Archive for October, 2006

Why are you abandoning the church?

Why are you abandoning the church?


I tend to get in to many discussions about the church and my ideas of how it should change. This normally leads in to a discussion of my past house church experiments as well as my future plans. When people figure out I’m discontent with the status quo but would rather plant something new than reform an existing church they say things like “Why are you abandoning the church? Why are you running off and doing your own thing?”

These responses would change if I was just a church planter who mentioned nothing about being discontent with anything.

There are a number of good reasons for certain people to start something new, to experiment on the margins rather than try to reform an existing institution or move the “center.”

Some people are called to change the establishment, others are called to do new things. People should follow their calling.

Some people are gifted in facilitating change in established organizations, some people are gifted at exploring uncharted territory.

Changing an existing institution is long, hard, work and requires a lot of patience. It requires a certain kind of leadership ability that not everyone has.

Some kinds of experiments need to start with no baggage. Some require a completely different mindset that would be difficult to transition in to.

It often takes success at the margins to inspire movement at the center.

It is pretty hard to lead an organization through change if you aren’t a leader in the organization.

A lot of attempted church transitions fail miserably. This can cause a lot of grief and heartache. Why force change on people who aren’t ready for it?

Some institutions will never change significantly and that is okay because they are serving a purpose to a specific group of people.

There are a lot of people out there that lead established organizations that have chosen to stick it out and do what they can. I’ll admit that I am skeptical of this approach, but not so much that I can’t bless the people that are trying.

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It's not really about houses

It’s not really about houses


As I’ve become an open advocate of organic ministry I’ve engaged in a number of conversations with people who aren’t as convinced as I am. Here are some of the most common responses.

Response #1:

There is no one church model that God designed for every situation.

Counter-point:

I agree. What needs to change is more the mindset than the model. Each expression of the church should be flexible enough to fit in to various cultures while being consistent with the nature of the church and remaining faithful to the gospel.

Response #2:

Going back to the New Testament model won’t move us forward.

Counter-point:

I would restate that in my understanding organic church is not about a new model. It isn’t about doing things exactly the same way they were done in the first hundred years of the church. It is about examining how we function as a local church in light of what scripture tells us about the nature of the church.

Church as know it is largely centered on what the reformers concluded the heart of church was. Calvin believed that church was all about the preaching of the word and the proper administration of the sacraments. That is one big reason why our concept of ministry is dominated by authorized people speaking words to a crowd of people that listen.

What if the heart of church is not one authorized person speaking to a crowd? A much stronger theme in the New Testament is spiritually empowered people, operating in their spiritual gifts, proclaiming the gospel in various ways and ministering to each other in bonds of love and community. Ministry happens primarily, but not exclusively, in the context in of relationships of mutual love and trust. This is in contrast to the mindset that ministry is primarily received through participation in a program or attendance of an event.

I’m trying very hard to not say all programs are evil, or that preaching as it is done is illegitimate. These things have their place but I am convinced that the dominance of this style of ministry has insulated us from each other. We don’t get to the place where we minister to each other because we get so few chances to get to know one another. They also allow us to shirk our responsibility to minister to one another.

Response #3:

A new testament style church is almost 2000 years old, we need something that fits our times.

Counter-point:

The largest and fastest growing church movements in the world today are organic churches. Most of the declining churches in North America are based on a 500 year old model that was built to service illiterate poor peasants in isolated communities within a monoculture.

Response #4:

Deemphasizing preaching is deemphasizing the role of scripture in the church

Counter-point:

I disagree. Most Christians listen to sermons every week yet remain woefully biblically illiterate. If people studied scripture in community they would learn more and internalize more because they are actively engaged in biblical study.

Response #5:

What you speak of is too idealistic, it won’t work.



Counter-point:


I’ll admit that none of my organic church experiences have been ideal. However it sure was a few steps closer than I’ve ever been before. Some of the house churches I’ve been in had a significant amount of interpersonal conflict. In my first house church it was a contributing factor in its quick demise. In another experience the group faced the conflict with some courage and for the most part remained intact. I saw people change for the better in that group. I saw people put themselves at risk for things they believed in. I’ve had church experiences that gave me hope.

We’ve let our negative experiences rob of us our hope that church can be better than it is. History has shown me that the perfect church has never existed, but churches that are far more effective than most of the ones in the North America have existed and currently exist in other parts of the world. We ignore them at our peril.

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Struggling with complacency

Struggling with complacency


There is something that gnaws inside me when I’m immersed in the world of Christian institutions. I see that we are quick to celebrate our successes while never properly facing our failures. I think about the conclusions George Barna has come to in surveying American values and behavior. If what he finds is true, and your average evangelical doesn’t act differently than anyone else on a handful of major ethical issues, then the net impact of every evangelical ministry in America is almost nil. Every church, seminary, bible school and youth group is unsuccessful in facilitating the life transformation that would result in less racism, more generous giving or less broken families.

There are success stories. Almost every ministry has anecdotal evidence that they are accomplishing something . However if the average evangelical lives an indistinct life, this must mean for every success we celebrate there is a failure. For every person that moves from darkness to light, someone slides from light to darkness. For each new person that walks through the front door another slides out the back.

We don’t notice this because we pay much more attention to our successes than our failures. It disturbs me that we are as comfortable as we are. More and more I struggle living in a world that assumes we are making a difference for the Kingdom of God while we remain largely safe, secure and comfortable collecting an income.

These days I’m forced to ask myself if I am the last man in the parable of the talents who refused to take any risk and buried his talent in the ground.

