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emerging church

So how are those missional theories working out for you?

Bill Kinnon had a wonderful post on a gathering of emerging church authors.

One of the questions I would have asked of the assembled big guns is "How is this worked out in your own lives? Tell us about your involvement in local Christian community?" My fear is that only Dr. Morse and Dan Kimball would be able to tell us.

Cultivate Gathering

Cultivate Gathering is coming to a Hamilton near you on May 16, 2009.

Cultivate is for anyone who is interested in missional church, and is happening because of numerous conversations between different people, organizations, networks and churches in Canada that long to see new forms of church thrive and relational networking happen. We are tired of the same old, same old conferences and just simply want to be friends, inspire each other, and swap stories, ideas, and encouragement.

Cultivate has taken place twice a year (in the Spring and in the Fall) since 2006.

Steve Taylor is coming in from New Zealand and for the first since it launched, I am flying out from Saskatoon (Saskatoon > Regina > Calgary > Toronto) to take it in.  I am looking forward to seeing some old friends and meeting Steve for the first time.

Missional Tribe Launched

Missional Tribe LogoIn amidst the activity that has been my life lately, several friends have done an excellent job and launched Missional Tribe, which is a hybrid social networking site and portal for those engaged in the discussion and praxis of the missional church around the world.  The implementation of the technology that powers the site is amazing and the team has done an excellent job pulling it all together.  The community has responded as well and everyday there are new bits and bytes being posted worth reading.

I am registered over there but I haven’t had much time to do anything other than look around.  When I get some time in two weeks (that is such a depressing thought), I will fix up my profile and respond to the friend requests.

One size fits all?

One size fits all A couple weeks (crap, maybe it was months ago, I have been kinda busy…) I got a copy of One size fits all and it is a DVD about innovative Christian gatherings across across Canada.

It was done by Joe Manafo and Nathan Colquhoun from Sarnia and they did a good job in this this 45 minute examination of missional, emerging ideas and experiments.

Some of the leaders they interview include Pernell Goodyear of The Freeway; Greg Paul of Sanctuary, Cyril Guerette of Freedomize, Jamie Howison of St Benedict’s Table, Kim Reid of The Open Door and Garry Castle at Next Church.

If you are interested in what is happening in the fringes of the church in Canada, it is worth the time to sit down and watch, alone or with your entire community.

10 Years of Next-Wave

issuecoverStephen Shields has an excellent look back at the emerging church in the current edition of Next-Wave.  Some of the interviews that made up the article can be found here and here.

Emerging Events

There are a couple of event based Twitter accounts I follow and I was thinking that someone needed to do the same for events those of us in the emerging church might find helpful to know about.  So instead of waiting for the lazyweb to create on, I decided to create on at  If you have an event the world needs to know about, direct message me or send it a @ message and I’ll send it on to the world in 160 characters or less.

Like Twitter, I don’t have a business model.  It doesn’t cost anything but if you want to spread the world, feel free to help.

A Year Under the Perfect Sun

A Year Under the Perfect SunI posted a couple of weeks ago that I had ordered A Year Under the Perfect sun from the Ecclesia Collective. It’s a zine put together by Jason and Brooke Evans and within minutes of submitting my order, I got an e-mail from Jason saying it had been sent.  A couple days after Christmas it arrived and Wendy and I sat down to read it.

I haven’t bought a zine in years (which along with the fact that I am bald and now own a Honda Accord may mean that I am not the hipster I think thought I was) and I almost forgot what to expect.  What I got a well written, beautifully designed piece that actually inspired me and reminded me what living as a Christian is about and has made me think that if I was going to move, moving to be a part of what the Ecclesia Collective is doing in San Diego would be a good idea (although that may be the -47 degrees celcius weather talking as well).

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, head on over and get your order in.  While I am sure the black and white version looks good, you will want to get the color copy, it’s worth the extra money.  After reading the zine through, I found myself (and Mark) going through it a couple of times just to enjoy the design and the graphics.

I was going to take some photos of it but I saw these on the Collective website and they give you an idea of how it looks and the time that was put into it.

A Year Under the Perfect Son A Year Under the Perfect Sun

Not only does it give a great overview of what the Ecclesia Collective did in 2008, it’s a great conversation starter for what your community can do in 2009.

A Year Under the Perfect Sun

Jason & Brooke Evans along with the rest of the Ecclesia Collective have published a zine.

A Year Under The Perfect Sun As a way to say “thank you” to everyone that has been a part of the Ecclesia Collective, we have created our first annual ‘zine! Through words and images A Year Under The Perfect Sun documents the activities of the Collective throughout 2008 and includes portions of articles posted on our website, our manifesto, the Hawthorn House covenant, recipes and how-to’s. Each page includes sewing and images drawn by Brooke and Jason Evans.

