Doug Pagitt once proposed we ditch the word "leadership" with all its military implications, and find new language for talking about those who tend to communities. His preferred analogy was an organic gardener.
1. take crap and use it to nourish things
2. it isn't "dirt," it is soil, and the preparation and maintenance of the soil is really important
3. things that are garbage are used to grow the garden
4. vigilance is important
5. be willing to take smaller fruit in order for it to be truly healthy
6. gardening requires a systems understanding
7. gardens die every winter and require replanting
8. things can only grow in certain climates
9. hybrids don't reproduce
10. if you use miracle grow to start, you have to keep boosting the amount
11. what you plant next to what is important
12. you have very little to do with the success of the gardern, photosynthesis is still a mystery, you can't make it grow, it is a miracle
13. backs and knees are sore because you are down in the dirt, you don't stand above the garden
14. we need to protect the garden from bunnies. Worms are good, bunnies are bad.
15. organic fruit doesn't all look like the stuff in the market. Quality is over beauty, and there is no uniformity. you share from the excess.
1. The servants observed the prodigal before his abandon of his family into his "distant country".
2. They observed the details around his departure.
3. They observed the anguish and pain of the father over his lost son.
4. They observed the embrace and reinstatement of his return.
5. They adorned the redeemed one, and were the catalyst for the father's display of love for him (dressed him in a fine robe, adorned his fingers with rings, and through a huge party to celebrate his return). They were the medium through which the story of redemption was told.
Thanks. I actually just returned from lunch where I showed a friend the Soliton speaker sheet and suggested we may be due for a road trip! Q & A, eh? Let's start with Soliton - where did the word come from (forgive me if it's on the site - I'm a "scanner")
Another week coming to a close...As I am now experiencing a lull in my friday, I figured it'd be a great time to drop you that unabridged novel on the "Soliton" I promised you.
The concept of the Soliton exists on a few different planes: mathematical, natural, and now philosophical. It was orginally coined by a young Scottish engineer named John Scott Russell in Edinburgh in 1834. He was watching a boat steam down a river, and the boat stopped. As the boat slowed and came to a halt, Russell noticed that the wave created by the boats's movement continued far after the boat stopped. On horseback, he followed this wave from the shore, for nearly two miles. It found it's way throughout most of the tranquil lake. Even when Russell could no longer see the wave's movement on the surface, he could see the plantlife beneath swaying with the water's invisible momentum. He described the Soliton as "the wave of translation". It is similar to other studies, such as The Doppler Effect, and the philosophical metaphors are great. From birth, the Soliton was the study of change that an object makes in its environment as it travels through water. Russell's objective was to quantify
that change through mathematic theory and measure it. Rather than digress mathematically and bore you, let's talk about it as a metaphor, philosophically and biblically.
The image of Soliton Existence[see the top of my blog] is that of a drop of liquid colliding with a larger body of liquid, immediately creating change from the center out. Philosphically, change is created in any and every environment in which we live--from the center, in our conversations for instance, and then travels outward (systemically, circularly, chaotically) as action births reaction. To embrace the metaphor of the Soliton is to realize that change occurs from the center-outward, and to submerge into our various centre's of culture, and create that subverse change througout a system.
Biblically, we see the Soliton in a very compelling way. It seems that life, creativity, and action are all presented throughout the story of God with quite a centrality to them. In the beginning, God is central; in creation, he is in the center of the garden; man is removed from the center for sin, and spends the rest of his mortal existence trying to get back to the center; with Christ, the language of the Gospel's is that he was always among, always in the center of the people and life; He dies in the center of the two thieves, suspended between heaven and earth; in Revelations the picture of his throne central in a sphere of eternity--the throne, the four living creatures, the 24 elders, the people--all surrounding him, resonating worship towards the center. And there are many, many stories in between the two covers. Even the heavens--elliptical paths of orbit and revolution around centers of gravity, which in turn revolve elliptically and circularly around other centers of gravity...and so on.
