New Blog Design – Thanks Todd!

It is customary to announce your blog redesign with great pride and ask if people like it.  This is because the designer and the blogger are usually one in the same.  This is not the case here.  So, if you don’t like the redesign, keep it to yourself or start blogging (I find that most criticism comes from those who either don’t blog or hardly blog.)  Seriously, thank Todd if you like the design.  Or if you really like me, don’t thank Todd, thank me for knowing Todd and letting him do this (I’m a nice guy, what can I say?)

But if I may say,  I like it.  I feel like I got a new … I don’t know  … failing to come up with an appropriate metaphor.  I like that’s it’s black, for one. I like the black background with the white tablet, adds dimension. I like my twitter bar up top, my flickr plug-in, and a couple other sidebar things.  Now I need to edit/add my blog roll, insert my books, add more to flickr, maybe eve blog more then once a week -lol.

On a serious note, to those of you who have access to church budgets, I’d like to recommend you hiring Todd to redesign your church’s website.  (It’s something I’m working on but the last thing anyone dealing with church finances wants to hear is, “We need money for …”).  So maybe October 2008 isn’t the best time but I would encourage to keep Todd in mind.

Conversation between Karl Giberson and Michael Shermer in NYC

Anyone Interested in joining me?

Invites you to a conversation between 

Karl W. Giberson 
author of Saving Darwin (HarperOne) 
and Michael Shermer magazine 

Raised a fundamentalist, Giberson firmly believed in creationism during his college years. But while working on his Ph.D. in physics, he began to doubt that science could have gotten everything as thoroughly wrong as the creationists suggested. In Saving Darwin, he paints a clear picture of the creation/evolution controversy and explores its intricate history, from Darwin to the current culture wars, carefully showing why – and how – it is possible to believe at the same time in both God and modern evolutionary science.

35 West 44th Street, New York City

RECEPTION: 6:00–6:30 PM | EVENT: 6:30–7:30 PM 
Please join us afterward for food, drink, 
and informal conversation with the speakers. 

RSVP (acceptances only): 

Michael NovakKarl W. Giberson is professor of physics at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, Massachusetts. A leading scholar in the field of science and religion, he was the founding editor of Science & Theology News and has served as editor-in-chief of Science & Spirit magazine. He is the author of, among other books, Worlds Apart: The Unholy War between Science and Religion andSpecies of Origin: America’s Search for a Creation Story (with Don Yerxa).

Michael NovakMichael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine (, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a professor at Claremont Graduate University. His many books include How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God and Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design.

The John Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for research and discoveries relating to what scientists and philosophers call the Big Questions. We support work at the world’s top universities in such fields as theoretical physics, cosmology, evolutionary biology, cognitive science, and social science relating to love, forgiveness, creativity, purpose, and the nature and origin of religious belief. We also encourage informed, open-minded dialogue between scientists and theologians as they apply themselves to the Big Questions in their particular disciplines.

Book Forum

Awesome Redesign in Progress

If you are reading this post, it means that the amazingly talented and good looking Todd Hiestand is redesigning my blog.  We’re doing the design live so that means that the site will look a little weird while we work on it. 

Come back after a few hours and we’ll have a slick new design up and running…

Monday Morning Brief

Highlight of the Week – Taking Nathan pumpkin picking.  He didn’t like it but we did.

 Also enjoyed being at the EDA Conference with fellow pastors, old friends like Eric Couch.  Enjoyed listening to Dave Kinnaman, Mike Harder.  

Looking Forward To – The Emergent Conference “Reclaiming Paul” in Kansas City.  I really can’t wait for this.

What Broke My Heart – Reading this NY Times article, “Rape Victims’ Words Help Jolt Congo into Change” about the Congo’s Terrible Rape Problem.  

What I Am Reading – The Historical Books – Richard D. Nelson (for class).  Almost finished with “Reading Paul”.

What I Thought Was uhh… Interesting – The Washington Post didn’t show any respect to W (link here).  But Christianty gave it 3.5 stars!  My initial reaction is to think CT is trying too hard.

What I Am Listening to – Fermi Project Podcast 23 – with Andrew Crouch, Episode 20 with Brian McLaren, and Episode 19 with Shane Hipps.  Appreciate the Fermi Project.

Reflecting on EDC – The Sonlife Training – Post 2

As a youth pastor who loves his calling on most days, I was so pleased that our District had Sonlife Training for us.  I know it was a little inconvenient to other pastors who had to arrive earlier then the official part of the conference but I appreciated it.  Consider it a trade-off for all the business meetings you have made us sit through ;-)


It was so good to see Pastor Mike Harder from Branchcreek Church in Montgomery County PA lead us in the training.   Chris Folmsbe, New Kind of Youth Ministry rewrote the curriculum for Sonlife.  I liked Folsmbe, inevitably I would like the training.


