Friday, January 30, 2004

Excuse me . . . excuse me please . . . ahem . . . tap, tap, tap . . . it this thing on? . . . I would like to make an announcement . . .

This just in, its official. God has said to go back to the Ukraine this summer. But its better than that. I'm not going alone this year. Mark Palmer from the Landing Place is coming with me and I couldn't be more stoked. We will spend one week in Kiev, Ukraine teaching at a church planters conference and then hanging with some house church folk in urban Kiev. Kiev is flooded with alternative, urban youth and I think Palmer has a part to play in helping them love these kids into communities. After about a week, we will head from Kiev to London, England for another week of connecting with missional community folk and doing some spiritual retreating. Our trip will be from July 28-August 10, its a long time away from family for us but its an adventure that we have been praying over for a few weeks and it is coming to fruition. I love a good adventure. God is good.


Thursday, January 29, 2004

Fight Club goes well as usual last night. Great dinner time with Rains and Chad then to some Starbucks. Followed by some time back at the Brownhouse with Rains and Glenn. I really love these guys. In my lifetime, I have never been so rich in "guy" friends like I am now. I am filthy rich in social captial. God is good.

We spoke of many issues but the one that resonated with me was the idea that postmodernism is really just hyper-modernism. Waxing eloquently about postmodernism and its effects on church used to be my forte about 4 years ago. I'm stupid enough now to think that church is really just about loving God and neighbor. However, at a worldview level, I recognize that I think and respond to the world as a native to postmodernity. But my flavor of it is still in submission to some absolutes from Scripture, Church Tradition and Rational Thinking before it finds its truth in only personal experience. (Rains and I find ourselves going back to Wesley's Quadralateral often for wisdom). I see a real danger in the future that as missional communities can function well in the prevalent worldview of postmodernism, ulitmately postmodernism says that truth is relative to the individual. The moral absolute is what the individual wants it to be. This destroys the authority of Scripture, the ancient and rich history of the Church and our ability to think rationally about moral issues. Kingdom Community as communicated in Scripture is not about individual wants and fancies. Here's me dropping a bomb, "if one does not believe in objective truth outside of themselves, they are not a part of Biblical Christianity". There you go, the Baptist has spoken with his true intolerant colors. So in the end, postmodernism is just the product of true modernism, its hyper-modernism. That is that you hold to a staunch view of absolute, and that absolute is your own whim without submission to the community and its discernment of truth through the Scriptures, rational thought and Ancient tradition. So if you are fond of referring yourself as "pomo", you may just be a "hy-mo" instead :)

And so I am also revisiting my idea of leadership in missional communities. Flat? kind of, but not exactly. Top-down administration? hecky naw. But there is a role for teacher, theological thinker, giver of godly wisdom . . . a true chieftain of the clan. Hmmm, I see this role as really needed. More later.

Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Monday, January 26, 2004

Snow days Rock! Pays to be a teacher on snow days. Actually it was fitting cuz I was up the night feeling the nausea. Let's see, had the Canipes and McGillivary's over for dinner on saturday night and since then my wife, Chad, Paul and myself have had a night of nausea. Either someone was a carrier of a virus at that meal or I infected everyone with food poisoning via my taco salad.

Took my kids sledding this afternoon, seem to be able to only do this once a year with them, good time. In light of all of our "women in ministry" conversations last week, I had a hang out time with Tammi Jo on Friday and my wife and I had coffee with Lilly Lewin today and Rob showed up a bit later with their son Mac. Its good to have honest discussion and then move past tension to the point of genuine understanding and compassion. We all have journeys that we walk and we are called to work out our journeys within the community of one another. I believe that these are friendships that will continue to grow.

I really fell in love with OCC at our Sunday Gathering again. Watching them share openly, take communion together, worship together and pray for one another, makes me feel so blessed. I remember so many dark nights in seminary, longing to help others in their Kingdom walk but I was in school and on the sidelines. I remember so many times telling God that I was a "pastor without a people". Well, I love these people. The good, the bad and the ugly. I'm so honored to be a part of their story. God is good!


