Hillsong and the Baptism of Pop-Culture

00Recently GQ published a well written article titled “What Would Cool Jesus Do?” The article chronicled Taffy Brodesser-Akner as she shadowed Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz (pastor). Read it here> http://www.gq.com/story/inside-hillsong-church-of-justin-bieber-kevin-durant The cresendo of the piece is the emotional whirlwind baptism of the Biebs. Justin has a genuine conversion experience when he gets on his knees and he cries, “I want to know Jesus”. The moment of conversion I found endearing and authentic. My critique of the themes in this article are not with “Did Justin Bieber get saved?”, “Are people at Hillsong type churches Christian’s?”. This is a realm I don’t want to tread on, as I’ve seen God’s spirit show up in the stodgiest of places and the most progressive of places. I’m no judge of what happened in the heart of young Bieber. The logical knee-jerk argument often tossed about whenever one critiques a church like Hillsong is “but God is using them”. I’m not interested in the ‘ends justify the means’ type of conversation. We too often emphasize the most obvious, pragmatic cultural signs of success. Albert Einstein said, “That which counts is often the most difficult to count.” I’ve found this to be true. Our location in a […]

The Fragility of Presence

00Recently my wife and I have been noticing and working out something with my 11 year old little boy. He is a human container of vivacious laughter, tantrums of creative brilliance, quirky commentary and strong moral sensitivities. Just recently someone from our community popped into our house to unexpectedly say hello. At the same time they came over, my son was racing through the living room looking for a lost Lego that he wanted to add to the tower he was building. So as this family walked into our living room to say hello my son blew right past them without the slightest nod. He was on a mission! I watched as their little girl looked up at her mom with concerned panic in her eyes and say “does Daniel not want to play with me?” One of the things we’ve noticed is how his personal ambition can cause him to give people a cursory acknowledgment. Later that night as I was singing him a song and tucking him into bed, I asked why he ignored his friend earlier in the day, he said “Dad, I didn’t ignore her I just had big stuff to do.” Ugh, I’ve committed this crime […]

Book Review: Nothing But The Blood by Zach Hoag

00 OK I’ll admit it, I’ve never seen the show “Dexter”, but after reading this book my interest in the show is extremely peaked.  Zach J. Hoag in the book “Nothing But The Blood” finds creative and powerful connections between the TV series “Dexter” and the Gospel.  Using commercial art as an analysis piece can be a tricky endeavor but I must say Zach Hoag does a masterful and intelligent job.  Zach moves effortlessly back and forth between the culture in which we live and the hope of Grace. If you have not seen the television program don’t worry, Hoag pulls together all the characters in the story and lays out the plot so that you have a strong sense of the tensions and possibilities. The character Dexter Morgan is a forensic blood analyst who is employed by the Miami Police Department.  The unique slant on the show is that Dexter is also a serial killer who hunts down murderers who have avoided the justice system.   Zach Hoag introduces Dexter as the prototype “Every Person”.  Dexter is a broken man whose soul is clawing for fulfillment and purpose. There is a Dark Passenger, the inner voice in Dexter’s head, which […]

Seder As A Missional Meal

00 I can understand the curiosity and odd feelings Christians might have about the Seder.  I’ve been asked a few times over the years “Why do you have a Seder Dinner?”  In conversations with local pastors I’ve gotten statements like“We’re not Jewish so I don’t get it.” and “I thought we were free from rituals and tradition.”  What is the Seder?The Seder is a practice performed by a community involving a retelling of the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in ancient Egypt.  This story is in the Book of Exodus.  Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding the “People of God” to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)  Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah.  The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings, rituals and special Passover songs.  Our Story & the Israelite Story.When you read the Old Testament from Genesis to Chronicles you’re left with a sense that the story is supposed to […]

Community Basics:One

00 This is a short and simple video/interview I did for some Missional Communities in Ontario, Canada. They used it for teaching and discussion in their gatherings.   Basic, narrative and a bit practical. 00

