Monday Morning Brief on Tuesday Night

Highlight of the week:  Our Biblical Seminary Bus Tour.  Went to see ministries serve the larger community in Philly.  (I keep meaning to blog about this.

Book(s) I’m reading: Finishing up Community 101, Reading Paul for the emergent conference.  Beginning the Relational Way tomorrow.

Music I’m digging:  Honestly, I’ve enjoyed my first few listens to the new Chris Tomlin cd.  If you know me, you know that I like to tease about Tomlin but here’s the thing.  If this wasn’t Tomlin’s voice, I might be really excited about this album.  Given that I cannot really forget that it’s Tomlin (like not imaging a pink elephant in my mind), I can say, “Hmm.  Not bad.”  What a snobby disclaimer to say all that, huh?

Something(s) that blew my mind:  $700 billion dollar bailout.  It just sounds crazy.

Ministry update:   Getting ready to go Sr. High Service Project Weekend with Evan’s students. Men’s mission in Paterson, NJ, serving at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission in Philly, Shane Claiborne, worshipping at The Well (where Todd Hiestand and Gary Alloway serve), and …. Cheesteaks.

Thomas has some good weekend reading for you

Thomas Turner has some good weekend reading.  Some of it were the articles I was going to link to.  We get some of the same emails apparently.  Now wonder we get along.  In fact, I’d ask him and Sarah to be godparents but his obsession with the national league is scarier than his interest in visiting North Korea.

Anyway, check some of the other stuff on his blog as you read a couple articles from Christianity Today on Brian McLaren written by Scot McKnight, an article from Dave Ramsey concerning the bailout and some fun from Culture 11.  Here’s the link

Responding to the Out of Ur post, "RIP Emerging Church"

On the Out of Ur blog, there is a post entitled, “RIP Emergent that spells out its demise. Lol, what is that … seriously?  Is “reformed theology” dead?  Is the charismatic movement dead?  What about the prosperity gospel … uhh, not sure what the noun is there btw?  Well is that dead?  Isn’t that a little rude, to wish death on someone else’s great interest (even if it is only a ‘term’)?  RIP? LOL  – I’m sure the writer didn’t mean it literally.  

I am sure that the writer is a good man who loves the Lord.  My criticism of the post is that he uses the term “emergent” and the movement it represents interchangeably.  Quoting Kimball (who later posts in the comments), and Tall Skinny Kiwi, I felt he either twisted or perhaps he misunderstood the intention of those words.  Who cares about the word, or the term?  Like Jones, I’ve heard other leaders of the “emerging church” say that perhaps “emergent village” will evolve or transform into something else years ago.  So if whatever is supposed to be announced soon is an extension of it – praise God, most emergents I know hold such things with open hands.   Sorry to say use a cliché here, but the whole idea of “emergent” does not believe it has arrived,  but journeying.  It pretty much is the idea of the word itself, right?

 I am not annoyed really, but I wonder if the mic is really on.  Please understand, that as far as I am concerned, the emergent brand can come and go as it pleases.   I believe most of my friends feel this way and they can speak for themselves.  But those interested in the conversation will most likely continue to dialogue.  Among the issues and topics that are discussed in the books, blogs, and yes, the conferences (as if the “emergents invented them and btw, they are pretty affordable comparatively speaking), there is also a very deep and rich friendship that is growing and all are welcome – even you.  I think this is why when I read the title, I kinda smiled.  To me it’s like asking, “Uhhh, so when are you two breaking up?”. 

For a better reply, check out Scot McKnight’s comment (about six or seven comments down) and the post on his blog.

And Doug Pagitt’s youtube video  discussing emergent/emerging church.

Reflecting on the 'debate' between Christopher Hitchens and Lorenzo Albacete

Monday, my friend (I only have one – the jr. high youth pastor who is also named Tim.  Yep, I have to employ people for them to be my friend. And yes, he was required to attend with me and drive with me). Anyway, we to a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete.  It was a free event at The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan sponsored by the Templeton Foundation’s “The Big Questions” Series and the Washington Post’s “On Faith” program.  I received the invitation through Socrates in the City.  The debate lasted for a little over an hour and was moderated by Sally Quinn of the Washington Post and Jon Meacham from Newsweek.