We believe this and live this at the bridge communities. Our gatherings(and life beyond sunday) take place at the center of our culture, our downtown environment, and everything [that can be] is set up in circles, creating little solitons of conversation and transformation based on sharing life in the round. The round is not only a symbol of shared life, but of the path that change naturally takes in any environment. It has required us to rethink the concept of "reaching out". For me, much of Soliton living in praxis has been the act of living my life as much as possible in the center of my culture--looking for where God is already creating change, and partnering with it.
So, the Soliton Network is essentially a network of resource and relationship we've created to partner with those desiring to fluidly transform their communities and cultures by expressing through visible life and tangible creativity the touchable Christ.
I'm out of breath. I sure hope some of that makes sense. And I continue to look forward to face-to-face dialogue with you.
Getting Direction from God
How much does God wish to direct our lives? Does everyone have specific callings for specific aspets of their life?
After a quick run through the NT I saw two types of calling. The call to Christ and the call to be something in Christ. Paul was called to be an apostle. Beyond some of these major things I think God gives us a lot of freedom. Gal 5:1 "For freedom Christ has set us free..." Sometimes God does give us specific instructions in specific situations, like Paul's man from Macedonia, but I think this is more the exception than the rule. There is so much practical wisdom in scripture it seems to indicate that people in the early church were given a lot of choice.
In some cases I think that the desire to spiritualize decision making is really attempt at averting responsibility. Sometimes making a hard decision requires understanding, patience and research. Instead of trying understand themselves and their situation some people would rather hear a word from the Lord. I believe very strongly in listening to God and receiving divine revelation. My experience has been that it is very easy for my emotions to influence what I think I am hearing from God. It's vitally important to be anchored in wisdom and understanding. Seeking spiritual direction without seeking wisdom and understanding quickly degenerates in to a quasi-spiritual ignorance.
The first Christ-followers were Jews. When Gentiles began following Jesus, it caused all sorts of problems. There were those who insisted that if you were going to follow Jesus, you had to become Jewish. ...Could Acts 15 be a pivotal story for our own time?
"To really understand "Christianity" we have to go back to the beginning, to put first things first. For starters, Jesus was not a Christian. He never asked anyone to become a Christian, never built a steepled building, never drew up a theological treatise, never took an offering, never wore religious garments, never incorporated for tax purposes....
He simply called people to follow him. That's it. That, despite its simplicity, is it. He called people to follow him. They believed, followed, listened to, questioned, obeyed,
talked with, learned from and ultimately gave their lives to this character Jesus. That is Christianity.
All of those steepled buildings you see around town? Turns out none of them are churches. (Those signs out front certainly are misleading!) It turns out that church has never been a building. Church is all those Kingdom Dwellers put together. The plural of "Jesus Follower" is "church." Those steepled contraptions? Those are just how the church gets out of the rain."
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: "Mankind". Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind". What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.
I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
I remember how my great-uncle Jerry would sit on the porch and whittle all day long. Once he whittled me a toy boat out of a larger toy boat I had. It was almost as good as the first one, except now it had bumpy whittle marks all over it. And no paint, because he had whittled off the paint.
It's sad that a family can be torn apart by something as simple as a pack of wild dogs.
I think that there needs to be a broad understanding of the difference between trends and movements. I'm finding that in some areas, progress of movement being destroyed because it is being misconstrued as trend. The dialogue of change and reconstruction within this group of searchers is not an experiment of trend. It is a movement that is embracing and reforming a worldview that has been around longer than most of us would like to admit. It is not a trend to be named, defined, placed, franchised. It is not a concept that a wrestless, pluralistic, unentertained generation developed. It is not a saturday evening "service", replete with candles and velvet table cloths that you add to your institution's roster of programs. It is the future. It is a complete rennovation of how we exist and relate to one another. What we see and aspire to currently is our process of moving into and embracing a future that humanity is already living in.
