Monday, September 7, 2009

The Art of the Wok

I just finished reading Grace Young's elegant story of Cantonese cuisine and the simple but critical tool (aka - WOK) used in its creation. I'm fascinated with food (and wine) and this was my first dip into the complex world of Chinese cuisine.

While reading about the life of a Cantonese chef I was struck by how much patience, dedication, and discipline is needed to excel in an art form that seems, from the outside, to be so simple and straightforward. Get wok hot - add oil - quick saute - serve. One wok - a hot flame (often over 100,000 BTU) and simple ingredients...easy. Not really. The average Cantonese Wok Chef first apprentices for 3 -5 years before ever manning his own station. Once graduated, he achieves the first of 4 levels of wok chef. Each level might take upwards of 5 years to achieve. Most master wok chefs have over 25 years of experience with the same tool, heat, and limited ingredients.

Artistic excellence takes time - dedication - and mastery. Whether ceramics, oil, piano, or wok, to contribute good art to the world requires a level of dedication and devotion of time to your craft. The results speak for themselves. In his new book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell suggests that we need roughly 10,000 hours to bring any craft up to a level where success and/or excellence is possible.

Bottom line - fine something you love, have base level competency with, and work your butt off.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

For All You Church Leaders Out There:


This will be short.

In the past 4 months I've read 3 books and attended 2 conferences on varying aspects of the missional movement. For me...at the end of the day it boils down to these questions:
  • Do we church professionals (aka - pastors, staff, consultants, directors, elders, deacons, committee members, etc...) really want to change how we live?
  • Are we willing to make room for "the other"?
  • Do we want to engage in conversation with people that believe differently than we do?
  • Can we live lives that are poured out to a world that, for the most part, see us as irrelevant at best and intolerant and evil at worst?
  • Are we willing to change our church from the inside out....so that we live the life we call our people to live?
How you answer this will determine the future of the missional movement for the
particular church community
you are leading.

OK - blast me. Tell me how wrong I am. I'm pretty sure I'm overstating this....but the more I read and hear....the more I keep coming back to this.

Storytelling In Worship:

Story is a powerful medium. Culture is created, changed, and memorialized in story. Our lives are often (if not always) remembered in story; much more than facts, trivia, stats, etc.. I've never been to a memorial or grave-side service and heard a loved one share stats about their dearly departed. "Paul was 220, blue eyes, with a birthmark on his right shoulder. He had a GPA of 3.9 in grammar school and his SSN was/is ___-__-___." Stories are how we shape our present by remembering the past.

Jesus was a storyteller and it was through parable (story) He communicated truth and wisdom in ways that connect far beyond the average 3 points and a prayer sermon.

I believe everyone has a profound story. Redemption, grace, victory, loss, mistakes, pain; there are countless stories dwelling within each of us. I also believe those stories are where we find God at work, how we understand what He is up to, and how we participate in His work of redemption and Kingdom Life.

Corporate worship needs to be a place where these stories are regularly shared and engaged.

Shared by the people who have the story and engaged by the larger community they are part of. It will be messy - unpolished - not always timely - but real, honest, and critical to changing the entrenched culture of institution that plagues so many Christian churches in America. This is where clergy and church professionals are critical. Find the stories - encourage people to identify their own stories - equip them to share them well - illuminate the stories by sharing where you see God at work.

Corporate worship is a prophetic venue. What you do in that setting can point to new horizons and challenge existing paradigms. Interview people - let them share their stories with their own words - capture their stories on video - find stories that have little to nothing to do with church programs and/or initiatives - encourage your congregation to become a storytelling people.

And pastors, to quote Mark Lou Branson, "more important than your preaching are your conversations."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Revolutionary Road - A Grand Portrait of Selfishness












I just watched this film. I stayed up till 2AM to finish it and am so disturbed that I feel compelled to stay up another 30 minutes to write this blog.

Acting was amazing. Cinematography was flawless; as was set design, music, and directing.

What disturbed me was the story and the profound selfishness so powerfully displayed.

Richard Yates originally wrote the novel of same title in 1961 as an indictment of the conformity and desperate clinging to security so prevalent in the suburbs of America. I think the film captures that bleak sense of conformity and the emptiness that can happen when dreams are abandoned and imaginations squelched. I have no doubt that this happens often...especially in suburbia.

Unfortunately the story goes to such ends to demonstrate one woman's sadness over a dream unrealized that it ultimately descends into a portrait of profound selfishness.

