The Fracking of Spiritual Information

00Fracking is form of gas extraction. In the old days, a well was drilled straight down and gas was pumped up. Now to get at less accessible gas, wells are drilled thousands of feet down and then thousands more horizontally. Hydraulic fracturing pumps thousands of pounds of water, sand and chemicals down the well to fracture the rock that holds the gas. This extraction process boosts production, migrating natural gas and petroleum to the well. For all that is gained in Fracking there is a growing chorus of people exposing the environmental impact. No one contests how productive Fracking is for extracting gas, it is exceptionally productive. What is being pointed out is that the process leaves behind damage. Whatever your opinions on Fracking are, they are irrelevant for what I’m poking at. The greater question I want to ask is “What does Extracted Learning do?” Often our celebration in extraction revolves around what is gained, pulled to the surface. Extraction always profits us something yet leaves behind something in the aftermath.  The Damage on Practice I contend that the church has submitted to information-delivery techniques that extract. How we learn and teach is stuck in a habit that perpetuates separation. In order to get […]

Community Patterns for the Church (7 C’s)

00 When my wife and I got married 16 years ago we’d already been dating for 5 years prior. We had a winding dating relationship that was stretched by time zones, career u-turns and simple immaturity (mostly mine) but we continued to hold onto each other despite these challenges. Naively I thought our sheer romantic-will-power would be enough to cultivate a vibrant marriage. I was an idealist that needed to experience the school of hard knocks. The first year was filled with beautiful memories but the assaulting arrows of: demanding jobs, fluctuating finances, existential crisis (mostly mine), complicated outside friendships, the intensity of school, and learning to grow up, was an onslaught to our bondedness. Our emotional love for each other was still strong but a significant shift needed to take place if we were going to build an abundant life for the future. We needed new patterns.  Organized-Organic All of life is built upon patterns. In the natural world bees form their honeycombs methodically, robins put together their nests piece by piece and planets loop around the sun in a strict cycle. All of these are wild expressions in nature, yet none of them is spontaneous and random. They are exuberant but they are organized around […]

Community Is Not Self-Actualization

00This video was so true I could not resist posting it. As a church planter this has been one of the hidden hurdles to forming genuine, tethered communities. Culturally we seem more concerned with “how we want to be recognized by others” rather than “how do we meaningfully relate with others”.  I’ve recently been recognizing how vintage my own church plant appears in a viral culture. Check it>  00

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 […]

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 […]

How Do I Live Into A Missional Community When I Don’t Like People?

00 I mean come on, have you really been around people lately? They talk too much, they get excited about stuff they never follow through on, they talk smack about other people without trying to look like they’re talking smack, they are narcissistic so they subtly manipulate conversations back to themselves, they spend their money on dumb stuff then grumble about having no money, the raise their kids in wacky ways, they vote for the wrong politicians, they try to talk intelligently about things they’ve barely studied, they are poor listeners, they are undisciplined with their time and then they complain they have no time, they are all about “doing justice” but then can’t unplug from their computer to actually do it, they are too conservative, they are way too liberal, they are easily offended and then avoid conflict by avoiding you.   Seriously, I could go on for days but I probably shouldn’t.    People are hard to like and if you’re honest we all have bouts where we don’t like people much.  This is a daily and weekly reality of forming a missional community, but very few like to be honest about it.  It’s hard to like each other.  […]