So can we stop slapping our grandmothers and grandfathers and move on? The discussions on what the church has done wrong--while they teach us much--are growing a bit tiring. This world will accept many kinds. There will continue to be room for the tranditional, the contemporary, even the hyper-modern. Why? Because they all exist in a worldview that people will live in for some time. We do not need any more value judgements against what was, or even what is now. Our history was a necessary backdrop for our present and will be for our future. There is no "us and them". Can we stop writing our books on the evil archetypes of modernity and move on into our present and our future? I know many that have been blowing this horn for the last couple of years, and I respect them. They have taught me much. But i wonder if sometimes we find ourselves stuck in the rut of deconstruction because we are too afraid to create and imagine and live what is to come. And as this movement increases in momentum and number, we have got to find more compelling stories to share than the anti-stories we are telling of modernity passed. Stories of the now. Leave your grandparents alone. Celebrate what the past has shaped in you, and begin living in the future so that it will have something to offer those that will come.
1. The wardon. He seems to be an ugly reflection of what a pastor can be. Ouch. He is in charge of the transformation, or rehabilitation, of all those that inhabit the cells. He does so with a nauseating piety and a heavy hand of self-motivated judgement. His favorite passage: "I am the light of the world..." I wonder what that says about his worldview. He is interested only in keeping people inside and under control. He does not take interest in the transformation of lives in Shawshank. No compassion whatsoever. It is mentioned of him, among other things, that he's tight-fisted with his money, and that the previous six wardons have been the same.
2. The Guards. They exist as regulators, the wardon's sub-leaders (hmmmmm...), to keep the peace and maintain control. Their lives are as corrupt as any of the prisoners--they "blashpeme' (as the wardon calls is), rob the inmates, beat them up, and murder them. Interesting. Just as corrupt, yet they wear different attire than the prisoners and act as if they are above the corruption. their relationship with those under their care is one based entirely out of fear. The prisoners could not be open with these guards, as we see the "new fish" try that in the beginning and get beat to death. The main arena for authentic relationship was on the playground of the guilty, the yard outside where everyone hung out; where everyone was accepted for who they were.
3. The prison. I'm not making any associations here... =) Built specifically to warehouse people from their arrival until their death. Built to keep people inside..."they send you here for life, and that is exactly what they take." wow. Once released from their prison, or rehabilitated, these inmates had no ability at all to reinsert themselves into the outside world. they are made to be totally dependent on the system--they could not live, and often chose not to live outside of it. "Prison life consists of routine and more routine." "These walls are funny--first you hate them, then you get used to them. then one day you realize you depend on them." It created a sense of fear of the outside , a fear of what doesn't immediately make sense. A fear of having no boundaries. "all i wanted was to go back to where things made sense...where i'm not afraid all of the time."
4. The intial introduction to the prison. They march prisoners in, hose them down with a firehose in some sort of rude cleansing ritual (hmmm...), and march them in naked before all of the other inmates. I'm sure I could spend a while here...
5. "Brooks". The character Brooks was great. older man, compassionate, dedicated, and completely unable to live outside the system. He was crippled by the system, unable to adapt to a world in which he was 50 years beind the times. wow. felt the need to establish his identity and leave his mark on life.
6. "Andy". He never gave up hope. "hope is a great thing, perhaps the greatest of things." his cell was his own prison. (Luke 5 : resonance of the hole...) I love his comments, "I was straight on the outside, I had to come in here to get crooked." and "get busy living, or get busy dying." Favorite passage, "Watch ye therefore, for you know not when the master cometh". Interesting.
7. "Red". Plenty of great lessons here, but what captured me the most was what happened when he was finally released. He kept considering taking his life, but somehow Andy saved him. But he was not with Red--Red was all alone. So how did Andy save him? What did he give Red that empowered him to embrace freedom and to truly find life??? [This is so big] I think it may have to do with the way that Andy invited Red to rediscover his place of belonging on the outside. He did it through invitation to a mystery. Wow. Invitation to discovery of that mystery, invitation to sharing a quest for new life in "a warm place without memory". I wonder what Red would have done had Andy just given him an answer...
"The key to this form of community involves holding a paradox - the paradox of having relationships in which we protect each other's aloneness. We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul, that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other, that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonouring its mystery, never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs" -- Parker Palmer - Let Your Life Speak
1) Is a "tentmaker;" does not rely on a local church/congregation for financial support. Will accept such support only if freely given, because it is right for God's people to support those who serve the Gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1-21).