Friday, January 23, 2004

Been having really good conversation with my oldest daughter, Ali this week. She is 7 and quite the drama queen. We were in my truck the other night and U2 came on the radio. I have already indoctrinated her to the fact that U2 is the greatest rock band in the world so when they come on the radio she asks me to "turn it up". It was "Still haven't found what I'm looking for" and she asked me what the song was about. I said, "I think its a spiritual longing for connection with God". Ali said, "That Bono should be a pastor, he's good at teaching people about what God is like." ummmmm, my daughter is admiring Bono. My life may be complete. well, not yet.

We walked in the door at home and Ali said, "daddy, tell me more about that Jesus". Now I have thought for a long time about how I would approach this conversation and that I didn't want to give her some linear presentation of laws impersonal information. So I got out a piece of paper and a sharpie and began to draw with her, I wanted to tell the story, the whole story. Started with pictures of Creation, then humanity, then sin, then separation, then lostness, then the heart of God that missed his creation, then the Incarnation of Jesus, then his sinless life, then his Crucifixion, then his Resurrection and then our response to God's invitation to the reality of His Kingdom. Our paper was full of pictures and phrases that told a story. Ali drew her own pictures and wrote down key words as I told the story. She was captured. When Nicki got home, Ali showed the paper to her and re-told the whole story to her with remarkable accuracy. And then she made the statement of a 7 year old sensitive heart. "How could anybody not believe this? Where do they think we come from if this isn't true? How could anybody not love Jesus?" I was tempted to close the deal and get her to "pray" but she was ready for bed, so we left her wanting.

Nicki found a piece of paper next to Ali's bed with her writing on it saying thanks to Jesus, asking him to help her with her sin and her own deliberation of why she sins when she doesn't want to. Welcome to the struggle, Ali. She told me last night that she needs to know more. She needs to read some books about Jesus. She wants to watch videos that tell this story. So this weekend we will watch one of my favorite versions of Jesus' life on video and do it together.

A story is unfolding before me. Another chapter of the great story. Ali has been exposed to the Kingdom virus and she is opening her heart to its realities. Her and Jesus are having their own personal time. She is falling in love with Christ. As a parent, I introduced 2 of my favorite people, my oldest daughter, Ali and the one who saved my life. So is Ali a believer now? Is she coming to believe more all the time? Is she saved? Is she becoming saved? I sense that Ali is being written into the story of God. That God is having as much fun as me watching Ali's passion and heart so innocent. One of my spiritual disciplines that I worked on last year was creating space in my life for each of my children. To be available to them and not caught up in "ministry" to others. God captured me about 15 years ago. I desire nothing more than to be an influencer in the process of God capturing my kids' hearts as well.

I live a very full life. But it doesn't come by accident, its a direct correlation to the disciplines that God is branding in me. Stop and notice the Kingdom today.


Wednesday, January 21, 2004

(Responding to a few here for space sake)
Hey Tom,
Really good thoughts and comments, thanks. I resonate with your perceptions.
I definitely am for "teaching" with those who feel free in this giftedness. What I am against is the top-down structure paradigm where one voice is exalted. I guess what I should say is that I'm for "learning" more than teaching. I have always said that the real question is not "How should I teach/preach?" The real question is, "how do people learn?" I'm trained as a missionary so I seek to be receptor oriented. In fact, I am a teacher by trade, its my day job, but I try to organize my classroom dynamics in such a way that students are not memorizing facts but interacting, debating, being disturbed, engaged, safe etc. etc. As well, in our house church structure I have numerous opportunities to teach but no pulpit or exclusive time for my thoughts. They come at the pace of life. I would also say that this blog has allowed me to utilize a teaching gift without imposing it on people, but rather having them choose to take it in or not.

And just for the record, Brian's comments about no paid pastor and no building being no big deal would be something I wanted to pursue with him but lacked the time. I may email him on this issue and start a dialogue. I was in a 4 hour meeting with Brian about other business on the Friday morning of Mayhem and he seemed to be arguing the opposite point. We spoke of the people in traditional churches, mainline denominations, evangelicals, seeker driven mega churches, anabaptists, catholics etc. and said that these were made up of "good folk" who have hearts to find their way as best they can and be faithful. But that the "system" of assumptions and beaurocracy that they are functioning in and under were killing them. In paticular, leaders were getting killed within these systems of top-down and institutional control. In my experience, these systems are not subservient to kingdom values but rather give allegiance to Western and American values that are born out of modernism and not the teachings of Jesus. Ok, I know I am opening up a huge can of worms here talking abstractly about a "system" that I'm not defining but that will have to wait for a different day. I'll see if Brian would be willing to post some clarification here and we can dialogue more about it, or maybe I'll just argue with him :)

