Thursday, October 30, 2003

Ok, It' On! Let's get this party started . . . Mayhem is coming, and your invited!

Postmodern. Post-Christian. Post-Programs. Emergence. Subversion. Chaotic. Communal. Ancient. Future. Simple. Mysterious. Missional
Everybody is talking about answers for the emerging church. Everybody is reading the next book that will solve our dilemma. Everybody is trying out the flavor of the month in hopes that the magic pill will make sense out of our present reality. And what is our present reality? Some call it postmodernism, a radical deconstruction of all our previous cultural assumptions. Others call it post-Christendom, a transition time for the historic church where it finds itself on the margins of society. Others label it a fad, a bad dream that we will someday awaken out of and get back to the way things used to be and ought to be. We call it Mayhem. Not sure how to label it, not sure how to define it, we just know that we’re in it and we’re not alone.
We want to invite you to a gathering, a conversation centered around the reality of Mayhem and what is emerging. Out of this reality is growing an underground movement of Christ followers who are not afraid of their surroundings and not surprised at the shifting ground underneath their feet. These are people who resonate with an old faith in a new world. These are people who are passionate about words such as community, natural, organic, simple, missional, monastic, relationship and Kingdom.
We want to invite you to a “thin place”. In Celtic Christian tradition, certain locations were called "thin places", where the division between heaven and earth was said to be at its narrowest. It is understood that in some places the veil that separates the eternal from the temporal grows thin and becomes permeable, so that in such places, the things of heaven are felt and experienced with greater clarity. When you find yourself in Mayhem, you need clarity. We believe that our faith is rooted in the truth that the Kingdom of God is both now and not yet. We have glimpses now, portals of the Kingdom that can be accessed through the Spirit of Christ. The fullness of the Kingdom is not yet, but in reality not altogether foreign for us. It is at this intersection, in the thin place of the Kingdom now that we declare you are not alone.
We want to invite you to a gathering of “not alone”. As we are moving forward into the future in co-operation with the Kingdom in whatever form of Church you are an architect in, we are not alone. Mayhem can be chaotic, dark, lonely and cold but you’re not alone. Mayhem is being hosted by an emerging network of missional communities in the Midwest. It is a 2 day gathering where Brian McLaren will help lead the conversation to make sense of our present reality and point us towards the future. The gathering will be highly interactive and relationally driven. In addition to Brian McLaren, there will be round-table conversations led by practitioners who are making attempts in the new mayhem. The “thin place” will be sought through community worship, monastic reflection, common meal, communion, prayer and new friendships breaking out all over.
Mayhem is taking place January 9-10, 2003 in Cincinnati, Ohio at St. Elizabeth’s Church on 1757 Mills Avenue. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. on Friday for the common meal and close at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. We will be providing housing for a limited number of participants based on a first come first serve basis. We take hospitality very seriously and want you to feel welcome, as well as keep your costs down.
We are also proud to partner with and associate ourselves with Off-the-Map, Next-Wave & Allelon who will help lead our conversation. You can register @ Mayhem . The cost is $40 for one registration and $70 for two registrations - any two people registering together. Our space and registration is very limited so plan ahead. (Cost includes Friday evening common meal.) If you need more information, Email us at

It’s Mayhem, and you’re invited!
Registration starts today and its real limited, let's get the party started.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

This is in today's paper as a new publication for things to do in here in the Nati. The pun just cracked me up, make sure you "sin weekly". I prefer my sin hourly, or nano-secondly, but make sure we all meet our quota of sin weekly.

Tha Nati is a unique place to live, I'm never leaving.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Coldplay "The Scientist"

Come up to meet you
Tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you...
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart

Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh let's go back to the start...
Running in circles; coming in tails
Heads on a silence apart

Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start

I was just guessing at numbers and figures
Pulling your puzzles apart
Questions of science; science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

Tell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh and I rush to the start
Running in circles, chasing our tails
Coming back as we are

Nobody said it was easy
Oh it's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I'm going back to the start

This just seems to be my story with God. Ebbs and flows. When my mind and training compartmentalize Him into a system, His Spirit and my restless heart just break through. And its not easy to live out the disciplines as communion with Him but its so sweet, so filling, so overwhelming to the soul. But back at the start, back to my primal needs, back to a reckless love and a Grace that is always abounding. My faith is a story with God, a story of pain and heartache and joy and peace. As I listened to this song this morning, my heart just lept out of my chest. I'm so in love with my God, I'm so in love with my community, I'm so in love with the missing children of God who I will encounter today. The Kingdom is here and it has not slowed down a notch regardless of our perceptions. May the gates of hell rattle some more today as the Kingdom invades the world through us today. Be free to enjoy the Kingdom today.


