Tag Archives: Andrew Jones

Turning 10

JordonCooper.com is a decade old todayTen years ago today I published my first post on this site.  I wasn’t sure if this blogging thing was going to last but since then I have posted more then 11,000 times to the site and the traffic has grown quite a bit.  There hasn’t been many changes to the site.  It was first powered by Blogger, then Blogger Pro, and then back to plain Blogger again after Google purchased it.  After 8000 posts, I moved the site to WordPress.

I started to post here because Andrew Careaga wrote a book called e-vangelism back in the early days of the interweb and he published a newsletter that talked about technology and faith.  I never read the book (sorry Andrew) but I did read the newsletter.  In it he talked about Blogger and how you could use it to keep a church website updated.  That is how I discovered Blogger and the rest has been history.  When I started blogging, there was Andrew Jones, Rudy Carrasco and myself blogging about the church and theological issues.  Other than them I learned a lot from Doc Searls, AKMA, Jason Kottke, Caterina Fake, Jeneanne Sessum, and Rebecca Blood.

I am not really sure why I keep posting here.  There never was a plan behind it.  I had no ambitions to be a thought leader, create a movement, make money, or achieve fame.  What I wanted was a place to explore ideas, keep track of interesting things and later on, share things with friends.  Hopefully I have done that.

I have also made some enemies.  One city councillor continues to block me on Twitter and called me an “first class asshole” over some comments I made last summer, one prominent Christian leader threatened to sue over comments, I think it’s a contributing factor for why my dad and I haven’t talked in eight years and more than one former colleague has questioned my Christianity over my more liberal views.   Still the site has brought more joy than angst so it’s all good.

There has been a lot of friends made as well.  Too many to list but thanks for the emails, comments, tweets, and time spent together over the last decade.   Hopefully there is an interesting link or two in the future.  Of course with entire companies moving from the open web to closed Facebook, I am now quite a bit behind the times but that’s the story of my life.

The StarPhoenixNot sure what the future brings.  I am writing a weekly column now at The StarPhoenix so some of my longer (and better written pieces) will be posted there.  I’ll still be posting links, sports (including my scheme to purchase the L.A. Dodgers) and some photos as well.

Thanks to everyone who reads this rather odd collection of links, rants, and articles.  You have been the ones that have made this so much fun.

Fringe Expressions

Fringe Expressions

Andrew Jones has launched a major new project called Fringe Expressions.  As he calls it.

We are going to partner with leading mission organizations and denominations by helping them start 50 new church/mission structures around the world that will act as role models for church planting in the toughest parts of the world.

As well as being highly effective fresh expressions of church and mission, these new communities will bring a lasting, holistic impact through these 3 strategies:

1. Through social enterprise and mico-business they will move their ministries towards long-term sustainability.

2. Through social justice ventures they will touch the needy in their cities in measurable ways – ie, a spiritual, social, financial and environmental impact.

3. Through social media streaming they will contagiously share their story to leverage their experience and compel others to follow their examples.

Sneaky . .  huh?

These 50 new communities will be fresh expressions of church but, also, because they will intentionally position themselves to impact those on the fringe, we will call them "fringe expressions".
By fringe, I mean the cultural fringe (alternative, non-churched, victimized) the economic fringe (poor, needy, vulnerable) the geographic fringe (church-unfriendly areas and countries) and the spiritual fringe [NOT your father’s old-time religion] where traditional church efforts make little progress.

Or in other words, they will go where no fresh expressions or missional communities or emerging churches have gone before.

If it’s something you want to support (and believe me, you do), check out the full post out for more information.

Why I am still a friend of Emergent (even if we don’t talk that much anymore)

emergent village logo I posted about Andrew Jones’ decision on the weekend and I can respect what he is doing as he has been a person of his convictions and one has to do what one has to do.

He makes a pretty good case for leaving.

Also over is any official relationship I have left with one of those emerging church groups called Emergent Village. EV is a hard group to leave because its a flat structured organization and there is no one to inform that you are de-friending yourself, or getting de-friended, from this "generative friendship". Also hard because there are so many wonderful people still involved.