Sure....life is hard, dreams are unmet, parents often live very sacrificially in order to provide for their children, and many are stuck in jobs that are not life-giving (to say the least). OK - I grant all that as true.....

But so is joy - fulfillment - love - goodness - peace - and profound gratitude.

Gratitude....I think that is it...that is what so bothers me. This story demonstrates zero gratitude...and fixates on all that is unrealized. It is as if the wife, in summary, simply said, "my dream of Paris isn't happening....so I give up....and I no longer care or love you. I'm done. I'm picking up my toys and going away." This really irritates me.

If we learn anything from Jesus it is that sacrifice and gratitude are pillars of a life lived well. I'm not sure how this best translates to suburbia, to our cultures obsession with security, to our own sense of frustration at work, to our unmet expectations at home, and/or to our unrealized dreams.

I do know that if we choose to live our lives as a little Jesus - poured out for our community - sacrificially giving of ourselves.....we will not end up like the lead characters in this script.

REVOLUTIONARY ROAD is an incredibly well made film.....it just misses the point...majors on the minors....and unfortunately offers little wisdom for our complex lives.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Read This Book

One of my first on-ramps into missional thinking was Reggie McNeal's book The Present Future - Six Tough Questions for the Church (http://www.amazon.com/Present-Future-Tough-Questions-Church/dp/0787965685). I was blown away by the candor and honesty of
of the questions McNeal was asking and found that they helped articulate my own
struggles and questions. Unlike many books being published around
the same time The Present Future was practical and helpful while being
challenging and provocative.

McNeal's new book, Missional Renaissance, is another fine example of a practical book that is as helpful as it is challenging and critical. The subtitle summarizes the guts of the book: Changing the Scorecard for the CHURCH. McNeal is attempting to provide new metrics for measuring church health. Personally, I believe this is the most important "next step" for the missional process to take. The missional concept is out there - people are aware of the missional dialog (much of which began with the emerging church dialog) - and there are several examples of churches wrestling with how to course correct in light what God is saying and doing through this powerful movement. Creating new measurements for the local church is critical if we are to hold the course and not fall back into old patterns which yield old outcomes.

One of the shifts McNeal proposes in his book is that the church move from destination to connector. "The church is a connector, linking people to the kingdom life that God has for them. When the church thinks it's the destination, it confuses the scorecard and keeps people away from their true destination - LIFE." I love this simple language and practical perspective. The church is not the end...it is a means to an end. Church leaders should figure out how to measure the end so that we understand the role and function of the church in achieving that larger outcome. What is it that matters MORE than the growth of our local church? Is there anything else more important?

Read this book.

If you are deep into the missional dialog you will appreciate Reggie's comprehensive look at the movement and the practical ways he seeks to create new metrics. If you are new to the conversation, I can't imagine a better book to help get you up to speed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Does Doctrine Get in the Way?

Doctrine (Latin: doctrina) is a codification of beliefs or "a body of teachings" or "instructions", taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system. The Greek analogy is the etymology of catechism.


I believe doctrine is important. Thoughtful biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The content of our faith is as important as the sincerity of our faith because good intentions alone are not sufficient.

BUT (and there's always a but)

I'm concerned that doctrine often gets in the way; In the way of God at work, in the way of our witness, in the way of our worship, and in the way of our experience of God. Here is my thinking:
  • Evangelical, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist....any follower of Jesus will likely be part of an institution/structure that brings with it rules, perspectives, thoughts on God and Sacraments. Just ask a Presbyterian to baptize you as an adult if you were already baptized as an infant...and you'll see what I mean. Our "books of order" and regulations are most often attempts to turn biblical gray into black and white.
  • I believe we are prone to legalism and our attempts at being faithful to doctrine can lead us into a bondage that is more human than divine.
  • Theology is a living thing - maturing, changing, and evolving. Doctrine, like institutions, seek to be fixed and firmly rooted; unchangeable and persevering.
  • Our ability to interface with those outside our faith is seriously damaged when our doctrinal concerns surpass our kingdom concerns.
Maybe I'm too liberal for my own good. I mean.... I understand that WHO Jesus is matters. He isn't simply a great teacher alone....He is the Son of God. But the more I look at the Gospels, the more I see Jesus sending his disciples out to engage their world in ministry with little doctrinal preparation. I suppose I trust Jesus to reach out to people that are earnestly seeking him....even if they are in some questionable places as far as doctrine is concerned. Am I crazy?? Am I moving in the direction of a heretic?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A New Script

