Monthly Archives: September 2008

Stuff That Caught My Eye…

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Something to think about: 

Your stuff matters but maybe not in the way you think!

In case you haven’t seen it yet – The Story Of Stuff  

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Politics:  Who can get to the issues when there are so many juicy rumors?

The Obama camp confronts rumors at Fight The Smears

Charles Martin has a full list  of Palin rumors, along with facts & rebuttals.                 

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I should have posted this at the end of August but it is still very useful as premiere week has turned into premiere “months”!

  Printable 2008 Fall TV Premiere Calendar at TVAddict  

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Current Emergent/-ing Conversation Topic:  Emerging and Emergent Church Distinction

Doug Pagitt’s Video Post

What’s In A Name? from the Central Ohio Emergent Cohort Blog 

Open Letter To Dan Kimball from Raffi at Parables Of a Prodigal World

The EMC As An NSM from Tony Jones

Claiming Emergent from Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping

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Posts I wish I had written:  You know how you read something and you think “that is exactly what I wanted to say”….

Ugly Politics from Minnowspeaks

5 Things We Got Right In The Emerging Missional Church by Jonathan Brink posted at Emergent Village

I Won’t Sin another great post by Jonathan Brink at his blog Missio Dei

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Ever wonder what that song you heard on Grey’s Anatomy is called?  

Grey’s Anatomy Insider has a list from every episode.

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Looking For a Good Movie Blog:  For lots of movie reviews and some news.

The Movie Blog

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Cute Animal Pictures  Check them out – they are adorable.

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What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity

 

This post is part of a synchroblog on “Discussing Maturity In The Light Of Our Faith”

 

 

Before I begin let me say that I have a long, active history with the local organized church.  I have led women’s ministries, worked in the nursery, planned curriculum, served on the hospitality committee, taught bible studies, helped with vacation bible schools, prepared budgets etc. – all as a lay person.

I still go to church (most of the time) and I still volunteer to do “stuff” at church (some of the time).  I am not mad at the church, I haven’t been hurt by the church (at least not much) and I haven’t left the church.  BUT, I am frustrated with the church about a few things. 

One of the things that I am frustrated with the local church about is its lack of knowledge regarding spiritual growth.  So, when I heard there was a synchroblog on discussing maturity in the light of our faith I figured I would take the opportunity to make a few wishes – three to be exact.

Here goes: 

Wish Number One

I wish the church knew that having questions, experiencing doubts and being uncertain about things that the church is teaching does not necessarily equal spiritual immaturity.  No one comes right out and says that you are spiritually immature because you are struggling with things like the concepts of heaven and hell, or substitutionary atonement, or the inerrancy of the bible, or the sovereignty of God etc … but, when they kindly offer to pray that God will make these things clear to you, what they are really saying is: they hope you settle down soon and get back to seeing things the way they do.  When I began to have questions about what I was believing, doubts about certain interpretations of scripture and uncertainty about the life of faith I was living I felt alone and afraid.  There was no safe place at church for me to embrace this experience because the thing everyone wanted me to do was to get back to where I had been before.  Sure they said things about this drawing me closer to God and God using this to reveal more to me, but when I tried to talk to them about thinking that maybe we had some stuff wrong they didn’t want to hear it.  It was so unsettling and frustrating that I might have ended up leaving the church (at least for a while) if I hadn’t had a family to think of AND if I hadn’t stumbled across “The Critical Journey” by Hagberg and Guelich.  I won’t go into a lot of detail here about “The Critical Journey” (for more info there’s a great chart at Carnival In My Head that you can check out or an indepth article at Theocentric) except to say that it helped me discover that what I was experiencing was a natural part of my spiritual growth.  From there, I have searched out and found support through groups, blogs, books and events – none of which are connected to the local church – to help me as I travel through this leg of my faith journey.

I don’t have a succinct solution to the problem but I think it would help if pastors stopped saying everything from the pulpit with so much certainty, if Christians were taught less answers and trained more in the skill of asking good questions, if the local church would be a little more humble about what they know and hold to be true, so that it would not be considered heresy to think or believe differently in their midst and if more people in the church believed that right living is more important than right doctrine. 