Last point is the main point. I also am for the one catholic church. I confess it. People like me are guilty of venomous reactivity and it comes out of really painful experiences but we have to lay that all down for the sake of Christ. I think I planted Ordinary Community out of mostly venomous reaction to modern church but have changed my views quite a bit on this. I am now pro-Kingdom. I was so glad that Mayhem did not have the tone of reactivity, that we had grown past that, its not healthy. I was also glad that it was not about any particular "model" of churching. Missional communities can be big, small, in buildings, in living rooms, led by paid leaders, led by common folk, etc. etc. The point is that the Kingdom is moving on and we need one another. It will take one catholic church for the enemy to shake in his boots and release more territory.

Lastly Tom, you voiced what our prayer for Mayhem always was. Not that we become the hub of emerging church resources and events, but rather that people would leave wanting more. And that if we deconstructed ourselves, it would force people to think community in their own regions and to think neighborhood. The fact that you verbalized this made me stop and just praise God. We truly have one Spirit, One Baptism, One God who is over all and in all. I bless you to be a leader of creating community in the mayhem of your neighborhood world. You made my week! Love ya bro.


Monday, January 19, 2004

Mayhem 2 = The Blog World stops being polite, and starts getting real (so I ripped this off, get over it)

Ok, incredible discussion on gender and inequality in ministry roles. What are my thoughts now after much discussion? 1) Some women amongst us are hurting, they need to be heard and understood
2) When given opportunity, calling and sense of passion, some women can flat out teach with giftedness. Just look at the comments and blogs = Nicki Mcg., Debi, Rachelle, Liz, Beth, Mollie etc. etc. Their teaching came in the blog world via organic relationships. Hmmm, maybe blog church has a lot less pretense and baggage to deal with.
3) Mayhem was misperceived. Regardless of how hard we tried to break barriers and how intentional we were with planning, we were still seen as a organization trying to promote "emerging church" (whatever that means) than we were a group of friends who found each other, fell in love and wanted to throw a party. We were not trying to make any statements other than "Ministry is the new mayhem is @#$% hard so as we sail further into the murky waters of the future in our own contexts, let's tie our boats together because your not alone."

Now to my next reflection. I am enormously uncomfortable with the focus on "up front" space and those who serve in it. In a perfect world, or better yet Kingdom Reality, there is no "up front" leader. The ground is completely flat, no one or no role exalted above others. The fact that we even are conscious of that space, in my opinion, shows how inculturated we are with top down structures, preaching focused services and staged worship as our paradigm for normative church. I asked Brian to not use notes, no power point, not use a stand and not to talk from the stage but from the floor. We intentionally faced the chairs at one another, not towards the stage or the "up front" space. We dotted the floor with round tables to foster life on life conversations. I specifically said in my description of the weekend that "the answers you're looking for will not come from this microphone but from out there (the greater community)". I may sound like a purist here, but in Kingdom economy there is no exalted role/space/gift. Church history has revealed to us how in certain periods, some roles were exalted over others. In modernity, no question it was/is the teaching gift or "up front". This is top-down thinking and I reject it. I think all this has exposed the need for a lot more growth in this area. Whenever we have a clear separation between teaching and serving and one is exalted or even noticed above the others, we do not yet understand the economy of Kingdom values and will not taste its reality here on earth.

We made a decision before Mayhem was ever a reality that we would not do another one because its not what we see as the best use of our resources and influence. It was a "one time" party for the intent to encourage. I do not think that we need more Christian events to help us experience God's Kingdom on earth but rather the day to day death to self through the spiritual disciplines and intentional community. Because we yet see a difference between those who are "up front" and those who are "in the back" we may not be ready to gather in larger contexts.