The EV website stated last year, "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." I wasn’t at Christianity21 but I have been watching as new theological emphases and sectarian attitudes towards church emerge (well described by Wikipedia’s North American Emergent Movement) and it is just not something that I can lend my name to or my time. In the early days, I joined the leadership of the Young Leaders group (that eventually became Emergent Village) because it was more about uniting churches around mission and equipping people to reach the next ‘postmodern’ generation. I hope they can shift it back again to its origins.

I remember cringing when I saw the Emergent Village stating "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." They were right in the fact that Emergent Inc was started back then but the emerging church was taking seed all over the world.  As far as the statement about Christianity21… well Tony and Doug had a conference had a conference to promote and I take that statement as nothing more than that.  Emergent Village’s desire to be a promotional commercial vehicle of a flavor of the emerging church in the United States was a flaw from the start but in the end I think it was a reflection of the entrepreneurial commercial context that seems to define the American church industry.  While emergent talked of this being a global conversation, they never realized how incredibly American they are.  In that way by Andrew saying that he won’t be using the language of Emergent Village and the emerging church may be a good one because while language is really important, the discussion of the emerging church has been more about language than it is has about incarnating the gospel for a long time.

You know what, I am okay with it.  I think that is the reason many of us gathered in Three Hills in the 90s, later some of us started Resonate and why the conversation in the U.K. and Europe is so incredibly different.  We all have our national contexts and it does shape our ideas of church and the Gospel.  While I am friends with many south of the border and I deeply appreciate them, I am also okay with them doing their thing and I’ll pipe in from the sidelines from time to time.

I guess what I struggle with is the idea of removing oneself from a conversation because in the end, you have given up on the conversation as a whole.  Maybe Andrew is correct but I think his ability and unique place as a global missionary is a voice that is needed in Emergent Village, even if the North American church doesn’t realize it.

Of course that for me not talking to the emerging church very much anymore, I think it is comes from the amount of pure crap that has been sent to me to review.  I just got a copy of Dwight Friesen’s new book, Thy Kingdom Connected and it may the only book of 2009 that I want to review and think more about.  A friend of mine used to say, “I’ll preach better when Max Lucado preaches better”.  I find myself feeling the same thing.  When the conversation (and books) becomes more compelling, I’ll start paying close attention again.

Update: January 10th – I am totally okay with accepting the fact that Emergent has always seemed too American because I am too Canadian.  If I can say that I find Emergent too American, it’s also fair to criticize me back so fair is fair.

Right now I am actually more happy with Emergent than I have been in years.  I think having Doug and Tony work (and I really hope they make money as well) as consultants and event organizers through JoPa is good while leaving Emergent to be an organic grassroots expression across the country.  I do agree with Mike Morrell’s comment that the next thing to figure out is the relationship between publishing and Emergent.

Goodbye to Emergent Village?

Andrew Jones wrote this today on his blog

ev3 Also over is any official relationship I have left with one of those emerging church groups called Emergent Village. EV is a hard group to leave because its a flat structured organization and there is no one to inform that you are de-friending yourself, or getting de-friended, from this "generative friendship". Also hard because there are so many wonderful people still involved.

The EV website stated last year, "Those who started emergent were at the National ReEvaluation Forum in 1998; those who will take it into the next chapter will be at Christianity21." I wasn’t at Christianity21 but I have been watching as new theological emphases and sectarian attitudes towards church emerge (well described by Wikipedia’s North American Emergent Movement) and it is just not something that I can lend my name to or my time. In the early days, I joined the leadership of the Young Leaders group (that eventually became Emergent Village) because it was more about uniting churches around mission and equipping people to reach the next ‘postmodern’ generation. I hope they can shift it back again to its origins.

Perhaps the best response was from Rick Bennett

The Emerging Church, the controversial Christian movement that inspired many to plant churches, leave behind their faith and question authority, died in her sleep Thursday following a short illness. She was 21 (according to some sources).

The cause was cardiac arrest, according to spokesperson Steve Knight. According to police, foul play and suicide have not been ruled out at this time. According to person of interest, Andrew Jones, she was ready to die and beyond any life-saving treatment.

Laid off

Andrew Jones was laid off by Church Mission Society today which is a difficult blow at anytime but especially during this time of global economic duress.

