Abductive Columns

Monday, January 31, 2005

How do you view giving?

From a tax deductible perspective? Does a federally exempt institution influence your check writing? Or do you write the check on the basis of need?

If you suffered a financial reversal and had to change your budget accordingly, would God and his work get eliminated? What stands at the top of your budget? Where does God fit in? Is the cause of God in the world better off because you have been entrusted with money? Or does God get your spare change?

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Shamless Plug (2)

For those of Church of Christ persuasion – Tradition, Opinion, and Truth published in 2000.

Editors Review:
A fast moving book that looks inside the heritage known as the churches of Christ. As a compass gives direction this book will help you understand the difference between culture, tradition and Scripture. If your congregation is attempting to navigate the many changes in 21st century American culture, this may be the book for you. An eye-opener!

Reader Review:
This fascinating and very readable series of short essays on issues in the churches of Christ is a real wake up call. The authors ask many intriguing and challenging questions about subjects such as legalism, tradition, hermeneutics, evangelism, the eldership, and worship, to name just a few.
Buy at Amazon.com

Shamless Plug

I've noticed a number of new visitors traveling in this direction to spend time preusing this blog. For those new visitors I mention a book I wrote in 2003, titled A Mobile Church for E.P.I.C. Times: Moving Across Faith Community Borders

The book's foreword is by Leonard Sweet, with blurbs written by Sally Morgenthaler and Brian McLaren.

Editors Review says:
In his most significant book Fred Peatross challenges his readers to interface the world and the church; to step across faith community borders and create "safe-places" where believers, functioning as guides and explorers, comfortably journey with pre-Christians.

Brian McLaren wrote:
Fred Peatross writes from a heritage within the Restoration Movement, which gives him rightful claim to the title "A Protestant of the Protestants." His insights, challenges, conversations, questions, pokes, prods, humor, confrontations, and inspirations just might help awaken the sleeping Protestant giant, and thus open the way for better days of motivation, ministry, mission. Every reader will find much to remember, ponder, and put into practice.
Pick up a copy at Amazon.com

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Baby Boomer’s Angst with the Emerging Church

Like ever Friday night, five couples converged on a local restaurant to eat and talk late into the evening. The ages in the group run from the late 40s to the mid 50s.

All of them are long time friends and great company. Yet I am the only one who would be considered pomo friendly. All the others innocently “don’t get-it.”

The conversation at my end of the table revolved around a couple of observations from the person sitting next to me:

1. Today’s bible classes are little more than dumbed-down topical studies, philosophical in thought; more life-issue oriented. His premise: Bible classes today are nowhere near what they use to be in thought and biblical content.

2. The distinction (or the clearly marked lines of demarcation) between a Christian and a non-Christian have seemingly been lost in the contemporary church attempting to connect with culture.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Old Word New Meaning

Old words are taking on new meanings in this emerging culture. One of those words is transgressive. In the past when I heard the word transgressive I thought sin and transgressions. Today I think “transgressive church.”

Transgressive churches happily take on what the modern church would consider taboo; outsiders, outcast, and the outlaws.

Will you “take on” the taboos, whatever they are? When I say “take on” I mean less “stand against” than “walk alongside.” The church is here to destroy fortresses, not build them. A Mighty Fortress is not our church. A Mighty Fortress is our God.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What Is Spirituality?

What’s the criterion for judging one's spirituality? It's changed at least two times since I've been a Xian (attendance was the barometer a decade ago...since then it has changed). Is it what one does within the institutional church structures; (involvement in their programs and ministries) is that today’s barometer?

Spirituality is not about knowing Scripture, nor is about praying all day long. Spirituality isn't a formula; it’s not a test. It’s not about competency; spirituality is all about intimacy and connection.

From a back pew I watched the family in front of me model intimacy and connection. They rubbed the backs of their two sons; continually put their arms around them. On a number of occasions the mother whispered to her son, smiled at him, looked him in the eye and then kissed him; he never flinched. Neither teenage boy pulled away from their parent’s incessant loving embraces. Intimacy and connection; complete and full. If these boys and their mother and father are not fully connected to Jesus I assure you their hearts are totally open to Him. After the assembly was dismissed I approach the father and thanked him for the sermon.

