Category Archives: interviews

In conversation with Stephen Shields…

Today I am interviewing the Stephen Shields, creator the Faith Maps online community and one of my favorite bloggers.  Stephen is also one of the best online hosts I have ever seen.  He managed to deal with the high volume of mail that Faith Maps generates as well as the very diverse theological world views.  My time there taught me a lot about both theology and also community.  We did this interview via e-mail back in January and I have been too busy to post it until now.  Enjoy.

What’s your age and occupation.

I’m 45 and I’m USA TODAY‘s National Home Delivery Circulation Manager. 

How long have you lived in the Washington area and how did you end up there?

I went to college and seminary to become a professor of theology and/or NT Greek.  I wanted to help prepare Christian leaders for Christ’s church.  Half-way through my Masters degree, I came to the conclusion that seminaries (at least my seminary) were not training leaders but were creating scholars.  (A big clue was when one of my professors said, “We don’t train you how to be pastors but how to answer Bible question.”)  I had nothing against scholarship but came to the conclusion that scholarship was insufficient to create spiritual leaders.  And so I no longer had a planned vocation!  I almost dropped out of school but decided to finish my degree and did so in 1986. 

After I graduated, I felt that I was too young to pastor, loved the church community of which I was a part, and so just decided to hang around there and teach in the church.  But I needed to support myself so I took a job as a spot welder in a local metal fabrication factory!  I did that for about 18 months when suddenly one day I asked myself, “Why are you spot welding in the rural Mid-West??”

At that point, I began a search for a growing church that needed teachers (that’s how I self-identified then) in a metropolitan area.  I had spent some time with Bruce McNicol (Ascent of a Leader) and asked him to tell me of the best churches he knew of that fit those criteria.  He recommended churches in Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.  One of the churches he mentioned was called Community Church and was pastored by a young former English professor named Brian McLaren.  I wrote letters to all the churches – letting them know that I wasn’t looking for a job but just wanted to volunteer – and visited some of those that wrote back.  In the summer of 1988 I visited what was just being named Cedar Ridge Community Church and liked what I saw.  I sold my home, and moved to rent a room with Brian’s parents in the Washington, DC area in August of 1988 with no job and no friends!

Faith Maps was one of the first online communities dealing with the emerging church.  What was your inspiration for creating Faith Maps? 

Sometime in 1999, I think, I came on staff at Cedar Ridge after many years of lay leadership and involvement.  I worked with CRCC’s small groups, adult education, and sat on the church’s Executive Team.  I had for many years taught a course on basic theology and after I came on staff I relaunched that course calling it “faithmaps.”  I purchased the domain to develop it for that course. 

But I took on too much:

I was working part-time for Cedar Ridge having the time of my life (really) but putting in 20-40 hours a week;

I was still working full-time for USA TODAY at that time as a Database Administrator/Analyst;
I had been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in 1996.
Beth and I were parents of three little girls.
And as a result of this too much, I ended up losing control of my blood sugar and getting pretty sick.  So I had to quit CRCC staff. 

It took me a while to recover.  During that time, I purchased from Cedar Ridge and began to develop it (it’s also, by the way, about to be relaunched with a new design).  At the same time, I also started the online faithmaps discussion group.  Doing both of these things helped me to think through my own thoughts and feelings about what’s now called the emerging church conversations.  It was very therapeutic and rich.

Were you surprised at how fast it grew?

As far as its growth went, I think that thing that was most surprising to me was the degree of intimacy that developed between some of the core members of that group, most of whom to this day I still haven’t met.  We ended up drawing all kinds of folks.  We talked to atheists; we talked to polygamists; we talked to very conservative folks; we talked to folks who weren’t conservative; we talked to people who were intensely hurting and had no one else to talk to; and – perhaps mostly – we talked to folks who were very interested in the nexus of the church and postmodernity (it wasn’t called the emerging church at that time)

You have been involved in a lot of online community innovations at Faith Maps (I think of your excellent Faith Stories small groups).  What has been some of your favorite experiences as a part of the Faith Maps community? 

Well we did have one fascinating experience with a dear woman in Europe who had (I’m not kidding) fallen and broken her hip, who could not reach the telephone, but could reach her keyboard.  She posted a note to the group and we desperately located a hospital near her and arranged for her to get rescued!  She did have to go to hospital but eventually recovered. 

But what I mostly think of are the wonderful people that I’ve met in the faithmaps community.  One of my very best friends in the world came into the group very mad at God and the church.  Early in the group we were joined by a professional philosopher named Jon Gold and he helped us think through this intersection of postmodernism and Christianity.  He also had a passionate love for God and for the Bible.  (We were rocked a couple of years ago when he tragically died of a heart attack).  And there have been so many other really precious people who have joined our community through the years. 

Right now our group is at a crossroads and will probably be taking a new direction when the new site is launched.  We’ve been through a lot of changes in the last 4 years. 

How many e-mail do you read a day?

A lot less than I used to.  🙂    A couple of years ago, I realized I was spending too much time online and dramatically cut my time in front of my box.  So I would say that today I probably only read 20-30 emails a day (excluding work emails of course).  It used to be tons more!

What has been best three books you have read in the last year and what has made them worthwhile?

Jordon, I read a lot less books than you do!   🙂  Here’s the first three that come to mind – I’m sure I’m missing some more important tome!

  1. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman.  I loved this book and found it to be very helpful.  I posted a summary of Dr. Seligman’s thoughts on optimism and found a lot of resonance for my faith.
  2. Da Vinci Code – by Dan Brown.  I went into the book girding up my scholarly loins .  But Brown’s historical revisionism really did seem to be pretty far-fetched and it ended up being a very enjoyable novel!
  3. DisneyWar by James Stewart.  Similar to my approach to Da Vinci, I went into journalist Stewart’s book on Michael Eisner and the inner workings of Disney with the intention of learning about organizations.  Though very well written, I ended up mostly enjoying the soap opera!

A couple of decades from now, when we look back at this time of new thoughts and emerging forms of church, what do you think our regrets will be? What do you think we are still getting wrong?

