Abductive Columns

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Abductive Column Newsletter

Subscribers received this note with the Feb. 27, 2005 Abductive Columns Newsletter

I still actively believe, write and speak on the emerging culture. While in this conversation stage, writers are shaping and influencing the future that precedes the coming movement. But many of you have said, "I don't understand."

I want to write to a larger audience than the smaller circle of writers and thinkers associated with the emerging church and the best way to touch the most people are with the stories of Jesus. The emerging church is in the process of altering long standing paradigms. This is a process. It takes time for a conversation to transition to a movement. But soon after this coming transition (and it will happen) we'll begin to see a shift in the way the church understands leadership and hierarchy...as well as in the way the church practices ministry, missions and community.

I will continue to write about the emerging culture/church but in appropriate contexts.

The future goal of the Abductive Columns Newsletter will be to speak to a wider readership. And that will be accomplished by telling the stories of Jesus and the people whose stories intersected his.

If the emerging culture/church is your interest you can find daily post on the Abductive Columns Blog
To receive the Abductive Columns Newsletter click here

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Emergent and the Jesus Movement

Question: How similar is the emergent movement to the Jesus Movement of the 60s?

The Death of Uzzah--Contemporary or Confusing?

Have you ever though—how out of step for God to strike Uzzah dead for something as instinctive as steadying the Ark?

If so, Mary Evans has some helpful commentary.

"Uzzah's instinctive action may have given the impression that God needed to be protected by his people rather than the other way round. On the other hand, it may simply have been that touching the ark was seen as infringing on God's holiness. Our conviction that God is 'nice' and would never do anything that we might not like makes passages like this one very difficult for us. We perhaps need to grasp much more clearly what it means to say that God is holy. It is certainly important to realize that religious service and theological understanding must work in tandem. Knowledge of God and of his revealed purposes must form the background to action supposedly taken on God's behalf and to all worship of God. God in his great mercy often did not strike down the Israelites and does not strike us down, but passages like this force us to take seriously how strongly God feels...."
Mary J. Evans, The Message of Samuel, BST; Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 2004, pp. 191-92
Taken from Conrad Gempf’s Not Quite Art, Not Quite Living

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Principles for Church Life and Structure

An ecosystem is the most complex level of orginazation in nature. It's made up of communities and their physical environments. In the same way the church as the body of Christ is the most complex social organization. Its complexity includes both spiritual and physical dimensions and potentially incorporates everyone from the least to the greatest.

Here are some reasons for viewing the structure of the church ecologically...
Ecology is more in tune with the way God created the world than are commonly accepted organizaional and institutional models. The key insight of ecology is that all creation is made up of complex, highly interdependent realtionships.

The ecological model is more consistent with systems theory than are other models. System theories studies patterns in complex interrelationships. We can learn more about the church from studying family dynamics and other social systems than from studying business models.
The emerging church has three key sources (the first two you're familiar with...maybe the third not so much)to help her overcome the deadends and limitations of modernism's mouments (megachurches and business models).

1) Scripture
2) renewal movements
3) ecology

Using these sources, spiritual leaders can more easily identify principles for church life and structure.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Transference of Self into the Stories of Scripture

When I read Scripture I intentionally dedicate myself to one character’s part in the story.
I concentrate to the point of taking their place.
I get in their mind and skin.

At different times I've been Zacchaeus, On occasion I've been Pilate. It's the closest I can come to "being there." What has become a customary way of reading has enhanced my understanding of how different circumstances can, and have, influenced some of the choices people of Scripture made in times past. I’ve discovered that what I had occasionally judged as strange or unusual wasn’t so strange and unusual upon deeper circumstantial and character reflection.

Yet Mark’s telling of the demon-possessed man has been the one story I’ve had trouble enter into (Mark 5). It’s unique. It's the one story where attempting to becoming a part of the scene just doesn't work quite as well as in the other stories of Scripture.

I wish I had been with Jesus on that day. It was a day when he reached into the most terrifying of tombs and pulled a prisoner from darkness—dressed him in his right mind and sent him on his way.

Monday, February 14, 2005


How in the world can a person be born, be educated, fall in or out of love, have a job, be married, give birth, raise kids, see death, cry, scream, giggle, drink, eat, smoke, climb up or down the ladder, retire, and die without ever, ever asking why? History is absolutely full of people who lived and died without a purpose. Neighborhoods reek with mediocrity. Office complexes are painted gray with boredom. Nine-to-fivers are hypnotized by routine. But does anyone object? Does anyone defy the machinery? Does anyone ask why?

Sometimes I want to stand at a street corner and scream, “Doesn’t anyone want to know why? Why lonely evenings? Why broken hearts? Why abandoned marriages? Why fatherless babies?” But I never yell it. I just stick my hands in my pockets and stare. . . and wonder.

The most deadly trick of Satan is not to rob us of answers. It’s to steal our questions.

