body of Christ online
We will chronicle the life of our church through blogs allowing people to learn from our successes and failures
We regularly watch Strong Bad emails and play Settlers of Catan – TROGDOR!
We continue to dialogue with established churches in familiar and unfamiliar faith traditions in hopes of mutual benefit.
We rely on the power of God to transform us in to vessels of His love
We are Christ centered and view the bible as authoritative.
Bring them home now
Very interesting site. It is part of a political initiative by voices associated with the US military. Very prominent military people believe the current US administration has lied to them and calling upon the US government to pull the troops out.