pissing contests

here's the deal, i am getting real tired of all the pissing contests - one person says something; because someone else wants more blog hits they say something else; then people "pick sides" and dig their heals deep in the snow. i am so not comfortable with that because i think it speaks to what we are not about.

it is getting to be a big pissing contest and personaly, i have no desire to write my name in the snow with those who think, for what ever reason they have, "they got it right" and the rest got it wrong. the latest in this line of snow writing comes in the form of some in the emerging pissing on mark driscoll and his new ezine "resurgence"

it seems, because mark is more in tune with being reformed in his theology that some people believe he can not be "emerging" - one person, who will remain nameless, believes [in connection with mark's theology], "That would be okay, I think, except that the heart of the emergent movement really is defined by a "generous orthodoxy," and some of our Reformed friends land too hard in certainty" - what the.... who came up with that line? i don't remember getting the email on that the emerging needed to have a heart based on a "generous orthodoxity." now, i think, for me and i can only speak for me, that a generous orthodoxy is cool, but it is not the "rule" by which i will govern my walk or my view of my faith and i will not use it as a "test" to see who is and who is not allowed in the emerging conversation.

i love brian, but brian does not define what is and is not emerging, he is but one voice - and i believe he would agree with that view. this is also true of mark; he does not define what is and is not emerging - please, this is so silly and it is what i have been speaking against for a while, and now it is taking shape - if this is the "new emerging" - i want nothing to do with it. this person also says, "I hate to say it, but Driscoll comes across as a mainstream evangelical leader with an emergent lapel pin" well, at least he has the lapel pin. the person who said this needs a lapel pin that says, "close-minded modern thinker" - because there is nothing different in those words then the words shared by others against us.

sometime back, there was a call from emergant for us to "act as one" and i agreed - and i truly have been trying, but voices like this are distructive to the idea of unity. i have not been blogging much about emergant because i wanted them to take root and i wanted to see what happened - and if this is it, i am not happy with the possibilities. it matters little to me if brian and mark see eye to eye on things, but that does not mean that mark is not "emerging" because he disagrees with brian - it simply means that they see things different - heck, we all do. heck, i see things different, in some cases, from brian [and mark] does that mean i am not emerging? if i agree with mark on somethings, does that mean i must be against brian on all things?

i am tired of the pissing contests that seem to be forming, and to be honest they are not forming because mark and brain are doing it - they are forming by some who, for some strange and weird reason, think it's important to put two people at different polls. i am sure brian and mark disagree on things, and that is fine and they can work it out - they do not need us to get involved. i argree with mark on somethings, and mark and i have even spoken on the phone [back in the day] about things, but that does not mean i would discount him as a voice in the emerging and not place him in the emerging. i have had the opportunity to speak with brain also [he was one of the first to take the seven questions on ginkworld] and i have meet some of the people from his church [the chair of the church board came down to visit 247connection because they are friends with some of the people in the church i serve] but that does not mean i agree with brian 100% on everything.

if we are going to be calling each other out to pissing contests, i am not going to be connected to that - i am looking for voices who desire to share, think and question. i am looking for a place where what i have to say is not going to be discounted, belittled or insulted because i disagree with brian [and i know this is not something brian supports]. i seek to be part of a conversation that allows voices that differ, and even strongly differ, with my views. i know mark can be a person who has a passion for his point of view, but let us not confuse passion with control - and let us hear his voice.

if not, then i have to question the hearts of those in the emerging, because if they desire to stop mark's voice, will they desire to stop my voice, and the voice of others? my blog bud andrew jones [tallskinnykiwi] brings out some great points, and i admire andrew greatly. i will admit that mark can be hard, and even insulting at times - but we still need to hear his voice.


style or substance?

which is it? i am not sure, and to be honest i would say both. many outside the emerging church are on this "it's all style" kick - and you know, cool. because at some level it is style. style us not the governing part, but yea i think it does matter what an emerging community of faith "looks like" - because if it looks like the same old church of our parents, our grand parents, our great-grand-parents, our great-great-grand-parents, our great-great-grand-parents and as many more "greats" as you desire to add it is not emerging [sorry].

now, before you get your panties in a twist you need to know that if the church has not changed, it can never claim to be emerging - because the word itself means change. so, yes, style matters. but more, substance matters.

