One more brief post on revival, mostly containing quotes from Greg Boyd’s new book Present Perfect (ht Jon Tyson). They deal with the “big event” phenomenon that I’ve written about before. That is, the thought that organizing a spectacular, well-attended event will bring about transformation and long-term kingdom fruit.
Last year, when I was starting to seriously consider planting a church, I was trying to find a way to get some training for the kind of church I felt I wanted to plant. It seemed to me a lot of church planter training “boot camps” were high on testosterone and bravado, but didn’t have a lot to say to someone like me, who wanted to plant a more “organic” natural-growth kind of church.
Through a friend (Dave Fitch) I found out about the Ecclesia Network, which ended up being a great fit for our church plant to associate with. After a few conversations with Chris Backert and JR Woodward (who mostly coordinate the network), I raised some money and attended their church planter training, which they call ??????? [aggelos – apparently my blogging engine can’t do the Greek letters?], which is a transliterated Greek word, pronounced like “angle awes”, meaning “one who is sent, a messenger from God”. I’m not sure why they actually spell it in Greek, incidentally. Makes it difficult for people to talk and blog about it. Maybe they should “re-brand” next year 😉
Anyway, our worship leader and I went to the training, and found it to be really helpful. Some of the great things about it:
- A great balance between theological and practical training,
- Because everyone stays in the same place (including the equippers/teachers), there was plenty of time to talk informally at lunch, in the evenings, etc.
- Takes place in an ecumenical monastery where you participate in their prayer rhythms during the day.
- There weren’t hundreds of people there, more like 20.
- Multiple voices were heard throughout the week. There was no “guru.”
This year’s training takes place May 17-21. Equippers this year include Jon Tyson, Dave Fitch, Bob Hyatt, JR Woodward, JR Briggs, Winn Collier, and Brian Hopper. I’ve met all of them, and I can tell you they are smart and experienced as well as humble and approachable. These are quality people.
One of the things we discussed at the NYC church planter round table last month was the general lack of resources to help people understand how their faith ought to work itself out in the context of their jobs.
Most people spend most of their waking hours at a job, working. If our discipleship to Jesus doesn’t have an impact on our careers it’s probably not robust enough. If our faith doesn’t really weave itself into the thing most of us spend most of our time doing, then our faith is just a hobby and we’re not really “seeking first the kingdom” (Matt 6:33).
But most of the theology that’s out there can basically be reduced to: “Work hard and be moral.” Most of the time, that’s all we can think of! Being part of God’s kingdom at work = Don’t yell at people, don’t lie or cheat or steal, don’t complain as much as your co-workers. Yawn.
This is why I was excited about the framework that Jon Tyson (from Trinity Grace Church) was developing to “trace the redemptive edge of industry,” and help people think missionally about their careers. The six guiding principles are below, in sketch form. I’d love your thoughts.
Here are a few things I’ve been reading ’round the Internets lately. Just stuff I’ve found interesting, engaging, or funny in the past week or so. I pass them along to you for your enjoyment and edification.
- Can A Hipster Love Sports? What a great question – can one be snobby about microbrews and love a good football game?
- My friend JR reflects on contracting H1N1 (swine flu) and the subsequent quarantine (not kidding).
- My friend Tim wrote a great post on balancing work and family life when you work for yourself.
- Scot McKnight recognizes the greatness of the Aeropress (the best inexpensive coffee maker in the world)!
- Scot also has some great questions about the apparent intellectual shallowness of a lot of campus ministry.
- Seth recommends you just make a decision. Sometimes any decision is better than none.
- Tim Keller takes on idols in his new book (including less well-known idols like doctrinal accuracy and family values!)
- Make me chuckle: Interview Cheat Code
- Jim Belcher wrote a really great article on forgiveness in the local church.
- Finally: Bach smoked pipes and wrote poems about how it brought him closer to God. So there.
- Actually finally: speaking of tobacco, I am heading to a “church planter round table” thing this week in New York City at a church that does things like “prayer and cigars at 181 St Overlook.” Should be a good time.
One of the things I said at the vision meeting we had a few days ago was that I was not very interested in simply building another “church on the corner” for people to get their religious fix for the week. What I’m really interested in doing, and what our community is longing to head toward, is participating in a movement of multiplying Spirit-led, missional, disciple-making communities. That sounds completely audacious, of course, but I do sense that there is a movement brewing, that God is up to something again that is going to span denominations and traditions and cultures.
The trouble is that I also think it will look a lot different than what we’ve seen in the past. And because of that a lot of people will probably miss out on it.
To give you a little flavor of what I see happening, here are a few links to people and communities that have inspired/taught me, and/or partnered with us in our church planting venture, and/or seem to be “flowing” in the movement I am seeing:
- Todd Hunter called for Godward missional communities way back in 1999, and is busy cultivating them now through his work with the Anglican Church.
- The Ecclesia Network is busy resourcing and connecting these kinds of churches.
- I learned (and copied) tons of stuff from the Renew Community and JR Briggs in Lansdale, PA
- A conversation I had with Jon Tyson from Trinity Grace Church in NYC was profoundly helpful, and I love what they are doing in the city.
- Doug Paul from Eikon Community in Richmond, VA is in the middle of re-structuring their community, and manages to be energetic and inspiring every time I talk with him.
- I have enjoyed a few conversations with Jason Coker, who is planting Ikon Community near San Diego. He is also a talented writer – if you read his blog you will learn things.
- JR Woodward is doing great work with Kairos Church in LA.
I post these links so you can peruse the sites and get an idea of what’s happening “out there.” There are plenty of other people and communities and ministries doing fabulous things, of course. But the beautiful thing about a genuine movement is that there are no superstars or celebrities, just a whole bunch of people getting on with it and not caring who gets the credit. Sign me up.