The title comes from the book, Under The Perfect Sun, which tells the untold history of San Diego. This seemed appropriate since we think this 20-page creation gives a glimpse of an alternative story of those following Jesus in this place.

If you would like a copy, you can purchase the ‘zine in full color or black and white (cover is still in color). Single copies are available at $10 per full-color copy  and $5 per black and white copy. Shipping included.

I bought one earlier today and I got a note from Jason saying it is in the mail.  I’ll post some more about it when I get it next week but don’t wait for me, order one today.

Soularize in a Box II

This came via Spencer Burke today.  I got my copy and it is well worth the full asking price and is an incredible deal at 50% off.

Soularize in a Box

This holiday season, give an entire conference in a box!  Use the code, “HOLIDAY08″ at checkout and receive
50% OFF Soularize in a Box Vol 2!

Featured in this 2 disc set:

  • N.T. Wright
  • Richard Rohr
  • Brennan Manning
  • Rita Brock
  • Frank Viola
  • Michael Dowd

and many others!

You get 40 hours of both Audio AND Video combined!

Reflections on an Obama Presidency

Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention Both David Fitch and Brian Walsh offer up some thoughts on what a Barack Obama presidency will mean for the nation and what it means theologically.  Both are worth reading.

Somewhat related are 50 facts that the Telegraph posted about him.  I left some of the ones I got a kick out of with my reflections coming afterwards.

  • He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics

If I was McCain I would attacked him on this because everyone knows that Batman can kick both of their asses.

  • He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed

As a lefty, I expect some pro-left handed legislation to come about, we are due.

  • While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead

I know that makes him sound cool but let’s be honest, the guy is a White Sox fan.  Most White Sox players even cheer for the Cubs.

  • His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea

All American iced tea tastes like sawdust.  If I am Stephen Harper I  am concerned about this if I ever get invited to Washington.

  • He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn’t

I promised Wendy I wouldn’t go bald.  Men occasionally make promises we can’t keep.

  • He can bench press an impressive 200lbs

What’s sad is that his 40 time is probably faster than mine as well.

  • He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.

Haven’t we all.

  • His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees

Regardless of his politics, I would much rather be stuck with his iPod than John McCain’s iPod.

  • He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker

Are any of us suprised that the man is a kick butt Scrabble player.

  • He doesn’t drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol

No wonder he ran for President, he felt out of place being sober on the Senate floor.

  • He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician

Everyone I know would have liked to be an architect rather than what we do.

  • As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine

He out Bill Clinton’d, Bill Clinton.

  • He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside

Finally, common ground with John McCain.

  • He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal

This is why he won the youth vote, he knows our pain.

  • He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry

If this president thing doesn’t work out, he can always be a blogger.

  • He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits

Don’t we all.

  • He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes

What I want to know is what he wears on the basketball court?

  • He was given the code name “Renegade” by his Secret Service handlers

Let me guess what John McCain’s nickname was… Maverick or Grandpa?

  • He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds

Older guys like him make me mad.  Not only does he get his own basketball court but he still has a game to go with it.

  • His speciality as a cook is chilli

That had to be popular on the campaign bus.

The Emerging Church as a Matrix of Networks.

Some of you may find this Fuller Theology Journal article interesting .

It is a mistake to think of “the emerging church” as a cohesive movement with authorized spokespersons. It is more of a matrix of networks attracting a range of like-minded travelers. It has been described as a conversation in which countless numbers participate via websites and weblogs (blogs). Critics and observers who focus on major gatherings and high-profile authors miss the core nature of diversity of opinions and ongoing dialogue. The church emerging is not a centrally organized, hierarchical organization, but more a spontaneous grass-roots phenomenon.

Many of us have been saying the same thing for many years.  I am glad that someone out there sees (and articulates) what we are seeing.

The Big Table

The Big Table by Steve Collins 

Worth checking out at Small Ritual.  I have been saying this to whoever would listen to me for years that pews kill rather than enhance worship, regardless of the style you worship in.

Five Things the Emerging Church Got Wrong

Mark Sayers is writing from an Aussie perspective.  Andrew Jones has two more things we got wrong here.

The sin of consumerism and nationalism

Rick Bennett has an excellent post on consumerism and nationalism in the church

The title, which intrigues me greatly is Between Two God’s: Christianity and the Challenges of Consumerism. Rodney, like myself and a growing number of individuals, sees Consumerism as a religion, competing with Christianity for the souls of church goers. I have grown to believe that Consumer Capitalism is the greatest threat to historic Christianity in America, followed closely by Nationalism. While the church focuses on the "threat of gay marriage," liberalism and the Emergent boogyman, it ignores Nationalism and consumerism at its own peril.