claiming to be emerging because you have a cool building, some candles, a young worship leader and some hip cloths is not enough - there must be something that has truly changed - truly opened the world to a new expression of christ. one that is truly deep, inward and expressive. there needs to be more questions then answers, more doubt then certanity, and more substance then style. if the church is unwilling to examine the deep mysteries of the faith, then it can never be called emerging - if it is unwilling to truly explore, it seems to me to simply hide


hurt in process

i have always felt that the church needed to do everything in its power to help people deal with life issues, and i still feel that way. as a community of faith we must be ready to help people process life, and help them over come issues that can be distructive to their lives. it is not that we "beat them to change" but that we invest our lives in them to help them change. yet one must ask, at what cost? do we help people at the cost of the community? do we allow people to be in process and allow them to hurt the lives of others? can we allow the negative of one in process to distrutp the lives of others in the communiyt? can we, in all grace, love a person and not allow them to distroy the world around them? this is hard, because i have always felt that we need to leave the 99 sheep to save the 1 sheep.

that is where the hurt comes in; what if the one you are running to save is simply not a sheep and is showing no desire to be saved? you see, the call is for us to be willing to risk it all for a sheep, a "follower" a person who is seeking at some level a redemptive life in christ. but, do you leave the 99 to chase after a "sheep" that is unwilling to come in and unwilling to change their heart? this is what i am processing today.


Sharing that Works

recently, i was posed with a very interesting question, "what method of evangelism works?" my very first, knee-jerk reaction is to say, "all methods work." but than, before i could open my mouth to speak, they qualified the question but saying, "let me rephrase that, which method do you think works best?" ok now, that changes thing and my answer, when they turned it into a more personal question, i could give a more personal answer. my answer was, "i think relationship sharing works over any form of evangelism today."

"hummm" they added, and i waited for a reply. then it came, and it was not the reply i was thinking. they added, "and what program do you use that teaches this 'relationship evangelism'?" well, my "wise ass" remark would have been, "life" but than i realized that i decided to stop being a wise ass [out loud anyway] and thought for a moment and said, "life" [that's when i figured out that the answer did not make it a "wise ass answer" it was the way i said it did]. then i added, "the only way to learn relationship sharing is to live a life connected with people - and mostly people not in the church. there is no "method" to how it is done, or "core principles," or "program" on how it is done. you just live, eat, laugh, cry, love and get angry with others."

they were not sure what all that meant and how it all connected, but there was hope - a glimmer of hope - a shining, light, bright in the soul glimmer of hope when they said, "could you explain the difference between standard evangelism and what you see as 'relationship sharing' [they actually did the classic "finger quote" thing that always speaks more then the question being asked]? well, pull down my pants and slap me with wet news paper [not in public], they opened the door for me to share with them what i thought, and i was going to take them up on the offer - but i soon found myself saying, "i would like to express more on what i think works, and not worry about what they are doing wrong." what? did i say that? did i say i did not desire to "compare and contrast?" man, this emerging thing is going deep. so, this is what i old them:

"in a relationship sharing reality my desire in getting to know you, is for you today. my desire is that i get to know you for you; not because you will come to my church or because i would have increased the kingdom by one. my desire to be your friend is simply to be your friend, and not because i might convince you to follow christ. now, would i desire you follow christ? sure, you bet. but if that is my motivation in becoming your friend, i have become your friend on pretenses other they just wanting to know you. to truly share, to truly live connected to another is the driving force of our faith. i share my faith, because i live my faith. my faith is my life, and people see it and want to know about it. people do not find christ because i can quote scripture, they find christ in me and in my daily struggles and walk in faith.

in this faith journey, in this faith walk, i seek to meet the needs of people today, their current needs and not the needs that might come after death. people are not worried about after they die, they want to live in christ while they are alive. the idea is not to be "future" but to be now. i love the way it is in "the message" when john, a student and friend of jesus said, "the Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. we saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish." that is how we need to be, we need to be "the flesh of the word in the neighborhood." if we are not, no amount of tracks, tapes, books, or cute little "jesus loves you" stuff will change anything.

one of the greatest joys in my life was watching a man move from questions, to being a follower. it had noting to do with magic words, secret formulas or special acts - it was just two guys talking and sharing life.


