Submerge Schema: A Relational Liturgy for Missional Living

00In 2005 I spent some time in Kenyan refugee camps. These refugees were from Uganda and had been uprooted as they fled from the LRA. The formation of the rebel group called the Lord’s Resistance Army recruited 5000 children into the Ugandan government army. My role was to explore not the LRA itself but the issues related to attachment by families that resettled in Kenya. As we spent time in these refugee camps we compiled information and stories about the serious struggle for individuals and families to attach to a new place indefinitely. The issue we investigated was called the Displacement Affect. Attachment The Displacement Affect pioneered by Otto Fenichel is the ensuing influence that an extended season of uprootedness has on the process of rooting. What happens when people are put out of home, out of place and hover in a displaced state? Settlement Identity-Crisis takes hold when people are prevented from attachment. When the emotional muscle of attachment is suspended, severed or even underdeveloped it makes bonding significantly threatening, unfamiliar, frightening and difficult. It is an unconscious psychological state that causes one to stay above place.   This exploration has made me acutely aware of the signs and symptoms of Displacement Affect. In no way do I want to minimize those displaced by war but […]

The Numbers Leash

00Starting from the small church of my youth, winding through my last 20 years of vocational pastoring, I have had a decent vantage point on the church growth narrative. When I was in a booming attractional church, we took pride in our voluminous felt-needs programs. When I was in a liturgical church, there was a palatable panic around when our numbers of people dropped. No matter what our style was, we were numbers conscience. We’d hear about the metrics over and over; how many campuses we have, how many people attend, how many got saved, how much money we raised etc. Honestly I came to dread church conferences because of the onslaught of that single question “so how many…” Even when I pastored at a megachurch, I was embarrassed to answer. The question itself exposes our ambitions. As a church planter, the volume of resources for church planting stresses this anxiety. Supposedly, after you’re first Sunday Launch the race is on to get to 100 people in order to survive. This is the goal. I was just reading a church planting book published last year that suggested borrowing people from another church to create the illusion of numerical energy so that church […]

Missional Minimalism

00 In my first 10 years as a pastor I became accustomed to resources. I worshiped and served with a charitable portion of resources as unidentified supports around me. I had great worship facilities, great budgets and decently funded programs to suit any need or stage of life. I had on-hand artists to paint canvases for my sermons and quality writers to write fresh liturgies every Sunday. I had talented musicians to create any mood we needed. Whenever I would start a new sermon series or spiritual program, I quickly found myself pondering what resources were needed to land it with excellence. For 10 years, I privately wrestled with this landscape, tucking away bothersome thoughts. Then One summer I went to Kenya and returned with hard questions pummeling my mind. Learning from the Underprivileged In Kenya, I observed the fallout atrocities from tribal wars, unique farming methods in poor villages and children who just wanted to play until the sun came down. Yet, there was something else that lodged under my rib cage: a one hour conversation with a young PHD Kenyan Pastor. One afternoon this pastor took me on a village walk and then we moseyed into his hut […]

The Irritation of Incarnation

00Incarnational Theology emphasizes that the Father has sent Jesus as one of us. God does not scorn the human condition rather God dwelt in the fragility of the human body (Phil 2). This human form brought the Glory of God down from Mt. Sinai to the streets of Nazareth. The fullness of God somehow, someway was displayed in the limitations of the God-man Jesus. He embraced those limits to model for us how to be present, really present. Jesus was a “manger wetter” as the poet Stephen Mahan states. This is not sacrilegious, this is sacred. God experienced human flesh and in it opened up space to observe his kindness. (Rom 2:4). The incarnation continues as we are sent (John 20:21) and now the Divine is being downloaded into the ordinary. An Incarnational God leads us to inhabit the world not as one fearing but as one searching; searching how the Kingdom of God breaks into the crevices of our world through tangible touch. This imagination is a burst of light into my life offering me a framework for being available in my local context. Cost and Consternation I’ve had the joy of meeting many young Incarnational Theologiz-ersspringing forth with fresh vision about this […]

Top 10 Missional Posts in 2013

00 I started blogging in March 2010. My first few posts were quite whiny. I started out yacking about whatever front-of-the-lobe-ideas I had on the church. The tone of my posts were bloated with ideation and mere opinion. I have to confess they weren’t extremely helpful. It was my wife that pushed me to move beyond pontificating on ideas and instead write about what we were learning on the ground; the good, the awkward and the ugly. Thanks to her, in the end of 2010 my blog took on a narrowed focus. I began scribbling solely on dynamics piloted and practiced in mission, community and discipleship from our minimalistic approach. This has limited the voice of my blog but I’m grateful. I’m a newbie when it comes to throwing my thoughts into the cyber circus but 2013 was good year. This December the blog hit 70,000 reads since March 2010 with the majority of them being in 2012 and 2013.   The following posts received the most traffic in 2013 1. The Subterranean Life “We need to upend the flight of radical that is bored  with the mechanics of being vitally ordinary.” 2. Hero-Complex in Discipleship “No matter what tool you employ in discipleship, it must […]

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 […]

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

Missional Coach for V3

00I’m extremely excited about my fresh partnership with the burgeoning church planting movement V3. I’ll be working for V3 as a missional-community-cultivator helping to coach seedlings of incarnation in real-time neighborhoods. V3 has developed a stellar training cohort that nurtures both woman and men to plant vital missional churches. V3 is passionate about Trinitarian Spirituality, God’s sent posture into the world in Jesus, earthy disciple-making, community dynamics and innovation for the Kingdom of God. JR Woodward author of Creating a Missional Culture and Tim Catchim co-author of The Permanent Revolution are just a few of the architects behind V3 If your looking to go on a learning pilgrimage with some of the best practitioners check out V3…serious. Jump over to the new site> V3Movement  00

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 […]