Archive for February, 2005

Defining institutions

Defining instiutions


Some people talk about the institutional church as opposed to the organic (relationship driven) church. I don’t think the distinction is fair. The language usually frames churches with over 30 people and a complex structure as institutional and inferior.

Most local churches with buildings and staff are not completely driven by structure and programs. There are organic elements in very large highly structured churches. Conversely most house churches have some structure and some layers of complexity. In short “institutional” churches have organic elements, and “organic” churches have institutional elements.

I don’t think the question is whether your church is an institution or not. The question is what type of institution are you. There are a number of different types of church structures like congregational and episcopal. I’ve started using those labels more because they are accurate, and don’t imply anything negative.

It doesn’t take long when you lead a house church to realize that getting rid of some structure can help. This is particularly true when dealing with certain kinds of people. It also doesn’t take long to realize that what you’ve changed is only a fraction of the whole situation. The bulk of church life and church leadership is still dealing with the same old issues that have existed for thousands of years.

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Take my world apart

Take my world apart


I was going to rant tonight.  Feeling frustrated with a number of things.  I decided it was best not to.

I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash the feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can’t deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart

Take from “Worlds Apart” by Jars of Clay

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The cradle has fallen

The cradle has fallen


Randall is one of my most respected friends and pastors, and this time he has gone too far

Well, when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And it has fallen here, it has fallen! Makers of men, creators of leaders, be careful what kind of leaders you’re producing here. Now, I don’t know if a little dribble here or there is right or wrong; I’m no judge or jury. But I can tell you this: we shouldn’t sell anybody out to make peace with the women!

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History and Explanation of the EC

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Tear it up, might as well

Tear it up, might as well


We miss you Shant Bob!

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Rethinking discipleship and leadership training

Rethinking discipleship and leadership training


My experience in Australia and discovery of Forge has got me thinking about discipleship and ministry training. In the west we have relied on institutions to do this for a long time. I work in one and I really enjoy it. For some students these institutions do more good than harm, for others it is the opposite. Regardless of how effective these institutions are many are under a lot of financial pressure.

I think the story is the same across the board. 80% of donations come from the boomer’s parents and they are beginning to die off. Their kids, the boomers, tend to be more materialistic and less generous. The boomers kids are often anti-institutional so they given even less. As donations remain flat the costs of running these institutions climbs forcing tuition hikes. Keep following the trend and eventually people can’t afford it, especially if what they are learning cannot be transferred to building a career. In Canada half the colleges and seminaries probably wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Canada Student Loans. Some students finish the program with the equivalent of small mortgage.

In academia there is a constant push to further differentiate yourself with higher level degrees. The schools and colleges compete with on another with options and programs to attract students. Over time the schools spend more and more money to fight over and increasingly small piece of the potential student “pie”. Because of all these things the cost of discipleship is extremely high. Based on average tuition rates and donations collected it costs about 14-24 thousand dollars to disciple one person for one year. Could we get the same similar results leaving that money in the local church?

In many circles people are rethinking church and even the gospel. I think we need to reconsider how we train church leaders.

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Stock Ticker: House church strategy

Stock Ticker: House church strategy


My vacation is over and I had a great weekend to round things off.  I had hoped to be at Bethany on Friday but I was way too jet lagged.  House church was really good today.  We were missing a few folks so we switched gears and played some enhanced Stock Ticker.  I say enhanced because I built a little web app a few years ago to handle all the finacial transactions and display net worth in real time.  We still roll the dice, and move the markers up and down, but everything else happens on the screen.  Great fun.  My rivalry with Scott was resurrected and he overtook me in the final round.  Cudos to the mighty Random who joined us for the game and emerged victorious.

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Saskatoon Blogger Meetup was great

Saskatoon Blogger Meetup was great


I had a really great time.  This was my favourite blogger meetup so far.  I even to got to meet people from another house church I had never heard of.  It is so cool to find other people doing similar stuff.

Those who were around long enough got to see some very professional and astonishing card tricks by Blackjack Magic.  If you are in Saskatoon and want to be truly amazed you can email him at jdskrip *at* sasktel dot net. 

For more photos click here.

Thank you Becky and you can find a list of links here.

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The mission with a message

The mission with a message


I appreciate all the discussion around mission.  However I’m convinced that changing our models isn’t going to be enough.  When the net affect of the evangelical church on behavior is near 0 we have a problem that goes much deeper than how we do things.  I believe that the version of Christianity many people hold to today has been heavily corrupted by things like rationalism and consumerism.  We have turned God in to an set of objective principles we apply to improve our life.

I think that engaging in mission, domestic or otherwise, is can be a fairly fruitless endeavour if we aren’t any different than the people we are trying to reach.  How do you transform the world, when you aren’t transformed yourself? 

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The mighty ute

The mighty ute


Going across cultures you sometimes experience things you find odd.  In Australia I had a hard time getting over the ute.  Updated versions of the car/truck hybrids that we knew as “El Camino” or “Ranchero” back in the 70′s.  There are lots of these around Melbourne.  The only people in North America that drive these vehicles are about as current as the Aussie “Bogan” and as stylish as  the North American “Chotch.”

In Australia’s defence they do drive more fuel efficient cars, and there aren’t any Chryslers on the road!  In fact the word “dodgy” means “below standard, awkward, suspicious or underhanded. Similar to the American ‘Cheesy’”.

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