being more

i was going over a old story at the larknews that spoke so deeply to the current feeling i have been having concerning the emerging church [here is the link]. what i have been seeing, and striving to express, is that in the big picture the emerging church is simply becoming a younger modern church. all we have done is changed some titles, the style of worship, the words we use and the music we push - but in everything else, everything, we are just the same church with different terms.

what has changed? truly, given the reality of this important conversation what has changed? what i have been experiencing as of late is this strong desire to quite the voices that desire us to go beyond where we are, and enter into conversations that truly examine what it is we are believing. i am not hearing much in the way of dialog, but i am hearing a great many monologs. we should be open and allow expressions in the faith, but even with those who claim "emerging" as a thought patern, this has not been the reality. we do not have to agree, but we must allow other voices to speak.

being an emerging church means we are so much more than just changing names, words and putting up pictures.


alternative worship

WARNING: this blog entry contains raw emotion and verbiage.

at first i was "postmodern" - and while that is what "we were" i lost interest in the term fast, because it seemed to say what i was not. it started to define me by being a "not" thing, "post-modern" [being "post" modern and "not" being modern] and i decided i just did not desire to be defined by what i was not, so i looked for another term.

than along came "emerging" - and while that seemed to last longer than "postmodern" it again, defined me in a way i was not happy with. it seemed to define in as "i was, and others were not," and i am not healthy with that - and to be honest, like most of us i can fall into the trap of thinking myself better than others because of how we define things and use terms - so, i have been growing very uneasy with this term. i found myself living in the crap of "being emerging" and not "being me, a follower of christ." to me, it felt like the same shit other churches have been heaping on me for years, "this is how you need to think, and if not you are not one of us." i tend to see this as a very unhealthy and a very misguided way of thinking. i see that as being more destructive to the "kingdom on earth" than anything you could think about; and i fell into that hole, and soon found myself up to my ass in mud.

it could be:
it could have a great deal to do with the whole "emerging, the great whore, sell it while it's hot and say we do it for jesus" mentality that seems to be alive at many of the "emerging gatherings" [there was a disclaimer here about certian events, but if you feel this way about the events you have gone too the disclaimer had no value] that turned my stomach over the years. i was once asked by a small gathering, why i did not go to many of these events and speak at them [i'm actually asked to speak at some]; and i shared that i felt like a slut every time i went. i felt like i was selling out and spreading my legs for money, fame and site hits. i was becoming what i find so offensive in our culture - and that was not my desire. i found that the events cost too much, and they pay their speakers too much, and they do it all for the sale of books, and not for the bottom line of the sponsors, though they will claim they do it for the kingdom.

every time i go to one of those "sales meetings" [let's be honest, the book people see this as a ripe market for the sales of books and authors us it to pimp their books and fame] i feel like i am standing on the strip in las vegas and people are handing me porn rags. the pimps are standing behind tables and hawking there best ladies, and they get pissed when you don't care to take part in thier version of hell. the last "big event" i went too, i was expecting jesus to come running through tipping tables and calling us all to a better life. i have nothing against making a reasonable profit, and i have nothing against selling books - but when a "national" event costs some $500 [excluding hotel and meals] and there are over 15,000 people striving to learn, how does that benefit anyone but the people putting on the event? think about it; sitting in a "small session" of 500 people there is very little interaction. one event has a special, "for an additional price of $100 you can have an intimate lunch with the author [limit, 200 people]." 200 people is not very intimate to me, that's like sitting in a restaurant and trying to ease drop on the conversation from across the room.

or it could be:
it could be the idea that many denominstions see emerging as a "quick fix" to the current state of the church and a "tool" or "program" to "outreach" to a "younger" group and bring them into the church. if i had a dollar for every time i talked with a denominational person who simply saw the emerging as a way to keep the funds flowing into the denominstion, and to keep asses in the pews i would be a very rich man.

in all my time in talking about the "emerging church" with denominstions and the "powers that be" i can honestly say that the episcopal church was the only church that was interetested in it for what it was, and not for what it could "do" for the church. it seemed that they cared less about "filling the pews" but they did care about "filling the hearts" of the hurting in this world. sure, we can all pick out individual church "leaders" who see it as a heart thing and not a member or money thing but that means very little in the big picture. in the "big picture" i found the episcopal church to be a very different animal in the jungle.