We will regret missing the magnificence of God Himself and his Son Jesus.  We will regret not having prayed more, not having cultivated our personal and communal relationships with God.  We will be sad that we talked and read and learned more than we could possibly ever do.  We will regret getting lost in the issues rather than getting lost in Him.  We will believe that we spent too much time in the propositional and not enough time in the transpropositional.

You are a known learner.  If you could spend a year learning from any theologian in church history, who would you choose to learn from.


What are your five favorite weblogs?

  1. Andrew Jones
  2. Ted Olsen
  3. jordon cooper (no, i’m not just saying that!)
  4. scot mcknight (though I can’t possibly keep up with his frenetic mind!)
  5. jason clark

This is for my Canadian readers.  You live in the Washington area.  Without looking this up, do you know of the top of your head who Alexander Ovechkin is?

I’m afraid I don’t

Somewhere in New York, NHL Gary Bettman is stifling a cry right now…

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Next-Wave interviews Tony Jones of Emergent

Next-Wave: There are those who have said that Emergent leadership lacks diversity, both in gender and in race. How do you respond?

TJ: Whenever we talked about this at the summit, Doug Pagitt would say, “Yeah, and what about those of us with hazel eyes? There aren’t nearly enough of us in leadership!” Diversity can be conceived of in many ways: racial, socio-economic, regional, gender, eye color. We are doing every thing we can think of to diversify the leadership of Emergent, and to make sure that everyone who is competent and qualified and energetic about Emergent can find a place to plug in and lead. And we are actually going to have a sort of “Diversity Quality Control Team” who will work to ensure that every Emergent initiative reflects as much diversity as possible. We’re also working on a major “diversity event” for May/June, 2006.

It’s not just Emergent that stuggles with that. Resonate does too.

Interview with Pernell Goodyear

Another interview here at and this time it is Pernell Goodyear. Pernell is the pastor of the Freeway, an emerging community in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. As they put it on their website…

The Freeway is part of an international movement known as The Salvation Army. That’s right, now the folks who bring you quality vintage clothing at a reasonable price, also bring you church–done differently.

We began in 2002 with the simple desire to be a healthy, innovative church community that reaches a new culture of people searching for truth in their lives with THE truth, Jesus Christ.

In addition to bringing church done differently, Pernell is a part of Resonate and the publisher of what I think is the best designed blog on the web right now. I speak highly of his blog to compensate for the fact that I never linked to it for many months and am feeling convicted by either Pernell or the Holy Spirit for not linking to it.

Enough about me and some more about Pernell.

1) The Freeway is a non-traditional church in a denomination (The Salvation Army) that is rightly or wrongly known for being a church that asks for conformity. Does that create tension and how do you deal with that?

Good question. It has created some tension within our tribe, which has, for the most part, become pretty cookie-cutter in a lot of ways for the past number of decades. Although, perhaps surprisingly for us, for the most part our leaders are pretty excited about what we’re doing. Besides, The Salvation Army has a long history of reaching those who may be unreached by many other churches. The Freeway has had some “success” reaching a demographic of people that are generally missing from many other churches. And when push comes to shove, accomplishing mission and bringing the Kingdom is what we’re all about.

What makes The Freeway different from the bazillion other “contemporary” churches in North America?

I don’t really know, I have never been to most of those churches… and I don’t think we’re “contemporary”. But from what I have seen, we tend to be fairly organic, creativity-focused, eclectic, relational, missional and less hierarchical and structured than the average church. But I would also say we’re less sure about what we know and who we really are, we’re more chaotic, and harder to explain or put on a flow chart than many churches… actually, we’re kind of a mess most of the time.

3) If you could go back and change any decision being made while planting The Freeway, is there any that you wish you could change and “do-over”? What would you change?
I would have hired Jordon Cooper to give me back massages after the long, tough days. Just kidding. We have made so many mistakes, I would have a hard time picking just one. I guess I would say that we started out with many constructs of the modern, church growth focused model, even though that didn’t fit us at all… because that was the only way we knew, and had to fumble into what really resonated for us… explore and experiment and “try it on”. If it’s possible to paint broad, judgemental strokes, we started out as a hyper-modern church wanting desperately to reach people in the emerging culture. We have had to shed much of our comfy terminology, structure, focus, etc. in order to become the community that we are (and we will likely need to shed much more to become the community God wants us to be in this new, emerging culture).

4) Does having a permanent building change community life for FRWY? If it has changed, how?

We don’t know yet. We just got possession of our space at the beginning of February and are currently renovating it into a cafe / music / art / worship space. We likely won’t be in there until May. I hope it does change things for us though. In that, I hope it allows us to meet up with people we wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to meet and journey with and do some stuff we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to do.

5) What’s the biggest obstacle (or opportunity) for FRWY as a community in the near future?

The biggest obstacle and the biggest opportunity could be the same thing… getting a funky, innovative non-profit cafe off the ground. We want to love our community – no strings attached. We want to live with them. We want to follow God. We want to change the world by bringing the message and experience of Christ in a way that people can understand and embrace. That’s a lofty enough goal, I would say.

6) So much of the Canadian discussion about church growth through the 1970’s until now has been dominated by the American church. How does the context in Canada differ?

Radically. We live in a very different culture.You (and likely many of your readers) have read Fire & Ice by Michael Adams. I think that he’s dead on as far as the differences between the two countries goes. “Emerging” here and “emerging” there can look very different. This would also be true to some extent from one community to another within Canada. I think the major difference is the fact that we are in a post-Christian culture and I’m not sure that the US is yet. Also, mega church mentality doesn’t sit well here, generally. Although there are certainly enough American (you know who) ripoff, wanna-be’s in churches in Canada too.

7) What’s been the impact of on your community. Is the web making a difference in the life of your church? What about that blog you publish?

For one thing, the web is really our only form of “advertising” to people outside our community (well, except the lives of community members themselves… and the billboard pictures of me naked plastered all over Hamilton). People around here work, study, volunteer and play on crazy conflicting schedules… busy, busy, busy… so getting together is tough alot of times. We have found that blogging (a bunch of Freewayers blog), our discussion forum, and e-mail has really increased the amount of community we can do. We keep up on each other this way and dialogue about tons of stuff. We have even recently started an e-Living Room – an online community group. Actually, all the “keeping up on each other” is kind of creepy when I really think about it… that’s it, I’m shutting down the web.

