20 March 2009

Let me confess my unfinished reads...

These are some books I've begun (or at least scanned) and that I need to either begin again or at least pick up where I stopped and finish:

  • The Subversion of Christianity -- Jacques Ellul  (profound, but I keep laying it down.  Don't know why...)
  • Mission-shaped Church -- Mission-Shaped Church working Group (UK) (bought in Cambridge some years back but keep trying to get through it...)
  • Community and Growth -- Jean Vanier (I just found my treasured, dog-eared, printed-in-India-in-1983 copy! And I am so excited!)
  • The Reason for God -- Timothy Keller
  • Transforming Mission -- Bosch  (for me this is more of a text/reference book that a real read..)
  • Church Planting -- Stuart Murray
  • Maps of Time -- David Christian
  • The Mission of God -- Timothy Wright
  • Organic Leadership -- Neal Cole
  • Missional Renaissance -- Reggie McNeal (this one I'm taking on a trip so I can read it... I preordered it and for some reason haven't been able to jump in...)

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen the present unfinished reading list. 

I feel better.  Confession is good for the soul.

19 March 2009

Somewhere, somehow, like whatever, I discovered Taylor Mali and liked him

Totally like whatever, you know?
By Taylor Mali

In case you hadn't noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you're talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences - so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It's like what I've heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . .

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we've become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

18 March 2009

Restoration of the fallen: Read this bit today... before you need it

My Seabeck buddy Brad does two very excellent posts regarding restoration of Christ-followers.  The first one is here and the second regarding restoration of church leadership is here.  Please read them both.

In the 21st Century church-world where we can't quite understand post-salvation grace, on-going redemption, from-the-heart-repentance and Biblical restoration, we need to hear Brad's heart. 

And follow his example and advice. 

It seems to me that we either make this restoration thing too hard or too easy.  And it usually depends on the notoriety of the sinner as to how we make it.

Read what he says and give me a shout.

08 March 2009

Religious truths...

Four Religious Truths...

During these serious times, people of all faiths should remember these four religious truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people.

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

06 March 2009

How radical is your rad?

I don't like the word "radical."

Especially when you apply it to church and Christians.  It usually means that a person and/or group has some extreme (and I even hesitate to use the word "extreme" for the same reason) characteristic quirk or practice.  When we say, "Man he/she/they are really radical!"  We usually mean something is odd, over the top, bizarre or even a wee bit goofy.

Although the word originally meant "retuning to the root," somehow "radical" has come to mean something strange about a person or group.

Usually some "radical" thing is an aberration that is by that particular group considered "going back to the root."

Maybe like prayer.  Like praying 24/7.  Okay, what could be wrong with prayer?  We all need to pray more.  And if a little prayer is good then a lot of prayer must be great, right?  So if someone could pray 24/7/365 then he'd be wonderful.  And then you could get bunches of people praying for long periods of time  and that would be like, say... heaven.

Or would it?

Is the goal of our lives to pray heaven down?  Or to get things here to be like there by simply praying?  Probably not.  Prayer is about getting quiet with God, giving Him the burdens of our heart and listening to His heart.  Prayer is a burden exchange.  I exchange my crappy death-ridden burdens for His life-giving burdens.  And my experience is that when He speaks to us, He does so expecting us to actually act on what He says. 

So should I pray for 2 hours and act out in my world what He said to me for an additional 2 hours?

Bringing heaven to earth means getting out and being Kingdom change-agents in the real world, doing real things in real time.

I look at the OT Bible guys - the non-prophet, non-priest, non-kingly types - and they had real jobs in a real world.  Daniel for example lived out a secular job (in administration) in a pagan world (Babylon! for pity's sake) serving a godless king.  Oh, he prayed, but on his own time.  And yes he served God, but he did so by serving in the location where God had placed him.

(I know, we're now all kings and priests, but don't push it...)

Prayer results in acts.  Just like faith results in works.  It's not about believing the right stuff (although believing the right stuff is superior to believing the wrong stuff!  Don't get me wrong...) it's about doing the right stuff in faith.  Faith always leads to action.

Prayer always leads to obedience.

Get quiet.  Get clean.  Pour our your cares.  Listen to God.  get up and obey. 