From Independent Baptist to Independent Thinking

Take some time to peruse The Huntington Apologetics Blog writings of a couple of guys and a gal (some real pomos) who grew up in the Independent Baptist heritage. I’ve known their father for years. He raised these boys while he shared preaching responsibilities with his father-in-law in a small Independent Baptist Church. A few years ago they left that heritage, planted a church whose music and style is much more relevant to today’s culture. Aaron (worship leader at Living Hope Bible Church) and Josh have a strangely unique (but good) way of meshing old and new apologetics into a useful platform. [link]

Monday, January 24, 2005

Parable of the Bridge

Once upon a time there was a tiny hamlet in the Swiss Alps. This hamlet was in serious trouble. The well that supplied water to the village had run dry. The people began to panic. A river was near the community but located at the bottom of a deep, deep gorge, hence, no one could reach the water. Also, this happened in the middle of the summer, so the snow on the mountain had long since melted.

There was, however, across the gorge on the adjacent mountainside, another well flowing with water. An imaginative young thinker came up with a solution. He built a bridge across the gorge.

The villagers were elated.

A bucket brigade was formed immediately and the water supply was replenished. Needless to say, the bridge became very important to this group. It was their source of life.

They honored the bridge. They renamed the bridge after the builder and painted it a beautiful gold. Tinsels were strung from the bridge. Miniature bridges were built and sold in the streets. People wore them around their necks and hung them in their windows.

A committee was formed to pay homage to the bridge. Only certain people were allowed on the bridge, and then only on certain days, and then only when wearing certain clothes. The bridgekeeper became the most respected person on the mountain. No one could see or cross the bridge without his permission.

Unfortunately there were disputes within the committee. The disagreements centered around such things as whether or not a canopy should be built over the bridge. So the bridge was closed until a decision could be made.

Sadly, many villagers died of thirst while the leaders debated.

article from the 1980s filed away in my files; author unknown

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Brian McLaren Interview

Close to three years ago I interviewed Brian McLaren [read the interview]

I have a good number of interviews I've conducted through the years [link]

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Creative Missional Engagement

I am beginning this new ministry to the missing by asking them to assess the Sunday morning church event. Here's the inital dialogue with my first encounter and the follow-up email.

"Welcome to Arbys. Would you like to try one of our Market Fresh Sandwiches?"

"No, I'd like one of your Martha Vineyard salads and a diet Pepsi."

"Ok, that will be $6.49. Please pull around to the first window."

After pulling around I greet the young lady. "Hello, how are you?"

"I'm fine. Wow, it's not that cold but the wind makes it feel much colder than it is."

"Is it too cold to ask you a question?"

"No, what is it?"

"I'm a field reporter with Off-The-Map out of Seattle, Washington and I'm looking for someone who doesn't attend church and would be willing to go and sit and observe and then give me some analysis of what they see. Do you attend church?"


It's really simple and no commitment is required. Just observe, fill out a questionnaire for me and I pay you $25. Would you be interested?"

"That's awesome. Yes, I'd be interested!"

"Great, How can we communicate? Do you want to give me your phone number or email address?"

"Let's do email."

"Ok, do you regularly check your email?"


"What's your name?"


"Hi, Beth, I'm Fred."

"Hello Fred"

Beth gives me her email address, my salad and I drive away.
That afternoon I email Beth....

Hello Beth,

Fred Peatross of Off-The-Map…the guy you met at Arby's drive-through window who mentioned a $25 gift for going to a church, observing and then doing an assessment of what you saw. You could do this on this Sunday (1-23-05) or the next Sunday (1-30-05). Either will work. Email me and tell me your preference.

You would arrive at the Norway Avenue Church of Christ at 10:15 am without telling anyone the real reason you're there. Just take a seat, sit and observe. Of course if you want you can mingle with the people, but don't reveal the secret!

After you email me with the Sunday you prefer, I will get you a questionnaire. I can drive it by Arbys if you tell me when you work. Then you can look over the questionnaire before you go, take it with you if you want, but fill it out after your church experience. When you fill it out I'd like some in depth analysis. This is always more helpful than one sentence comments. Then I will come to Arbys and pick up the questionnaire and pay you $25 (not bad for a couple hours of observing, hun?)

An example of a couple questions would be:

1. As you sat an observed did the people seem sincere? Forced? Fake?

2. Tell us what you think we are trying to do with our approach to "having church?"

I'll wait to hear from you. Thanks Beth.

