Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Razz-solutions!

Kick off a new year with some razzle-dazzle! What would be the top 2 or 3 resolutions you would like to see any/every "church" (howsoever you wish to 'define' that entity, but keep the focus on a local gathering) make for 2008? You may comment on other's razzle-lutions ONLY after you have proposed 2-3 of your own. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas, Joy to the World!

Here's an opportunity and invitation to "preach" a very brief Christmas sermon to your blogmates. Please select a short portion of the "Christmas story" (as told by the canonical Evangelists or by Paul [test question: Paul tells 'the Christmas story'? Where...?]) that you feel the church in the US particularly needs to attend to in these days. Hey, it's a busy season, so if you go on and on, we'll probably move along to other things... but if you are succinct, insightful, humorous and brilliant, you may hear the angels sing. Otherwise, the sounds you hear will just be us clapping and cheering.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"The Well" and ecclesiology

Let's not neglect the praying-for-one-another thread from the prior post, but this came through from Joseph (I shortened it a bit) and I thought it might be good to ruminate on it together. Please take time to visit the links Joseph provided before commenting:

"The Wall Street Journal had an article in it about the church that Susanna Petrie attends in Brussels. We met the pastor when we were over there a couple of years ago, and Deb and I visited some of their sister churches in London and Dublin.

"The pastor, Carlton Deal, is part of an innovative missional movement dedicated to planting churches in Europe ...

"I really LOVE what these people are doing ... their approach does lead, however, to some legitimate discussions of what exactly constitutes the "church." I think ecclesiology is going to be the great topic of conversation and debate in our time, as soteriology was for Luther and others in the early sixteenth century.

"...and here is a critical response (in the good sense) from David Neff at Ancient Evangelical Future: "

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Let us pray.

Let's try something less analytical. What are you praying about these days that you might like us to join you in? Anything from the very personal to the extensively global would be fine: how might we be praying with and for you?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Unlimited forgiveness...?

Paraphrasing Bob Mumford from the recent ACM conference: the coming of the kingdom looks like unqualified love and unlimited forgiveness in action. Yale theologian Miroslav Wolf, in his book Exclusion and Embrace, writes of the two "movements" in forgiveness: first is exclusion, where the evil that has been done is named, its effects described, and the perpetrators identified. Once this has been done, embrace (re-welcoming the offenders) becomes possible (though not automatic or instantaneous). What forms might a "ministry of unlimited forgiveness" take? How might the church move from being perceived as the place to receive unlimited judgment and condemnation to a place where the excluded might experience being re-embraced?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

To the Jews first, and also to the Greeks

Let's pick up on the conversation that's been going on in our "email dimension." Sean got us started with some helpful comments and insight about some of what it means to be Jewish and a follower of Jesus. We discussed whether Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ" was anti-semitic or not, and why. Are we supercessionists--has Israel been superceded by the church? Is there a continuing role for Israel in the redemptive purposes of God, and if so, what it it and how is it different from the church's role? Is Romans 9-11 a "parenthesis" to Paul's major 'argument' in the letter, or does it represent the culmination of that argument? Does any of this matter, or is it mere abstract theologizing with no real-world purpose or application?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Schedule Change for ACM

Attention all Thinklings--for those attending ACM, we've been requested to move our get-together back to 3 PM on Saturday. Could all who are hoping/planning to be there acknowledge receipt of this info? Thanks!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Offering Hospitality

I want to suggest that the church needs to recover the practice of offering hospitality to the world around us. How might a "hospitality approach" tweak or adjust the ways in which we think about mission? Have you ever experienced something that might be called "the hospitality of heaven"? Any Scriptures light up in a particular way when we frame the question in this way?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

On to Columbus!

Hardly a rallying cry, I know... I mean it's Columbus, where you can't even smoke cigars anymore! Besides, not all of us will be able to attend ACM this time. But following on Robert's suggestion, what would you like to see emerge out of ACM this year? What would you see as a desirable outcome(s) from these gatherings? Whose autograph would you like to score? Coming to Columbus or not, you're welcome to weigh in! And these musings are allowed to be a bit less weighty and perhaps more whimsical than our usual output.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Challenges and Opportunities

Let's see if God might help us articulate clearly some of the challenges and opportunities presented by whatever-it-is that we think is or may be happening in the world (postmodernism? Kairos moment? Decline and Fall of the West? Kingdom coming?) What might it mean to steer a spiritual course that avoids the Scylla of cyber-optimism and the Charybdis of existential despair?

Your initial comment should mention both a challenge (problem, difficulty, hurdle, hindrance) AND an opportunity you see before us, a caution AND a "pedal-to-the-medal" exhortation! Brevity is appreciated; prolixity should be eschewed.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Is Scripture infallible? Inerrant? Both? Neither? Gentlemen, march off ten paces away from one another, define your terms (succinctly, please), turn and face one another, and fire away.