Monday, October 27, 2003

Reading "life of the beloved" by Nouwen. Coming to the realization that my self-worth is not based on success has been one of the top 3 conversions in my life. Now I'm just trying to keep re-learning it over and over so I believe it and live in it in some sense of normalcy. He says, "Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire?" I find myself always looking for the magic pill. As an extrovert, just one more party with lots of people, laughing, entertaining, having a great time and then my heart will feel content. But its not enough. As an obsessive personality, throw myself into one more hobby, one more theory, one more story/movie to make sense of, one more obsession to figure out and master and then I'll be alright. As a perfectionist leader, do something really relevant, really outstanding, really popular, really powerful, but its never enough. Lose myself in a movie, lose myself in a meal, lose myself in one more dark beer and cigar, lose myself in success, lose myself in trying to be loveable and relevant in this world. All of this is meaningless.

What it must have felt like when Jesus came up out of the water at his baptism and heard a voice from heaven say, "This is my son whom I love, with him I am well pleased." As I sit here real quiet before my day, I think i hear that same voice calling me. "Chris, you are my beloved, with whom I take delight in." I deny the voices in my head today towards self-rejection. I am his beloved, and this is in a mystical sense, enough.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Rumor is this book is out come December 1..
"A thoughtful and provocative collection of sermons by a group of preachers from across the international church spectrum who have been moved to theological reflection on the art and work of U2. This book will appeal to fans of U2, students of homiletics, and everyone interested in the intersection of art, popular culture, and religion."
RAEWYNNE J. WHITELEY is vicar of Trinity Episcopal "Old Swedes" Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey. She is the author of many articles and published sermons.
BETH MAYNARD is rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fairhaven, Massachusetts and past president of Gathering the NeXt Generation, the Episcopal Church's network for postmodern ministry. Her publications include books, pamphlets, sermons, and several articles.

I AM SO THERE!!!! I think this calls for me to go home tonight and put on a U2 DVD on the HDTV precious and just check out of life.

Get it straight:
Nov. 5 = Release of "Matrix Revolutions"
Nov. 18 = Release of "Two Towers" extended DVD
Nov. 18 = Release of "U2 Go Home" Live DVD at Slane Castle in Ireland
Dec. 1 = This U2 book comes out
Dec. 17 = Release of "Return of the King"
Dec. 25 = Celebration of the birth of the Lord Jesus (priorities straight)


check out, Creech helped me re-design and it looks a lot better. What do u think?

Had Fight Club last night with Rains, Canipe and Glenn. Always a good time, did some Mayhem thinking and tried out the new "Red Robin" here in north Nati. Afterwards, Glenn and I went to get some ice cream and ended up talking til 11:00 p.m. which is rough when i get up at 5:30 a.m. (Glenn, thanks for the wisdom) But the World Series game wasn't even over when I fell asleep at 11:30. Marlins won, series tied 2-2. Go Fish!

Taking my Alzheimer's Grandmother to our school fall play tommorrow night so I let the kids know that if she has a fit of cussing not to take it personally, she's just having an episode. 60 years of being a fundamental baptist sunday school teacher and now that Alzheimers is taking over, all of her repressed feelings, constipated emotions and passive aggression comes out in cussing me out at times. Isn't it actually more spiritual to let out our cuss words a little at a time over life like pressure release so we don't have them pent up for our old age to take out on our innocent grandchildren? i suppose its easier to judge one another on our choice of words and blacklisted terms rather than challenge each other to live lives of love and service to the King.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Since I made a confession to the evangelical world yesterday that I have a tattoo. Today I confess to my emergent underground friends that at this moment I am wearing a . . . necktie. Not like the clip on in the photo, a pretty hip one, but a tie nonetheless. Please don't reject me, its picture day at school and I have to look the part for a day. So please still love me and like I told Creech, by dinner time tonight I'll have a hat on backwards looking as thug as I can again. I'm still just a rough kid from philly, I haven't sold out. Confession over.