The Rubik’s God on the Missional Edge

00Almost 15 years ago I found myself face down on the floor of my apartment, journal in hand, Bible in the other, exhausted.  I had worn myself out in the pursuit of a God that I could no longer envision cohesively.  I was a fire-ball and passionate but I was whipped and disillusioned from the chase.  God was veiled in smoke and so unclear to me.  I had numerous disjointed pieces swirling around in my head competing for prime spot on what God should look like; pieces from larger than life theologians, pieces from my youth, pieces from cultural pastors, pieces from the media, pieces from the Old Testament, pieces from my own inner insecurities.  If I could be very honest this anxiety never motivated genuine love, even though it might have motivated obedience.  Privately, God felt like a Rubik’s Cube to me and my affection for it was fading.     Twisting of Pieces  Now 15 years later I’m a pastor,  doing incarnational ministry amongst the scattered effects of the Christendom garage sale currently underway.  I am discovering this same tangible but ethereal “Rubik’s God” clanking around in the emotional imagination of real people.  In many coffee house conversations I […]

Bitterness on the Missional Frontier

00 Forging communities on mission outside of Christendom has been a refreshing and exhilarating experience.  I’m a strategist and futurist by nature, so I have the propensity to convince myself I’ve sized up all the challenges that will come my way, before they come my way.  But there was one issue that I was not prepared to run into so regularly and widely… bitterness.  Over and over again our team has collided with the thick smog of bitterness that saturates many conversations and any intentional gathering related to Christianity.  I’ve studied up on Post-Christianity but nothing could ready me for the discipleship challenge of very real and raw people being riddled with bitterness and cynicism.  Outside the Tent For as much theological space and diversity our community embraces, for as relational as our ethos is, for as organic as our church ecclesiology is, we’ve found no way around colliding with deeply entrenched bitterness.  I had a bit of a fantasy that because we were unlike institutional, hierarchical, consumer-oriented, more conservative expressions of church we would avoid this reality.  But bitterness travels.  Bitterness goes where we go and it paralyzes our energy for mission and community. Any team pioneering ministry outside […]

Top 10 Posts on Community and Mission in 2012

00 This was a fun year personally when it came to blogging, traffic increased 400% over 2011.  I want to thank you for visiting this year and checking out my meanderings.  I’ve always attempted to post authentically about the gears that grind in the social, emotional and theological space of forming communities on mission.   Investigate the top 10 most visited posts in 2012. 1. Missional Discipleship Cannot Be Microwaved  “For as much as it challenges our patience, efficiency and need-for-speed, we should never detach from a communal orientation in order to fast-track discipleship.” 2. Missional Communities Peel Back Pride  “I’m just starting to adjust to people being unimpressed and even a bit turned off.” 3. Missional Marinating “No longer am I trying to launch an organization that sparkles before its consumers.” 4. How Do I Live Into Community When I Don’t Like People “Posing eventually causes us to unconsciously distance from certain people and  subsequently dilute the quality of our community.” 5. Go Small, Go Missional  “We need more leaders to break their starry-eyed relationship with Big Christian movements and go subterranean with building for the Kingdom of God.“ 6. Mutual Missional Leadership  “I began to ask the question how […]

Twelve Books That Helped Me Help Others on the Missional Journey

00 I love reading, I just love it. It’s life-giving for me.  At least 50% of my reading has a purpose though.  I’m searching for aid, input, and resources that will help me, help others.  In coaching others into a more missional and communal oriented life I’m consistently challenged and exposed in “what I don’t know”. So I go hunting for food that will nourish, that will get us a little further.  This year I stumbled upon some new goodies and also revisited some old friends.  I picked 12 accessible books (listed in no particular order) that coached me on some angle in leading others to live into community for the mission of God. 1. When the Church Was a Family by Joseph Hellerman –  This book gave me some valuable language and theological insight for forming spiritual families.  In the face of hyper-individualism that eats at the heart of the Gospel, this book unveils the fiercely collective mindset of the New Testament church.  This book is deconstructive but does the beautiful work of reconstructing spiritual formation within an emotionally tethered community. 2. Practicing the Way of Jesus by Mark Scandrette – This book was filled with interactive, fascinating practices […]