Wish Number Two

I wish the church didn’t think that participating in a lot of programs,ministries and or church activities equaled spiritual maturity.  I was amazed last year when the Willow Creek’s study came out.  I wasn’t amazed at what they discovered – I was amazed that before the study they had actually believed that if Christians participated in a certain set of activities, with higher levels of frequency, it would produce disciples of Christ who were maturing spiritually.  They were shocked when they discovered through a multiple year study that their programs weren’t that good at helping their people grow and develop spiritually. 

People like Dallas Willard have been saying this sort of thing for years.  Increased participation in church activities/programs/ministries does not produce disciples, it just produces people who spend more time at church instead of out in their communities where they could really have an impact in bringing God’s will to earth as it is in heaven.  I think churches would serve the mission of God better and promote spiritual growth in followers of Jesus more effectively by teaching, encouraging and inspiring their members to do the work of the church in their daily lives and jobs, in their neighborhoods and communities.  

Don’t get me wrong – I think there is a time and place for certain programs (so please don’t feel you need to defend the program that you are involved with) but I know from experience that a lot of the things that I have been involved in at church aren’t really that beneficial – mostly because I have done it before in a different format.  You know what I am talking about – it’s the same old bible study being taught, the same old class on how to handle my finances, the same old evangelistic course with a new name etc. etc. etc.  Is it wrong to do something for fun or enjoyment – no, it isn’t.  But our churches are depending on these things to be the catalyst of spiritual growth for me and you – and it ain’t working.

Wish Number Three

I wish the church would realize that presenting a watered down version of the gospel encourages christians to embrace spiritual immaturity. In other words, a gospel that revolves around humans gaining access to God’s presence leads to spiritual formation that is “me” oriented. When this individualistic facet of the gospel is taught, as if it is the whole gospel, we end up with a very self centered gospel.  This self centeredness ends up leaving us comfortable in our immature state.  

What christians, and the whole world for that matter, needs is a more robust gospel – like the one that Scot McKnight talks about (check out this article at Out Of Ur). When we begin to look at a larger, more complex, multi-faceted gospel, we begin to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is concerned with more than giving us a free ticket to heaven. We begin to see that the good news is for all of creation, throughout all time, and that as recipients of God’s great gift of grace and freedom, we are called to work with him to love and care for the world we live in now. This call on our lives spurs us on to cooperate with the spirit of God that is at work in us. This meaningful, worthy, mandate that is born of and lives in love, gives us the courage and the desire to be transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. We desperately need a reason to go through the rigors of maturing and I believe that a larger, more robust gospel gives us that reason.

There, I got that off my chest. I feel better.

Now if I could just remember where I put that magic lamp.

Here is a list of bloggers who are taking part in this month’s synchroblog on the topic “Maturity in the Light of our Faith”:

 

 

Phil Wyman at Square No More with “Is Maturity Really What I Want?
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with “Watching Daddy Die
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with “what’s inside the bunny?
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with “Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with “the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom with “Still Complaining?
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with “Maturity and Education
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent with “Putting spiritual infants in charge
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with “Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with “Old Enough to Follow Christ?
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with “Intentional Relationships for Maturity
Jonathan Brink at JonathanBrink.com with “I Won’t Sin
Susan Barnes at A Booklook with “Growing Up
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with “Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind’s Eye with “Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes with “vulnerable maturity
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with “What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with “post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa
Steve Hayes at Khanya with “Adult Content
Ryan Peter at Ryan Peter Blogs and Stuff with “The Foundation For Ministry and Leading
Kai Schraml at Kaiblogy with “Mature Virtue
Nic Paton at Sound and Silence with “Inclusion and maturity
Lew Ayotte at The Pursuit with “Maturity and Preaching

 

 

I’m Disappointed!

Brian McLaren announces his endorsement of Barack Obama in a new Matthew25Network political ad.
 
 
 
 

 

I’m disappointed!

My disappointment does not come from McLaren’s support of Obama. I didn’t need to see this ad to know he supported Obama. My disappointment comes from me being sick of Christian leaders backing specific candidates and/or parties. My disappointment comes from me being tired of Christian leaders using their influence and position to coerce their “followers” into electing a particular individual. My disappointment comes from me believing that Brian and his circle of friends wouldn’t do this because they didn’t like it when the religious right did it — I assumed that meant that they wouldn’t do it. Apparently, even his friend, Tony Jones, didn’t think Brian would endorse a particular candidate.

I may be wrong but it feels like Brian has abandoned a principle that he believed in so that the person he is going to vote for will win. Even his letter of explanation sounded like he was trying to excuse something he didn’t feel completely comfortable about. And he says he isn’t speaking as a pastor (he is not presently a pastor) but he refers to himself as a pastor in the ad. 