Walter Bruggemann is a theologian I'm currently knee-deep into. He has an over-arching premise regarding the role of ministry in society/culture that I've been wrestling with. He lays this out over 19 points but I'll summarize it for you in 4:


  • Everyone lives by a script and we are socialized into that script and it is outside our control.
  • The dominant script in America is "technological - therapeutic - military - consumerism" and it makes failed promises of happiness and safety.
  • It is the task of ministry to de-script that script and present an alternative script whose key character is the irascible, illusive, and sovereign Triune God.
  • Since most of society is ambivalent and ambiguous about this script, ministry is to also manage that ambivalence in faithful ways through preaching, liturgy, social action, education, justice, and good neighboring of all kinds.
For me, this is really helpful in illuminating the tensions that I often feel regarding church and culture. There are competing and differing scripts at war with one-another....and that war plays out throughout culture. And that war has little to do with "worship style preference" or "quality of our church campus" and everything to do with how followers of Jesus choose to live.

This is how I now see the "principalities and powers" that we, as followers of Jesus, fight against.

They aren't (usually) overt and explicit expressions of evil...but subtle choices to live according to a new narrative - a new script.....and that is TOUGH - full of TENSION - and ultimately demands us to trade in our sensibilities for a life of risk that is radical, provocative, and unsafe.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Jackson & Fawcett:



Pop culture lost two significant icons this past week. Michael Jackson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_jackson) and Farrah Fawcett (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farrah_Fawcett) have each left a legacy behind them that anyone above the age of 20 understands (to some degree).

I've heard quite a bit of chatter attempting to mitigate our nation's focus on these two iconoclasts. For many, our nation's mourning the loss of these pop-culture figures is a demonstration of shallowness. Surely there are better lives to remember; bigger situations that should command our attention; more compelling news to follow.

Of course that is true. I don't know anyone that would say Michael Jackson's death is as important as Iran's current political struggles...but yet they find themselves going through a sort of grieving...a sense of loss. Charlie's Angels wasn't even a good TV show....and yet Farrah Fawcett is deeply missed and grieved.

I think the grief and sense of loss is over the era and emotions that they represent. I'm 37 and grew up listening to M. Jackson and watching (sometimes) Charlie's Angels. When I remember those years - I realize just how old I am...how much the world has changed.....how much I over-romanticize the "good-old-days." It can become easy to get sucked into an emotional catharsis comparing then to now...longing for days gone by.

There is some good learning here on many levels.
  1. We are all people who live in and through culture. Culture permeates our existence like air in our lungs. We have no choice - it simply is.
  2. We all have markers - totem poles - memories that effectively embody or capture what that particular time was about.
  3. Those markers take on an almost mythological value because of all they represent.
  4. When our icons, markers, totems, etc... leave us (death, decay, change, etc..) we grieve the loss of what was....the familiar......security.
The poem I posted earlier asks God to "re-brand" us in Him. I like that idea. Not that brands are bad...or celebrities bad....but that we who follow Jesus are to be identified by something deeper and more profound than our "love and/or connection" to Princess Di, Michael Jackson, or all that they represent.

We operate in culture and I love it. We also live according to a reality that is separate from our ever-changing culture. We are in this world but not of this world.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Re-Brand Us

Amazing poem by Walter Bruggemann....my latest-greatest-theologian-super-hero.

Wanted to share it with you.

You mark us with water,
You scar us with your name,
You brand us with your vision,
and we ponder our baptism, your water,
your name,
your vision.

While we ponder, we are otherwise branded.
Our imagination is consumed by other brands,
- winning with Nike,
- pausing with Coca-Cola,
- knowing and controlling with Microsoft.

Re-brand us,

transform our minds,
renew our imagination,
that we may be more fully who we are marked
and hoped to be,
we pray with candor and courage. Amen.

Monday, June 22, 2009

"the world"

Today I was listening to christian talk radio. This is more "duty" than "delight" to be sure, but something I feel compelled to do on occasion so I'm informed and lucid regarding mainstream - non-denominational - evangelical - dispensational thinking.

The host made this statement (and others like it) several times:

"the world is boring BUT Jesus is exciting." "the world is bad BUT Jesus (Jay-zzzusss) is good." "the world is dark BUT Jesus brings the light."

I don't get this thinking.
Who and What is the world and why is it boring, bad, and dark?
Is the world that scary place outside the church?
Is it where they show R-rated movies and serve hard liquor?
Is it where Korn and Boy George sing?