8) Who have been some of the most influential thinkers along your spiritual journey?

My six year old daughter, Samantha. My friend, Mark Jefferson. My mom. My community at FRWY. Douglas Coupland. Leonard Sweet. Brian McLaren. Henri Nouwen. C.S. Lewis. Homer Simpson.

9) When our kids look back at the start of the postmodern world and our efforts to lead churches in it, what do you think they are going to see that we got right? What do think they will say we got wrong?

Right: Finally choosing me as Lord Sultan of the Canadian Emerging Church movement. Joking… sort of. I hope they’ll see that we at least were courageous enough to question and wrestle with the status quo. I hope they’ll see that we really loved Jesus and his truth, enough to try and look past our cultural view of him and to live for him at all cost. I hope they’ll see that we made an effort to really love our neighbours.

Wrong: My fear is that they may see that we took too long making the necessary changes, taking the necessary risks, adjusting the way we live missionally to really have the kind of Kingdom impact we could have. And I think that they’ll see that we took ourselves far too seriously too much of the time.

An interview with Sally Morgenthaller

From One Small Barking Dog

My own generation of Americans (baby boomers) suffers from a particularly virile form of narcissism. In our quest for personal fulfillment, we have failed to both teach and know our children well. Truly, our deprioritization of our own offspring is one of the great tragedies of late twentieth century America. The effects are staggering, and I’m not just talking about broken homes. It goes much deeper than that. The cessation of intergenerational narrative is at the core. The exchange of story has been one of the most important roles of family life. But getting involved in that exchange means sacrificing time, listening, and value that our children are actually worth the effort. A few days ago, I was at a Christian conference and had just ended a talk about creating sacred space outside the four walls of our churches. I didn’t focus the talk on young people, but one father came up to me afterward and plied me with questions about what kind of music he should let his kids listen to, what kind of media, films, TV programs, etc. I was comforted that he was evidently having an epiphany moment that he might need to be involved in these sort of things, but the attitude was still trying to protect them from their own culture, their own stories. It’s amazing how rarely I hear parent’s ask how they can dialog and actually share life with their children, how they can enter their offspring’s worlds, find out the stories their children are actually living, and earn the right to tell their own stories. We are truly relationally challenged as a nation. interviews Mike Gingerich

Today I interview my good friend Mike Gingerich. I worked with Mike at Lakeview Church. Not only was he a super talented programmer, he has a grasp on NFL and sports minutia that Cliff Claven would respect, and is as easily as good of a drummer as Ringo Starr. Right now he is going back to school and blogs over here. Mike is also revered by my son Mike who along with Todd, is referred to as “Rockstar Mike”. He is married to Sandi and they have a daughter, Emma.

What’s your age and occupation? How long have you lived there? Where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I am 31 years old and presently a student, taking Business Management w/ a major in HR and Marketing I have been a student since September and will be finished in January of 05. I came from my mother who was living in Regina at the time. I live in Saskatoon SK with me wife and daughter

As a die hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you have never seen them win a Stanley Cup. What’s the most painful loss you have had to endure?

Has to be in ’94 when Gretzky was with the LA kings he scored late in the 3rd period to advance to the Stanley Cup final against the Canadians.

As a football coach, we are hoping you can answer the question that has haunted us for the ages… what’s the better defence 4-3 or 3-4 and why?

Hands down 4-3, D-line keeps contain and can peruse from either end while strong side LB shoots the gap and gets the sack on the blind side or stop the rush coming through either the A or B gaps. It’s quite elementary really.

Worst Toronto Maple Leaf trade of all time?

That easy 96 when there was a 6 player deal in the end we gave up a young defensemen named Kenny Jonsson and got and old Wendel Clark in return. Sorry Wendel you know it’s true.

You and I have spent hours talking NFL football. Who do you think were the five biggest quarterback busts of our era. Not including Ryan Leaf… that’s too easy.

Since I can’t say Ryan Leaf, I think the top 5 are:

1) Todd Blackridge in ’83 1st round 7th overall before Jim Kelly and Tony Eason, Ken O’ Brien and some guy named Dan Marino

2) Andre Ware in ’90 1st round 7th overall heismen curse “Andre ware are ya”

3) Todd Marinovich in’91 1st round 24th overall, a tragic tale of wasted youth, drafted that year before Brett Farve.

4) Kordell Stewart in ’95 2nd round 60th overall, this dude has sucked since his first day in the NFL.

5) Giovanni Carmazzi in 93 3rd round 65th overall. I have never heard of this guy, he must be a bust he was however drafted before Tom Brady, Marc Bulger and Tim Rattay. He is Currently inactive on the 49er roster

What’s the best part about living in Saskatoon?

The people (corny but true),

What’s the most important lesson you learned while working at Lakeview Church that you can apply to life outside the church?

2 things really

1) Everybody regardless of title or position wants to be valued to some degree, in his or her work

2) Leadership is relationship, you can’t have one without the other.

If you could have any three figures from history over for dinner, who would it be?

Kurt Cobain I think that dude just needed a hug, Jimi Hendrix, cause I would love to jam with him and C.S Lewis…oh yeah and ahh Jesus

If you could change any one thing about Saskatoon, what would it be?

The fact that it is in the middle of Saskatchewan

As a driver of a very nice and cool car, what is the worst looking car, That you have ever seen?

I once saw a full size pick up truck it was all pimped up it had been lowered and it had a very large ridiculous spoiler on it, on the gate of the truck he/she most likely he had airbrushed a proportionately impossible women and the 2 words “spoiler rotten”.

9pm, Wednesday – what are you doing?

Most likely homework or relaxing with my Sandi, there is most likely TV being watched and nachos or popcorn being consumed.

All of the interviews can be found here.