I spent 10 years climbing the ladder in evangelical ministry, being groomed to be the next super "up front" leader and what I learned is that it had more to do with being an American success story than anything to do with Christ following. I would go as far to say that until I learned to love 2 or 3 and be content in my giftedness, I really never understood what pastoring was. I believe the pastor who will thrive in the future will be one that turns in their pulpit for a guest bedroom, their preaching for true hospitality, their "up front" role for a towel and basin. Hospitality, which fosters powerful organic relationships underground will be the bridges that the Holy Spirit will use to bring healing to our communities. (by the way, women generally kick arse in this area). So men, learn how to clean a toilet and make a bed. Learn how to cut the vegetables and clean the dishes. Learn how to listen in conversation to people's stories as they share lives over a meal and be ready to respond with warmth and empathy with nobody to notice what your doing. The future leader will not be an expositor but a diakanos (table servant). If this is not enough for you, then let me end with this question: Who told you to be successful?


Thursday, January 15, 2004

Pulbic Apology to Rachelle: To clear the air. Rachelle said nothing, did nothing to warrant any kind of reaction towards her. She is a poor victim of circumstance. Her viewpoints have been communicated and heard with grace and maturity. The Spirit has really confirmed to me today, thru many of you, that we need to keep this conversation going. It involves a lot of pain but the Spirit of the Kingdom wants to make something beautiful out of it. It will take awhile to get there, and the road may be reactions, pain and offense. But let's keep it going for the sake of the Kingdom.
here is a quote from a past blog of Eric Keck's. Reflects the stirrings of my heart today.

'++bless the fellowship that you are bringing about in women of your church, and forgive us(men) for being so dominereing, so contemptous and so fragile that we have not understood their hearts, restore the centuries of slavery that has been put upon them, encourage them and lift them up as worshippers of your kingship and lordship reighn over them and exalt them, free them from the oppression of the decades and allow them to speak your words freely without holding back, allow them to prophesy and worship in profound ways, raise them up to be teachers, and give back thier voice "

read more at:

and a profound woman's voice here:
Since the point of Mayhem was to host a conversation and not be the "end all" for answers, here is the urgent topic that has come from the weekend. I'm still processing but here is Lilly Lewin's blog comments from acouple days ago:

"OK now for the RANTING... i just read through the notes from jeremiah smith on the conference ....
he noted that he was pleased with how many women were present. yes...there were women present, BUT many of us STILL FELT ALONE!
there were not women up front and maybe only one woman spoke during the question/discussion times.
there were no women leading round table discussions, there wasn't a roundtable for women in ministry,
the women were refered to as "gals" " the gals making coffee"...boy did that hit a nerve!
the only woman up front played music for worship and led prayer... but i didn't ever get her name.
there still seems...even in the emerging church world, to be distinctive roles for women and men
another "interesting" thing was the fact that there seemed to be a focus on family...being married.
i felt for the singles in the room. they were actually excluded from the round table on sex!
as if when you're single you aren't allowed to talk about this!
i am not the only one who noticed these things...and i do plan on talking to the "powers that be"
about what i saw and felt...but this lack of awareness among the emerging leaders is getting old!
and rather irritating!
done for now. lil"

what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

don't read another blog today except for this one:

unleash your healing, Lord. We will be faithful with your annointing.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Ok, I'm beginning to feel human again. Its so encouraging to hear the ripple effects of Mayhem in the blog and email world.

We are not in the business of putting on conferences, training seminars, inspirational workshops or the like. We are not in the business of becoming a hub for all things emerging church/missional communities/simple church/organic planting/fill in the blank. We are not in the business of hiring speakers, providing multi-media resources, creating a new denominational affiliation or becoming known. We are not in the business of postmodern arrogance or deconstruction of the church. We are not in the business of top-down structures or creating Christian industry. All of these are not a big enough idea to compel us to lay our lives down for.

We are in the business of Kingdom come. We swear singular allegiance to the King who has called us out and told us to fight. We are in the business of sniffing out wherever the enemy is opposing those in the way of Jesus and kicking his ass back into the shadows of his deceit. We are in the business of connecting leaders and servants one to another. We believe that these relational networks are the bridges that the Holy Spirit is naturally and organically traveling across to accomplish his task on earth. We are in the business of encouraging leaders and communities to think local and to think neighborhood. We are in the business of believing that the future is open to being co-created with the God who has initiated relationship. We are in the business of taking responsibility for mission here on earth and believing that it entails the redemption of the whole of creation here on earth. We are in the business of thinking simple, doable, communal, monastic, missional, relational and catholic. We are in the business of embracing mystery, suffering, death to selfish ambitions and vain conceit. We are in the business of the prophetic without concern for any other audience except for the voice that has called us. We are in the business of becoming irrelevant (as Nouwen says it) in order that we can finally be free to love our neighbor.

