For anyone who is interested, I was given the opportunity to teach at REALITY on Sunday on John 10:1-21.  Great time preparing and sharing.  It was really neat to me to see how the Spirit put the message together in the end.  Hope you enjoy it if you take a listen.

Can you hear me now? John 10:1-21

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Fractal Church

November 3, 2010

Yeah, I know.  Most people reading this don’t have a clue (or care) what a fractal is.  And, the fact is, the guy who popularized them (building on the work of others)–Benoît Mandelbrot–recently passed away, so in lieu of the man himself, we’ll just have to settle for Wikipedia (Wow, did Wikipedia just replace a brilliant man?).

According to the freely edited wisdom of the crowd, a fractal is, “a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.”  So, zoom in on a fractal and what will you find?  Basically, another re-presentation of the whole.  Zoom in further.  What do you find?  Another representation of the whole.  Zoom in further…you get the idea.

So, what does this have to do with anything?  Only this: at every layer of the Church, no matter what “zoom”, we should find the in-containable, incomprehensible Christ ubiquitously present (Ephesians3:16-19; Colossians 1:15-20).  And the implications are huge.  Because every part–individual, missional community, Olympia’s churches, and the big “C” Church–carries Christ, every part carries within them the possibility of the whole.  Put another way, “In the seed the whole tree lies coiled, and in the tree, there lies the potential for the production of countless other seeds.  In the tree is the full potential of the forest.” (Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways, 206).

I’m not saying that every follower of Christ is meant to plant a church.  I am saying that the presence of Christ in you and within those of us who are his body, are enough for him to breathe a new movement of life in this world.  Here’s the reality: If we believe any less than that Jesus could repopulate the earth with a people passionate for his name and Kingdom through us, then we are living with a truncated Jesus who is not truly Lord at all.

As much as I may struggle to believe the incomprehensible Christ lives in me, he is calling and leading you and I believe that he can and will do incomprehensible things through us.

Church

January 9, 2010

Just a quote from my present read:

“Here is a marvelously coherent and compelling picture of the participation of the church in world history. History is interpreted here as a struggle for liberation. The Christian has his place in it not just as a fighter for liberation but as one who has been liberated. Through the presence of the Spirit he is already a free person, bearing in his own life the freedom which belongs to the end. The community of those who follow Jesus is called to share in the struggle for liberation as those who are full of eager and patient hope: eager, because they have already tasted the freedom to which God calls all; patient, because God is to be trusted to complete that which he has begun.” (Newbigin, p. 120, The Open Secret)

Good stuff!

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Belong/Believe/Behave

September 18, 2009

Thinking a lot about churches and how they grow, when I ran across a blog post, now buried deep in my browser’s history, on the order one journeys through belonging, believing and behaving in to the church.  Which comes first?  And what follows?  In what order?

Is it behave-belong-believe?  Believe-belong-believe?  Belong-believe-behave?  There are six options to choose from.  Let’s take a look…

When Behaving Comes First…

I don’t really think it matters what follows when behavior is the gate in to Jesus’ kingdom.  I simply cannot imagine how it doesn’t lead to some sort of moralism.  When behaving comes first my belonging is always at stake and I will become an awesome Pharisee.  On the other hand, if belong proceeds believe, then it leeches the potency inherent in the life altering Truth I have come to know in Jesus.

I Believe Therefore…

Though I’m relatively certain there are plenty of people who have come to faith this way, I’m afraid it leaves me with one major question: Why is the Church here?  If belief comes apart from the church as sign, first-fruit and foretaste of the Kingdom, then what’s God thinking keeping us around?

On the other side, belief coming before behaving, seems like a really good idea.  If Jesus is who he says, and God is telling the Truth when he tells us his story, then I must capitulate, I must change.  If I do not change, then I have missed something of the story, because the story (which spans from creation to new creation) demands that I live in it.

Belong/Believe/Behave

Keeping the believing-behaving order, belonging is the only “B” yet to take its turn at the front of the line.  Of the options listed, this one seems to be the only truly viably incarnational approach.  Since belonging is not based on the prerequisites of believing or behaving, Jesus’ followers are finally allowed to love those around them freely.

One thing about this ordering however is that I think many will confuse it with behave-belong-believe.  Only the Jesus followers who follow him out of the holy huddle on to the streets will truly ever preach a gospel where belonging is not preceded by behaving.  In other words, if you must come to me to belong, then belonging will always only happen on my terms.

Again, this is not meant to be preaching at the choir, so much as it is intended to be preaching at my own heart.  More often than not, I stray back to moralism because I want a savior who saves me because I’m a great guy, or I find Truth has moved to the backseat where it sits helpless to steer anything.  I’d love to hear your thoughts as this is something I am only beginning to explore myself.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means for us to be the church in recent days–which is, ultimately a question of origins.  “What are we doing?” and “Why are we doing it?” are ultimately return us to “How did we get here?” questions.

As I continue to learn, think and pray I’ve stumbled on an article relating the architecture and theory behind both churches and businesses over the last century or so.  For those who find this type of thing mind-numbing, you have my leave to courageously head for the door.  For the few interested, the title (and link for you to click and follow) is “Infrastructure for Souls: Tracing the parallel histories of the American megachurch and the corporate-organizational complex”.

For myself, I originally saw the article on Geneveith.com, citing the New York Times “Must Reads for the Week” who sum up the article’s main idea this way:

Successful megachurches reflect American corporate history and management theory. Their architecture and organization “are best compared to those of the modern white-collar workplace.”

If you’re REALLY interested, I’m sure both sites will shortly have some good discussions going in their comments.  Agree or not, it at least calls me to consider where my major assumption find their source.

Being Church UPDATE #2

August 1, 2009

Andre (the neighbor of the nearly comatose man Pete we prayed for a week and a half ago) called last night with bad news: Pete has passed away.  We don’t know what happened or what God had in mind during the short apparent miraculous recovery time Pete experienced, but we’re trusting it was not without purpose and benefit.  One day perhaps we will meet Pete again.

Please continue to pray for Pet’s family (two adult kids and wife) as they deal with his passing and all the arrangements needing to be made as they mourn.  Also, pray that Andre and his wife Stella can be a comfort to them in whatever ways the need–food, counsel, comfort, whatever.  Thanks.

Recent Musings

June 16, 2009

As I continue to reflect on contextualizing the Gospel in our current setting, I have begun to compile a list of questions that will help me and us reengage our purpose here as a church (and especially the youth side of that).  I guess I’m mostly thinking in terms of living out the theology we profess to believe, but often fail to display.  You might put it this way: “If the Bible declares this to be true, then how are we living that truth out?”  Here’s an example of one of these questions:

Since God has invested so great a power in us (Eph. 1:19-20), what are we doing, or how are we living, that would require so great a power to be successful?  Is there anything which we have committed to as a church and as a youth group, which could be said to require so much?

And another: Since God creates from community (Trinity) being which, in order to reflect him well must be in community (“Let us create Man in our image”–image is also relational in nature), how are we overcoming our Western inclination toward individualism to reclaim a holistic, Godly community?  How well does our present community (maybe you can read “church” here) provide a foretaste to that future community into which we are being born (the city in Revelation and the restored people of God)?

I’m going to continue asking questions like these of myself.  I’d love to hear what questions you are struggling with and what Gospel truths you are searching to find evidenced in your life and community.

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