Right where you are.  For the good of those to whom God has sent you to serve.  God is glorified when you and I serve Him by helping others. 

And that's radical.

JER 29:4-7 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:  5 "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease.  7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."(NIV)

04 March 2009

Thinking about "coaching"

This week, I complete certification requirements as a Leadership Coach.

So what exactly is coaching and why in the world is Glenn Hatcher involved in this? 

For me personally it is a tool for my ministry toolbox.  Coaching is not about getting a whistle and cap.  (smile)  It's not about being a rah-rah on the sidelines.  Nope.  Coaches bring a process of discovery into the lives of those they coach.  Coaches help people who are "stuck" in some important place in their lives to move forward.

Coaching is not counseling.  Counseling is usually about something in the past messing with things in the present.  So a good counselor helps get those things dealt with - maybe even repaired - so that the present can be better.  But coaching is concerned not about repair, but about movement forward.  Coaching is about getting past obstacles and blockages in forward movement. 

And life is about some sense of progress.

Coaching as a Jesus follower is a bigger adventure.  It's kinda like triangulation with the Holy Spirit.  He speaks to the coach; He speaks to the person being coached and we all rejoice at the revelation.  The coach just helps the process.

But professional leadership coaching has very high educational and ethical guidelines.  I'm certified through an extensive learning process presented by an approved and registered organization with the International Coach Federation (ICF).  This is good for me

Here is a CNN article about coaching that explains a little about coaching.

And I'm pretty pumped about the whole thing.  I can see how I can help some folks move forward in their lives, relationships and ministry.

I'm up for coaching church-planters, missionaries and missionary candidates, church leaders and folks looking for progress in their lives.  I'm already coaching a few pastors and educators who are looking for change in their approach to life and ministry.

Getting stumped and stuck happens.  It just does.  But you don't have to stay there!

03 March 2009

Sarah wrote a poem...

Sarah Anders is one of my 20-year-old friends in Saginaw, MI.  Sarah has a great heart to see and change the world.  Sarah spent the summer traveling and studying in Europe (I followed her on Facebook) and is planning to attend Globe's Next Step missions training camp this summer in Nicaragua with Phyllis and me. (Woo hoo!) 

I was in Saginaw at New Life Christian Fellowship recently and spoke about "Becoming a Dangerous People."  Sarah sent me the following poem she's written:

Dear Suburbanites,



You sleep when you should keep watch.

You sleepers.

You are warm and comfortable, but for what?

Where is your fire?

Why are you so fettered?

What really matters?


Take heart!

Ask your Father for courage!



Sleep no longer – allow yourself to be roused to action.

Listen to my heart –

            Hear its brokenness and move with me towards those who I wish to know me.


Be uncomfortable.       Be injured.       Be broken.       Be worn out.   

Be exhausted.  Be beyond your limits.

Trust me to give you renewal, to fill you so that you may pour out even more.


I love you. I know you to your depths.

But there’s more to it than you and me.

There’s more.

There’s so, so much more.


Give. It. All.

Don’t. Hold. Back.

Run. With. Me.

Die. And Live.

01 March 2009

Can we do "missions" and "church planting" better?

I keep thinking about doing "missions" better.  I'm OCD about doing it better!  I want churches to be more relevant.  I want "missions" to reflect the humility and reality of Jesus.

Both in the great mission field of North America and the rest of the world...

"Missions" is not about white Anglo-Saxon North Americans moving into the barrio for two weeks and doing rock-star events financed by gringo dollars in a way that local Believers can never do. 

"Incarnation" - looking like Jesus - is not that way.   It just isn't.  Jesus "moved into the neighborhood" and hung out there for a while. And the result were disciples who met together in what we call church.

"Missions" needs to look like "identification" - without losing one's identity.  And "church" need to look like "community."

And I'm pretty much obsessed with what I refer to as Gift-driven Teams of missionaries and church-planters.  Again OCD! (smile)  I don't see them very often.  We're still pretty much into Lone Ranger Missions, but that's another story...

I want the result of our missions and CP efforts to be reproducible in the culture where the church is planted.  I want it to reflect something of the world in which it exists. 

So, some months back I watched this video.  Now I'm sharing it with you.  Tell me what you think.  Anybody want to help do this?