The Monsignor began by expressing the admiration he had for Hitchens and that he liked his best selling book, God is Not Great. I thought this was a nice gesture but as the debate developed, his extreme kindness got frustrating for me (and for many others).  The problem was the Monsingnor kept agreeing with Hitchens.  At first I thought he was being polite, then I speculated he might be “ropa-doping” him Ali Style and was about to counter him with some great upper cut point – but that never happened.  Now, I don’t want to see something that belongs on the Jerry Springer show but this was not an interesting debate.  Nor did it seem interesting to Hitchens who eventually tried to push the Monsignor to a point of difference.  Finally after Hitchens dropped the F-bomb the Monsignor told him not to be flippant (as Hitchens accused him of being earlier in the debate).  It was a great stand that lasted a little longer than an agnostic’s prayer.

What was that I wanted to see?  A debate or a discussion or  something that combined wit and courage.  As a new friend pointed  out, the idea of debates are outdated.  He may be right, however  couldn’t we manage some kind of intelligent discussion with sharp  and articulate disagreement?   Certainly I did not have some deliusion  that the guy would be so good that Hitchens would fall on his knees  and repent but was hoping for a discussion.  In the future, I’d be  interested in seeing a guy like Hitchens “discuss matters” with a guy like Tom Wright.

Reflecting on Rick Warren's Visit to NYC

Today me and our jr. high youth pastor went to see Rick Warren at the New York City Cultural Center in Brooklyn.  Frankly, I have mixed feelings about this whole thing.  I love the guy named “Rick” who has the last name “Warren”, while I am cautious of the brand of Rick Warren.  I think he’d say the same on a good day. 

The event promoted the New York City Leadership Circle and a bunch of other things.  For instance, (in case you haven’t heard), Warren is promoting a new movement called, “40 Days of Love” and he preached a sermon to us on the topic.  Honestly it was very good.  Of course it was, after all, you don’t get to me “Rick Warren” the brand by not being good. 

I couldn’t help but like him. He’s got personality, gives off a down to earth quality and is prepared to speak on the topic of choice.  He’s interesting, inspiring (and now I’ll use any word that doesn’t begin with letter ‘i’), and seems to enjoy what he’s sharing.  To contrast that with other leaders who seem to be annoyed that they have to explain these types of things to their audience.  They tend to come across as condescending.  And miserable.

This launched quite a few thoughts.  Like what makes someone a mega-church pastor?  Is it calling, talent, pedigree, money, education, the right people around you (social pedigree), circumstance, vision, etc?   I have nothing against who God sets up in the places He desires to.  However, I get frustrated with the “game show” senior pastor, if you know what I mean.

In the course of this morning, Rick spoke of Saddleback and several huge surrounding churches.  He mentioned Greg Laurie and plugged his event at Madison Square Garden in October.  This got me thinking, how we do not have nearly the East coast equivalent o mega-churches led by iconic pastoral figures.  I think the two most popular North East Coasters are Tim Keller from Redeemer and Joe Fosch from Calvary Chapel.  In the South, there are probably more but I can only think of Andy Stanely.  Anyway, this got me thinking why and the differences between the Northeast and California culture.

I am concluding that it has to be more then the Jewish and Catholic strongholds in the Northeast.  Some of it has to do with our elitism, lack of hospitality, the northeast pace (yes I realize other parts are busy too but here they call it the New York minute and until they change it to the Milwaukee minute, you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt), and I don’t know how much of it is spiritual warfare. I’d have to do some more thinking about these things but it got me concerned in a weird way.  I don’t want more mega-churches, in fact, I think they’ll be sorta of a dinosaur eventually except for the mega-mega churches but that’s another story.  I think I became concerned that more mega-churches will form in our area.  Everything always starts in California right?


