Sabotaging the Hero-Complex in Discipleship

00 Power is a tricky thing. I remember as a teenager discovering I had some speed and athleticism. I was no Superman but I was a fast little goober that could throw the ball on target. That was enough in my small school to push me to the front. I made the football team and found I had power on the field that evidently flowed into the halls of my high school. Being the quarterback gave me a compelling identity in contrast to my previous nobody ranking. Here’s the curious thing about power, I tried out for the team with a trembling spirit but within months I was relishing the attention that being a quarterback gave me. Internally I morphed into a hungry ego gremlin that began to ooze on the outside. Powers Leverage  My hypothesis is that most don’t seek power for the intent to dominate. Yet, power has leverage on our innocence and original intentions, eroding them both without our noticing. This is what occurred in my quarterback situation and I’ve seen it play out in various domains. I did not play for power but when it was attained it had an insidious effect on me. This is the moral of Boromir in the Lord of the […]

Missional Discipleship Cannot Be Microwaved

00 Discipleship is at the heart of the missional movement or at least it should be.  Jesus provoked followers to become gardeners that would till-and-toil for the flourishing of his in-breaking Kingdom.  Jesus was a rabbi.  Like other rabbis before him, he invited others to journey along side him. The rabbinic teaching style did not primarily consist of attending lectures, reading texts or going through a preset study.  The primary learning approach was through Midrash which was a way of processing with story, conversation, questions and reflection.  Today we are challenged with excavating an apprentice-heart in Jesus-followers for the sake of God’s mission in the world.  But I wonder if we have time and patience for Midrash anymore? Microwave Discipleship In many ways in the evangelical imagination, discipleship has become so intertwined with our consumerist tendencies that we are blind to how fused they’ve become.  Discipleship, beginning with the twelve and moving into the early church, did not have embedded expectations of programs for felt needs, affinity groups and fill-in the blank accessibility.  It’s become so innate that discipleship be quarantined to one night a week or to a 12 week notebook or to a one-year intensive.  Certainly, the previous […]

Becoming a Community Diagnostician

00A formative book for me has been “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It painted a breathtaking vision of community that has been lodged in my mind for the last decade.   As a church planter though, I quickly realized how un-sexy the process of shaping and sustaining Missional-Community is in contrast to the surreal vision swirling around in my head. Here’s a promise: the romanticism around this burgeoning approach to church planting will soon fade under the real hands-on work of cultivating routine community. I’ve journeyed through a “crashing-to-earth-process” after detoxing from years of devouring leadership books combined with reading stories of modern monastic communities, realizing people are not pieces to be used for my preferred utopian dreams.  Our pictures of perfection need to be grounded and humbled.  Idealism can be the un-verbalized fuel for disappointment surrounding the concept of community.  The Fragility of Community It’s tempting to talk about community in abstract terms but when practiced those abstract ideals have very little traction.  The disarming reality around fostering community is the ever present vulnerability and fragility of it.  My observance is that maintaining vibrant community is even harder than active missionality.  Christine D. Pohl said in a recent lecture “this truth […]

Blessed are the Right? Really?

00 There are loads of assumptions in our Christian culture about who the righteous are; who the right ones are.  There is an innate evangelical obsession to establish a status of who’s right and who’s wrong before the eyes of an all-watching God.  The Clamoring Question I believe this emotional paranoia was just as much a heated concern in the 1st Century world of Jesus as it is today.  By the time Jesus arrives on the seen there were 613 Rabbinic laws on how to be “right before God.”  This is an obvious question we are all bothered and tormented by; “Am I right? Are they right? Am I wrong, Are they wrong?” These clamoring questions are running rampant in so much of our cultures discourse and dialogue today.  We don’t seem to have another framework for interacting with the circumstances in our world.  This is what we sift everything through “what is the right or wrong way to do something.”  Or “what is the right or wrong way to think.”  It seems quite natural to primarily be concerned with this matter.  Who wants to be wrong…I sure don’t. Who’s On God’s Side We assume a tight connection between those who are […]

The Squeeze of Community

00I recently had a pastor ask what my plan for discipleship was at our church. It’s always hard to answer that question because the expected paradigm is often a program that takes people spiritually from point A to point B within a framed amount of time.  I‘m convinced there is a bit of smoke and mirrors when it comes to what discipleship programs like Alpha course, Theology classes, Sunday School, Men’s Fraternity, Cross Current, Starting Point, Prayer Groups etc actually accomplish in the way of transformation. Sure the previous options present people with potentially the right information in a conducive, arranged environment.  People may even have an ah-ha moment in a programed setting but often character change is still elusive. With programs, participants have a strong sense of completion or accomplishment but what really needs to be measured goes unaddressed. I understand the supposed need for programs to funnel people through essentials in an organized and efficient fashion. Still, after 10+ years in organized churches I’m just not convinced it creates a conducive space for authentic transformation. When it comes to discipleship the bottom line should be transformation of our character. But character ducks and dodges coming into the light. […]