The Subterranean Life: Re-imagining Radical

00 I few years ago I helped a friend put up a small garage in his back yard.  We dug a foundation, laid the blocks and framed in the structure.  It took us a full weekend but we basked in our accomplishment when we were done.  A couple years later he happened to tell me that a beautiful tree in his back yard was dying.  The tree was a good ten feet from the garage but we inadvertently ripped up a chunk of roots when we dug the garage’s foundation and it was now unable to flourish. Being Radical The lesson learned from that dying tree resembles what I’ve learned observing others pursue “being radical”.  In the last few years Evangelical Christianity has scored bestselling books under the titles “Radical”, “Crazy Love”,and “Weird”.  All three of these books make a valiant effort to lay down a course for maximizing faith in Christ. The overall sentiment for combining radical and faith has been around for a while in modern evangelicalism as reflected in sayings such as being “on fire” or living “sold out”.  The most memorable phrase I’ve heard was at a young adult’s conference called “planet shakers” which I couldn’t […]

Missional Ordinariness

00 I met with some pastors a few weeks ago to see if I could help their congregations begin the titanic turn towards missional. I’m not sure if I was a little too tired or what, but I found myself irritated and a tad ornery within the first hour. I apologized for my attitude but then proceeded to identify why I was getting a minor headache from our meeting. These well meaning leaders seemed to be fishing for the “big catalytic innovation” that would “unleash a movement”; meanwhile the ordinariness of a communal/missional shaped lifestyle was seemingly unimpressive to them. These pastors humored my crankiness and I eventually warmed up to their eager questions.  I’ve never been more convinced that it’s the ordinary stuff that we fumble because our eyes are darting elsewhere. The most ground-breaking missional excavating is in the unattractive details of our rhythmic ongoing lives. Addressing these details will bring about a collision with the primordial-ordinary ways we need to recover dwelling in our communities.  I won’t get into what those specific ordinary rhythms are (I have in past posts). I’d like to point out, sorry it might come across a little preachy, some observations that I […]

Where’s the Spirit in Missional Communities?

00 If you’re familiar with the lively soundscape of a modern worship set or a historic setting with breath-taking liturgy or the delivery of an inspiring sermon then a Missional Community can be a bit of a, well… let down. Some entering into a Missional Community go through a transition. When your senses are atuned to these channels it’s natural to expect to feel a certain way in church.  Our eyes and ears are accustomed to the obvious most blatant signs that “something spiritually dynamic is happening”. Without these channels it can be difficult to decipher the whereabouts of the Holy Spirits activity.  Emotional Expectations On the surface there’s nothing spectacular about 20, 30 or 40 people doing ho-hum activities together; eating, conversing, singing (without bells and whistles), serving (without much fanfare),dialogical teaching (with interruptions and questions). I’m being a bit sarcastic but I’m attempting to poke at a real emotional occurance for people when they enter into this simplified, raw, relational way of being the church.  In a Missional Community many of the dynamics that sparked an expressive return may not be there for orientation. Many aren’t aware of their emotional expectations until they begin to feel unmoved by […]

Substitute Community

00I was fascinated by the elements of the Manti Te’o drama. In January 2013 this young football player was hoaxed as his online girlfriend faked her death. An acquaintance of Te’o confessed to orchestrating a hoax that lured Te’o into an online relationship with a nonexistent woman. How did a young man build a strong emotional attachment with someone that was not physically in his life? How did he develop a perceived relationship with someone who was not actively present? Something about this story symbolizes a cultural shift in how we’ve begun to quantify relationships. The psychological issues around this story had me buzzing as it relates to the formation of community. Modern Symbolism We face complications around the symbolism of community. What is it? What does our popular imagination say it is? What ideals do we harbor? What expectations do we import? Personally, my laser focus on community is directly tied to my take-away from the narrative of the New Testament church. If the temple is no longer the space that contains God, what is?  The landscape of the New Testament letters exposes that community is the container for carrying the message of Jesus. Biblically informed community and American popular ideas of community are not the same. Time and time […]