Interviewing Daniel Miller

Today we interview Daniel Miller, artist, web designer, programmer, and no fan of the National Hockey League. He is also one of the early bloggers. First with blogspot and later at Daniel’s Journey where a variety of CMS’s have been tried and even developed there. He is also the founder of Intregration Research, a cultural and technological incubator in the form of art collective, publisher and software developer.

What’s your age and occupation? How long have you lived there? Where did you come from, and where do you live now?

29 year old artist, entrepreneur and web developer. I’m originally from Pennsylvania and over the last 10 years have lived in Tucson, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington DC, Sarajevo, Florida (again), and now Dallas, where I’ve lived for one month so far.

You are a well traveled American. How does the rest of the world see America right now compare to how you see your country? If there is a difference? What is causing it?

I feel like I should ask you that question since you are not an American. 🙂 I’ve become un-nationalistic in my approach; I’m more interested in broader trends in power-based relationships, social dynamics, and the like. I actually hate politics, and have observed how it corrupts even at its lowest levels, so I try to keep my own personal politics to the voting booth.

To answer your question, in my experience many people would prefer to see a different president in the next term, and in that we agree. But there are bigger things at work, and I think we are in a unique time where we can all, travel or no, get a better idea for the world’s common values and concerns and work collectively to try and address them.

What is the coolest gadget that you have ever owned?

I’m a pretty low-tech geek; my two main gadgets are a 3 year old Dell laptop and a very pedestrian pair of headphones. I have a Korg D-12 digital recorder that’s nice; we’re about to be reunited after 10 months apart.

Can you tell us a little about Integration Research? Can you give us a glimpse at some of the projects you are working on?

I’ll try to make this brief without giving the standard line. Integration Research (IR) has been fashioned to try and work out new ways for creative people to approach the processes of cultural production and dissemination. We’re specifically looking at technological solutions that facilitate a cultural dynamic that benefits all. The web, blogs, digitization of cultural artifacts, ubiquitous broadband, and the low entry price for professional-level creative technologies have all contributed to a rapid de-centralization of cultural control; but we have yet to develop models that successfully reward these new creators, because culture industries are historically so centralized. We are in a transitional moment, and IR is trying to examine this space and create solutions that work within its new landscape.

Our first project is a piece of personal library management software. It will allow you to enter in anything from books to blenders and then attach metadata to those items–lent out or borrowed and to/from whom, queued for future interest and/or added to your Amazon wish list, for sale and/or added to your Amazon sale items–and keep a historical record of those artifacts. It will also support publish/subscribe via RSS, so that, for example, you could easily publish information about your cultural choices on a blog, and, most importantly, find out what resources are available within various
communities you participate in.

Another project that is in the works is what I call creative management software. It is like blogging with a twist, and will hopefully retain the power of micro Content Management Systems (mCMS) while making all that data more useful and navigating it more intuitive.

We’re in the middle of developing some white papers on all of these topics, so stay tuned in the next few months for that.

What’s the coolest part about living in the Dallas megatropolis?

Decent weather and people. I’ve lived enough places to find my niche anywhere, and know that having community is essential to making a city one’s home.

Your blog has seen a couple different programming languages and content management systems over the years. What has been the best you have worked with? The worst?

Every language and system have their good points and their bad, and they are usually opposite characteristics across platforms. Blogger is simple but feature poor and inflexible; Moveable Type is more flexible but convoluted. One programming language makes X hard and Y easy, the other Y hard and X easy. I’m never going to develop a programming language, but I hope the mCMS that I’m building strikes a good balance between simplicity and flexibility.

There hasn’t been a best and worst yet. This space is still young.

What’s the worst airline or train traveling experience ever?

I’ve spent so many nights in airports or negotiating with sketchy cab drivers that they all blur together. The physical act of traveling is rarely fun or relaxing, but the payoffs and surprises are well worth it. I got lost once walking back to Johnny’s at 4am, and it was cold and I was tired, but at one point it was like a music video–there were people falling headfirst out of pubs onto the sidewalk in front of me, a car pulled up and a gang of people jumped out of it, ran into an alley beside me, and two of the guys started fighting. It was frightening and invigorating and I remember that 2 hour walk fondly.

9pm, Wednesday night – what are you doing?

Sitting at my computer answering your questions. 🙂

Mac or PC?

Both if I could only afford a Mac.

If Integration Research could get any celebrity spokesperson in the world, who would it be? Why?

Madonna. She personifies success under the old/established structures of cultural dissemination, so there would be a beautiful irony there. She’s the most powerful relevant public figure I could think of and her pocket change could fund IR forEVAR.

If you could summer anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Dang these are good questions! I’m going to have to go with……Vienna. Beautiful, diverse city to begin with and a hop-skip to a lot of interesting places. Wait. Or Sydney, for the same reasons.

Best three weblogs you are reading right now?

Amateur Hour: the me in media, Purse Lip Square Jaw, dooce.

What is one thing that the National Hockey League could do to make you into a diehard hockey fan (for the Canadian readers of my blog)

Um, go back in time, transplant my DNA, and drop me in Saskatchewan maybe?

All of the interviews can be found here (well, except the ones that I haven’t posted yet)

In Conversation with… Scott Williams

Scott Williams is a good friend of Wendy, Mark, and I. Even the dog likes him. Mark prays for him and his kids twice a day but from his answers, I am not sure it makes a difference or at least with his Homer puzzle. He is also the pastor of New Heights, a church in Mission, B.C. that as Scott has said, loves loud rock and roll as well as reaching out to the poor. It does both really well.

Scott is also Wendy’s arch nemesis and is responsible for several tramatic events in her life for which she has yet to have a comeback for. He also publishes one of my favorite blogs right here. Here is the interview. Scott walks the fine line between giving an interview and making fun of Wendy and I. Some things never change.

What’s your age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I’m forty years old but everyone says I’m really immature and that’s a good thing right? I live in Mission, BC Canada, where I started a church here eight years ago. I grew up in a military, non-christian family of alcoholics and card players. I trace my roots back to Scotland where our ancestors were hung for horse stealing? blue blood all the way. My sister recently upgraded to her first trailer. I’m a single parent of two teenage boys.

What makes New Heights different from the bazillion other “contemporary” churches in North America.

Contemporary? Yuck.