2) Is spiritually motivated by Matthew 5 - 7; Matthew 28:20; John 1, 3, and 17; 1 Corinthians 12 - 13; Ephesians 5; and Philippians 2:3-11.
3) Is theologically and vocationally motivated by Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 28:16-20; and especially Ephesians 4:4-16, and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
4) Shepherds people to/with Christ by way of the scriptures and sacraments.
5) Christ-oriented, not career oriented. (The very notion of a "pastoral career" is a travesty of the word "pastor.")
6) Understands that love is self-giving, not sacrificial in the sense of "losing" something.
7) Clear sense of self in relationship to God and others.
8) Bound and abandoned to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
9) Serves the demands of the Gospel, not those of people.
10) Understands the difference between church tradition and local custom(s), that customs are expendable while traditions are renewable.
11) Consciously works with the Holy Spirit in serving the Kingdom on earth.
12) Is a servant, not a manager; a servant, not a technician; a servant, not an entrepreneur; a servant, not a CEO, "senior minister/pastor", "coach", or "advisor."
13) Has banished the words "leader" and "leadership" from his/her self-understanding as to the pastors' role among God's people. (See #12.)
14) Has rejected the institutionalized church, but avidly seeks and works with the instituted Church, however it is manifested in this world.
I had a unique chance today to talk to a person who is on the verge of homelessness. His name is Wayne - 57 years old - married, and trying to find work. He came by the church looking for someone to talk to and a bite to eat. He was quite upset by the way a number of different "Christians" have treated him, not willing to give him anything to help him out or spend any time with him. He knows the bible well, and brought up how Jesus seemed to treat the poor with love and acceptance. As I was listening to him, I thought that it would be good for people in our church (as well as others) to listen to what he had to say. HIs perspective is needed, and I learned a lot from him. He hadn't eaten in a day and a half, so I got him some cookies and coffee, and $2 for the bus. I think he'll be back and I hope I can speak to him again. I have so much to learn.
"There are some in my church who say, you cannot go to heaven unless you have been baptized. Our churches (Christian Churches / Church of Christ) generally holds to this theology... you must be baptized to be saved. I disagree in that (1) God alone decides who gets in... not us. (2) the thief on the cross wasn't baptized but Jesus promises Him just the same. Many in our leadership agree with me, some feel that you must. I feel that you definitely SHOULD, but if for some reason you don't, God is big enough to deal with that. What brought about our debate is good people who in other congregations in faith decided to be sprinkled... that's what they were told they should do, it was important and meaningful to them... now we're telling them it didn't count and they gotta get dunked to which they say... hang on, didn't I already do this? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts."
"I agree with you, Greg. What say we just submit to what the senior pastor says?"
"Mmmmm..."What say we just submit to what the pastor says" ???
Maybe we should define "submission" before we digress too much further. Is submission merely the ommission of objection, or is submission better defined as laying down one's freedom of to "come under" the authority of a person/institution/nation. And maybe we should define the pastorate. What are pastors, what is their role, and how do they operate as part of the body of Christ?
I think this post from Jos' is about to birth a fun discussion.
It seem to me that :: As pastors, we are called to be servant of all, modeling the reflection of Christ through humility and sacrifice and love, not the disseminators of doctrine or the answer givers. maybe our role is to be poets. we are to tell our stories, and the stories of those around us; to illustrate the beauty/pain of a life that experiences God, and of a God that loves people. Our role is not to sell doctrine, but to be poetic visionaries, protectors, servant-leaders.
For a long time, I modeled David's "touch not God's annointed" as a co-follower and co-leader in the body of Christ, but i wonder if my well-intentioned submission was God-inspired, or an act of fear. That for me was the act of continually laying down my vision, my intellect, my decision making capability--and deferring to that of another, specifically one with a title that distinguished him as one having authority.
Now, w/o giving my thesis on emerging church leadership(which i can't give b/c i'm on a huge learning curve and will probably never develop a definitive one), i think it may suffice to say that we NEED to revisit our thoughts on what Christ like submission truly looks like. Was not Christ submitted? and yet his life was very subverse....i know we're not Christ, or are we? Are we to be "imitators"? reflections? incarnations?