When you churn out the numbers of books Word Publishing demands of Max Lucado it's very difficult to give the reader little more than fluff. I found his early works much more thoughtful and far superior to what he's writing today. The above is taken from Max Lucado's first and arguably best book-- On the Anvil

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Out With the Old and In With the New

Andrew Careaga, author and youth minister has a new look on his E-vangelism.com blog.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

250 Points of Light

Only 250 members yet three men have contributed three articles to New Wineskins in the last 6 months. I’m sure no one keeps statistics on such trivia but I can’t help but wonder if this has ever been done before by anyone other than the Woodmont Hills church?
Jeff Garrett (pulpit preacher—Norway Avenue Church) wrote “THE BENEFITS OF GETTING CAUGHT” Dec 2004 issue

Larry Chouinard (shepherd & author—Norway Avenue Church) “THE BIBLE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE” is currently highlighted on the New Wineskins site.

Fred Peatross (former shepherd & author—Norway Avenue Church) Wrote “FELLOW EXPLORER, SOMETIMES GUIDE” MAY-August 2004 issue

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Clear Leader

There’s something unique and different that makes a leader, and it’s not about creativity or courage or integrity. As important as they are, you can have those attributes and still fail to be a great leader. A leader’s job is to rally people toward a better future. Leaders can’t help but change the present, because the present isn’t good enough. They succeed only when they find a way to make people excited by and confident in what comes next.
Marcus Buckingham; Fast Company, March 2005 issue

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

How to Practice Discipleship--in One Simple Paragraph

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine De Saint Exupery

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Internet Evangelism

Stephen Shields has posted a link to the schedule for the Internet Evangelism Conference on April 1, 2005 at Liberty University. I'm sure it will be an education for Jerry Falwell ( I just don't picture Jerry sitting at a monitor surfing the 'net) and all who attend. The topics look both challenging and intereting.

I’m still skeptical that blogs will ever become a link/connection to those Jesus misses most. I'm an avid believer in the ordinary face to face attempts made in the context of every day life. That's what it takes to reach these peoples. I can’t quote statistics but I think it’s fair to say that the “missing” are not reading what we’re posting. Start with Stephen’s blog (he has great content—for the believer) and connect with some of those on his blog roll, read the content and then answer the question, “Why would they be interested?” Ninety-nine percent of the post you read is not geared to those outside the believer's circle. Granted there are a number of sites, such as Hollywood Jesus, that are media centered but for Christ sake they need a name change. Yet few bloggers have the pre-Christian in mind when they post.

What I do believe blogging will do is serve as the emerging medium for future internet ministries. What those ministries will be is still up in the air. But at this point I don’t think internet evangelism (I hate that word) will be one of them.

Off-The-Map; February Edition

This month’s Off The Map is now available. If you don’t receive the ezine via email you can view the February edition online by clicking here. I contributed an article to this month’s edition. The title— From the Wailing Wall of Flawed Evangelism Attempts

Thursday, February 03, 2005

New Book, New Wineskins

Keith Brenton was gracious enough to buy and have amazon.com send me Doug Pagitt’s book Reimagining Spiritual Formation, a book I’ve had on my amazon wish list for some time. Thanks Keith!

While I’m thinking of it, Keith has just set-up a new blog for New Wineskins. org an e-zine I’ve written for. It’s rare I risk mentioning my spiritual heritage for fear of legalistic embarrassment. That said, I excitedly say there’s another side of my heritage that shines like a bright light high upon a hill. This new Church of Christ is a constant, steady, ever swelling movement intentionally spreading grace and the story of Jesus across this great nation and around the world. It’s a church that believes in unity and is constantly extending fellowship and mending the divisions within its own heritage. It’s a new brotherhood willing and motivated to give up the exclusivity it modeled for over fifty decades in exchange for a broader fellowship with the church catholic. When I tell you our community's spiritual health is the best it has been in the last fifty years I break out in joyous laughter. When I say we're doing very well spiritually...believe me, we're doing well! I consider New Wineskins.org to be the signature and voice of this emerging Church of Christ.

Back to Reimagining Spiritual Formation: I love the book’s layout. The best way to say it is-- this book has various components found in a faith community that Doug has spread across its 160 pages. Journal entries by various members of Solomon’s Porch and many of Doug’s thoughts on art, giving, worship as spiritual formation and on and on. Looks like a great read.

Here’s a profound paragraph from the book.

We join the many people, professionals and lay, who have suggested in writings, conversations, prayers, and pleadings that the Christian Church has not lived up to its potential or calling in the post-industrialized world, but that it could. Maybe there is something to the critique that the church is marginalized in the world to such a degree that the marks of a “successful” church have been reduced to tangible evidence such as size, market share, political influence, healthy budgets, and the creation of model citizens living the American dream. I’ve become convinced that our misguided belief that life change can come through proper knowledge acquired through education has failed to produce the kind of radical commitment to life in harmony with God in the way of Jesus that we are called to.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Larry King Show & Time Magazine's Twenty-Five Most influential Christian Leaders

I spent Tuesday evening watching the Larry King show. He had a panel of four Christian leaders, heralded as Time Magazine’s twenty-five most influential Christian leaders. The panel included Tim Lehaye and his wife, T.D. Jakes, Franklin Graham and Brian McLaren.

Topics ran the gamut—abortion, Christian response to homosexual orientation, and why God’s allows 9/11s and tsunamis.

Brian McLaren did well (stem cell research and comments on environmental responsibility) but wasn’t given the same time some of the others were given. But of all the men representative of Christ this night, T.D. Jakes was by far the most articulate and frankly stood out among the group.

Picture Share

(L)My wife---Me---(R) my daughter

Picture taken in Louisville, Kentucky where my daughter is a third year medical student.