Abductive Columns

Friday, December 31, 2004

Conversation to Movement

After blogging off and on for a few years, I’ve just about come to the conclusion that blogging is little more than another form of individualism. Think about it. One person post thoughts and links that is important to them. At best a conversation begins among the readers in the form of “comments.” (Admittedly, there is the occasional team blog—but they are far fewer in number than the solo blog).

Now, I’m all for conversation, but will the conversation every trickle down to the majority? Let me restate that—will the conversation every trickle down to those who can turn the online emergent conversation into a movement? If so how will that happen? I don’t want to be overly negative but from my experience it appears the ones who need to (and would) sign on to the conversation must first be online reading the conversation. Is that the possible link that is missing in transforming our conversation into a swelling and unstoppable movement?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

If I could do it All Again

If I could start over and do it all again I would:

1) Love my wife more the second time around.

I never really learned to hug until I was in my fifties. When the kids were growing up and on those occasions when tears streamed down their little cheeks over a child thing I didn’t always reach over and hug them. I wish I had more. But I think it would have been easier for me to hug somebody else if I had seen my father do it a few times.

2) I’d try to have more fun with my kids.

The people who have made keen observations about human life realize that children need to be able to laugh with their parents. Every family should have those happenings, those memories, those words that bring laughter back.

3) I would try to listen more carefully to my children and my wife the second time around.

I seemed to practice what I call “half-an-ear” listening where you tell the child to go ahead and talk, I can hear you, but the child knows you are reading something while you are listening. If I had it to do over I would stop everything and get down on my knees and look them directly in the eyes as they talked and I listen intently with my heart. That’s what I would do.

4) I would try to be more honest

I too made bad grades.
I used language that I wouldn’t use today
And I was afraid of some of the same things they are. Yada, Yada, Yada. Maybe that kind of honesty would have allayed many of their fears.

5. I would try less the next time through to change my family.

At times I think I would have liked “cloned” kids. Little copies of me and mom. They should like the same music. They should like the same clothes. They should wear their hair like me (I have none. Look up and to the right at my picture). We all have stressors around these points but do you know what? Most are less important than we make them.

6. If I could start again, I would try to find ways to bring us into closer togetherness.

It’s been reported somewhere (I don’t remember where) that boys spend less than eight minutes a week alone with their fathers. That stat may need updated but the point is well taken. If I could do it again I would make the time for more personal interaction with my children. That is the way our relationship with God and with my family ought to be. A sense of belonging. A full togetherness.

7. If I were starting over I would encourage my family more.

Can you remember the first words of encouragement from your father? If you’re father gave you any encouragement as you were growing up you probably remember those special words. “I’m proud of you” or “I trust you.” Words that provided a sense of security as you moved out into the world.

8. If I had a second chance I would encourage a closer relationship between my children and God.

This can be difficult. If you try to do it overtly, you can accomplish the opposite of what you want. Some things are best approached by indirection. I sometimes wonder why God gave us the greatest amount of zeal while immature and less than adequate energy tanks for zealous pursuit when we age into maturity and wisdom? But if I had the maturity of a fifty year old when I was twenty-years old I would be acutely aware the second time around that I stand in the place of God to the child I love. It’s through me, the parent, that the child relates to God.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

The First Sign of Aging

I don’t know about you but I take myself very seriously. I am an expert at building molehills into mountains. Most of the time I can blow a minor inconvenience out of all proportion until it looks like a major calamity.

It was that way fifteen years ago when I had to give in to wearing bifocals. I fought it for a couple of years while I allowed reality to finally put me on that dreaded path to the optician’s office. There he told me I also had “presbyopia.” That’s all I needed to hear—I had old eyes. So I went reluctantly into bifocals. You would have thought someone had died! I went home and put on a black armband. For days I moped about this mammoth catastrophe that had hit me. Finally I climbed back from my “slough of despond.” Slowly I decided there was life after bifocals.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Twelve Gifts for God

1) When weakness comes I’ll turn to my strength (Christ) instead of my weakness (food, sin, withdrawal, etc.)