Lord, may i be acceptable in the sight of my brothers and sisters today. Amen. :)


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

in the teacher's lounge today at lunch, the topic came up of tattoos. 2 of my fellow teachers remarked how tattoos are an indication in society of the haves and have nots. and that they are a simple form of cultural conforming. What? Like wearing pants? Isn't that conforming to culture? Adorning ourselves with jewelry and the such. We criticize other cultures in light of our own being the best, the absolute right one, the one Jesus had. I mean surely Jesus was a white, suburban, baby boomer, college educated, republican protestant evangelical, right??? They just kept going on and on. I wanted so badly to lift my sleeve and raise the flag! I just wasn't ready to end my employment yet. The Celtic Cross branded on my left shoulder is the cross of Christ. The movement I have pledged my life to. It has an inner circle symbolizing my communion with Christ. And it has an outer circle symbolizing my communion with those around me. (Love God, Love neighbor) It is filled with Celtic knotwork which has not beginning or end, its eternal. My communion with God and one another is eternal. And I have the Greek letters of Chi and Rho. The first 2 letters of Christ in the ancient greek and the original symbol for Christ followers. Not a cross, and not a fish. I spent years considering this decision and had it done in Dublin, Ireland where my Celtic roots come from and the basis for the model of church planting that I'm involved with. So sorry if I'm educated and I have ink. When did cultural preference become absolute truth? The answer is everyday here in evangelical America. When will we see past ourselves and see a bigger idea than real Christians don't have tattoos? When will it be about heart transformation and a Kingdom come? That's the Christian story I want to be caught up in.

"I consider myself a Christian, but sometimes I feel very removed from Christianity." - Bono

Monday, October 20, 2003

Reflections on the weekend:
A gathering of emerging church folk from Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Beginning friday evening @ 6:00 and going til Sunday afternoon for me was another great time of Kingdom friendships. The friday night dinner was of a thousand conversations, good food, pipes & cigars on the porch in candlelight, stories being written, hearts feeling not alone, peace and joy was the atmosphere and that was supplied from the presence of Christ. Saturday morning was the highlight for me. It helped me define better why we exist. People came to our gathering hurting. God spoke to me early in the morning while driving down and said, "listen for stories of pain". And then during worship, he instructed me to read from Ezekiel 37 and the valley of dry bones. This seemed to resonate with many. You see, dry bones are not permanent, they are a temporary state in Kingdom economy. We are the carriers of God's breath within us, as we speak and prophesy into others, dry bones come alive. This is what i saw. As we shared some stories of pain, the community surrounded these stories, layed hands on them and prayed the breath of God over and in them. I saw discouraged faces peel away through the tears and watched as hope and joy landed upon these brothers and sisters. The prophetic words spoken seemed to be sharply accurate. What a privelege to live a dream. To live in full community, live in the present reality of the Kingdom, and to draw a sword in the direction of our enemy who is seeking to steal, kill and destroy. This weekend we took another step into the enemy's camp, not because we enjoy the conflict, but because we are people of the Resurrection and where the stench of death is, we are called to bring life and set captives free. I often wonder how to better organize ourselves, how to be more effective, but this seems to be systematic thinking. The organic approach is more like us. So that means that just being faithful friends to one another, celebrating the sacraments, being people of the Scriptures, promoting peace, humbling ourselves before God, building local faith communities that pay attention to their neighborhood and celebrating joy whenever possible.

Henri Nouwen says, "The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn't that what friendship is all about: giving to each other the gift of our Belovedness?" Maybe this is all we should shoot for. A network of Kingdom minded Christ followers who live in their belovedness and give away that gift to the greater community around them.

Abba, thank you for this weekend. We are your beloved and we desire to serve. Help us to stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Friday, October 17, 2003

bad blog week for me, must be in a slump. Or it might have something to do with the fact that I've been up late watching the baseball playoffs everynight and being too tired to think during the day. @#$% Yankees, I hate 'em. But the charm of the continued curse on the Cubs and Red Sox is too funny. I mean, if you rewind and play in slow motion some of the highlights of the last couple days, you can see the exact moment when Chicago and Boston fans hearts literally are breaking in half, again. Pause, rewind, pause, slow mo, rewind. Hilarious. And atleast it was a former Red, but I cursed the day we traded Boone to the Yankees. Never make a deal with the devil, it will come back to haunt you. I've hated the Yankees since I was born with the exception of some great baseball guys whom I can't hate . . . Mattingly, Winfield, Jeter, Williams etc. As of the bottom of the 11th inning last night, I just became a Marlins fan for the next week. Go fish!