Do I think he has done something “wrong”, “immoral”, “illegal”? No, I don’t. But I believe that his public endorsement in a political ad that takes a shot at the fact that McCain is divorced will do more harm than good and will be more divisive than unifying.

I believe McLaren would have better served his faith and beliefs by talking about the issues that are dear to his heart and encouraging others to have conversations and to think about the issues that are dear to their hearts.

Whether it is Dobson or McLaren, the Christian Coalition or the Matthew25Network, the right or the left, the conservatives or the liberals I don’t like it.

I like what Shane Claiborne said about endorsements:

In post-Religious Right America, we want to learn from the mistakes of the generation before us (so we don’t repeat them) – one of which was telling Christians who to vote for. Rather than spoon-feeding people answers, we hope to stir up the right questions – and trust that the Spirit will lead us as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” One of the places the religious right went wrong was telling people what to do rather than inviting them to think for themselves, with the help of the Spirit of God (in fact, it even seems a real lack of faith to to coerce or convince people to do exactly what we want them to… as if the Spirit is not at work in them). That’s where Jesus shines – he stirs up questions and tells stories that unveil truth, rather than drafting a careful declaration or endorsement that’s going to solve everything wrong in the world.

Claiborne’s view is reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s perspective. King’s idea was, don’t endorse anyone. He believed that endorsing a candidate just makes it easy for them to count you as a part of their base and then move on and ignore you. Instead, King believed it was better to invite politicians on both sides to endorse your movement and your platform and that they should do that throughout their campaign and their time in office.

I am not angry at Brian McLaren and I am not here to bash him.

I just wanted to say that I am disappointed.

Bill Easum and Tony Jones Participate In A Blogologue About The Emerging Church – The Commenters Are The Icing On The Cake!

 
 

There is a great conversation taking place over at Emergent Village between Bill Easum, Tony Jones and various commenters.

The conversation is centered around questions/issues Bill Easum has raised with emergents.

The posts from Bill Easum, one of the most highly respected Christian futurists in North America, and Tony Jones, national coordinator of Emergent Village, is delicious enough; but the icing on this cake are the commenters and they turn out to be the real treat – or maybe I should say the real “meat” of the discussion.

If you cannot bring yourself to take the time to read all of the comments make sure that you don’t miss those from Tim Thompson of Feral Pastor and Jonathan Brink of Missio Dei.

I love the way Tim engages in the conversation regarding truth, knowledge and certainty. He lovingly and passionately puts to rest the myth that emergents don’t believe in truth. This isn’t the first time that Tim has said something that I wanted to say but didn’t know how.

In addition, I was so pleased to be introduced to Jonathan Brink through this blogologue – his answers to Bill’s questions are well thought out, deep and yet, clear; and his explanation of what emergent means to him is inspirational, informative and motivating. I will definitely visit his blog, Missio Dei, again.

Before I close this post with some excerpts from Tim and Jonathan, I want to say that although Bill Easum asked some of the same old questions regarding emergent he did not respond negatively or argumentatively to the commenters. He seemed to listen sincerely, disagree respectfully and consistently notice points of agreement…winning my respect and attention, and being a good example for Christianity.

Jonathan begins his comment with an explanation of what emergent means to him:

“Bill asked a series of questions for the Emergents. And I thought I would respond to these questions. But before I begin I would like to respond to what I mean by Emergent and what this word means to me. I take it very seriously and have suffered the consequences for the baggage that it holds, most of which I find to be myth. And let me be clear that this is my definition.

Emergent, to me, is a creative attempt to find a wholistic understanding and practice in what it means to follow Jesus into God’s mission. It is an attempt to get at the heart of what it means to be a broken human in a broken world that is dying for restoration.”

Tim responds to Bill’s question: Is the message of the Gospel actual reality and eternally true, or is it nothing more than a construct of our own language within the community of faith at this particular time in history in this particular place with this particular community?

 “The Gospel is an actual reality that is eternally true – and – our ability to understand it and communicate it is always an imperfect, conditioned, contextual approximation. It’s an approximation because both thinking and speaking rely on language, which is a “jar of clay” in which the treasure can actually be found. Put another Pauline way, not only do we see through a glass dimly, but we also think and speak through smeary lenses as well.”

It’s good – go check it out.