2) Because the Kingdom is bigger than culture and comforts, I’ll resolutely work alongside modern or postmodern as we fight our common enemy

3) Listen more and talk less

4) Approach every person as if it’s my last day on earth

5) Spend as much time encouraging other as I do sitting at this keyboard

6) Become more like a little child

7) Thank God more for my troubles than my comforts

8) Look forward not backward

9) Because practicing the presence of God demands I openly tell on myself more, I will seek others out to do just that

10) Not worry so much about what others say (whether criticism or accolades) and dedicate myself to playing to an audience of One

11) Give up the unconscious and subtle forms of control I practice

12) To love others more than myself irregardless of worldview, race, creed, economic status, friend or enemy

Friday, December 24, 2004

The Restoration Movement of the 1800s Analogous to the Emergent?

Stephen Shields has a link to the blog of Chris Gonzales in which he writes that the spirit that that launched the restoration movement is similar to that of the emerging. He goes on to point out the failures of the restoration movement present potential dangers for the emergent. Since I’m a part of the restoration heritage I find what Chris Gonzales of Home Front says very interesting. And, of which, I agree completely. [link]

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Simpler Structures

Chris Marshall, of Ordinary Community, has a great post on “simple structure and values.” He talks straight from his heart on modes of learning, how $$ drive ministry, traditional church vs. simpler structures, evangelism, the difference between simple structures and house churches, and on and on. It’s a must read. Thanks Chris!

I suppose simple churches are somewhat of a natural by-product of the postmodern worldview and deconstruction but it is not a new idea and has existed in the Body in history particularly in places where persecution pushed the churches underground. Its hard to differentiate modernistic structures and postmodern in one blog post but this is my attempt. 5 years ago, I thought simple church structures was my origingal idea and that I was all alone. What I've learned since is that thousands of people like me all over the world have been thinking the same thoughts and coming to some of the same conclusions for our contribution to the Body. Either we are all into the same heresy or the Spirit wanted to start writing a different story perhaps preparing some branches of the Church for a specific purpose and future. (that's my best prophetic guess)

[read the whole post and the comments…]

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Culture and Change

When western culture goes shopping for spirituality they seek out the likes of Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Marianne Williams; unlike the 1970s and 80s when they looked to “evangelical Christians” for spiritual help. Now, they associate “church and Christians” with religion, morality and beliefs. Only those with a church background- who think it's time I "clean up my act"--will seek out a "church." And often it turns out this people group seldom is looking for spiritual meaning; more the "get a grip" and “shape up” concept of the 70s and 80s.

Yesterday my daughter, a cultural native, said she “wanted to belong to a less rigid faith community than what the protestant denominations offer.”

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Postmodern Missionary to West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio or Doable Evangelism for Normal People

Katie of the Sleep Inn in Louisville, Kentucky

“Hi my name is Fred what’s your name?”


“Has it been busy today?”

"No, not to bad. But it picks up late in the afternoon and evening.”

“Who are you watching?”

“Louisville is playing Kentucky.”

“Who’s ahead?”

“Louisville, by seven points.”

“Who you rooting for?”

“Now, who do you think? Of course, I’m rooting for Louisville.”

“You have time for a couple questions? Your thoughts are important to me.”


“I’d like to get your thoughts on faith and church, is that an ok topic?”


“Ok, do you think church is relevant to society today?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Do you attend church?”


“Last question. Do you think your faith should be something you talk about publicly or do you consider it a private affair?”

“Well, I don’t…but it’s different for each person.”

We exchange a few pleasantries and then my wife and I started back to our room and Katie yelled.

“Hey, can I get you to email me that picture?”


She grabbed a piece of hotel stationer and jotted her email address down and handed it to me.