Will your aim be infallible or inerrant?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

You're invited--RSVP, please

Yes, I know, the "please" is redundant. Anyway, I'm tryng to pull together a get-together for posters to this blog. My idea is to get together sometime next June (second half of the month) for a weekend of face-to-face conversation. My thought for a location is Miami, since Jose is there and could coordinate details, but am open to other suggestions. Boston is real nice then, too!

AND I want to do some fund-raising so that finances don't keep any of you from coming, esp. younger guys for whom an unexpected expense like this isn't doable. I can't promise that I can enable you to travel for free, but I'll do my best to take something off the tab, and we'll keep the costs once you get to wherever-it-will-be as low as we can (while still accommodating the Old Boys' need for comfy beds, regular meals, nearby toilets, that kind of thing.)

Participation limited to 12 (OK, maybe 15), and must be somewhat balanced between oldsters and younger-sters, with the tipping headed in a younger-ster direction.

Interested? Committed? Need more info, have some ideas to offer (ooh, that's probably a bad thing to ask this group!)--anyway, let me hear something from you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"I hadn't thought of it like that before..."

With summer winding up (down?) and schedules starting to fill for the fall, I thought we could grab a moment for reflection. Thinking back over these intense conversations from the past few months, what is one way in which your mind is changing? You may not remember the post or who it was that made the comment, but could you give us a specific way in which your thinking has been changing as a result of these conversations? And perhaps it's not even that your mind has fully changed, only that it may be in the process of changing. How has something someone wrote made an impact upon the way you think/see one of the topics we've discussed?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Organic CP6

Sounds vaguely chemical... but actually, this is a continuation of an extremely lively email discussion that may have grown too large for the email format. Initiated by Joseph Holbrook's "Organic Church Planting, Part 6" paper, this conversation has ranged far and wide, and included comments from across the world and across the generations. Welcome and weigh in!

Friday, July 20, 2007

There's No Such Thing as a Free... Will?

By popular demand: what do we think about the ancient sovereignty-of-God-and-free-will debate? (I deliberately avoided using "versus" between sovereignty and free will, which kinda tips my hand...) And let's keep in mind John the M's appeal for a bit less head and a bit more lived-life--how do you live out your understanding of God's sovereignty and your understanding of free will?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Words, words, words...

The post title is from Hamlet; early in the play, Hamlet is seen reading a book and, when asked what he's reading, responds with a sigh, "Words, words, words."
But words are vital; words are what makes us human. The primary "enemy" identified in the Psalms is not foreign kings or evil people, but dishonest lips, lying tongues and deceitful speech. So... in a Post Modern society, who should control the meaning of words and how should they do it?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Please turn in your Bibles to...

While affirming together that "all Scripture is inspired by God...," are there particular books or genres (types of writing) of Scripture that you think are particularly timely and pertinent for us in this time of rapid, discontinuous change, missional challenge and apostolic opportunity?

This question is not implying that some parts of Scripture are "better" than others, nor is it merely asking for our "favorite" parts. Instead, as we seek to follow Jesus in a complex and confusing situation, which parts of God's Word are especially bread for this journey? And how are they bread?

Please note the small tweak to our ground rules in the first comment on this post.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Patterns in the mosaic and the music

Here's an attempt to frame our current discussion. We want to try and stand back a bit from the individual pieces of the mosaic that we see up close and ask what larger patterns God may be bringing into view. We've already at least touched upon worship, unity, justice, and several others. As we strain to oberve the wider mosaic of God's work more broadly, do we think we're gaining any sense, if not of The Big Picture, at least of a bigger picture? And remmeber, we're not simply vieiwng a mosaic, we are part of a mosaic that God is assembling right before our eyes. It is undoubtably huge, more huge than any of us or even all of us could ever completely get minds and hearts and lives around, but perhaps we're seeing some patterns emerging.

Following a musical metaphor, are we hearing some themes... hearing some variations and inventions on some familiar themes... finding delight in what we used to think was "noise" but are coming to appreciate as music, not merely in a different key or style, but in a whole new genre? I'm attempting to build on the theme of "hearing the sound coming from the mountain" and asking if the sound may in fact be formed of several strands of sounds, all issuing from the Throne.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Heart of Worship

William wrote: I don't think that the "worship" part of our services is as important as we have made it out to be. It is critically important to surrender to God and praise Him, but did not Abraham do that when he sacrificed his son? What is worship? What will it look like in the future with the post-modern generation?

Friday, May 18, 2007

You shall be my witnesses...