i can remember sitting with one person, from another denomination, that looked at me and straight out asked, [when i was the lead pastor at praxis and looking for a 'covering'] "if we 'let you in' what can you do for us? how does this church benefit us as a denominstion?" my reply was, "i don't know." the idea they had, was that we help them "reach a younger group" and "if you are going to join us, how can you reword our doctrines so it can be understood by 'an emerging mind'?" never once realizing we do not desire to "reword" but we do desire to "rethink."

it could be either of those, but most likely it is, both. in any case, i am tired of it all.

in either case:
it seems to me that "we in the emerging" have become what we have said we did not desire to be - we sold out, we became what we saw was so "wrong" with the modern church. we sell our "programs" and "canned" worship services to others to "help them become like us." we put our crap on line so others can buy it form us, we charge outrageous fees for speaking, we hawk books and seek better book deals, we talk different but the words mean the same thing, we created "you pick the number" ways of being an "emerging church" and think we have defined what it means - we have not truly become anything different, we have not "emerged" and we are not "emerging" - we are a clone of the modern church except a bit younger. sure, we use cooler music, and have cooler clothes, and cut our hair much cooler - but cooler is not what i want to be, nor is it what we need to be.

this is why i would rather be seen as "alternative worship."
i love the way steve collins puts it over at the alternative worship site. i think i like this so much because in the "emerging" we might express it, but we sure do not do it. this may have to do with the fact that we are driven by our american capitalist desires and our hollywood images, while other parts of the world are not driven by the same reasoning. here is what steve shares as what "alternative worship" is:

  • Christians reinventing faith expression for themselves within their own cultural settings
  • a response to postmodern Western society and cultural change
  • faith expression within culture not in a parallel 'Christian' culture
  • reconsideration of all inherited church forms and structures, including recent modernizing ones
  • rediscovery of ancient and alternative Christian traditions as resources for the present and future
  • paradigm shift from centralized into networked forms of church
i love those, they speak to me like nothing i have read or seen in america. they tell me that we, in america, need to realize we are not "doing it right." we have to remember that what works in new york, will not work in charollet, and what works in charollet will not work in san jose. there is no "this is the emerging" - we need to dump that idea. to me, being a follower of christ is so very important, so center to who i am, that all this crap that formed around the emerging is crap i do not desire to claim.

i know i tend to be the radical, the one willing to question everything, the one willing to open mouth and insert foot, but can i be the only one who feels this way?


what is sin?

When every I write about there not being a "original" or "universal" sin [or sin in general], people send me this scripture, "Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" and then they say, "See, it says 'sin' and not 'sins,' striving hard to make a point of a "universal sin." But is that what it says? In the message it says, "The sins" not "the sin" - meaning all sins, not some "original" or “universal” sin concept. In fact, the Greek word is "amartiaiv" and "amartian" [both translated in the singular and plural] and is translated 75 other times as "sins." keep in mind that Romans 5:14 implies that not all people are sinners "in the way of Adam" and that there is no statement of original sin as defined by traditional [dear I say, "evangelical doctrine" without pissing off those who think I bash evangelicals] doctrine.

The way I believe scriptures speak of "sin" is not on a "what you do" basis. Nothing we do is, in and of itself, a sin; because if that were the case, as Paul explains, all we need do is not do it and we do not sin and then Christ dies for no reason. The act of drinking is not a sin, but there could be an underlining fact in the drinking that could be seen as sin for some people, but not for all. But to make drinking a sin for all people is, in my view, a sin with the underlining desire of control and power on the part of the human who demands that drinking be a sin. for that, as I see it, sin can never be an action, and even where one thinks there is an "action" because they read the scriptures that way, I believe they are reading them wrong - and not seeing the underlining factor involved in what they demand as an "act of sin."

Sin is not "what separates us from God" because I believe life can do that, and life is not a sin; family can do that, and family is not a sin. I believe "sin" is that underlining desire, that underlining "thought process," that causes harm to others, and you. Meaning? Sin is not what we do against God but that underlining factor that cause us to harm each other.

I believe, "sin" is behind the desire and thought process to build bombs; to pollute the water and air; to kill people; to allow people to live in substandard housing; to not feeding the hungry; to not opening our lives to others; to the creation of a "class" thought pattern where there is the very rich, and the very poor. It is what ever lies in the heart that causes us to place "us" before others. It is not in every person, and does not guide the life of every person. Sin is when we give into that thought process and see ourselves as having more value then others.