New Heights is not a contemporary church. When I think of contemporary I think of dressing well, singing hillsongs, matt redman and delirious chorus’s instead of hymns; powerpoint, topical sermons and nice flyers. I am not sure New Heights aspires to be contemporary, at least not in its present status.

I grew up in the days of the church growth movement, Willow World and the migration from hymn books – overheads – powerpoint. I started churches using these paradigms but it was never really who I was at heart. I am not, by nature, someone who fits into mainstream anything, even contemporary church. New Heights strives to be brutally honest and you cannot really be that within the mainstream evangelical church movement. People are our church are screwed up, poor, lack any Christian background, or just aren’t interested in regular church. We are more crass, use words like piss, crap and sin, believe in the redemption of secular media, drink light beer (cuz we’re Christians) try to shock people into reality, rebel against dress codes and ‘fitting in’, looking cool, and following any ‘come–lately’ model. The church was born out of who we were. We didn’t fit in and didn’t think we had to care whether or not we did. We wanted real even if it was brutal or painful. New heights has largely grown out of pain? and we grew out of powerpoint a while ago.

Coolest gadget you have ever owned.

Without a doubt it was the breast pump your wife Wendy gave me. Oh, the mammories…

If you could experience on moment in church history, what would it be?

Would have loved to ride with Constantine. I think he did more for Christianity than any person since Christ. Two other church heroes of mine are Mungo and William Lamberton, the great friend of Robert the Bruce. Would have loved to talk with a few of the reformers and told them to ‘get over themselves.’

Who have been some of the most influential thinkers along your spiritual journey?

Nietzsche and whitehead have had a big influence on my thinking. Peter Griffin from “Family Guy‘ too. I’m not sure he’s considered a ‘thinker’ but it is hard to overestimate the influence that Tony Campolo had on my early leadership development. He changed my view of the world and challenged me to be something other than what I was. He gave me freedom and a ton of cool illustrations. Of course Jordon Cooper has had a big influence on me too. I don’t know anyone that looks as good in spandex as Jordon.

When you take a look at the church growth movement… what is the biggest thing that historians and theologians are going to look back at and say that they got wrong?

It’s hard for me to confine my comments to this question to a single answer. The cg movement did a lot right, and tons wrong. Undoubtedly the thing that has probably affected my friends and I the most, besides the bad hair styles of the movement, has been the insidious drive for success and numbers. Everything became boiled down to a measure of success that seems blatantly skewed. I have spend much too long in the cg movement, have walked and talked with some of its greatest proponents and seen firsthand the bondage that movement brought to young pastors and churches that didn’t measure up to a very narrow definition of success.

When you look at the movement of postmodern churches being birthed…what is the biggest thing that historians and theologian are going to look back at and say that they got wrong?

Personally, and I’m not as well versed in this area as some others are, I think that they will wonder why we ever thought we knew what we were doing. The very nature of this time in history is its transience; yet we have tried to convince people it is an end in itself.

The other thing I think they’ll say about us is that we tried to convince people that they were in Oz using a feeble magician to lead the way. We were convinced we were so ‘up to speed’ and knew the answers but when they pull back the curtain in the years to come they may think that we didn’t have a freakin clue what we were talking about.

Who would make the better pastor, Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin?

I love you. Finally a theological question I can understand.

Homer is an idealist at heart (“I’m normally not a praying man, but if you’re up there, please save me Superman”.). Peter is a pragmatist (“I saw you in that coffee shop, breaking the fifth commandment. Congress passes these things for a reason, Lois.”). Of course The Simpsons is a very spiritual show and all Family Guy has to offer is that it’s the best comedy ever made.

Simpsons is linear, Family Guy is chaos (Peter: We love the Bible in this house. Francis Griffin: Really. What’s your favorite book of the Bible? Peter: Uhhhhh… the book where Jesus swallows the puzzle piece and the man in the yellow hat has to take him to the hospital.).

Homer would care more but Peter isn’t as dumb as a post, though he fakes it well. Of the two I would definitely choose Bender from Futurama.

Did you ever get that Homer Simpson Rubik’s cube puzzle solved?

Shut up? it has nine different corners! Shut up.

Best part about living in the Fraser Valley?

I was going to say “micro-brewery beer” but that doesn’t sound very spiritual. Then I was going to say, “not having to live in Saskatchewan anymore” but that might be construed as offensive.

I like the action out here. There are people here that are innovative, friends who “get it”, places that expand my mind and create vision. Or maybe it’s just the beer.

Most embarrasing thing to ever happen to you in a church service?

The list seems endless. Let’s see, I broke a 6 year olds collar bone at a ‘get to know you’ prelaunch family event. They didn’t come back. I got a marshmallow stuck (flaming) on the end of my nose on a Saturday night and went to church with a one inch high scab on my shnoz (do you think anyone noticed?). I did a sermon high on cocaine when I was first in the pastorate and my delegate found out about it. You know, your basic church life stuff.

How many churches have you planted now?

I have personally helped to plant 4 churches and oversaw the planting of two others. We are hoping to start a new one in the Fraser Valley this fall. I need to do something crazy every couple of years or I die a little inside.

You are a student of military history. How do you think some of the previous war presidents like Roosevelt and prime ministers like Churchill would have handled 9/11.

FDR was a great man who was a slave to public opinion and therefore would have probably done what good he could without being run out of office. Churchill was one of the greatest leaders who ever smoked 12 cigars a day and would have done what he thought was best, the world be damned. Neither would have jumped three months early into a war without assessing the cost. Both were smarter by far than Bush. Both were smarter than most.

Most historical leaders fall into two camps ? idealist and pragmatists. Homer and Peter. Fewer than we care to admit were willing to die for a cause. It’s easier to talk big than be big. It’s easy to act out of arrogance or a position or unquestionable power. It’s another to suffer for it.

Best book you have read in the last year? What made it worthwhile reading?

The bible. Did I get the right answer?

I read a lot of fiction and history mainly. Plus any book that you send me for free, Jordon.

It’s hard to remember which were best unless I happen to have them on hand right now but I will tell you a few books I have read in the last month that were decent.