My Monday Brief

I’m not really sure how the Monday Brief got started.  I saw Marko doing it on his blog and so does Jake Bouma. (I really should introduce myself at some point to him.  I have poor online manners. However, unlike Jake, I am not posting a picture of men’s tighty-whities on my blog.  It’s a weird policy I have – lol).  Anyway, I liked the idea, so as a good youth pastor, I’m stealing it. 

Highlight of the week:  Apple-picking with Susan, Nathan and some great friends.  Aside from trips to grandparents, that may have been our first family outing.  It was Nathan and my first time apple-picking.

Also, attended the second last game at Yankee Stadium. (It was the last day game if that’s special.)  Great game, robinson Cano 2 out, walk off gw single with bases loaded

Book(s) I’m reading: Community 101, Creating Community by Andy Stanley for school. Reading Paul by Michael Gorman for emergent conference. 

Music I’m digging:  Sigur Rios – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust but I have no idea what they’re saying.  They could be beautifully praising pollution for all I know.  I still agree with my teen-age self, “I don’t care about the words, I like the music…”  (Yes, I care about words too.  It’s why I don’t like country – lol)

Something(s) that blew my mind: The Miami Dolphins  beating the New Enland Patriots easily.  What a difference a year makes.

Ministry update: Pretty good start for Sr. High.  Just hired new part time jr. high pastor and he’s fantastic.

Seminary/ordination update:  Seminary going well.  Just started second year (one more to go).  Biblical Seminary was kind enough to help sponsor our emergent midatlantic conference with Peter Rollins. 

Looking forward to: the fall in general.  Some great events/conferences coming up. Even cooler – Nathan is going to be crawling soon.    


A late night reflection on emerging church, power, and conversation …

Evan has a put up a reflection that starts with Phyllis Tickle, and continues by sharing his impressions of the emerging church movement, it’s effect on Christendom, power, and the Church itself.  I always enjoy talking to Evan so you might enjoy reading his post.

That said, I’m not sure I can commit to the reduction of “us versus them”.  One of the pleas of the postmodern mindset, is the idea of both or more and being careful of the idea of exclusivity.  As one who connects with the emergent church, I see it “many against us” while emergent-thinking types ask, “Why not us too?”.

Thus, I don’t see this as a fight for power.  Feel free to call me naïve.  Further, I think most who consider themselves to be emergent don’t want “power” in the traditional sense.  Influential, maybe, but only by those who want to be influenced.  Speaking for myself, I want to engage in conversation with whoever is interested in hearing my voice.  Either as a fellow child in the Lord or if one does not recognize themselves as a child of the Lord, then as whoever you’d identify me as.  Just like I am willing to listen and converse with the voices of others.  This is not universalism, and it’s only conversation and if we have such a great gospel, then let us refrain from only sharing it on our turf and terms. You can have the “power”, I just want conversation.  For the record, I have not interpreted Evan’s post to extend this far, he just got me thinking so do not read this as a rebuttal.

Back to the church context, Paul seems clear to me that we cannot all share the same convictions.  We don’t have to agree on even majority of our points.  (Certainly the essentials and I realize that we may differ on what we may identify as essential).  You don’t have to read my books either.  Frankly, I cannot see certain people reading writers like Jones, Pagitt, McLaren, (or even Bell!).  Emergent/emerging/whatever is not a new brand of evangelism but it is dialoguing with new people and some of them are people would have never stepped foot in my church.  Now, my brother Evan does not imply that he thinks this but I firmly suspect that others do.  Among the evidence is instead of brotherly discussion, many of us have been attacked, punished, and rejected as apostates.  That said, don’t try to burn my books either, just as I have never damaged a single copy of any of the Left Behind, Prayer of Jabez, or WWJD  books, bracelets, or refrigerator magnets.  For that, I think you owe me one.  

From Worship Leader Magazine – "Why Are They Leaving?"

While at the Alliance Seminary Library I saw this cover of Worship Leader Magazine.  I don’t really pay attention to WLM bc I’m not one but I appreciated the cover story, entitled, “Why Are They Leaving” by Francis Chan (Crazy/Love).  Chan is everywhere these days but anyway. 