OK, OK--time to catch a quick breath, reshuffle the deck, and play a new hand.

I've noticed that in our conversations so far, the term 'witness' hasn't appeared, so I'd like to see if we can't adjust our trajectory a bit in that direction.

We are called to make disciples, and called to BE witnesses. The two are related, but I find the concept of 'witness' intriguing. In one sense, a witness doesn't 'do' anything; he or she is more of a pointer or a reporter. I don't mean to limit 'witness' to a courtroom definition... a 'witness' can function simply as a signpost for those who are looking for direction. The created order 'witnesses' to the Lord, but its witness is easily dismissed or overlooked, or mis-interpreted. In a similar fashion, Jesus on the cross was a witness to the world, and to the individuals in it. There is an interesting active-passive dimension to this: in one sense, Jesus doesn't 'do' anything, other than hang there and die, but at the same time, we understand that he accomplished everything, and the cross 'witnesses' to this reality. We're each in his way activists... and I'm not wanting to turn us into 'passivists'... but let's talk about the ways in which 'witness' might modify, shape, steer our conversations about building, making, demonstrating, discipling, getting it right, etc.

So: witnesses to Christ... to his resurrection... to the Kingdom.

Your turn to flip over a card.

Monday, May 7, 2007

God Makes All Things New

Things were getting just a bit cumbersome, so let's take a fresh start. I expect that we'll continue with many threads from the previous posts-and-comments, but, especially for newer members, it's a bit daunting to plow through 100+ comments just to catch up!

Let's pick up from a comment that John made. Paraphrasing, he reminded us that God is the one who makes/is making all things new. This Isaianic prophecy is reaffirmed throughout the NT (new commandment, new covenant, new creation, new community, new commission, just for starters), and is nearly the final comment in our Scripture--"Behold," says the one seated on the throne, "I am making everything new!" (Rev 21:5). This is what we've been wrestling with, the continuities and discontinuities between the "new" and the "old."

Let me suggest the Resurrection as an icon for us, as it provides an interesting "take" on the new and the old. In one sense, the Resurrection strongly reaffirms the "old"--against gnosticism in all its forms, the physical body of Jesus was raised to new life. God has neither abandoned our bodies, nor the creation in which those embodied persons live, move and have their beings. At the same time, the resurrection body is unlike anything we know. It is both continuous with the old, yet also discontinuous. It is not a "natural progression" from the old; we can't look at the old and then find our way automatically into the new... yet once we find ourselves in the new, it nevertheless has a familiar ring or feel to it. We feel "at home," even though we've never been there before!

As Joseph said, these conversations don't require much steering, and God help anyone who attempts to "manage" them! Gentlemen, and all ladies who care to join in, start your engines!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scheduled for Retirement?

Not talking about people here; instead, I thought we'd think in terms of words/concepts that may be ready to be retired (honorably or otherwise) from service. We've had some discussion already about whether "church" might fit into this category; "Christian" is another possibility, as is "patriarchy" (all for different reasons, however). Let's focus on important words within the context of the communities of Messiah's followers. Let's not chase words that we find merely annoying, but words which, whatever their past usefulness may have been, have now reached a place where they are actually counterproductive to the present progress of God's kingdom (as best we understand it).

So here's what you do: propose a word that you feel has outlived its usefulness. Briefly explain why you think this is the case, and, most importantly, propose/suggest a new word to take its place. Feel free to coin a new word altogether if you must!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You just don't get it!

Welcome! The idea here is some friendly-but-serious intergenerational conversation. If you're under, say age 32, you get to put to the, ahem, older folks a question or issue about which you suspect said older folks "just don't get it!" Same with the more mature crowd--you get to put to the rising/emerging generation a question about which you suspect said younger generation "just doesn't get it!" Several caveats:

We're interested in questions/issues of thological/spiritual substance/significance, OK? This isn't the place to work out your frustrations with your parents/kids, debate pop culture (unless you're making some spiritual connections to/from it)

We are NOT assuming the inevitability of conflict between/among persons of different ages. The goal of Covenant Thinklings is to learn to think together ("do theology") in a way that leads all of us into more faithful and fruitful lives as followers Jesus Christ. The title of this post is offered in good humor, not hostility!

You do not need any "credentials" to participate, only a desire to listen thoughtfully, participate respectfully, and push one another to (re)consider, (re)think through, and possibly revise (in the basic sense of "re-see") where and how we stand (or surf, for those preferring a more fluid metaphor) on important questions.

My hope is that this first post will simply generate/surface some interesting questions, which we can then tackle in subsequent posts.

Full disclosure: your host is 55. (I know that's hardly 'full disclosure,' but I'm not sure you're interested in any more at this point!)