I do not draw a sword for lands or titles. I do not put my family in harm's way of the enemy's scope for more of the same ole same ole. I unashamedly declare Revolution. I defiantly don't want to be the same. I defiantly want to plant more communities that invade enemy territory and declare Kingdom come through missional living. I defiantly want to order my life with monastic principles, discipline my body and soul with rythymns of Spirit so that I am experiencing the Kingdom and not just talking about it. I'm sure that there are more comfortable philosophies of living but I will rest when I cross over to the fullness of Kingdom reality. I am not afraid to die. I am a child of the Resurrection, death has no sting.

I cannot force you into this fight. I cannot make the decision for you. I can only declare what me and my family is commiting to.
"So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshipped on the far side of The River and in Egypt. You, worship God. If you decide that its a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you'd rather serve - and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshipped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you're now living. As for me and my family, we'll worship God." (Joshua 24 The Message)

The War is outside of us and inside of us. I'm calling you to a Revolution. Who's in?

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Mayhem has come and Mayhem has now gone forth. I will decompress my thoughts later this week when my mind is funtioning better. But for now I can say that it was really gooooood. About 260 folk who are passionate about mission, community and Kingdom discussed, worshipped, prayed, reflected, interacted with tension, encouraged etc. etc. I loved hosting the "boys", Jim and Doug from Michigan, John from Seattle and Neil from Seattle. Loved meeting fellow bloggers I had only known virtually. Loved hangin' with an extended community of brothers and sisters from the Midwest Region that have become family to me and my family. I love taking ground away from the enemy and wathcing him flee. I love hitting the hooka with some of my favorite people in the world :) I loved hangin' out with McLaren again. He has always made a point to affirm me in the past years and this time was no different, I soaked in his kind words and wisdom for me. I loved seeing OCC represent, interact, encourage others, do their part, give away the gift of Jesus to those they met. I watched them and felt enormously proud to be a part of OCC. I belong to a tribe of Christ followers that love me and love the world around them, nothing else really matters.
Abba, thank you for Kingdom Come. Your presence amongst us lingers within me. We are ready for your next marching orders . . .


Thursday, January 08, 2004

Mayhem is coming!

after work today i begin the first round of airport shuttles. It is upon us.

Here is a selection from Caedmon of Whitby (680 A.D.) and it is what I want Mayhem to be about:
"Teach me to hear that story,
through each person,
to cradle a sense of wonder in their life,
to honour the hard-earned wisdom of their sufferings,
to waken their joy,
that the King of all Kings stoops down to wash their feet,
and looking up into their face says, "I know - I understand" (not alone)

Come Holy Spirit. I can't wait to see y'all there. Come expectant.


Tuesday, January 06, 2004

I've been teaching this week in my classes about the profanity of the cross and the specifics of the crucifixion. Inviting them to journal at the conclusion of our teaching time and it just strikes me as incredible profound. I became aware of the sacrifice of Christ about 18 years ago and it still engages passion within me. My King died for me. unthinkable. I matter to him. unthinkable. But I'm so glad. He has filled my life with meaning and it compels me to live a life of mission. Thank you Jesus.


Saturday, January 03, 2004

To understand the man who is helping to lead our conversation this weekend at Mayhem, check out this link.

Its a response to Chuck Colson's article in Christianity Today saying that postmodernism is dead. Very, very interesting. By the way, I'm not star struck nor do I care about celebrities in the Christian sub-culture. Brian happens to be one of only a few who believed in me when so many from evangelicalism rejected me and my dream to plant a different kind of church movement. He continues to prove to me that he "gets" what so many of us are passionate about and is just happy to be a part of the story. I'm so looking forward to our conversation this weekend. Its about Community, Mission and Mayhem. Come Holy Spirit.

I'm swamped with Mayhem details (Jan. 9-10) but am really pumped about all the folk that are coming. Here are the states represented as I know them:
Canada (ok, not a state)
North Carolina
New Hampshire
New York
and there's probably a couple I'm not thinking of.
There's still time to register but housing is closed. ( We're expecting a gathering of about 200. Come Holy Spirit, catch us up in an experience of you.