Thursday, February 24, 2005


In spite of the glaring discrepancies I see between what the church is supposed to be and what it is, I am sustained by a great and persistent hope. God hasn't given up on His dream. The God that dreamed this place up has a dream for how it's supposed to be. He hasn't given up on that. Neither should I. The God who sent his Son to (among other things) model the Way hasn't given up on the dream of people actually living in the Way. Neither should I. The God who established the church to be a catalyst for the Kingdom of God, on Earth as it is in Heaven, hasn't given up on that vision. Neither can I. The Savior of the world hasn't given up on me and my place in any of these things (even though I've given Him plenty of reason to). He inexplicably continues to believe in hope in me. It would seem His hope springs eternal...and it's infectious.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Check Out Rob Bell

If you are not already familiar with Rob Bell, you should be. His teaching has had a profound influence on me. He does incredible historical contexual work on his subjects that is simply fascinating. He is full of hope and vision, plus he can be quite funny. His recent lessons are available to download for free as mp3 files. The older ones you can buy for a dollar a piece. I'm about to go to a big "youth rally" type thing in Gatlinburg called Winterfest, so I don't have alot of time to write today. Check Rob out if you have time and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Maintenance or Mission?

Churches and those that lead them face a choice: Will they simply defensively maintain what they have (beliefs, forms, practices, members,etc.) or will we boldly press forward into our mission? Stated another way: Will their current identity define their mission or will their mission define their identity? It seems to me that most choose the first option in both questions.

Even if they don't start out that way, I think most churches end up slipping into defense mode. "We have to keep our current membership!" "We can't raise those kinds of questions!" "We've always done it like that!" "That's a slippery slope!" The problem with that is that I don't see where the revolution that Jesus started was ever intended to be a static, unchanging thing that needed us to defend it.

Perhaps we need to figure out how to weave things like revolution and change back into the fabric of what a church is understood to be. Maybe we need to redefine the identity of our churches from the ground up. Admittedly, that's what keeps me in Youth Ministry. Right now, that's the best strategy I can find for redefining our identity. I can only hope and pray that there are others out there who are trying to raise up a new generation of revolutionary disciples who see church as an ever-changing community on a mission. With teenagers (and the unchurched), paradigms don't have to be shifted, they just have to be formed.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Offense of Certainty

"Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands."
--Gregory of Nyssa

The other night, The Larry King Live show did a program featuring a sampling of Time Magazines 25 most influential evangelicals. I missed the program b/c I didn't know about it until the next day, but I did read the transcript. I was really interested b/c of the diverse pannel King was interviewing: Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Franklin Graham, T.D. Jakes, and Brian McLaren. As I read, I found that I was repulsed by Tim LaHaye's comments, not so much because of their content (I can disagree without being repulsed) but because of their arrogant certainty (and I'm a believer....imagine how an unbeliever would respond.) His wife Beverly came off better (in my opinion) athough she suffered from the same attitude. I think Graham was a little too preachy, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did for the most part (the fact that I was surprised reveals my own unfair bias and prejudice I suppose). But, I was ecstatic about how the Gospel was represented by T.D Jakes and Brian McLaren. They were able to discuss their beliefs and opinions with both humility and compassion. I wasn't the only one who noticed either. toward the end of the program, King accepted questions from callers to members of the pannel. One caller said " I would like to preface my comment to Mrs. LaHaye by saying that I highly respect Reverend Jakes and Mr. McLaren because they seem to be the most compassionate, understanding and open-minded of the evangelicals" Humility (open mindedness) and Compassion...they are marks of Jesus and consequently marks of those who follow in His Way.
I wonder if it's offensive to God when we speak with such certainty about Him or when we speak with such "authority" about things related to Him. I know for a fact I don't agree with McLaren and Jakes on a number of doctrinal issues. Even so, I'll follow them as they follow Jesus any day. What violence have we done to scripture and to God's dream when we reduce it to little iron-clad formulas? What damage have we done to the Way when we reduce the Gospel to steps one follows so that God has to take them? Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.