I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain Sonlife.  It’s like student ministry but for Christians.  Let me say it like this.  You know how some student ministries don’t know what they’re doing … like at all.  Especially for those that are not professionally led or for new youth pastors.  They would gain tremendously from a day like this.  Some of it is obvious, but even if you have been in ministry for years, you can be reminded of some aspects that you may be neglecting.  At least that’s how I felt.


You can bring a Sonlife Training Day to your church and invite your youth workers and invite those from other churches.  (I would like to do that one day). 

Reflecting on Eastern District Conference Post 1

The past couple days I attended our Association’s (Evangelical Free Church of America does not consider itself a denomination but an association) District Conference.  

The next several posts will be dedicated to my reactions from the conference.  This year’s theme was “It’s All About the Gospel”.  Enjoy.


Blog Action Day (a little belated)

If you are not a blogger, you might have known that Wednesday was “Blog Action Day (Against Poverty)”. Some great posts out there; I encourage you to check them out.

I’ve been thinking about how we (and not) fight poverty as suburban evangelical believers. Aside from those that commute from the burbs using public transportation, most of us do not see obvious poverty on an everyday level living in the suburbs. Thus, poverty is not a demanding issue for us.

Each day, we may see different kinds of poverty. Being a pastor, I would predictably bring up spiritual poverty. I would say things like, “I see the suburbs littered by people who have no hope and no faith in Jesus Christ …” True and I agree.

There is a different type of poverty that I want to highlight – the poverty of community. I am forming conclusions that many of us well-intentioned suburbanites are poor at exhibiting compassion to social issues like poverty because we are not healthy in being in community.

The more I am concerned with community, the more I am concerned about the hungry, the homeless, the uninsured, the HIV patient, the neglected elderly, juvenile, and countless others. Not only that, but the more I’m in community, the more informed of the needs It has slowly shaped my life and ministry. Slowly.

I am not sure we can eradicate any type of poverty. It’s an interesting discussion that you can probably find some place. My feeling is that you cannot eliminate poverty because evil exists and this is a result of the Fall. This however does not mean that we should not do our best to confront the problem. To my fellow evangelical brother/sister who may not understand what I am trying to say. It’s like saying we cannot eradicate disbelief in Christ as well but we still “evangelize” and share our faith in words … and sometimes actions.

Franke Installation – Post 4 – Brian McLaren – "An Epistemology of Love"

At the Franke Installation, Brian McLaren gave the final reflection.  

As you may, epistemology is the study of knowledge.  It basically asks, “How do we know what we know?” (and as a result, what is it that we actually know?  and don’t know?  It gets pretty fun if you’re into learning and all).  

If you have seen Brian speak in person, you know how calm yet passionate, humble yet confident type of thing.  What else would you expect from a postmodern?  If he pounds the pulpit too hard, I’d be suspicious and if he was too relaxed and boring, I’d accuse him of being … nevermind (we don’t want to offend here).

Anyway, it’s hard to explain and keep the post relatively short but he began humorously asking,

“How do we know?” 

“How do we know that we know”

“What beliefs are warranted?  How do we decide?”

“What does it mean to “know?”

“We all know that we are right …

He stressed I John 4 “…those who think they know do not yet know as they ought to know.”  Unfortunately at this point my recording failed (stupid Microsoft Word Notebook program- what was I thinking??) and lost the remained of my notes.  Fortunately, I ordered the DVD and I remember a little more.

Brian had an interesting theme as he used chimpanzees to illustrate love.  He also used them to illustrate violence and hatred.  He quoted the work of Jane Goodall who spent years studying these chimps and how it affected her.  Now was Brian equating chimps to be humans?  Probably not any more so than Jesus equating people to sheep and goats or seeds or anatomy parts of trees.  But don’t get stuck on that my friend, there’s more to gain.

Say what you want about emergents, but I’d rather limp into heaven by acts of charity then to walk proudly under doctrinal flags and anthems if it meant that the world found me to be more obsessed with my theology then my humanity.  If our theology does not lead us into a deeper love with our God and our neighbor, then we have only found a hobby.  Or to write with more drama, we have only found a tune to whistle to while our hands dig graves for our neighbors.  