The Tall Skinny Kiwi, Andrew Jones Anyway. Its a hard thing to receive a redundancy letter, despite how nice your employer has been about it. Its like getting dumped by a girlfriend. Its a blow to your ego. It whispers insulting challenges to your accomplishments, It highlights the ‘dunce’ part of ‘redundancy’ when you say the word too many times in the same sentence.

You can support his ministry and the Jones family over on his blog and of course pray for God’s provision for them and their continued ministry. via

Tall Skinny Wish List

Photo of the Jones family and their Overlander by Jonny Baker

Andrew Jones is blogging about what he needs for his pilgrimage around Europe in a 4×4 Overlander. 

  • A really good 24 volt fridge so we can keep Abigail’s insulin cold. We were given an old one but the doctors told us it was too risky for our 12 month’s supply of insulin.
  • 2 big windows for the side (bigger the better) and a small one for kitchen. We were kicked out of our last camping ground in Edmonton [Lee Valley] because the owner said our vehicle "didn’t look right". Windows will probably help.
  • 2 solar panels have been offered. We could use 2 more.
  • 2 leisure batteries
  • Extra diesel tank
  • 2 new tires on front. 22.5 and off-road capability. Rear tires are old but plenty of tread.
  • Some mechanical genius to figure out how to raise the roof
  • An awning big enough to host meetings and tall enough to fit our high vehicle, or plenty of canvass and poles.
  • A woodstove light and strong enough.

If you can give away any of these parts (or cash to purchase them), please send an email – tallskinnykiwi at gmail dot com.

(photo credit: Jonny Baker)

Tall Skinny Bailout

Andrew Jones is blogging on the debt dependent church.  Here are some of the gems from the post

I have seen a number of Seminary graduates come overseas to hang with us and to potentially find work in the "emerging church". After a short time, they have gone back to USA disappointed that there are no paid positions. Huge and wonderful opportunities . . . puny financial benefit. What did they teach those students about the emerging church? My guess is they pointed to a few cool mega-churches and said these were emerging. Wrong!

Of course what do they find in the United States?

And what about traditional church ministry and its dependence on buildings? I heard a Desiring God podcast last week where one pastor claimed some of his churches in Texas were worth $150 million and $250 million. How is it possible to reproduce this model without incurring incredible levels of debt? And has anyone stopped to ask if buying a huge building is the best way to spend God’s money?

How much does it cost to start a traditional church with a building and paid pastor? A million? Two million? A million dollars on the mission field could help launch a huge sprinkling of house churches that would saturate an area with small vibrant communities of faith where every believer is a minister. This is happening today and it is wonderful.

Suddenly Seminary at Habbo Hotel with Andrew Jones I think Andrew has some good things to say here but he is missing the point that a privately funded (this means paid for by massive tuition bills and student loans) theological education creates a system where all by the wealthiest have to find full time ministry jobs just to service the student loan debt.  Right from the time we start to seriously educate church leaders, we ask them to embrace a worldview of debt and unless your parents are rich and want to help out, there are few alternatives paths to explore.  I wish Andrew had kept pushing the idea of Suddenly Seminary.  I am not sure if it the alternative but it was a way of creatively addressing the issue and it is one that keeps needing to be explored.

Emerging? Have we even started?

On June 14th, Andrew Jones had an interesting post on his weblog. He asked the question “what happens when those of us in the emerging church stop emerging”. Interesting question as about the same time I interviewed Rudy Carrasco and he said this

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.

Then tonight I read this quote at emergingchurch.info

Will the emerging, missional, re-imagined, post-modern, alternative church of the future be a place that grows character? Or in seeking to incarnate the gospel in a consumer society will we have the excuses, in the name of being relevant, to avoid hard choices?

I was reflecting on all three thoughts and I started to wonder if we have even started to emerge from anything or are we just the natural evolution of the seeker church movement with a new lingo. Has candles, icons and acoustic guitars and blogging replaced color coordinated shirts, keyboards, and sermons on dealing with stress and marriage. A couple months ago I sat in on a conference call with some church leaders and the idea was floated that since the reformation, all that has really changed in churches is about 10%. The organ rolls out and the praise band rolls in. The cross comes down and some screen go up.