First, any book by Nigel Trantor on the history of Scotland. Mein Kampf, I Claudius, a novel based on ancient Rome. War of the Rats ? the battle of Stalingrad, How the Scots invented the Modern World, bird by bird was helpful with my writing, and the left hand of darkness, a sci-fi book written by an anthropologist. All of these books were well worth my time but I wish I could say I was reading more philosophy and guys with German names, but I’m a church planter, and Family Guy was on.

In conversation with… Darryl Dash

Another day, another interview. I don’t know about you but I am enjoying posting there. Today we corner fellow pastor and blogger Darryl Dash. Darryl is pastor of Richview Baptist Church, blogger-in-chief of DashHouse and The Dying Church, fair weather Maple Leafs fan (for the Canadians out there, we know that is redundent), and is working on his D.Min at Gordon-Cromwell Seminary in Boston. We decided we had better interview him before we have to call him Dr. Dash. He is married to Charlene (another blogger) and they have two kids.

Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I’m 36, and pastor of Richview Baptist Church in Toronto. I’ve lived in Toronto for 16 years, most of that in the west end of Toronto (which is also the best end). Before that, I lived in Brampton, a suburb of T.O.

What’s the best part about being a pastor? What’s the worst?

The best part about being a pastor is seeing a group of people change over time. I get to witness some pretty cool changes in people. It’s exciting to see this on a macro level: to sense that the ethos or feel of the group is changing over time. When I see that, it makes my day. The worst part of being a pastor is also easy: meetings. I hate meetings, especially stupid ones. I go to far too many of them.

Every pastor talks about the best sermon they have ever preached but if there is a best, there has to be the worst. What was your worst sermon you ever preached?

I’ve preached a lot of mediocre sermons, but two stand out as the worst. One was about ten years ago. I was coasting on talent and not spending a lot of time in preparation. One day it caught up to me, and my sermon was just brutal. When a sermon’s bad, you feel naked. You know it’s bad, and everyone there knows it’s bad. You want to crawl under a rock and hide.

The other really bad sermon was just a few weeks ago. I just got back from my D.Min. course on preaching in Boston and I guess I was trying too hard. I have a friend who likes even my bad sermons, but not even he liked my sermon that day. I knew I was in trouble. [editor: I have been in the same place]

You are doing your D.Min in Boston. Which is a cooler city, Toronto or Boston?

Boston has two things going for it that Toronto doesn’t have: the ocean, and tons more history. It also has cool architecture and a good arts community. Toronto, though, has the better hockey team, which almost balances it out. I’d love to live in Boston. I’d have clam chowder every day.

Best book you have read in the last year? What made it so good?

Probably “The Present Future” by Reggie McNeal. McNeal is a Southern Baptist denominational leader, yet says things like “A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith.” There are better books, but I like this one because Reggie is in my world. He’s a critic of the church, but (like me) he’s neck deep in it.

Close runner up is “Bird by Bird” by Ann Lamott. Everything Lamott writes is good, but this book makes you feel like you can write and that it matters.

Monday night at 9:00 p.m., where can we find you and what might you be doing?

Probably chasing my kids to bed. Either that or falling asleep watching a DVD or reading a good book.

What’s your favorite computer gadget of all time?

I’ve never met a gadget I didn’t like. Right now I’m really enjoying my Dell Digital Jukebox: not quite as cool as an iPod but a lot cheaper. It’s got every CD I own on it.

If you could experience any moment in church history, what you choose?

My Dad lives in southeast England. One day we were driving around and, literally in the middle of a farmer’s field, we came across a marker on the spot where Augustine (not the big Augustine, the other one) preached to Ethelbert (cool name!), Anglo-Saxon King of Kent in 597 AD. Evidently things worked out, Ethelbert was baptized, and Augustine became the first archbishop of Canterbury. I would have loved to witness that sermon. Augustine was so scared of the savage islanders that he begged the Pope not to go. I imagine he was pretty scared that day.

A conversation with… Rudy Carrasco

Today’s interview is with Rudy Carrasco (official bio) of Harambee Christian Family Center and Urban Onramps. Along with Andrew Jones and Karen Ward, I think that Rudy’s weblog was among the first emerging church blogs online and it is one of my favorites. Many people have questioned me about why I link to him as we often link to opposite viewpoints about the same news stories but even though we disagree, I find Rudy to be well thought out and worth reading. It also reminds me that there are some really smart and cool people that disagree with what I write as well. Rudy is also a frequent Yahoo! Instant Messenger partner and owner of an amazing Apple iSight webcam.

What’s your age and occupation? How long have you lived there? Where > did you come from, and where do you live now?

I’m 36 and I’m the executive director of the Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, California. I’ve lived within a one-block radius of my current house since 1990 (14 years). I was born in East Los Angeles and have lived in a number of Southern California cities before settling in Pasadena.

What is the best part about living in Los Angeles? What is the worst?

The best part of Los Angeles is that it is the destination place for the entire world. From the South (Latin America) from the West (Asian countries) and internally (across the country) people just keep coming and they won’t stop. This is the place where you can remake yourself, regardless of your past. It’s the American Dream in hyperdrive.

The worst part of living in Los Angeles is the dang traffic on the freeways. If you get caught at the wrong time of day you are in for a 2.5 hour trip that should have taken 45 minutes. It’s a shame because there are tremendous places and people scattered around L.A. (and they are scattered – this is the opposite of Manhattan, which is a vertical city – this is a horizontal city).

Time travel question: What era, day or event in the church’s history would you like to have experienced?

I would have liked to have been at the Council of Nicea, to see how they put together the Nicene Creed. I also would have liked to have been in the room when they were choosing the 27 books of the New Testament.

It is Tuesday at nine p.m. — where can we find you and what are you up to?

My son went to bed at 8ish, and my wife and I have just finished watching some goofy sitcom, American Idol, or Survivor. At that hour I often check my email and do some blogging.

Chatting with Rudy via Yahoo! I.M. and wifi
Of all of the gadgets you own, which is your favorite?

This 12 inch Powerbook is something else, I tell ya.