But here I am presenting a straw-man argument.  I can hear it now, “No one is saying that we only pursue solid doctrine and not love the stranger.  Why not do both?  Why not pursue a beautiful and better understanding of our God and love people?”  – Good idea, welcome to the conversation of an epistemology of love.

Monday Morning Brief

Something That Thrilled Me:  Beating Evan’s Fantasy Football team this weekend.  I realize that it’s pretty arbitrary and kinda ridiculous, but it was still fun.

Something Important that Thrilled Me: 

1. Being at the John Franke Installation at Biblical.  I really do love my seminary.

2. Hearing one of my youth leaders say at our meeting, “You know,  I thought you were crazy when you said we had to forget about being fun and be more missional.  Like what???  But now I think I’m getting it and I see our kids getting it too”.    Nice moment.  (Which my experience tells me will be followed up by a disastrous moment).

    a. Last week’s wed. night youth group was among the best we’ve had.

    b. Hearing our students share about what they gained from our service project weekend.

Something that grieved me (among other things): Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee.  Appreciated the NY Times for posting this.  

      “The family of Solomon Digal was summoned by neighbors to what serves as a public square in front of the village tea shop.  They were ordered to get on their knees and bow before the portrait of a Hindu preacher. They were told to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and the two brightly colored calendar images of Christ that hung on their wall. Then, Mr. Digal, 45, a Christian since childhood, was forced to watch his Hindu neighbors set the items on fire.

     “ ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ”

Looking forward to:  The Emergent Conference in Kansas City.  (Read 2 more pages this week).  Also looking forward to hearing Dave Kinnaman from UnChristian to speak at our Eastern District Conference. Will be nice to be away with the fellow pastors for a couple days.

Listening to: Think – the audio book (I’m like, old now. whatev.  I always think of geeky accountant-commuters listening to audiobooks.  Cool people listen to podcasts while commuting in their hybrids or while teleporting.  These are just stereotypes, please don’t be offended).  Anyway, after realizing that I was on Disc 3 and learning the need to improve my critical thinking skills, I immediately put on the FM Radio and fortunately Aerosmith’s “Sweeeeeet Emmooooootion” was on.  

Franke Installation – Post 3 – Todd Hiestand & Gary Alloway's Seminar on Being Missional in Suburbia

Please forgive me for name-dropping but Thomas Turner, Evan Curry, Jermiah Stephens, KJ Marks and myself, sat in on the seminar (at Franke’s installation at Biblical) by Todd Hiestand and Gary Alloway.

Although there were about 30-40 people there, the room felt a little cold.  

Maybe it was because they were two young presenters while the median age of the room was older.  Maybe because they use words like “like” and quote Morpheus from the Matrix or maybe they forgot what a traditional audience looks like because they are over at the Well (where the oldest member is Todd.  I joke).

But I want to tell you that not only was their presentation well done but perhaps more importantly, needed.  

Todd posted about it on his site – check it out here.

It is rumored that Gary will blog about it (I know this because I started the rumor).  You can find it here (if not, bother him until he does)

“Missional Church in Suburbia – Are You Kidding?”

Suburb is like a cornucopia of experiences and it can drive people in ministry crazy bc you experience anything and everything

Suburbia is in deep need of Christ

Consumerism and individualism is killing our culture (and, in a way, developing suburban culture”)

·      We want what we want for us, screw everyone else

·      Personal thought, in essence, Christianity is COMPLETELY counter to American culture


·      Our culture could help them in some ways, but would kill them in others

o      Ex. Our medicine and money would make their lives better, but hey would most likely lose their sense of giving and joy. 


Todd shared that him and his wife

Gary Alloway

Quick Bio

Feasterville was the example of suburbia in this seminar.

·      Couple polite jokes of Feasterville.  No downtown street, etc.

if you want to be active in mission we have to know the right questions:

what values do people have, what do people perceive he gospel to be, etc.?

it is claimed that there is no culture in suburbia, not true, rather there is little cultural awareness in the burbs.

In suburbia, your identity is based on somewhere else. 

Missional living in some place begins in knowing where you are.

The pride, the ownership of being where you are. 

Missioanlity is not what happens “out there”, it’s everywhere

Step one then is to know where you are

·      you need to talk to people, be neighborly,

·      people in suburbia know where they are but they don’t know what they are

·      in suburbia you become where you are (the mob mentality)

·      riding your bike in the burbs is different then in the city

o      you notice different things at 6mph then at 65 mph

·      instead of going on a mission trip to Africa or even philly they took a trip to their own area, bucks county.

They also went and found the poor in their area.

Also went and discovered their was a chapel in the philly racetrack and casino.