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Moved in, sorta

Moved in, sorta


Life has begun to settle in to something that resembles normalcy. My body has largely recovered from last weekend’s move. I’m enjoying blogging from the veranda. I had no end of troubles getting the Internet working. Sasktel offers a rock solid connection to the net, but their customer service techs are terrible. Our government owned phone company maybe small compared to other companies but they are large enough to keep truly useful information away from people who might actually use it.

I’ve been so impressed with my wife through all this. Through the last two months she has shown her true colours and they are vibrant and wonderful. I’m so touched being married to such a wonderful supportive woman. I am very fortunate to be building a family and a life together with her. I know that buying a house and moving isn’t an easy thing to do. Being pregnant doesn’t make any easier. She has been just great, even when I’ve been grumpy.

On moving day we had lots of help. A lot of my friends demonstrated why they are such good friends. If you are reading this, thank you again. We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.

We’ve encountered a few problems but nothing a little work won’t fix. We had a little bit of a plumbing scare last night but it turned out to be nothing major.

It will be nice to overcome this obstacle and start dreaming some more about organic church planting. At least until our family goes through its next major change in the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing a baby around here.

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First post from the new house

First post from the new house


I’m waiting for SaskEnergy to come an do something. I brought my laptop along and lo and behold one of the neighbours has some wifi! It feels very very cool to be a home owner. I took a good look around the place as I was airing it out. I found all sorts of little projects that will have to be tackled that I didn’t notice when looking through the house the first couple of times. Oh that door needs a new hinge, oh that door needs replacing, ahhh those baseboards could use a painting etc… The eyes of an owner are different from those of a buyer I guess.

The SaskEnergy guy came and left. Apparently they came to hook up the natural gas which was already hooked up. So his job is done. He didn’t smell very good. I’m glad I have the windows open.

I think I’m going to take a round of “before” pictures. I’d like to chronicle the evolution of my house.

I wonder who built this house 75 years ago. How was it decorated in 1955? What sort of cherished memories were celebrated here? For the last year I lived in the duplex Carol has lived in for years. A very functional but bland sort of house. It has always been a revenue property so there nothing particularly special about it. The trees in the back yard and surrounding backyards make for a nice camping kind of atmosphere.

This new house looks like someone really cared about it at one time. The hardwood, french doors and the trim look like they were well done. I don’t think they have been as meticulously cared for in recent years.

I’ve met both my next door neighbours. They seem to be very happy that this house is going to be owner occupied.

In the end my net connection cut out me so I posted it later on at the old home.

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Houses that changed the world dowload

Houses that changed the world free download


Thinking about house/organic church? One of the most popular books is “Houses that Changed the world.” You can download it here.

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Washington insider reveals Republicans suckered evangelicals

Washington insider reveals Republicans suckered evangelicals


The number 2 man in Bush’s office of Faith Based iniatives reveals the Republican’s true opinion of evangelical leaders in his book Tempting Faith. David Kuo is the author and a short summary of some of his thoughts can be found here.



HT Bene

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The 9/11 Truth Movement

The 9/11 Truth Movement


A little while ago I started seeing 9/11 documentaries pop up on the top 100 ranking of google video. Now they have started appearing on Digg. While I can’t say I believe the so called “conspiracy theories” I do believe that there are several unanswered questions that deserve mention and further investigation.

Here is a sample of the some of the websites and documentaries.

Video: 9/11 Press for Truth

Complete 9/11 Time Line

Scholars for 9/11 Truth

Video: Improbable Collapse

Popular mechanics did what seems to be the most popular response to the conspiracy theories.

Another website on the other side of the issue is Debunking911.com

The whole issue is very intriguing. Even reading the comments on Digg can be fascinating. I’ve observed people on both sides of this issue reveal a biased perspective. Take a look around and you’ll see people:

  • Using only the picture evidence that supports their position
  • Mistating their opponents position and attacking it
  • Quoting people but cutting out the parts that don’t fit their theory
  • Smearing opponents with labels like “Bushing loving neo-con” or “tin foil hat patrol”
  • Picking only the eye witness testimony that supports their position
  • Highlighting a vast array of potential coincidences in rapid succession
  • Attacking one element of an opposing theory to discredit it but refusing to adequately answer the questions of the other side

It is hard to sort through all this to get to the truth.

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The Tithing Debate

The Tithing Debate


Over the past thirty years most Christians have heard, numerous times, the arguments for tithing being law for Christians today.

TithingDebate.com is dedicated to bringing you the other side of the story. The side a portion of Christian leaders would rather you did not hear.

Is tithing really a Biblical command for Christians? Is there really a “principle of tithing”? Is what you have been taught about tithing true? Read some of the articles here; you will be surprised.

Check out the site here. Thank you Signposts.

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It is time to send Bush a message

It is time to send Bush a message


It wasn’t long after 9/11 that my opinion of G.W. Bush started to dip. Now I find it hard to believe how anyone, Republican or Democrat would prefer to keep this guy around.

Unlike a true conservative he has mismanaged the economy and government spending.

British Foreign Secretary admits the situation in Iraq is dire.

Ex-US Generals have called for the Secretary of Defence’s head

Bush invaded Iraq to bring “freedom” but supports tyrants in other countries.

The war in Iraq has inspired more terrorists.

This administration has broken laws by spying on Americans.

State sanctioned torture.

Secret prisons in foreign countries.

The most powerful man in the free world lives in a “state of denial“.

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