I am not suggesting open debates with your leadership. Nor am i suggesting that we need a ton of self-involved self-proclaimed "leaders" running around in our communities serving their own vision and sense of purpose. things have to be done respectfully, in order, and perhaps most importantly--humbly and in love. BUT if your leadership is ALSO submitted, which they are called to be, then they will embraced the questions AND embrace taking time to struggle through them, rather than just prescribing the interpretive answer they've memorized. "Rebuke a wise man and he will love you". I am suggessting that maybe we, as leaders and as followers, need to begin to model a humble form of mutual submission within our communities. I am suggesting that leadership should no longer be a unilateral, centralized, coporate, top-down environment in these communities. It seems to me that we need to create a landscape of leadership that is decentralized, divested, and empowering.
Here's a great brain teaser:
"...and he gave some to be pastors, some teachers, some prophets, some apostles, and some evangelists."
I wonder how come the pastorial role has emerged as solely dominant, and the others have taken the back seat(if existent at all today in leadeship). Is our leadership inbalanced because of the partial or complete absence of the other four roles? What should leadership look like? BTW, anyone read Easum's "Leadership on the other side?"
Blues, Beer, and the Kingdom of God
Here's a quote from a great article:
"The Kingdom of God is like the Blues Jam. It is a place where the reality of the human condition is not covered up by a set of un-written rules that keep us from sharing our real lives like in many churches today. Everyone is free to be who they are. Real care is displayed for each other. It is not a place where the standard answer to “How are you doing?” is “Fine.” You’re more likely to get an answer in language that would not be fit for a PG rated movie but is soaked and dripping with the real issues and messiness of life in the human condition. The Blues Jam is a place where a person like Bill can be ‘salt & light’ to Big Jim and his family. If Jesus were alive today, I expect I would find him down at the bar more regularly than at church."
I agree. If God is the pinnacle of love, then people who show his love are doing what he wants them to do, no matter where they are. In fact, it is often easier to love people in the "natural setting" of a bar than in the church.
Hey Darren, I can agree that seeing people in casual settings can make it easier for discussion. I can't agree though that the bar is often easier place to love people. I think that statement is somewhat dangerous to those who might be struggling with both bar life and church life and could be swayed either way. People are always looking for reasons to justify their actions and this blog may give them that reason.
I have been in the bar scene and what I have seen are many lost souls (including myself at one time). However, the thought of even having a meaningful conversation with someone at a bar I think would be almost counter-productive. I also think that throwing them into a church right away is also not necessarily the right way either. I would think a neutral ground such as coffee shops or restaurants are a much more "effective" way to share the gospel rather than a bar. As you know developing a relationship with a person is probably the most effective way for them to listen to you.
I think I've seen a trend that Christians are slowly conforming to worldly ways to try to reach the lost. Their intentions are right but I don't agree with their way of doing it. I believe we as Christians should be set apart, and in some ways be different (not just by our beliefs - but also our actions). We shouldn't have to make compromises, justifications or ungodly sacrifices to reach the lost. If we truly love people through God's eyes and stand firm in our beliefs and actions, sooner or later people will know of God's love.
I believe Leaders also have a greater responsibility to "watch where they walk and talk" as there are often many people who may be weak in their faith and are looking for guidance. If Jesus was walking with us today, he may very well go into a bar and lead someone to God, but we also have to remember that it's not a place for many people (especially the weak).
interesting, greg. w/o providing complete hermeneutical dialogue to represent my total disaggreement (i am trying to learn not to use scripture to make "points" because (1) I don't think that God likes it when I do that, and (2) I am wondering if making "points" is even that important), i think it is interesting that Christ's social and missional life revolved almost entirely around eating and drinking(not grape juice).
you are certainly entitled to your beliefs, and are validated in that i believe there is room to believe that way, but i think it needs to be undersood that there is not a definitive understanding of just our role in social or missional practices, nor maybe should there be. if "all things are lawful", we need to discover what "things are profitable" for us specifically to be involved in--in our times and our communities. Maybe we don't individually need to become "all things to all people", but we need to recognize that maybe in our collective diversity we become just that. It seems to me that it may be worthwhile for you to ask the question, "what does it mean to share the gospel? what do i mean by 'share'? how do i share?"
if those questions are answered by answers you've known all of your life, or are answered by verbal apologetics/doma, or are summed up in telling someone what you believe in conversation with someone, hoping that they will be convinced by the spirit of God--then maybe bars aren't the right place for you. and it needs to be understood that that is perfectly ok. no one is saying you have to, or you are less of a god-seeker, or less intellectual. there is room for that belief.
