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.

Franke Installation Post 2 – Tim Keel – "Leadership, the Local Church and the Crisis of Imagination"

Tim is a very gifted-communicator who has great energy and comes across very likeable.  And so, many are surprised to discover that he is part of the emergent conversation.  Seriously, a needed message on imagination .  Here are the rough notes if interested.

Tim Keel – “Leadership, the Local Church and the Crisis of Imagination”

The most significant crisis that we may be facing is the Crisis of imagination.

imagination – the faculty or action of forming new ideas.

images or concepts not present to the senses.

you have the ability to see something that is not yet there.

Imagination is critical to leadership – especially if we are going to go some place we have never been. 

unfortunately our well has run dry.

Our leadership imagination has been domesticated (has been “tamed” as defined by the audience)

Maybe we have domesticated the Holy spirit which is the source of imagination.

However is it possible to domesticate the HS?

So is the Spirit still in the building?

Our modern enlightenment epistemology – 

truth and knowledge is always universal

leaders who are deeply imbedded in their context

they are seeing a God acting out in their place

we do not believe that God is active where we work and live – THUS we must go and find out where He is.

American pragmatism – (ministry titillation) – 2nd cousin to modern epistemology

Christian Century uses Jacob’s Well

Email of a person at “emerging” worship conference

Thomas merton passage

Jesus prayer of unity is an impossible …

Whenever we disagree with each other, we break fellowship

Bc in the west the worst sin is heresy

in the east churches, the worst sin is schism, breaking away.

in the absence of diversity we also lose imagination and create isolation.

imagination requires engagement

imagination requires hope

in place of modern commitments, many of us are understanding context, narrative

then we discover patterns of connectivity 

Joy, partnership to a different future.

Franke Installation Post 1 – Scot McKnight – "The Bible and Missional Listening"

I’m at the “Missional Christianity … Church Beyond Boundaries” Conference at Biblical Seminary. It will conclude with John Franke being installed as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professorship in Missional Theology. (Since my friends and have referred to it as the Franke installation, and they’re here and generally the only ones who read this blog, I’ll probably refer to it as the Franke Installation. If you are reading this and do not fall into the sentence, you are now not confused, right?)

Scot McKnight gave the first Plenary Session and here are my rough notes from it. (I’m practicing my live-blogging skills for the emergent conference, which by the way, Tim Keel is in the house).

Scot McKnight – “The Bible and Missional Listening”

Franke is on the cutting edge of doing theology from a missional perspective.

Illustration – Art school piece – like the artist – who says something deep from within the soul and so we gaze upon the text.

The Bible is God’s story.

Look, see, respond

A Model called authority

Too many stop short by asking how can I understand and what method do I use

The Drama of Doctrine – Kevin VanHoozer …

these are not good enough questions

(Scot) grew up with a fundamentalist perspective

these are the words that lead to a framing story: god revelation inerrancy, authority submission revealed himself in the bible to make sure they got it right … and so I believe the bible is true formula of words

fosters a relationship to the bible that demand submission.

focusing on the subject matter is not enough

A Model Called Relationship

instead one that leads to a missional dance.

1. Distinguishes God from the Bible the person and the paper are not the same. missing the difference of God and the Bible is like reading Jonah and wondering how long human beings living inside whales the book is about Jonah and God not Jonah and the whale God speaks to us in words but is more

2. It is a written communication to us in the form of words God is not the Bible to make the Bible into God is idolatrous Francis Schaeffer – He is there and is not silent

3. to listen to God the person, speak in the Bible and engage God as we listen wiki stories – the ongoing story … divinely guided so their wiki stories tell God’s stories

4. relational approach believes we enter into the discussion the Bible has and the Church has had with it.

If we learn read the Bible with generation, it’s more like sitting down at the table with 3 generations, we are enriched with deeper understanding of family relational way is reading in community we are in search of more then paper difference between paper and person god gave the bible not so we can know it, but so that we can know the bible through it.

framing scripture relationally is necessary.

These words give us the story we find ourselves in.

story of college student talking about his youth pastor’s view of the Bible what good is errancy if you don’t do what it says and if I’m doing the will of God am I not justifying my view of believing in inspiration,

revelation, inerrancy describes our view of the Bible but talking about it is not enough.

Alan Jacobs – theology of reading hermeneutics of love

•1. Written words are written communication to one person to another

• 2. The proper relationship of a Christian is to listen to that person’s words.

Words are personal exchanges not scribbles on paper.

This is why we care what others say o Because words are part of our experiences, who we respond to them matters. o Books and authors are to be treated as neighbors we need to get better at listening (If you need to know, read blogs) Listen to the bible. The Bible is filled with folks not acting saintly.

Augustinian conclusions if you are doing good works you are reading the Bible aright if you are not doing good works you are not reading the Bible aright then change

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?


Jesus for President Tour in NYC

About two weeks ago, I went with the cool kids to see Shane Claiborne (among them was Thomas from Everyday Liturgy.  Check out his post here) on the Jesus for President Tour with Chris Haw at the Fifth Presbyterian Church on 5th Avenue.  (Got excellent street parking too – it was such a good night).

It was very well done.  You needed to remember that it was a book tour thing and Shane and Chris gave a solid visual and oral summary of Jesus for President.  There were several excellent qualities about it.  One was its intention.  For me, I didn’t want to go to a political or an anti-political rally.  I appreciated how it was not a sermon, or even a spontaneous lecture.  It wasn’t about Shane or the Simple Way, it really was about the point of their book.  Second, Shane and Chris read from excellently worded scripts and had a keynote presentation on the screen above.  Intertwined was music.  But not Chris Tomlin music (although there’s nothing wrong with that), but instead an incredible folk band called the Psalters (who “sold” their cds for donations) that combined traditional, contemplative, and various other styles into a neo-folk style.


Among the things that I took from it was that this wasn’t a “Gen-X thing”.  It really wasn’t.  Certainly majority of the crowd were young Xers and older Millenntials but nothing was too edgy, or too “postmodern”, or whatever label you would slap on.  Nor was it anti-war rally exalting the virtues of pacifism and the evils of anything in particular.  Instead, it was a great reminder that politics will not save us. Most of us who showed up probably walked in with that assumption.  Let’s keep that in check so instead worship, serve, and love Jesus.  We ought to do our diligent part in working for the Kingdom here. 


Go see it if you can,

Among many places, you can buy the book here.

Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church

On October 10, 2008, Biblical Sem will be host: Next Challenges in Theology & Praxis for the Missional Church, which will serve as the Installation Ceremony – John R. Franke as the Lester and Kay Clemens Professor in Missional Theology.

Speakers will be Brian McLaren, Scot McKnight, Tim Keel.

Hey, i don’t care if they are installing energy efficient light bulbs, I’m thrilled my school is doing this.  Seriously, I’m also happy that a guy like John Franke is being celebrated.  A good man who loves God.  His only sin is that he likes the Vikings.  May God have mercy on us all.

Here’s what I know:

Noon – Registration
1:00 – 1:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Scot McKnight
2:00 – 2:45 p.m. – Parallel sessions
2:45 – 3:15 p.m. – Snack break
3:15 – 4:00 p.m. – Parallel sessions
4:00 – 4:50 p.m. – Plenary session, Q & A with Tim Keel

5:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Reception with refreshments 

6:30 – 9:00 p.m. – Formal installation ceremony

David Dunbar

Darrell Guder 
Brian McLaren “An Epistemology of Love”
John Franke