What’s the best book you have read in the last year? What made it worthwhile?

I keep reading and re-reading my P.J. O’Rourke books. They would be offensive to many of my peers in the emerging church, but who cares. He makes me laugh. Hard. My wife tells me to quit laughing, I’m shaking the bed. The other night I read a truly hilarious piece that I would NEVER EVER EVER share with my peers. It’s just too offensive, beyond Dave Chapelle offensive. But when O’Rourke is not blinding you with his offensiveness, he’s dishing out tremendous observations on human nature. Recommended.

If you could say one thing to the emerging church that you think we need to rethink, what would it be?

We are pretty close to enshrining our own orthodoxies, and we are unaware of it. I’ll leave that vague. But I’m seeing some resistance to modification that is beginning to disturb me. Our reaction is becoming codified. Still vague, I know. But I’m gonna leave it there.

Where is the church getting it right in regards to urban ministry, what’s is it getting it wrong?

We need to approach urban ministry like it’s a war, World War II, say. There are folks on the front lines, slugging it out. And then there are reinforcements. But the reinforcement folks don’t quite recognize that they need to figure out how to not only strengthen the frontliners in a temporary manner, they need to buttress them for the long haul. Now, I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about something completely different, about longevity. So, for example, there are small churches in the hood that have been around for decades. How can we help strengthen them, even while we do our own thing? (And believe me, I’m all for doing your own thing; I do my own thing all the time.) But at the end of the day, those long-standing institutions will still be in the hood after all the exciting trips and visitor and evangelistic events and service projects and immersion have ended. They are the ones who need to be strong and stronger. And most urban plunge folks fail to recognize this. The degree to which Christians recognize that it’s critical that an urban ministry have a long-term impact, that’s the degree to which we actually get things accomplished. We have friends who have decided to give and serve over an extended period of time, regardless of how things are going, and they are the ones seeing the long-term fruit.

How is globalization changing urban communities? Is there anything the church can be doing to ease the change?

I don’t think many folks understand how globalization affects them. I mean, it’s not like you can show someone a pound of globalization. It affects many folks now in that they have a new bogeyman to blame – outsourcing of jobs due to globalization. But one of the key benefits of globalization, the spread of new ideas and techniques, is accessed by those who look for it or seek it. There are some who do, and many who don’t.

The rest of the interviews can be found here.

Cool Friends Interview :: Charlie Wear. Publisher of Next-Wave

Today we interogate Charlie Wear. Charlie is the publisher of Next-Wave and through it has encouraged many of us to start writing for a larger audience and engage in a global conversation about the gospel and culture. In addition to publishing Next-Wave, Charlie also blogs at and over at TheOoze Blog as well. Despite the fact I owe Charlie about a dozen articles, he was kind enough to respond to my interview questions.

Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I’m a 54 yr. old attorney living in Southern California. I’m a native born Californian and have never lived more than about 100 miles from my birthplace.

The impact of Next Wave goes around the world. Why do you think it has made such as impact?

There are probably a lot of reasons for Next-Wave‘s impact. First, Rogier Bos, the founding editor set the course of trying to discover how to minister in the postmodern context. I hadn’t even heard of postmodernism.
Second, Next-Wave was in at the beginning of the use of the internet to discuss these issues. The Ooze and Next-Wave started around the same time.
Third, was a great sponsor that introduced Next-Wave to a lot of readers by linking on their site. But primarily, I think it’s because Next-Wave is something God wanted done so he could use it to encourage the church.

It’s Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m., where can we find you and what are you doing?

Most likely I’ll be helping my wife get my son (17 mo.) and grandson (15 mo.) to bed while American Idol is being recorded on the DVR.

Who do you think has the best hair in the postmodern/emerging church movement?

If it’s gray hair you’re interested in, probably Len Sweet. If it’s cool hair, maybe Jason Evans or Kevin Rains. If it’s cool facial hair, the list is endless.

What’s the best book you have read in the last year? What made it worthwhile?

I really enjoyed Spencer Burke‘s book, Making Sense of Church because it seemed to capture some of the authentic struggles of Christians today.

20 years from now when we look at the birth of the emerging church, what do you think we will look at and say we got right? What did we get wrong?

From the vantage point of 20 years we will probably say that we overemphasized the deconstruction of the existing church and didn’t focus enough on telling non-Christians the story of Jesus.

What’s the best part about living in Southern California?

Great weather and easy access to mountains, desert and ocean.

What’s your favorite Next-Wave article of all time?

Anything by David Hopkins and Rogier Bos, but some of the stuff in the last year has been excellent.

Deconstructionism is one of the words that provokes a strong reaction from both sides. Have we deconstructed enough? or is time for us to stop and start reconstructing?

Yes and yes.

The Cool Friends Interviews can be found here.

Cool Friends Spouse :: An interview with Wendy Cooper

Today I am interviewing Wendy Cooper. Wendy has a weblog at known for it’s infrequent posting and lots of recipes. She also has a brand new photoblog called AnalogPixels and has some really cool shots online. When she found out I was interviewing people on this site, the pestering started immediately. The boy and the dog joined the lobbying effort and soon I gave in.

Age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I am 34 and mere cashier at Safeway. I was born in Georgetown, Guyana. After a socialist government took power, there was fears of forced conscription into military service for children so we immigrated to Brandon, Manitoba, Canada in the middle of winter. Apparently the Government of Canada wanted Guyanese people away from the coasts in case of a Guyanese invasion of North America. I moved from Brandon to Saskatoon to go to college. There I met you, fell in love, and got married adopted a dog… yada, yada, yada.

Last good book you read. What made it worth reading?

Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I loved her irreverent humor and honesty. That and threats of violence against E.T.

You are known as an excellent cook. What I am wondering is, what’s the worst meal you ever made?

A stir fry. I put it in front of us and you took one bite and said, “that’s awful”. I took a bite and gave mine to the dog. He sniffed it but would not eat it. I have no idea what went wrong. (Ed: That tuna casserole you keep making is pretty bad too)

If you could experience any time in church history, what would you choose?

The church service in Georgia where John Wesley refused communion to the governor’s daughter (and the girl he was smitten with) and her fiance (which suggested to the congregation that they were sleeping together).