Mr. Peatross

I would like to do this next Sunday, Jan. 30; so that I can ask to be off work. I will be at Arby's btween at least 11am and 3pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Sorry it took me so long to return your email.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Ancient Meditation for Today's Hurried Soul

At the first stop, we looked at a television screen covered with complex, moving electronic wave forms. We were instructed to pray about and eliminate the noise within that interferes with God's voice. At another station we dropped small stones into water, each stone representing a worry we were giving over to God. Later we drew on paper symbols of our hurts, prayed about each of them, and put them in a trash can.
via Dan Kimball’s Vintage Faith site [read the complete article]

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Church: The Many Shades of Understanding

Charlie Wear, of Next Wave, alerts us to an article by Tim Stafford at Christanity Today. For all the links --> [more] and be sure to read all the comments.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

When Tragedy Intrudes

"It's hard to believe in God when a baby gets buried"
--Laura Ramirez, sister-in-law of Jimmie Wallet who lost his wife and 3 daughters in mudslide [read story]
from Journey with Greg Taylor
When I heard people make these kinds of comments I use to roll my eyes. No longer! The truth is no one knows exactly what they’ll say or how they’ll respond until they have faced a disaster that tragically affects family and life. I use to feel the same way about the terminal ill who called for the services of Dr. Death-Jack Kevorkian.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Conversation to Movement (2)

Will the emergent conversation someday become a movement? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Conversations rarely turn into a movement and then run their course in one generation. The great revivals and reformations that dot the history of humanity were never the work of just one person. Every movement is the sum of visionaries who have gone before, generations of uncompromised lives and non-negotiated truths. Faithful men who have led forceful lives.

A movement comes of age when one life harvests the seeds planted by the countless lives of previous generations. A movement occurs when one person, no greater or lesser than those who have gone before, lives a forceful life in the fullness of time. Never think that the great movements of Luther, Calvin, or Campbell were entirely of their own doing. They were simply forceful lives placed by God in a receptive crevice of history.

Let’s vigorously converse while living lives stirring and forceful enough to cause a movement. A true mark of the visionary is his willingness to lay down his life for those whom he’ll never see.

Will the emergent become movement in our generation? I hope so. But even if it doesn’t, even if we never see it, it will occur. And we’ll be a part of it.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Growing Old

I’m blogging in my fifties. I wonder what percentage of bloggers blog in their fifties? Younger people think I’m old, older people envy me for my relative youthfulness. I’m sure I’ve much to learn about aging but believe me when I tell you that I’m well acquainted with the curriculum.

But if I were asked what kind of old man I’d want to be when I grew up the first thing I’d say is “I want to keep my mind sharp and agile.”

I want to be a big picture old man. To look at life from the largest point of view, as a macro-thinker takes into account the long flow of history and how God works in slow, imperceptible ways.

To know how to sense the difference between fad and substantial change. To be unimpressed with the former and to bend with the latter.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What's the Average Age of Your Faith Community?

A decade ago one could sit on the back pew and after counting all the gray heads say with assurance that 70-80% of those in attendance were over fifty-years of age. Today that’s been reversed. This morning I saw the signature of my congregation written across the binded pages of the pew bible in front of me. Scribbled by the hands of youth in #2 lead pencil were the words “Jesus’ rocks.”

Friday, January 07, 2005

Wish List

I can't imagine that one of you might have forgotten to buy me a Xmas gift. But if you did [wish list]

Ken Starr

Possibly someone is interested in seeing the spiritual side of Ken Star [read the interview]

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The E Word

Gordon MacDonald says three things have helped him come to terms with evangelism:
1.To challenge all to constant movement in their journey to God. Four markers in that journey stand out. From spectator (interested) to seeker (serious curious) to follower (advanced to an intentional trust in Christ) to kingdom-builder (embraces the mission of Jesus and commits to a service driven life). Our task is to encourage all who will listen to move along that path.

2.While some have seen thousands come to faith, I have chosen to be content with one person at a time.

3.Ours is leverage influenced. The real effect of evangelism must be measured two to three generations out. Someone influenced D.L. Moody to faith and generations later there were thousands and thousands of new believers.

The people you have led to Christ may be small, but in God’s hands, your witness is leveraged exponentially to history-altering proportions.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Bastard Evangelism

With two deadlines approaching I haven't had much time to post to this blog. One of the articles I wrote is titled Bastard Evangelism. It will be published in the February issue of Off-The-Map. If you're not yet a subscriber [sign up here]