I’m not real sure he really got to why the youth are leaving, but it was a great article just awkwardly titled. 

The article contains a good amount regarding the early church and church culture then and today and acknowledges that as a worship leader, you might not have a ton of control over that.

Toward the end of the article he writes, “So, why are you telling me this?  I’m just a worship leader.  And this article is supposed to be about youth.  The answer to that is the simple fact that Jesus is the only reality that can be relied upon to reach the net generation of leaders and worshippers.  That is the answer to reaching the youth.  Not concert.  Not t-shirts.  Not rock stars, T.V. shows or movies.  Jesus.

As a worship leader, our role is to help people encounter Jesus.  But have you forgotten that you are supposed to be the tangible expression of Jesus.  Jesus doesn’t just mysteriously appear as you sing.  He’s chosen you to put Him on display by the way you live, not the way you sing (2 Cor. 5:20) …”

He goes on for a bit but that’s the gist.  What I liked about it is the reminder that we don’t have to senior pastor to be shapers of the cultures of our church.  And among these shapers is our practice of worship.  Find and read it if interested. 

By the way, if you want to know why the youth are leaving, pick up a copy of UnChristian by Dan Kinnaman.

I'd like to thank …

Thomas Turner for creating my header.





and Todd Hiestand for providing his “Lean and Clean” design and fixing my feed.

I know this is the online equivalent of tying one’s shoes but that doesn’t mean I’m can’t be grateful – lol.

You should read their blogs and  pray that God would allow them to be your friends too.

Reflecting on "What Is Emergent?"

Most days I don’t think that I am the ideal youth pastor.  Partially because I’ve never dyed my hair but some of the other stereotypes apply.  Anyway, I don’t think I make a good conservative, liberal (theologically, politically), whatever.  And though I’m very interested in the emergent conversation, I’m probably not that good of an emergent (haven’t read enough Descartes, Barth should I go on?). 

Regarding the emergent interest, aside from sharing these thoughts with my circle of friends, I’ve tried to keep it low-key.  Not in a shameful sense but because sometimes the conversation itself seems to become too much of a distraction.  That and I don’t feel “qualified” to speak about it.  (Which hasn’t really stopped me if I am being truthful).

I’ve been in two conversations this week basically asking, “Where do I get started in wanting to know if this thing is biblical/right/good/____ or not?”  I almost felt like Peter when the jailer asked P&S, “What must I do to be saved?”.  One was in my church hallway, the other was in class (I attend Biblical Seminary). Those that were there can testify that I tried not to say anything, but after 10 minutes, it was like a “fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary of not holding it in.” (Yes, people like me, read, apply and love the Scriptures).

These are my quick bullet point thoughts regarding an intro into the emergent conversation.  (Though there’s always more then three points, I’m being a good Bible preacher by only giving you three).

1.  If all you know of postmodernism is from Chuck Colson, Ravi Zacharias (men who I respect very much and I am not being sarcastic) and others then try to either unlearn the idea that postmodernism equals the relativism described by that mentality.  As I found, you must expand your education of postmodernism in order to appreciate it and gain an understanding of it. 

2. Try not to think of it in terms of conservative versus liberal.  Some have accused it of being today’s liberalism repackaged.  I consider myself to be generally conservative (as in belief in literal resurrection, embrace the idea of inspiration, love the trinity) and I’d like to say that  part of the problem is that whenever we, conservatives, encounter a liberal, we are too quick to break fellowship.  We leave the table, thereby creating a “liberal table”.  This is a conversation and it’s one that participation is encouraged, welcomed, and needed.  On a side note, one of the hallmarks is the desire not to break fellowship – I love that.

3. So much more to say, but there’s a beautiful humility that you need to experience.

For a brief intro, I encourage you to read, Scot McKnight’s “5 Streams of the Emerging Church”.

If you have $20, pick up Tony Jone’s New Christians at Barnes and Noble or here at Amazon.  It’s a user-friendly, honest perspective of the emerging church movement.  Read it twice, have every intention of blogging by perspective about it.  Til that day, you are encouraged to read it for yourself.