* This weekend is gonna be AWESOME! Our basement is about 90% done and we moved in furniture last night to make room for the Best's staying with us this weekend. We'll call it the "Best Suite". Starting @ 6, the Midwest Coalition is coming together to commune with one another, laugh, share stories, laugh, encourage, laugh, ministry report, laugh, resource, laugh, worship together, laugh, eat, laugh, consume some ale and a fine cigar, laugh, meet new folk, laugh . . . All hanging out @ the Brownhouse in Norwood, expecting 60-70 tonight for dinner and many more for our worship gathering on saturday night. I'm so glad we got childcare tonight so my wife can meet and greet without running after kids, y'all need to know her, she's a stud. Looking forward to hangin' with the st. louis crew, Bests, Sherwoods, Allis, Creech, Bean, Johsons, Canipes, Rains, Bell's, Palmer, Brocks, McGillivary's, Bowen's, Todd from Philly etc. etc. etc. The clans are coming out of the highlands and its time to celebrate. Celebrate the coming of the Kingdom of God, the simple truths we live our lives by, the richest of Kingdom friendships. Let's (as the Celts say) live in that "thin place" where its hard to distinguish between the Kingdom now and not yet. Come Holy Spirit, catch us up in a mystical union of you and one another. Amen.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

"You will not think clearly about your life until you think mythically. Until you see with the eyes of your heart." -waking the dead

Sometimes I wish that I had never seen clearly at all. Remaining plugged to the Matrix has its advantages. As Frodo said, "I wish the Ring had never come to me". Because with seeing clearly the salvation story and the Kingdom that prevails is a blessing and a curse. The burden of not going through the motions, not being able to just shut up and let status quo roll on. I grow weary of carrying the burden. I feel the pain of the people journeying around me and I watch them choose to return to their sin of choice over and over again stuck in patterns of irrational thinking. We hate the Matrix and we love the Matrix. We hate the Ring and we love the Ring. We hate consumerism and we love consumerism. We hate selfishness and we love being selfish. We are interconnected with our own sin, co-habitating and co-dependent. Seeing clearly is painful. It makes you question everything. It changes the way I teach everyday, its annoying. I can get out the pat answers I want to say so that I can move on and can Christianity enough so I can grade it. Instead I'm enslaved to re-frame the story for them over and over in terms of the Kingdom of God and not evangelical catch phrases. I supppose I feel burdened today, it happens every so often. Not sure if its my depression raising its ugly head or a sense of responsibility and inadequacy. I see, sense, feel and smell the stench and pain of evil around me today. Its a burden to carry but atleast I can see clearly.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Monday, October 13, 2003

just reading some of the comments from the gathering of emerging church folk in Atlanta with Rodney Clapp this past weekend and it sounded like another holy love fest. Its astounding to me how like minded Kingdom builders are finding one another and building sacred friendships quickly and organically, as we all dreamed. As an extrovert, it sounded like I missed a great party with great folk. Greg Quiring is a good dude, check out his blog, I feel so kindred with his heart and thoughts.

So how can the Midwest coalition follow up this great gathering in Atlanta? With a party of our own. Come one, come all, rock 'n rollers and out of controllers! Our next "all-group" weekend is upon us beginning with a shared meal at Vineyard Central on friday night, ministry and resourcing on sat. morning and a worship gathering on sat. evening for the whole family. So looking forward to hanging with some of my favorite leaders/friends/brothers/sisters. Receiving wisdom, support, care, and the kind of friendship I always dreamed of. More folk are coming from out of town and I say bring it on, but don't go falling in love with the Nati cuz when its over you have to go home and do your Kingdom thang there again :) Let the countdown begin cuz its gonna be another holy love fest.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Going home sick to day with a stomach bug. Suck. Puked in my yard before leaving for work this morning. Memories of a lifestyle gone by many years ago. Sorry this blog has no edifying spiritual value, just ordinary life. Hope its of the 24 hour variety. Home to rest for awhile.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003

My daughter Megan is 5 today. Happy Birthday Megan! She is an incredible little girl. Her smile is so sweet, She is so tiny, so sensitive, so much of a goofball. She is our middle child and I am in love with her, she smiles at me, and any day becomes just fine. I wonder what she'll do as she grows up. I wonder if she'll become a carrier of this Kingdom virus her parents have been infected with. I wonder if she doesn't already have it. I'm not interested in her getting "saved" and praying the prayer based on historical facts. I'm interested in her making a decision to live and love as Jesus lived and loved. I see glimpses of that kind joy in her eyes and I rejoice. Stop and notice the Kingdom today.