Seriously - can someone tell me what "the world" means and why we posture it as an antithetical to Jesus?

I continually find this sort of dualism in popular evangelical teaching. The idea that there is a sacred (Jesus) and a secular (the world) and we can lump just about whatever we want in any direction and make a case as to why it should be there. CCM is sacred because they sing about Jesus. Shawn Colvin is secular because she dropped the F-bomb in a song. Sacred = good Secular = bad.
I reject such thinking.

As it pertains to art, there is art that stirs you and art that doesn't. There is music played well and music played poorly. There is solid songwriting and there is crap songwriting.

I find Jesus in beauty - period.

Regardless of the artist's intention, motive, lifestyle, etc.... Jesus can indwell, work, and move through anything "the world" has to offer.

I want to integrate my life - not segregate it. I want to be surprised at the far-reaching power of Jesus - not limit Him to places where I find the christian fish symbol. I want to live in the world and take advantage of ALL it has to offer - not hide from it by calling it "secular."

Am I less of a follower of Jesus for this?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Certitude:

I love theologian Walter Bruggemann. While I don't always agree with everything he says, he's so clear and pragmatic about his perspective that I find great challenge and clarity in his words. Here is a quote from a lecture he gave in 2004

"We all have a hunger for certitude. The problem is that the gospel is not about certitude but about fidelity. There really isn't ever enough certitude to make us happy or safe enough. We are invited to the way of the cross - not the way of happiness and certainty."

This was in response to a question about certainty and truth. I love that he introduces fidelity into the truth conversation. We're so hung up on truth; absolute - narrative - meta-narrative - etc... Fidelity changes the playing field and introduces a new metric as supreme over the truth debate.

It's rather convicting.
Am I living in fidelity to God and the Kingdom He's called me to embrace?
Am I allowing God's meta-narrative to challenge and inform my daily decisions?
Am I so hung up on truth and certainty about God that it becomes a distraction from the relationship that God invites me to live - one that contains a cross as much as a crown?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worship or Mission or Discipleship?

"Worship" has been the central organizing reality of the christian church in America over the last 100 years; and in times of Cristendom what more important value could there be than "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever" (Westminster Catechism)?

Some argue Discipleship should be that central organizing reality.

Missional would claim it is mission.

So which is it...or is it just a game of semantics?

After all - worship isn't really complete without discipleship and mission. The old..."worship as a lifestyle" phrase tries to capture that. And Discipleship isn't really happening if you aren't serving and worshipping...right? Mission...well, mission isn't sustainable if we're not worshipping...and it's not effective if we aren't growing disciples of Jesus.

But....if ONE WORD has to reign supreme....I'd like to argue that it be mission. Here is my thinking...

Worship has become too synonymous with what we do on Sunday. The idea of living lives of mission Monday - Saturday is too eaisly lost in when worship is at the top.

Discipleship is very holistic sounding....but like worship, mission can be eaisily lost in the shadows of personal growth (bible study - discplines - etc...).

Mission is what the church in America needs to reclaim and elevate in understanding and priority; so that our worship and discipleship are seen in context of mission....just like our theological understanding of God is framed by the "missio-dei" - the sending God.

If mission is the central organizing reality of the local gathered church...what changes?
What re-ordering is needed?
Do you even agree that the concept of mission (or sent-ness) should be elevated above worship and/or discipleship?


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mustard Seed

I love that Jesus used parables to teach Kingdom truth. It resonates with the artist in me. Parables give truth room to breathe...they aren't linear and literal, but artistic and abstract.

The parable of the mustard seed found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (and Thomas for any Catholics out there) has been on my mind lately. Here is Luke's telling from 13:18 - 19 (NRSV):

"He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."


Loads of meaning here...

  1. start small - ends big
  2. grows beyond its limits and provides shelter for the birds
  3. it was intentionally planted in a garden" (that is crazy given it was a weed)
  4. counter intuitive given the "cedar of lebanon" image used in the OT
  5. hearkens back to Daniel and Ezekiel imagery regarding the coming kingdom of God

Here is what kicks my buttocks...and why I love this parable so much:

  1. Mustard seeds were outlawed by the religious institution of the day. This can be found in the Torah, Mishnah, and other traditions (both oral and written) dating back to Pharisaic times.
  2. They were outlawed largely because they were out-of-control weeds that would overtake a crop becoming 10 - 15 foot weed-shrubs.
  3. The people hearing Jesus were mostly agrarian and good "law abiding" folk - they understood this stuff.
  4. The weed grows to provide shelter for the birds...which most farmers didn't love...since they ate their seed and crops!!