The next morning I stopped by the desk and chatted with Katie for a few minutes and then as we went out the door I gave her a tip and told her I appreciated her. I’ll stay in touch with Katie. More later.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Preaching & Missions Within the Context of Your Culture

Posting has become somewhat of a challenge of late. I’m readying to go out the door and head for Louisville, Kentucky to visit my oldest daughter. She’s a third year medical student. You can bet dad is proud of her. It’s a rare occasion when she comes home for a visit; this third year demands much of her time.

On the way back to Huntington, WV we’ll stop in Morehead, Kentucky and I’ll preach at a small congregation. Huntington is on the Ohio River and borders the three states of Kentucky, Ohio, WV. The cultural diversity one can find in and around the Tri-State region are striking. Seriously! Where (except possibly Huntington, WV) can one drive 30 miles south and find themselves an immigrant in the middle of Appalachia. Drive 150 miles further south and you might be able to visit a church that emphasizes faith via snake handling. Head in the opposite direction (north) and 200 miles later you’ll arrive in Columbus, Ohio. Head east from Huntington, as my wife and I will, and sixty miles down the interstate you’ll be in Morehead, Ky another Appalachian center. But what makes Morehead different from other Appalachian communities is the moderately sized university located there. Continue east another 150 miles and you’re in Louisville, a large urban center. I’ve found preaching an ineffective means of reaching experiential people but in Morehead I’m sure preaching is indigenous to that culture. So, I’ll give a 20 minute (non-controversial) lesson and head back home.

Rick Presley posted the following comments to the faithmaps group.
In conversations on other lists, pomo isn't even on the radar. And when it is, it is usually the object of vitriol from the likes of Chuck Colson or Al Mohler. I'm with ya' Mike, but I don't know what the alternatives and options are. Pomissionaries? Possibly. Fred Peatross seems to be setting a model for those of you who are regular subscribers to his newsletter. He lives along the Ohio River near the junction of KY, OH and WV. Definitely not an urban center down there.We may want to hear more from him on how to do it in the sticks.

I’m still looking for that church willing to partner, and tolerate some failure, in exploring an original and creative endeavor in shaping a present-future missional effort to this region. There are a couple of possibilities. More later.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Emerging Wisdom for Churches

I'm learning a lot from Andrew Jones of Tall Skinny Kiwi. With each new post comes insightfully thoughtful reflection. I'm still waiting for a mundane post. His most recent post; Emerging Wisdom for Churches seems to be the first in a series. Check it out

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Emergent Conversation: Paradigm Shaping and its Effects

The emergent conversation has reshaped my church paradigm—so much so that I'm now an erratic participant with little passion to re-engage in the prevailing ministries of the current church model. In many ways it is the result of an awareness of the ever-widening gulf between the church and its host culture.

When I reflect on the effects these changes have had, it upsets my psyche to think I might have disappointed some or that I may have taken on the image of someone with little determination to finish what I have started.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

A Few Thoughts and a Number of Cool New Discoveries

Tim Berroth, of Kaleo Fellowship, writes a review of the book American Jesus for this month’s issue of Next-Wave Magazine. It’s a new book by Stephen Prothero released this past September. The review is my first exposure to the book and it certainly has wet my appetite for further reading.

I wrote an article for this same issue of Next-Wave titled Impartational Mentors which Rex Miller, the author of The Millennial Matrix contributed to. Somehow his name wasn't credited. Sorry about that Rex. Maybe some one from Next-Wave will read this post and make the correction.

Andrew Jones <TallSkinny Kiwi.com> has a post on his weblog that quotes Douglas Rushkoff and provides an interesting thought from a piece Rushkoff authored. If one follows the link Andrew provides deep enough you’ll be led to Rushkoff’s blog, which is an interesting work. If you’re not familiar with Douglas Rushkoff his bio says he analyzes, writes and speaks about the way people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other's values. He sees "media" as the landscape where this interaction takes place, and "literacy" as the ability to participate consciously in it.

