Abductive Columns

Sunday, July 31, 2005

How Long Lord!!

It took very little time for Berliners to build an outside wall to keep people in. It will take many, many years for Berliners to take down the internal wall that will let them out, even though they are free as of 1989.

We built methods, ministries, traditions, and buldings for years and it may take many more years to free God's people and reallocate our time, energy, and resources beyond our faith borders and out into the places where the people Jesus misses the most live and play (for decades 'resource emphasis' has been behind the 'wall').

Individually, many understand the need to engage culture on their turf; allowing them to live by their rules. But corporately it make take a major disruption to move us outside the 'walls' of our campuses.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Leading People Into Experience

Lead people into an experience with God and then help them understand what they are experiencing. People desire to experience something of the transcendent. Only then will they care to know more about it…Simply stated, experience, then explanation; power then proposition.
Ron Martoia, Morph! The Texture for Tomorrow’s Church

Monday, July 25, 2005

In the World, But Not of it.

Have you ever stood on a rock in the middle of a river, hearing, seeing, and feeling the power of the water rushing all around you? Imaging deciding to take a bucket and dip it quickly into the river to fill it not with water but the rapid itself. You would have an endless stream of rushing water from which to draw. Yet every time you would attempt to capture this amazing dynamic, no matter how quickly you dipped or how determined you were, when you looked inside your container, all you would find is still water. Your failure would be maddening, and all who observed your efforts would consider you mad.

Is it any different when we speak of ourselves as outside of culture or of the church apart from culture? Is it possible what we are attempting to capture is the river’s movement but what we actually gather is just still water? In generations past the river moved slowly. What we saw in our bucket looked a lot like what we found in the river. But though they were similar they were never really the same. The rapid pace of cultural change, the new fluidity in which we live, and the emergence of new strains and endless variations of human understanding make the distinction between the church and the cultural difficult to ignore.

Our inability to distinguish between the water in the bucket and the rapids is perhaps one reason we are often so inept at impacting the culture we seek to engage. Erwin Raphael McManus

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Wrong question : How do we do church work better?

Right question: How do we partner with God in his redemptive work in the world beyond the church’s institutional concerns?

How is your faith community making the transition from one question to the other?

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Take a trip to your local college campus and what you’ll find is that non-Christian religious groups conspicuously outnumber the Christian groups. Wicca, Bahai, Muslim and Buddhist groups dot the campus landscape as never before. Religious diversity is not only encouraged but also considered supreme in today’s postmodern culture. Harvard professor Diane Eck states that, “Before 1965, we could conceive of ourselves as mainly a Christian nation but the influx of people of radically different religions and conversion of others to those religions -- Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism -- has resulted in two kinds of change: first, that these religions are changing American, and second, that America is changing the religions, evolving in a climate of diversity and freedom.” Newsweek Magazine recently pointed out “…young people are openly passionate about religion—but insist on defining it in their own ways.”

In the transition from modernism to postmodernism we have a mix of people with copious worldviews. But in the very near future we will watch a generation be born in an exclusively postmodern environment. The United Kingdom, Western Europe, Australia, and Canada have been post-Christian for a decade or more. America is just now postmodern and Latin America is a decade behind us in this transition. This being so, we need to see ourselves as missionaries; what do missionaries do? They cross borders.

Crossing borders familiar to God’s people is nothing new. Joshua sent out a couple of secret agents to spy out the land of Jericho. If we really desire to reach out to this diversely religious culture that is emerging we’re going to have to become like the spies Joshua sent to look over the land across the Jordan.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Difficulty of Recognizing Our Own Sin

The subtlety of sin is that it doesn’t feel like sin when we’re doing it; it feels godlike, it feels religious, it feels fulfilling and satisfying. Remember the episode in Eden when the tempter said,

You won't die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you'll see what's really going on. You'll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil (Gen 3:4-5; the Message).
David didn’t feel like a sinner when he sent for Bathsheba; he felt like a lover—and what can be better than that? David didn’t feel like a sinner when he sent for Uriah; he felt like a king—and what can be better than that? When we become delusional victims of our own selves we have, somewhere along the line, withdrawn from a life of worship. Our adoration of God has receded and obsession with self has moved in.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Moving Forward or Fix'n?

Leaders often confuse being in charge with being in control. Being in charge has to do with vision casting, forward movement, and shepherding; being in control has to do with ones emotional attachment to what’s going on. When a minister (I prefer transformational architect to minister) is brought on board to lead a group of believers, very little in way of his responsibility toward God changes. What does change is his accountability and responsibility to a new group of believers. But his responsibility is to lead; not to “fix.” Unfortunately we often set ministers up to become “fixers.”

When a couple is near divorce, we call the minister to help fix the marriage; when tragedy takes the life of a child, the parents ask for the minister to help them mull-over the “why” questions; when the elders want a task accomplished or help in making a decision they call the minister for guidance. When the worship leader has a problem with another ministry leader he or she looks to--you’ve got it--the minister.