BUT--- if the answers to those questions are not yet clear(praise God), or if you are experiencing a redefining of everything you once thought professed lived and taught(commonality with this virtual community)--then you may come to a different conclusion. you may begin to believe that Christ is not predominantly shared verbally. you may believe that he is watched as the incarnate in your life, experienced in relationship, touched through acquired faith, and eventually submitted to through the voluntary embrace of a prerson's life, rather than mental ascent to the bullet points of the Roman's Road.
this way of thinking(not THE way) provides a landscpae of life in which all environments are accpetable mission field. pubs happen to be fantastic here b/c they are some of the most highly attended social centres of community; the atmosphere is relatively authentic and uninvasive; and they are a great catalyst for ongoing relationship. if evangelism is not based on words or conversation (and it's fine if you disagree) than people's relative intellectual coherence is less of a block. people are people, and they will remember no matter how inebriated, your love and the mark you leave on their lives. we NEED to be visible--and not set apart in social circles or culture, but set apart in our love, and magnetic passion for a God that most people desperately want to encounter and believe/belong to.
right outside our room
big ol' pool
from the sky
My Lectio Divina is skipping around a bit. Conversation with a friend and mentor led me to John 20:21-23. The Story captivated me with imagery I had never noticed until this friend brought it to my attention.
21He spoke to them again and said, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
22Then he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven."
As we are currently dialoguing on the issues of community and how it is embodied, this passage brings up immense, frightening, empowering questions. It says that Christ breathed on them and gave them the authority to forgive sins. WHAT?!? Does this mean we throw out the principles of "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins..." Absolutley. Just kidding. I don't think that's what Christ is saying...
Maybe there are two types of confession/forgiveness: vertical & horizontal. While i think i have a coherent grasp on vertical confession, i think that i am only beginning to understand the horizontal confession. As this conversation reminded me, an essential to community is authentic living--and that leading toward the carrying of each other's burdens. One primary way that churches across the nation attmpt to instill this sense of community and shared character building is through a concept we call "Accountability". Maybe this practice, as we know it currently, is not accountability at all.
Here's what i mean. Currently, we consider a group of people that meets once a week, and "bears everything" accountability. You ask/answer the tough questions, or at least pretend to. what we've created is, in a way, a guilt based mechanism still fueled by a desire to maintain "face" or image/ stature with people we are trying to live in "community" with. It seems that there are a couple things necessary to this revisiting of accountability within community.
1.) We are all broken and chained to the cross. this doesn't mean we are complacent with our issues, but share a commonality of sin and frailty/succeptibility with all of humanity. In other words, there is no guilt; there is non righteous. When we begin to move away from the cross, the masquerade of piety will begin to destroy community.
2.) We must insist that those we live communally with bear in our struggles with us, while they are happening. To truly be accountable is to establish covenant for change--a covenant that is living and breathing. to commit oneself at that level is not to commit to perfection, but to commit to the process change through inviting others into the process; specifically into the temptations--not just the failures. "_____, you gott help me out man. I've been thinking of going out and doing ______, and I know I'm going to do it unless something changes. I need your help." That's accountability. and it's nothing new. AA's been doing it--and very well-- for years.
The Cool part: there seems to be some sort of power in that horizontal confession which remains distinct from a vertical confession. not better or more delivering--just different. Now, I still have no idea where to place what Christ delivered to the disciples and how that is to be played out in my life. But i have a good idea that He is leading us toward living our lives in confession to one another, and that it's somehow necessary. I do not think, as some do, that it is necessary to go a man for forgiveness that God will grant you willingly should you come to him. But I wonder if there is also something about confessing openly to one another that is not only empowering, but necessary for true communally living.
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