I recently read Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball. It is about how the Oakland A’s remain competitive year in and year out despite having the lowest or one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and talks a lot about how Billy Beane radically overhauled the A’s organization and how they thought about scouting. Beane tossed out century old conventional wisdom in how baseball people evaluate talent which generated a success rate of maybe 5% per draft with the A’s could not afford. Beane went against conventional wisdom There are rumors that Paul DePosta in L.A. will do the same thing. Despite the revolution, Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics still are playing baseball and that really hasn’t changed. While the methods their pick their players with have, the fact is that 162 games a season, the Oakland A’s take to the diamond and try to move more players across home plate then their opponents. As radical as Billy Beane is, he is still playing baseball.

When I look around at so much of the discussion of the church, I think we may be doing the same thing. As much as we talk of revolutionary change, we are still taking to the field 52 times a year and putting on a programmed weekly event and programs during the week. As Alan Roxburgh has said

We need a movement of God’s people into neighborhoods, to live out and be the new future of Christ. It must be a movement that demonstrates how the people of God have a vision and the power to transform our world. This is not the same as current attempts to grow bigger and bigger churches that act like vacuum cleaners, sucking people out of their neighborhoods into a sort of Christian supermarket. Our culture does not need any more churches run like corporations; it needs local communities empowered by the gospel vision of a transforming Christ who addresses the needs of the context and changes the polis into a place of hope and wholeness. The corporation churches we are cloning across the land cannot birth this transformational vision, because they have no investment in context or place; they are centers of expressive individualism with a truncated gospel of personal salvation and little else.

Our penchant for bigness and numerical success as the sign of God’s blessing only discourages and deflects attempts to root communities of God’s people deeply into neighborhoods. And until we build transformed communities there is no hope for a broken earth.”

That calls for a conversation much bigger than church or church planting or Hillsong vs. Vineyard worship tunes. Maybe that’s why I resonate with Thomas Homer-Dixon‘s The Ingenuity Gap which reminds us that the problems around us need more than simple solutions.

As for why the conversation about church seems so limiting at time, I think it is pretty understandable. No church is in a vacuum and many people have expectations for what kind of church they want. To meet those expectations, compromises are made. Instead of being a community where people seek out Jesus Christ, the church becomes a provider of a church experience for people. There are almost no churches that are planted in vaccums and most people, even the unchurched have expectations of what they want to see. So much of church growth literature of the last quarter century has dealt with how to deal with those expectations and that has had a huge influence on how we think about it. Even much of the literature and thought on postmodernity has to do with meeting the needs of the postmodern seeker. While we may scoff at that approach, we need to realize how ingrained it is within us. The other reason I think so much of this discussion revolves around church forms is that is something that we can tweak with and change. While I agree that church forms need to change, I wonder if that distracts us from the larger task in front of us.

While deconstruction has happened, most often it is done in the context of putting together a baseball team. What I mean is that what we have done is deconstructed and reinvented to a certain level. That level depends on your paradigm and tradition but for many it has been staffing structures or other areas which may cause conflict or tension and cost. I heard one church leader talk about how important it was for him survive as pastor. Everything else could change but he needed to lead. In that case, his leadership was the sacred cow.

One of the theological truths that has resonated with me over the years is from the forward of Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology

Theological work is distinguished from other kinds of work by the fact that anyone who desires to do this work cannot proceed by building with complete confidence on the foundation of questions that are already settled, results that are already achieved, or conclusions that are already arrived at. He cannot continue to build today in any way on foundations that were laid yesterday by himself and he cannot live today in any way on the interest from a capital amassed yesterday. His only possible procedure, every day, in fact every hour, is to begin anew at the beginning… Yesterday’s memories can be comforting and encouraging for such work only if they are identical with the recollected that this work, even yesterday, had to begin at the beginning and, it has to be hoped, actually began there. In theological science, continuation always means “beginning once again at the beginning”.

That description of theological work broadens the picture we need to be looking at, not limiting it. I think we need to enlarge the conversation about culture, the gospel, postmodernity much wider than we traditionally have. If we don’t, I worry that we risk just playing with the same 10% that we always have and then justifying it because it is different than what came before. 10% doesn’t seem to be that much of a revolution to me.