Have you ever noticed that just before God is about to bump your church to the next level, there seems to be an overload of fixing that’s needed? Could it be that the inability to let go is what keeps a group from being all God desires for it to be?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Swimming with the Fish

It’s past time we become like Jesus and forget the religious stuff. So spend your next sabbatical doing something other than living at a monastery or hopping from conference to conference looking for a new batch of ideas. Start living a normal life--forget the extraordinary--begin spending time with the people Jesus misses the most. If that means quitting your church habit right now and jumping in the water with the fish, believe me Jesus will understand. After all, he spent most of his time with the fish.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rethinking Salvation

I am currently thinking through the implications of our usage of metaphors for the ignition point of life with God. So many of our metaphors make it sound as if our "salvation," is something we possess. But is it possible that phrases like "asking Jesus into my heart,” or "Jesus lives inside of me," or “being baptized into Jesus” are misleading when it comes to the nature of one’s salvation life? What if salvation is fundamentally relational—not possessional, as so many of our figures of speech imply? Think about the implications...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Next Church Leadership Conference

Along with Len Sweet and others I’ll be speaking at a two-day leadership conference at Kentucky Christian University dedicated to ministry and mission in the 21st Century. If you or the Christian community you assemble with needs ministry relevance for the coming decade join us on September 16 and17th.

Schedule and conference registration. [...link]

Experience Economy=

* In Scottsdale, Ariz., a dentist has turned his office into an artificial jungle, which makes children look forward to their dentist appointments. The “jungle dentist,” as he is called around town, has taken “an inherently bad experience and, through them, turned it into an experience that people want to go to,” explains Gilmore.
* The American Girl Place in Chicago charges school-age girls and their parent’s admission to see a musical review and dine in a themed cafe based on the American Girl dolls and books. “They can spend hundreds of dollars in the American Girl Place for experiences and they haven’t yet bought a thing,” Gilmore said.
* Some malls have switched from having a department store as the “anchor” attracting customers to having a skate park, gym or an amusement center like Dave & Busters, Pine said.
* In Germany, you can visit the Volkswagen plant that is making your customized car. After touring larger-than-life displays of the inner workings of an engine and other attractions, the finished car emerges through a cloud of smoke from beneath the showroom floor to the cheers of onlookers. About 40 percent of the people who tour the isolated plant have no intention of buying a car. But if they buy one as a result of the experience, Pine said, “they have purchased a $20,000 piece of memorabilia.”
* In Japan, a water attraction offers visitors a controlled, artificial beach environment, complete with wave pool, artificial sunlight and sand that won’t stick to your feet. The popular attraction is located a mere 400 yards from the real beach.
The experience economy is not entirely new. In fact, Walt Disney pioneered experience marketing in 1955 when he opened Disneyland, which was intended to “immerse the audience in the cartoon.”
Now the Disney Co. and others have taken experience marketing a step further to mass customization -- in which each visitor can customize an experience to his or her preferences. At Disney Quest in Chicago, visitors can create their own roller coaster -- and ride it -- through virtual reality.
The Internet will take mass customization to new heights, Pine predicts, “…because anything you can digitize you can customize.” New Internet technology is moving in the direction of “full sensory phenomena online,” Gilmore said. It is now possible to transmit the senses of touch and smell digitally, he said.

Does any of this matter to Christians? Should the Christian community see itself in the business of providing spiritual experiences for seekers or is the concept foreign to the gospel?
Taken from an article by Greg Warner, titled--It's the experience, stupid!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Two Good Things

The good people from the Catalyst Conference called me today and surprised me with, “You’ve just won an IPod.” I guess there’s a first time for everything!

I also received my copy of Jim Henderson’s new book “a.k.a. Lost” I look forward to some good reading on ordinary ways to connect with the people Jesus misses the most.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Growing Old & What's Becoming Important

As I grow older, I've found a certain anxiety creeping into my thinking. No longer do I read cereal boxes to find out what the prize is inside but to discover how much fiber I can put into my body. I now do math with my food--keeping a running total so I'll know when I hit my credit limit on fat calories. I often obsess with my older friends about the aches and pains I haven't noticed before. In the privacy of my home I sometimes pull out the family medical guide to see if my symptoms match some horrible unpronouncable disease of which there is no cure known to man.

But what I've been thinking about of late (and with a healthier snse of anxiety) is this. What constitutes a life pleasing God? The closer I get to the end of my life this question trumps all other questions.

It's a question that should keep us up at night. As we pull the covers to our chin and settle our pillow, that's the question that should bring our day into the presence of God for His scrutiny. Did the life I lived today please the God I serve?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Moving in a Forward Direction

Learning is swiftly shifting to an interactive, global, anytime, anywhere, multimedia experience with countless sources available to explore and test. The experience is unlike the intellectually passive experience of the print and broadcast era.

This digital era will move faith communities in a more participatory direction, demanding substantial changes and new skills for Christian leaders. Ministers, preachers, and worship leaders will have to descend from the high stage and bright lights of the MTV broadcast era and rediscover ways for worshippers to participate in the experience other than just singing.

Buffalo and cattle handle storms in revealing fashion. Cattle turn and run. Buffalo turn their heads into the oncoming storm and face it. When the whitewater rafter hits the rapids he doesn’t slow down, procrastinate and backup. He paddles forward and keeps moving.

Here’s the charge leaders must determinedly pursue: to put their faces, not their backs, to the future and move in the “unfamiliar” forward direction. In these emerging times the chief advantage lies with the offense (anticipatory leadership) not the defense (reactive leadership).

Jeff's Blog

My good friend Jeff Garrett has just started a blog. Jeff's one of the finest preacher/teachers I know. So bookmark his blog and take a trip there from time to time.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Culture Influencing Church? Church Influencing

Without realizing it we have slipped into the view that the world creates culture and that the church reacts to it. In our most innovative moments we analyze cultural trends and project historical moments. Then like a twig determined to stop a tsunami, we brace ourselves for the future. But is it possible that the church was intended to be the cultural epicenter from which a new community emerges, astonishing and transforming cultures through the power of forgiveness, freedom, and creativity? Erwin Raphael McManus