People like Mother Teresa, Gandhi and others walk in the light that shares love, forgiveness and grace with the world. They are the contemporary models of going against that underlining reality. They do not see the world as "fallen" but as redeemed. Jesus never saw the world as "fallen" but he did see it as redeemable; if we follow the logic of Paul we need to ask, "Would Jesus die for a fallen world and keep it fallen, or would Jesus die for a world redeemed?" When we see the fallen world, we are blinded to the possibility of redemption, and all that redemption has to offer. We get to the point where we only see the fallen, and not the redeemed. Sure, we say we see it; we say we believe in the redemption of Christ, but in that we are quick to find the faults and problems and not the possibilities offered in the redemption of Christ.

Sin is the underling thought process that causes us to be separated from each other. Jesus made that clear in his ministry of redemption, in his life of forgiveness and in his speech of unity. One example of this is when Jesus tells us to fix the problems we have with each other before we even think of coming before God; another is when Jesus tells us that if we are unwilling to forgive the wrongs others have done to us, God is unwilling to forgive our wrongs. I believe scripture teaches that sin, is finding reasons why we can not help others when we claim to be following Christ; sin is claiming that writing a check is the answer, when other actions are required; sin is the idea that we can spend millions on a church building when millions are homeless; sin is not planning a feeding room in the church because "those people" might come; sin is thinking that "other churches" deal with the homeless and the hungry because they are better at it then we are; sin is not wanting to reach certain people because we think we will be tagged a "that kind of church;" sin is the heart behind arguing over sending $50 to the local food pantry, but then spending $5,000 on carpeting the pastor's study; sin is reading this and finding reasons why we do not have to do anything in it, and making excuses for not having the action we need in faith.


a video look

here is a video look at what we are doing at 247connection. i like the way they put it together, but i think the sound could be better and the pictures make me look fat :) but other than that, i love this slice - it's from the charlotte observer, and they will be putting out a paper story this sunday in the "catawba county section" - very cool stuff

here is the link


a theological problem

Here is the problem I have with the idea of a "fallen world” [a “fallen humanity”]; it does not express the reality God, it can't. It can only express evil. In that, the reality of evil, because it is evil, can not express the reality of God. If the world is fallen, then the 15yr old I saw give her food to a homeless man did it for some other reason than to share her food with someone in need. if the world is fallen, then the 90yr old women taking in aids babies is doing it for more than the love of the child and the care of those in need. If the world is fallen, we must have an alternative reason, or desire, for helping people other than helping people. If the world is fallen, God can not be in the world, because [as traditional theology teaches] God can not be in the fallen/evil.

If we live in a fallen world, and we are never “outside” that world, "redemption" can only truly happen after this world - and with that thought, "the kingdom of God" can not be "here and now" - and I believe that the kingdom of God is here and now. When we think of a "fallen world" we can not express the salvation offered in Christ, because we always turn back to the fall and not the resurrection. We are stuck in the words and reality of “the fallen” and are unable to speak the words of salvation. I can not live in the fall, it is too negative, and I need to life in the resurrection, the light of Christ; and it is a place where [as Paul puts it] I “moved out from.”

When ever I hear terms like "original sin," “fallen humanity” and "the fallen world" it is seldom accompanied with the idea that salvation is here, now - but that it comes at another time. No matter the statements, when we start with the fall we never pick ourselves up, we are “always fallen.” We always see the worse in people and we never see the possibility that Christianity can truly change a life. When we center our theology on “the fallen world” we find the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the criminal, and the “ugly” and we never see in them the possibility of salvation. We seek to punish those who do wrong, and justify that punishment via law, and we never see the power and love of grace. We do not move forward in Christ, because we use the excuse of being a fallen people to hold us back. We think in terms of what we can not do, because of the fall, and not on what we can do because of the resurrection.

I firmly believe we need to get past this idea of a "fallen world" and move to the idea that we are a people living in a new land, a land of Christ. I see it all the time in talking with those who have "come from church." When questioned as to why the church hurts its own, we are told that we do not move forward in out faith, because we are fallen; people in church treat you poorly, because we are fallen; people in the church talk and gossip, because we are fallen - yet, all those are not what we are told to be in scripture. When I hear "we are fallen" from church people, I wonder if they truly understand the Christian walk. Yet, in that the misguided theology of the fall, we forget that as a believer in Christ, we are made new, and in that we must act anew – not fallen, but resurrected.