What is your choice for the Greatest Canadian Ever?

I know you want me to say Brian Mulroney but how about Oscar Peterson?

Saturday night at 9:00 p.m. — where can we find you?

Either just leaving Starbucks with you and Mark or hanging out at home with friends with Hockey Night in Canada playing in the background.

After, what are your favorite three weblogs? Photoblogs?

Warren Kinsella, Scott Williams, and Karen Neudorf. For photoblogs, Spencer Burke, Heather Champ, and A Daily Dose of Imagery

The most irritating habit that I have?

I know this is a Cooper family tradition but spraying me with a water hose in the summer when I am not looking gets on my nerves. Teaching Mark to do the same thing is also right up there. Also, you use a lot of different glass cups in an evening. Actually, how much space to I have to answer this question. I could keep going…

The most embarrassing thing I have done to you?

Scott Williams was out just after Mark was born. I didn’t know he was coming over and my breast pump was not hidden as well as it should have been. Scott made a couple of jokes and embarrassed me horribly. Just as I had recovered from that, I was in Minneapolis for Soularize. You and a bunch of people had ended up going out and as I found you, I was greeted by a cheer of “There’s the breast pump lady” and everyone knew the story. I know you claim innocence but no one believes you. Even if you were innocent, you could have given Scott a “Rock bottom” or “Stone Cold Stunner” while he was telling the story or something but no. That reminds me, I have yet to had my revenge on you for that.

You are a big music fan, what is the best CD that you own? The worst?

The Essential Oscar Peterson may be the best but the worst has to be the soundtrack to Sister Act.

If you could teach our dog one new trick, what would it be?

To lay on your side of the bed and not on my legs.

Any chance you have changed your position on us getting a wiener dog yet?


How about now?



Enough already.

All of the Cool Friends interviews will be posted online here.

Interview :: Gloria Reimer

I am adding a new feature to my website and it is just a series of light hearted interviews with a lot of people I respect. Look for a couple of week. I will be collecting them all in a central location in the next day or so but will be posting them here as well. The first interview that I got back is with Gloria Reimer. I worked with Gloria for a couple of years at Lakeview Church and Gloria and her husband Jerry are Mark’s godparents. Gloria is terrified of bees, yells at me a lot in anger, appears to have understated her age in this interview, and has been known to give away books I have leant to her to other people as gifts. Gloria and her husband Jerry live in Saskatoon and Gloria blogs at

What’s your age and occupation. How long have you lived here, where did you come from, and where do you live now?

I am over 35 and am the Pastor of Ministry Facilitation at Lakeview Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our family has lived here in Saskatoon since September 1990 when we were transferred from Brandon, Manitoba.

You work at a large church working at empowering the laity in ministry. What’s the largest obstacle in keeping people out of ministry? How do you get around that?

Empowering the laity to serve is my passion. One of the obstacles to serving is people are not sure how they are wired to serve and need assistance in finding out their Spiritual Gifts and exactly where they want to serve. Other tools like discovering your personality, abilities and looking at your life’s experiences are of value as well. Another obstacle that we all struggle with is the time element. People are just too busy in their lives to fit anything more in. However, my greatest passion is to give people freedom to be ministers exactly where they are planted whether in their homes, businesses, workplaces, gym, neighbourhoods, professions, knowing that first and foremost we are Ministers for Christ and everything falls in behind that. That makes me excited! Free to serve anywhere!

Thursday night at 8:00 p.m., where are the Reimers and what are you doing?

Thursday nights in the Reimer household is Small Group Night. We have a group of about 10 to 12 people who meet weekly to connect, share life together, eat, laugh, study Scripture, pray and look at how we can help each move along in our spiritual journeys.

What’s the best part about living in Saskatoon? Do you miss anything about Manitoba?

The best part of living in Saskatoon is the people. That was one of the first things we noticed when we moved here was how friendly and helpful the people were. It has not changed. We have many wonderful friends in Saskatoon.

The part I miss most about Manitoba is that I grew up in southern Manitoba where the summers are hot and humid. I loved the heat and the wonderful growing weather we had there. Great people in Manitoba as well. All our family originated in southern Manitoba

What’s the best book you have read in the last year? What made it good?

I just finished reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott. I loved the book. Her style of writing is so original and honest. I laughed and I cried. There were also some profound truths in the book which I copied into my ” quote” book. Great book A very freeing book to read!

Is there any chance I will get back any of the books I have leant you over the years?

Jordon, of course you will get your books back. I have a special place where I keep all the books you lend me. It is becoming quite a nice resource library!! [editor: in other words I have no hope at all]

What was the weirdest thing you ate while in Asia? (if you answer dog, I am never talking to you and Jerry again)

I am not adventuresome when it comes to trying new foods, but Jerry tried pretty well everything. Having a completely cooked frog put on the table in front of you was something I did not handle well. Of course Jerry ate it and thought it was just fine!

Most annoying thing about living in Saskatoon?

The -40C weather in the winter and the mosquitoes in the summer!

How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

I am down to 1 cup a day. I went off coffee for Lent and am now trying to discipline myself to 1 cup a day. [Ed: I can’t see that lasting]

When you look at the western church, what is one thing you think we have gotten wrong and do you think it is possible to change it?

We have created out own “church” culture where we are totally insulated from the real world and never touch the world outside of the church. We have our own rules, movies, books, bookstores, movies, videos, schools, baseball leagues, and the list goes on. It is sad to see how little we as Christ followers make a difference in the “real” world. We are too busy going to all our own activities. Is it possible to change? The only way it will change is if we quit living “safe” and be willing to risk living outside of our comfort zone. There are small pockets of Christ followers who are moving in this direction. However, overall I believe the church is too complacent and comfortable to change the culture they have created for themselves.

Who is your choice for the greatest Canadian contest (other than the obvious pick, Brian Mulroney)

Kim Campbell!! Why? Because she was the first female prime minister of Canada!!! Wayne Gretzky for all you hockey fans out there!!! All kidding aside, I haven’t given it much thought up to this point. Ask me next week!