Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's Coming Up + VOTE For Our Next Read


Alrighty, we are about to finish off Siljander's A Deadly Misunderstanding, which brings us to a transition of sorts. Last week, Sarah G-ski offered the excellent idea of mixing things up and using a podcast medium to guide our discussion for a few weeks while we sort out our next collective book. Based on the positive response from everybody, we're going to go ahead with that approach.

The podcast that's been selected is Rob Bell's four-part teaching series titled "Jesus is Difficult," which he delivered to Mars Hill a few years ago.

In the meantime, based on last week's discussion I have placed a poll here on the blog in the upper right-hand corner. Please cast your vote for one of the following books:

Friday, October 23, 2009

An invite...

Hey guys, our friend Penny over at AzFCT wanted me to share this with you:

Hi All, I am one of the "lurkers" on your blog, although I have talked with Jacob in person. Wanted to remind you that Diana Butler Bass, who speaks at many of the Emergent conferences, is going to be preaching at Asbury United Methodist Church this Sunday the 25th at 9:30. Asbury is at 1601 W. Indian School Road, Phoenix. It should be a relatively small gathering, and I bet Diana would like to talk with you about your cohort.


Thanks for the invite Penny! 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ending Christian Euphemisms

Tony Jones has been blogging on ending Christian euphemisms. We've all heard them. "Pray for Johnny... he's (insert juicy gossip here)." "That person has an unteachable spirit."

There's all sorts of insider language inside of our faith, and much of it can actually be damaging. Some of our euphemisms are the spiritual equal of saying "Darn" instead of "Damn". It's the same heart, just vague words.

What are some of the euphemisms we use? Or, even better, what are some of the euphemisms that we Christians who are involved with emergent topics use?

From Tony Jones on BeliefNet...

I received loads of great comments about what Christian euphemisms we should drag, kicking and screaming, into the light of day in an attempt to euthanize them. I won't be able to tackle them all, but I'll highlight some of my favorites this week.

Chris Enstad nominated this beauty:

"The Lord laid it on my heart..."

Which is a euphemism for: This is something I want to do.

I grew up in a home in which, while faithful and Christian, we didn't talk a ton about faith. In fact, most Christian euphemisms were new to me when I went to college and got involved in an evangelical ministry. It seems to me that liberal Protestants have far fewer insider euphemisms -- that's probably because we're more "worldly" and "secular" (read, not residing in a Christian ghetto).

So I don't remember my parents ever blaming "the Lord" for one of their decisions, good or bad. It would have probably seemed highly anti-intellectual to them to do so.

Thus, it surprised me a bit when I started hearing people talk about their decisions, big and small, were directly influenced by the God of the Universe. And by that I don't mean that they brought biblical reasoning to bear on their decisions, but that God deigned to whisper in their ear about what they should do.

Of course, I don't mean to say that I believe in a non-interventionist God. I actually turn to God for aid in many decisions, big and small. But I can't say that I ever felt God actually stir my brain juices, which is what it always seemed like when someone used this phrase, "The Lord laid it on my heart," or something like it.

What's really most odious about this phrase is when it's used to justify something that's otherwise unjustifiable.

Friday, October 16, 2009

What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?

I find this to be an interesting idea. I think we've all been in congregations that we know have "jumped the shark". For whatever reason, they lost steam, they over-invested, or they lost some key element, and now they've been stagnant for years. But what if we went into planting a congregation with the intention of it eventually expiring? What would we do different? Would we invest in buildings and programs, or in people and communities? Would more people be lifted up to go out and carry on?

It's a wonderful idea, one which we should examine.

From Pomomusings:

Guest Blog: What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?: "

Today’s guest post is written by author and pastor Russell Rathbun. I got to meet Russell at Princeton Seminary a few years ago, and really enjoyed hearing him preach. Russell is a founding minister with Debbie Blue of House of Mercy, a pioneering emergent church in St. Paul, Minnesota. He’s the author of a brand new book called nuChristian: Finding Faith in a New Generation. nuChristian responds to recent reports of Christianity’s image problem. In nuChristian, Russell offers practical suggestions for leaders who want to reach out to the new generation with a Christlike community that is transparent, holistic, loving, engaged, just and humble. I asked Russell to write a guest post today for his stop at Pomomusings on his Virtual Book Tour. I hope you enjoy his post, “What if a Church Had an Expiration Date?”

What If a Church Had an Expiration Date?

Russell Rathbun

I have talked to a lot of people who are starting churches and a lot more people who are trying to keep churches from dying. Both missions are very hard to accomplish. So, I had an idea. What if you started a church with an expiration date? Say, five years. That would be just enough time for an energized core group to get together and build a unique community—an incarnation of the Body of Christ that addresses a particular time and place, the context in which they are living. They could welcome friends and newcomers who are interested, intrigued, and drawn in by the body’s particular vision, worship, service, study, and creativity, inviting the visitor to become part of the life of the community. Finally this expanded group of believers would begin to articulate new visions for changing contexts and to develop new core groups around those visions, groups who would then go out and start several new churches with new expiration dates.

This could solve some of the major quandaries that arise in starting and sustaining churches. The greatest help would be giving a particular incarnation of the Body of Christ permission to be done—to say that our mission in this time and place, in this specific context is finished. To say, “We may not have done everything we wanted, but we have been faithful to our vision.” Or to say, “We did everything we hoped to do. Now let’s go do something else.” If this permission to say “It is finished” caught on, then maybe churches that have been around for a long time could close up shop without feeling like they have failed. It would give any small group of folks with no resources but an emerging vision of what God could do in their context, the permission to do something for just awhile—perhaps for only a year or two. And they wouldn’t have to feel bad for not building the next Solomon’s Porch or Jacob’s Well.


The church of Jesus Christ is not closing its doors. Only particular contextual expressions of that church will do so. Is the church in Ephesus still going strong with the same vitality and vision it began with? Contexts, people, visions, and relationships change, but the charge to go into all the world making disciples does not.

The Church with an Expiration Date would guard against our human tendency toward idolatry—to idolize dynamic leaders or our ability to build institutions. It would staunch our pretenses to power and require a continual refocus on how we proclaim the gospel for the transformation of this particular group of people, in this particular cultural context. The Expiring Church could produce two, three, or ten new vital, living, unique incarnations of the Body of Christ—and you would never have to start that building fund.


I received this book in the mail the other day from the author this blog links to. I'm going to read through it and write up my own review for us. It's very interesting so far!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

EmDes Retreat

I think the weekend of Nov. 7 would be the date considering it's already the middle of October (ahh!). What several of us discussed is hopefully a larger cabin, not more than $50 per adult/night, so we could either do one night (just drive up Sat. morning and stay the night) or two nights (drive up Fri. evening) depending on the time and money factor.

Tara had a good idea that a family (or a combo of families depending on the meal?) commit to bringing up stuff for one meal, or else of course we can just hit a grocery store when we're there.

Thus far we have the Gonskis, the Schroeders, the Bamfords, and me... I would imagine we'd need a final count by this Sunday so I can make definite arrangements (hopefully ha). I'm hoping we can secure a big cabin and people can bring blowup mattresses and/or sleeping bags or use a couch if there are not enough beds to go around.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

joy's blog


Hey friends and lurkers,

Joy has been blogging through a bit of her spiritual journey, and I think she is doing an amazing job. Check out her latest post regarding deconstruction and reconstruction of "praxis"

(Two thumbs WAY up)