So here you have Jesus, the rabbi of all rabbis, likening God's Kingdom (aka - the Kingdom of Heaven) to a small seed which grows into a weed and overtakes the garden it has been planted in...ultimately providing shelter for the birds, which were not considered friends since they ate the crops and seeds.

This is radical stuff baby! Jesus was essentially turning the established house upside down with this parable.

I am left feeling excited...and unsettled. I like gardens. I like things controlled and predictable....safe and secure. And yet...here is Jesus saying that the Kingdom He is bringing will uproot our gardens...and provide shelter for the people we consider problematic to our garden.

I'm curious....do hear this as good news...or....?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Church Going Deep:

I just returned to San Diego after spending 5 days with Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City, CA. I was out there (*with my family) for a variety of reasons - but my reason for posting this on the blog is simply to identify and celebrate a church that is in the midst of profound change, asking hard questions, taking risks, and wrestling with new realities in ways that encourage my heart.

It's easy for me to become cynical about church and culture. There are so many examples of church communities lost in themselves, blind to the urgent needs of their surrounding communities, and/or so culturally foreign to their surrounding demographics that gathering for church is akin to learning a foreign language. As a worship arts leader I've often felt like "cruise ship entertainment" in these settings....where the prophetic voice of God is limited by the liturgy and church culture instead of being set free and unleashed. And while it is true that several churches are "flirting" with missional thinking and practice - in my experience it has been rare to find church communities with 50+ years of history willing to dive deep and allow missional thinking to soak into its very DNA, reforming it from the inside out.

This is what I see happening at PCC - this is why I'm encouraged. They are not simply tagging "missional" onto some local or global ministries - but are wrestling with how their very role and function in their city changes in light of missional theology and values. Here are a few bullets that represent the profound level of change and dialog happening at PCC as I type this:
  1. how do we spend our money?
  2. how (and why) do we gather for worship?
  3. how do we "change the scorecard" - so our metrics measure what we value and care about (which needs to be more than butts in seats and dollars)
  4. how does a "whole church bring a whole gospel to a whole city?"
  5. how do we change the congregation's expectations and assumptions of why the church and staff exist? Moving from institutional attractionalism to missional empowerment. Moving form doing church (or going to church) to being the church.
  6. how do those who know Jesus begin to intentionally invest time and relationship into the lives of those who DO NOT know Jesus - not because we have an agenda, but because God has sent us into our world to be with people that do AND DO NOT know Him like we do.
I was with PCC for 5 days in a worship and arts capacity and these were the questions we wrestled with....even more than "how can the worship music be better" or "how can your song choice complement the message." Not that those aren't valid important questions....they are....and I love those challenges.....BUT - those questions MUST be asked in context of the larger questions listed above. I suppose what I'm really saying is this....

Check out PCC. www.peninsulacovenant.org Their compass is pointed in the right direction and even though they see a storm in front of them...they're moving forward. They are demonstrating courage of conviction, have a center of gravity, and are wrestling with the new thing God is doing in their hearts and lives. They are on the move.... and the entire Peninsula Area they inhabit is better because of this church.

This video is just a small piece of what I'm talking about....
video

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Truth Through Tension

I've been watching several YouTube clips by various pastors and christian leaders ripping into the "emerging church" - "post-modernism" - "missional"  movements that have been birthed over the last 10 years.  If you're not familiar with these terms please take advantage of some wiki links to get a quick thumbnail sketch: 


The central stream of conflict and debate seems to be around the issue of truth.  Is there (or isn't there) a universal claim (aka - truth) that is binding on all everywhere?  A Meta-Narrative.  How does one's cultural context limit their ability to attain or engage with that meta-narrative?  Is there a middle ground between the two extremes of complete relativism and objective truth certainty?

Without getting into deep philosophical waters, I'd simply like to offer something I've found to be true in my own experience that this debate over truth has surfaced.  I find Jesus at work in places of tension more often than in places of agreement.  Not to say that Jesus isn't at work in places of agreement, but that He is uniquely found in places of tension where disagreement, struggle, debate, and conflict abound.  Counter-intuitive as this may be, I'll offer a few quick thoughts for my reasoning:
  1. Tension reminds us that we who follow Jesus are diverse WHILE being united.  That the diversity of experience, opinion, belief, and understanding in the body of Christ is a gift - not a curse.
  2. Tension reveals our inadequacies and demonstrates our need for God.
  3. Tension allows us opportunity to listen and learn from people not like us.
  4. Tension results in more critical thinking, thoughtful analysis, and better decision making.
It isn't that agreement is bad or unhelpful.....but that the tension born of disagreement is a gift because Jesus meets us differently and more powerfully in those places.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Creativity, Failure, and the Church


The video I linked in my earlier post claimed that outside-the-box thinking (aka - creative and/or lateral thinking) is a discipline to be developed more than an opportunistic spark that simply hits on occasion. He posited that there are societal and systemic reasons for the restraint and/or the unleashing of creativity amongst people. I completely agree.