"Christianity isn't a religion about going to Sunday School, potluck suppers, being nice, holding car washes, sending our second hand clothes off to Mexico - as good as thost things might be. This is a world at war. Something large and immensely dangerous is unfolding all around us, we are caught up in it, and above all we doubt we have been given a key role to play." - Waking the Dead, Eldredge

Does this measure up with your reality? Sometimes I wonder if I'm too dramatic, too much of a showman. And sometimes I wonder if I'm a hiding prophet who won't have the faith to articulate what he sees and hears from the heart of a God at war. I see and hear the pain of a people wrapped up in all the wrong values, not tasting the fruits of the Kingdom, but bearing the name of Christ. I live in this realit everyday amongst students who have heard it all before but not once tasted the Kingdom. And I don't know how to communicate it without being measured as such a threat that my job is in jeopardy. God give me the grace to be an agent of your Kingdom today. Amen.


Monday, October 06, 2003

"Call it a clan, call it a tribe, call it a network, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." ~ Jane Howard

"We were created to draw life and nourishment from one another the way roots of an oak tree draw life from the soil. Community - living in vital connectedness with others - is essential to human life." ~ John Ortberg

"Human beings who give themselves to relational greatness - who have friends they laugh with, cry with, learn with, fight with, dance with, live and love and grow old and die with - these are human beings who lead magnificent lives." ~ John Ortberg

* These quotes were stolen (I mean resourced) from Jim Best's blog. They describe how I felt this weekend.

Friday night was family night, a couple DVD's, popcorn, my wife and kids and our new big screen TV (not a member of the family, yet). Just relaxing and doing nothing but cuddling. As a kid from a divorced home and growing up without a Dad, I cherish these times of touch.

Saturday morning is devoted to watching my girls play soccer, Ali is really getting pretty good. Then we had a baby dedication gathering at our home for Maggie Drake. The community moved from our home to a farm for some animals, wagon ride, pumpkin picking and a corn maze. Then back to our home for 3 different kinds of chili, cornbread, cake, hot chocolate, smores and dough-boys (new pastry idea over a fire). Then the kids are playing, conversations are happening inside, football is being watched on our new "ministry" TV and some of us spent about 2-3 hours around the fire outside just chatting about life, church, faith, jobs etc. etc. etc. What a great night! What great community!
Sunday morning we were back at it for our monthly leadership/business meeting for Ordinary Community. With 4 house churches going now and new people joining/hanging around them, intentionality/organization is becoming more of a team project. And God has built that team. We worshipped, commissioned the Bowens and strategized together how to strategically give away more of our income from tithing. We keep about 10% of our income for internal purposes and try to strategically give away 90% of our income as we can find need. This may be the most satisfying thing I have ever done in ministry. Everybody makes a sacrifice and we can tangibly love others with financial gifts. Almost too much fun to be Christianity :)
And then Bob Bowen and I did some hard core business work on the "mayhem" event coming Jan. 9-10. Have I mentioned this before? Oh, yeah, can't talk about it yet. I promise there will be a website launching within days and then you can scramble to register you and your communities for a "coming out" party about missional communities.
God bless you as you build the Kingdom today.


Thursday, October 02, 2003

I would blog this morning, but I just read 2 superior blogs about the deep, core shifts in how we do church and our part in it. You have to read Alan Creech's blog and Paul Mcgillivary's blog, really, really good thougths/reflections. They are linked on the left. enjoy.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Glutton for punishment here. Just got my shipment of books from Amazon (sorry Bean, should of gone through you) for a few months worth of reading, 10 books in total and David Crowder's new worship CD. Authors include: a couple more Nouwen books, Newbiggin > "Gospel in a Pluralistic Society", Roxburgh "The Missionary Congregation, Leadership & Liminality", Stanley Grenz "Primer on Postmodernism", Dan Kimball "The Emerging Church", Guder "Missional Church", Webber "New Evangelicals" and a couple others. Still reading "Waking the Dead" right now by Eldredge.

What books would you reccomend be bought next?