Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tools for Transformation I: Humility

We want to focus our conversations on spiritual formation, and try to get down to some practicals and some specifics. To start, then, let's ask, What is humility--what does it actually look like, how does it "work" for you in practice? And as we "practice" humility, how does God's Spirit work to make us more like Jesus? Let's keep it as real as we can, even if that means discussing more of our failures than successes!

(IMAGE: Christ Washing the Feet of the Apostles by Meister des Hausbuches, 1475 Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spiritual Formation, Digitized...?

OK, I admit I not sure I really get it, and I'm asking for help: how do you see digital technologies being powerful tools in the development of a new generation of Christ followers and Christ communities? Will virtual communities begin to replace traditional face-to-face gatherings, or enhance them? How might we use these technologies to disciple Christ followers or serve the poor? What might we gain when we no longer "open your Bibles to John 4:such-and-such" but instead have our faces lit by the glow of tiny individual screens on which the words appear? Are there any downsides to the increasing digitizing of more and more of life, and if so, how would you suggest Christ followers might guard against them? And Joseph, could you post a cool picture for this conversation?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

‘wiki’ updates for the church - 17 theses summary

Ok… the ditty is now

♪♫ 17 theses to discuss on this thread…
17 theses to process!
take one down, discuss it all around,
16 theses to discuss on the blog…

1) there needs to be greater emphasis on spiritual formation (Joe -57).
2) there needs to be greater missional engagement with the secular world (Sarah -32).
3) there needs to be greater humility among Christians and respect for others(Sarah - 32).
4) there needs to be a deeper engagement with Scripture as God’s word (Brian -56).
5) there needs to be a deconstruction of church growth thinking: churches limited to under 250 people. Over that, churches should reproduce a daughter church (Brian -56). Move from church growth to church multiplication.
6) greater emphasis on “Real Church” as micro-church of 10 to 12. Big God parties less frequently (JohntheMusician - 23).
7) Repent of judging the lifestyles of outsiders (JohntheMusician - 23).
8) Greater focus on the role of the Holy Spirit (William - 20).
9) Move from a corporate model (with buildings) to a household/family/tribal model centered on the headship of Christ (William - 20).
10) Move to a 'kingdom' focus rather than a 'church' focus; a 'sowing'/scattering mentality rather than a gathering/building mentality. An 'outward' focus rather than inward (Joe - 57).
11) Eliminate badly composed, theologically vapid or erroneous "worship music." (Brian - 56).
12) All "senior leaders" (however defined) will have a grounding in all 2000+ years of church history (Course title: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). (Brian - 56).
13) Congregations (however defined) will creatively and meaningfully celebrate (however defined)Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday (however named)every year, because these events are at the center of our faith (Brian - 56).
14) Greater emphasis on bi-vocational, tent-making ministry in local congregations and in apostolic mission (Patrick - 24) Pat: I reworded it for you in a less inflammatory way ;-) joe, the low-key guy
15) The Evangelical church needs to regain a proper, biblical appreciation for the apostolic and move from a primarily 'pastoral' mindset to a primarily 'apostolic' mindset (Joe - 57).
16) The "church" should cease being congregations primarily defined by "religious" meetings and "services rendered," and to return to our calling -- to be the people of God who manifest and proclaim the kingdom of God in our way of life together (Steve H.- 58)
17) every "church" (however defined) should have a poet-in-residence, along with one other non-musical artist-in-residence (Brian, the ironic poet - 56).

Memorable comments:
(John M. - 59) "The Evangelical Church would do well to make a constructively critical and intentional evaluation of it's understanding and practice of ecclesiology; understanding from the outset that radical reform may be indicated and that the current, popular structure of the church is not sacrosanct or absolute."

(Patrick: - 24) "I would recommend disbanding Sunday morning congregational meetings, breaking into groups no bigger than the size of your living room and begin building relationships with people 'in the world' start in small steps."
Meeting together in worship
Maturing together in discipleship
Missioning together for the harvest.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

95 'wiki' theses for Reform?

Ok guys, here we go with another discussion thread. It seems to me that we have come to agreement, that while holding to the creeds and the whole history of the church, there is a need for ‘wiki’ reformational updating in the Evangelical wing of the church.

I mentioned 5 things I think need a ‘wiki’ updating in the last thread. In this discussion, lets come up with a comprehensive list of things that need reforming in the current U.S. Evangelical church. I’ll start with repeating one area I think that urgently needs to be reformed. Let's look for "change you can believe in." (ok, sorry, just kidding!)

I composed a little ditty for this discussion…

♪♫ 94 theses to post on this thread…
94 theses to post!
Write one down, discuss it all around,
93 theses to post on the blog

(click below for musical accompaniment ... these guys remind me of us talking theology in our blog... or of me and John Meadows on our way to the Kansas City Shepherds conference with Frank Dawson in 1975!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The 'wiki' nature of the church: Why not convert to Catholocism or Orthodoxy?

While there is a bit of a lull in the previous thread, i thought I would post a couple of paragraphs from a great post today by McKnight in jesuscreed. He is answering a letter from someone who is asking him if he admires the historic communsions (RCC and EO) why he does not go all the way and convert to one of them from evangelicalism. His response is classic ... I recommend that you go do and read the entire post ... It is called Why I am not Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.

Here is a portion of his response:

"Third, the reason I think this way is seen in how Tradition plays itself out in each Church: for each of these communions the Tradition becomes massively authoritative and, in my view, each of these communions has become un-reformable. They read the Bible through Tradition and I believe in reading the Bible with Tradition. (my emphasis, not McKnight's)

And reformability is central to the “wiki” understanding of how God speaks: God spoke in the Bible in ongoingly fresh ways; that reveals the importance of returning to the roots in order to gain fire for the present. Return for reformation is the very essence of my “wiki” understanding of the Bible and of how God speaks.

I believe both the RCC and the EO, even with routine observations to the contrary by its adherents, are un-reformable.

I value, and value with profound respect, the great traditions of the Church, including Nicea and Chalcedon and Wittenberg and other moments as well. I check interpretation against these; but that does not mean I don’t think fresh light emerges or that something could be improved or modified (COMMENT: thats what I'm talking about! Let's have that conversation...)

Fifth, what this means — if you are still with me — is that I believe in ongoing discernment of what the Spirit is saying to the Church, and I believe this discernment is a function of church leaders and churches in communion with one another. Discernment for the day is different than infallible teaching for all time. Therein lies a major difference." (COMMENT: this 'discernment' is what I have been calling for along the lines of the Sons of Issachar...but there is a lot of pushback)