"there is no word in the English language that communicates: a fully justified venture which, for reasons beyond your control, did not succeed. We simply say mistake - and people see mistakes as problems, barriers to advancement, etc..."

Erwin McManus (http://erwinmcmanus.com/podcast/) says:

"there are all different aspects and forms of creativity. It isn't limited to artists. All of us have creative expression to discover and unleash, and it is how we contribute to bringing God's Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven."

Every organization wants to succeed; the church included. Often our desire to succeed (or fear of failure - which is a fear of insecurity) inhibits freedom to risk and mitigates lateral/outside-the-box thinking. There never seems to enough time, energy, or willingness to entertain ideas that may be a "fully justified venture" but stand a strong chance of failure. In this reality success will only last as long as the current modus operandi brings it. We see this happening to GM. They are captive to old paradigms and riding them all the way down. Their window to risk, try new things, and learn new paradigms to reach a changing market has closed.

I would argue that the paradigm and operating idea of the christian church in America is changing rapidly and our fear of failure, our unfamiliarity with creative thinking, and low tolerance for risk are undermining our ability to adapt and solve new problems. This statement, of course, is a sweeping generalization. There are several churches and Jesus movements across America that are pioneering new territory and thoughtfully trying new and radical ideas; but they are miniscule (in my opinion) compared to the majority that are entrenched and often blind to the realities leading to their demise. If they wait much longer they will follow in way of GM.

Working towards a solution - 3 things that will help bring change:
  1. Empower (no...require...demand....provoke) your church community to dream. If Erwin is right (earlier quote) then they have a calling and imagination that will be critical to the future...just as much as the dreams and imagination of the staff.
  2. Change the culture of your leadership by rewarding risk and lateral thinking. We learn more when we fail than when we succeed.
  3. Take a long and hard look at reality. Get to know the stats about the church in America. Understand the perception that many in your community have of your church. Keep it Real.

Creativity & The Brain

Great (and short) video by Dr. Edward de Bono (http://www.edwdebono.com/) on creative thinking and how our brain functions.

I've been thinking quite a bit on creation. Not God's act of...but on our involvement and participation in the process of creating. Do we create - are we creative - how involved are our imaginations in any part of our lives? How would life change if we harnessed our ability to imagine, dream, and create towards those dreams. Artists do this....but they are a slim percentage of the population.

Watch this video and leme know your thoughts....I'll be writing more on this tonight.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cultura: To Cultivate

This blog should have happened long ago. Many of you have been encouraging me to do something like this for years and I'm grateful for your relentlessness.

I am passionate about helping the American Church discover and embrace the diversity of cultures outside its boundaries and often self-imposed limitations. I hold a core belief that God is far larger than any single culture could ever fully express. That through the tapestry of diverse expression we are able to experience and know God more deeply. That the ever expanding cultural diversity and pluralism of America is a gift to the American church, to our theology, and to our ability to see God's Kingdom increasingly realized on earth (as it is in Heaven).

My hope is that this blog does a worthy of job of exploring such a huge topic; and make NO mistake about it....culture is a HUGE topic. That single word embraces ethic identity, values, beliefs, stories, mores, political ideas, artistic preferences, tribal realities, etc... My hope is that you'll join me on occasion - that you will chime in with your thoughts, opinions, stories, and that you will enrich this discussion.

Culture comes from the Latin "cultura" - stemming from "colere," meaning "to cultivate." That is posture I want those of us who follow Jesus to take towards cultures different than our own. We need to cultivate the good, fan the flame of God who is busy at work within culture, and allow our own perspectives and thoughts on God to be stretched as we see him in new and often challenging ways. God is not limited or threatened by cultural diversity - Jesus was not limited by the cultural realities of His day - Paul was a brilliant student of those cultures he ministered within - and the Christian Gospel has the incarnational power to enrich, empower, and redeem every single culture that has existed (and has yet to exist)!

can I get an AMEN ?