Heck, even within the Emerging church with its focus on technology, I have seen this insidious cult grow ever more present, with its tentacles wrapping around the very church that preaches against consumption and nationalism. I was going to joke that maybe we can record this event on high def so we can watch it on our iPhones and HDTVs, but I won’t do that.

For too long the church has sat idly by and ignored or baptized this extreme consumption (for a number of years I have been obsessed with this, blogging on it periodically). I remember attending a local church in Tampa that justified consumerism and even embraced and blessed it. My wife and I never sat foot in that church again after a pastor talked glowingly about Prada, hoping to reach those cool rich-folk and not offend their delicate sensibilities (small groups conversations revolved around boats, Pottery Barn and getting rich). In the past few years I have been in close proximity to too many pastors and christian leaders  blind to the ravages of this disease, completely caught up in the spiral of stuff, justifying their crap with circular logic that would shame a political campaign director or lobbyist.

Training for today

Last week I got an e-mail from a friend who is in leadership in his local seminary.  While some seminaries are theologically focus, this one is a pastor factory whose primary mission is to produce pastors.  Years ago if you remember, I talked about a Personal MDiv and I was asked for some feedback.  I didn’t have that much to add to the conversation but I offered this up.

  • An understanding of how communities work:  The church can be a prophetic voice in a neighborhood or city but unless it is a big box mega church outside of town, it is often a neighbor and therefore has an impact on how that neighborhood interacts with it and each other.   Some churches are amazing neighbors while others can be jerks.   Each neighborhood has a different vibe and feel to it.  I walk the 15 blocks to work quite a bit and just by walking through Mayfair, Caswell Hill, and Riversdale and I can feel the differences.  Jane Jacobs may be the best pick to start with if you are talking about an urban context but there needs to be a framework for understanding the ebb and flow of a local neighborhood and community.  I am not sure how we missed this but I imagine that for long the church was the centre of the neighborhood that we haven’t adjusted to being ignored or looked down on by the neighborhood.  As Darryl Dash wrote in Christian Week, at one time being near a church meant a higher property value.  That isn’t the case today.
  • How to start something: After reading Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, you realize that many of the missional examples are not churches but are businesses, NGO’s, or non-profits.  Believe me, nothing I learned in school taught me how to deal with funders, investors, or banks.  How to write a decent business plan, bootstrap, when to go for angel investment or a loan, when to hire.  Those are skills that need to be learned somewhere.  I can imagine AKMA disagreeing that this should be a part of any seminary’s curriculum and he may be right.  If it isn’t a part of a formal education, make it readily available to those that do need those skills.  Guy Kawasaki and Garage used to do a Bootcamp for Startups.  Perhaps something like that offered occasionally from a denominational perspective would be helpful.
  • Ethics: A lot of church leaders I know of have odd ethics.  Maybe it is just me that finds it odd but hiding money from the taxman, lying to avoid conflict or accountability, a love of money, or just going through the motions is considered okay.  When I worked at Lakeview Church, we posted the full script transcripts of sermons there.  Friday the site was busy but on Saturday it was even busier.  Most of the traffic was from outside Saskatoon and it was all browsing and downloading sermons.  A friend of mine used to joke that if you wanted him to preach better sermons, Max Lucado had to preach better sermons.  It isn’t just out of the way pulpits where this happens.  I listened to one speaker who has written on leadership and integrity steal a litany from Len Sweet without credit.  Although to his defense, he probably never wrote the talk himself or his books.  My point is that ethics seems to have been lost along the way.  Either that or we are doing a horrible job of vetting clergy.
  • Cost: At what point do we have to find a new way of training clergy or accept the fact that only the wealthy or the heavily indebted will be able to enter pastoral ministry.  Tom Sine has talked about this for years and he is right.   The impact will be that only affluent congregations will be able to hire seminary educated clergy and smaller rural, inner city, missionary organizations will be priced out of the market.
  • Common Sense: A friend of mine wanted to plant an inner city church yet decided to move into a middle upper class neighborhood.  Does this strike anyone else as idiotic.  He wanted to be their pastor but not live around them.  (yeah, I just realize that I offended some of you)   I hesitate to add this because

I am oversimplifying the issues quite a bit and these were real simple off the top of my head answers but I thought some of you may find them interesting.

I am sure you have your own opinions.  Feel free to leave them in the comments.