Many of you might be familiar with his award-winning Frontline documentary "The Merchants of Cool" which was one of the most watched and most talked about documentaries of the year.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Three Best Reads for the Last Quarter of 2004

Life on the Vine: Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit in Christian Community
by Philip Kenneson

Kenneson says, “We must take a hard look at the ways in which the dominant culture shapes our daily lives.” In this book Kenneson gives a chapter to each of the fruits of the Spirit—-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control- and shows how bearing each fruit will not be without difficulty, as each fruit has something that is trying to choke it out in American culture.

by Anthony De Mello

Whenever I want to move someone from spiritual laziness and try to give him/her direction to spiritual path I give them this book as a gift. It will open your eyes and shatter your understandings. It cuts through our masks and our maya like a scalpel cuts through skin. It doesn’t always leave you with a pleasant feeling but what’s said is absolutely necessary—wake up!. So read this book. And then pick it back up in six months and read it again!

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving With Grace
by Gordon MacKenzie

Although I have read many excellent books about nurturing creativity while working in an institution, this is the first book I have read where the author has been someone who has done that repeatedly and in a variety of ways. This book is stimulating visually as well as intellectually, fun to read, and the chapters are short enough to be assimilated by even the most harried person.

So if you work with a “church” that still does modern ministry and you’re trying to be a part but your deep involvement in the emergent conversation has you on another track, I strongly suggest you read this book. Orbiting the Giant Hairball provides many stimulating approaches to creativity, especially in the often stifling environment of the corporate world/church.

Friday, December 10, 2004

An Example of Missional

Here’s an example of an Ordinary Attempt, although the writer sees it through a churchy perspective I see it as an example of how frequenting the same places of business and getting to know the people brings with it “ordinary attempts” for Jesus. [read the story]

The Emergent Conversation

Today I’m meeting with a group of 5-6 ministers. They call their monthly meetings “Mission Tri-State” I met with them last month, but could only spend an hour getting acclimated to the group. It’s a two hour get together. Because I'm stingy with my time I find it difficult to give up two hours. But today I plan to stay and put out a feeler. Maybe it will be worth posting their thoughts on what's said when I introduce them to the emergent conversation. Not sure how they’ll respond.

I found this quote on The Century Christian.

The mainline churches are facing their own crisis involving declining membership (especially among younger generations), clergy shortages, and deep polarization over issues such as human sexuality. The very churches that had sought to be relevant to the modern world (each in its own way) had become irrelevant to and ill-equipped for the postmodern world.

Overshadowing the sense of crisis, however, has been a contagious sense of opportunity—a belief that the time is right for churches to reshape themselves as thoroughly missional communities. Doing this will require moving beyond the sterile polarities that have defined the church in the modern era: liberal vs. conservative, traditional vs. contemporary, reason vs. experience, faith vs. science, megachurch vs. maintenance church.
[read the article]

Monday, December 06, 2004


I don’t fly as much as I use to but when I was a missionary to the Ukraine I spent more than a few hours in airports waiting for the next leg of my journey.

Are you a frequent flyer—a missionary, a business traveler? If so you've probably heard that dreaded announcement— Attention, passengers! Due to the snowstorm all flights have been cancelled until further notice.

The Budget Traveler’s Guide to Sleeping in Airports

Thursday, December 02, 2004


A failure to lament is a failure to connect. If we refuse to learn lamentations, our lives fragment into episodes and anecdotes, a succession of jerky starts and gossipy cul-de-sacs, But we’re in a story in which everything eventually comes together, a narrative in which all the puzzling parts finally fit, about which years later we exclaim, “Oh, so that’s what it meant!” But being in a story means that we mustn’t attempt to get ahead of the plot—skip the hard parts, erase the painful arts, detour the disappointments. Lament—making the most of our loss without getting bogged down in it—is a primary way of staying in the story. God is telling the story, remember. It’s a large, capacious story. He doesn’t look kindly on our editorial deletions. But he delights in our poetry.
from Earthly Spirituality for Everyday Christians…Eugene Peterson

The Passion of Church vs. The Passion of Christ

taken from the Daily Nation; Kenya, East Africa