Abductive Columns

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Will we see the ongoing conversation emerge into a movement in our lifetime? Perhaps, perhaps not. But never forget, importunate conversation ultimately matures and develops into a movement. If we are fortunate to see the ongoing conversation emerge to the next level we must stay focused and remain patient; movements never 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. When conversations advance it is the sum of visionaries who have gone before, generations of uncompromised lives.

A movement comes of age when one life harvests the seeds planted by countless lives in 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 fearless lives placed by God in a receptive crevice of history.

Never give up, ramp the conversation, live vigorously, stir others; cause a movement. The mark of a visionary is his willingness to lay down his life for those whom he’ll never see.

Will the conversation become a 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 have been a part of it.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Missional Church: Step One

Are we leaking the life of Jesus? Most Christians rate themselves low in the area of evangelism—in time spent and giftedness (I hate the word evangelism--it's a word that's been so bastardized I can barely use it).

A few weeks ago in a discussion about what to do with Wednesday nights, I heard church leaders encourage individuals to become actively involved in some form of (their own) ministry. "Discover your gift and use it. You don't need to ask us."

While nobly encouraging freedom, leadership mistakenly promoted individualism. Unfortunately individualism embraces self-reliance and personal independence. When leadership has a clearly defined vision it steers, networks and leads its faith community.

In a recent survey pastors identified outreach as the most pressing issue in their congregation. So how does today's leader take the individual responsibility of leaking the life of Jesus a step further and leap to the corporate responsibility of training a faith community to leak the life of Christ? Not until leadership recognizes this process will they discover the primary step of leading a faith community into a missional posture.


There is nothing extraordinary about it. It's ordinary!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Church Ministries: Busting a Paradigm

Today I saw the involvement minister in Wal-Mart and jumped upon my soapbox for a few minutes. I waxed clean on "church" ministries as centripetal (always trying to pull the missing into their gig).

He pointed out that evangelism wasn’t a ministry. I concurred.

Yet I reminded him that all ministries should revolve around those Jesus misses. And that our vision should (have) matured to the point where we would feel safe taking every ministry out of the church building and into various locations throughout the community; simply put--make ministries 'safe places' for those Jesus misses

He mentioned the ministry for widows as one that must be maintained by the church.

Of course, that’s the only one he could single out. In my opinion have one for the widows in your faith community and locate a ministry for widows not of the faith community beyond the church campus.

Although he nodded his head and seemed to agree I really don't think he understood; at least not on the same level.

Friday, August 26, 2005


I created a firestorm with the latest Abductive Columns.

Sexual Orientation: How Should God's People Respond?

I'm praying that a young man will come to know the love of God, to see his need for Jesus, and that he will begin the process of turning from sin. None of us fully realize the degree of sin in our lives.

I don't primarily focus on a person's sexual behavior or even a person's sexual temptation. What God is looking for is people who realize their need for God. When someone comes to God and says, "Help!" that's the beginning of the end of the salvation process.

No matter what a person's sin, we don't start by trying to fix the sin but with the gospel. We're all in need of a Savior, whether I'm homosexual or heterosexual. And Jesus is looking for recognition of that.

Yet there is still antagonism toward churches today because they are seen as oppressive, homophobic institutions. I love God's people but I'm also brave enough to stand tall and admit that at times the church has been homophobic, unjust, and downright mean.

Do we extend grace to the people who have tasted the pain of divorce? Do we show grace to people who are divorced and remarried, an area Jesus specifically called sin? If so, then how do we not show grace to people in a sexual relationship that Jesus never mentions?

If we're going to stamp out the lingering antagonism and have any legitimacy to speak out on the issue of marriage, it will have to come out of the reality of our lives, not simply our doctrine.

Is the church brave enough to step out of the box and champion the call for justice on behalf of gay and lesbian people? As long as we stand up and say, "Landlords have the right to discriminate against you with housing," it's difficult to say convincingly, "But we love you in the name of Jesus."

To show the love of God we must stand up for the civil rights of those whose orientation is homosexual on the basis of discrimination. When we stand with them they'll see us as their friend. It's not compromise, neither is it a statement that says we have bought into homosexual eroticism. We simply recognize that discrimination is wrong and stand with them on the matter.

When we minister to this growing population of God's creation, in that setting, and on their turf, we're going to be surrounded by people not living the biblical ideal. I don't affirm that, but neither do I condemn them.

Monday, August 22, 2005

New Magazine...hehe

::have some fun...create your very own mag cover [...link]

Saturday, August 20, 2005

New Look for Abductive Columns

Abductive Columns has a new look. Thanks to the talents of Greg Kendall-Ball.
...the “missional church” movement forces us to look beyond the activities inside the hallowed walls of the church building, and out into our communities and our world. The missional instinct raises awareness about social justice, about racism and discrimination of all types. Missional people care more about gay people than about being right on the gay issue. from KendallBalldotnet

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Jesus' DNA

Maybe this post will seem frivolous or even downright blasphemous, but I have to ask.

Have you ever wonder about Jesus’ DNA? He must have had DNA since he was fully human. He was the son of Mary—and the Son of God. But it couldn’t have been the same as Mary’s or Jesus would have been a clone.

Did Jesus have the DNA of Adam? Or was it more nearly that of David, the “man after God’s own heart?” And what does it mean that Jesus was made like us in every way, except without sin? One thing is certain; all of this says something about his full humanity—including his DNA.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Here & There

Rob Williamson has a weblog worth your peruse. I love his self-portrait. Rob partners with the faith family I assemble with in Huntington, West Virginia. Take a look […link]

Another weblog I’ve been visiting is Toney Stowers Blog. I don’t personally know Tony but he knows Rob Williamson and George Welty. Toney’s only 15-20 miles down the interstate.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Subcultures of Society

The "middles" of society are disappearing, and more and more "ends" are emerging. In other words, culture is creating a myriad of subcultures, with fewer and fewer people who consider themselves "the norm." This continues to give missional new meaning, new thought, new approaches.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Interactive Post

I’ve just started preparing for my talk for the Next Church Leadership Conference and I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on concepts, metaphors, or images that come mind when you hear the word “missional.” My topic is “The Missional Church.”

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Next Church

Rick Chromey of Kentucky Christian University has written an excellent article for the Christian Standard tilted "The Changing Church". Rick is the organizer of the Next Church leadership Conference with Leonard Sweet.

Sunday, August 07, 2005


When my girls were pre-teens I can remember driving pass church building after church building on our way to church. As we passed each church building the girls would ask, “Daddy, are they going to heaven?”

That they would even ask such a question is sad but the answer I gave is even sadder.

“No, girls, I’m afraid they won’t be in heaven.”

“Why dad?”

“Because they are not following the bible.”

(What I should have said is, “Because they are not following the bible like we think they should.”)

Yesterday my wife and I went to Columbus to visit my daughter and watch her boyfriend play rugby (he was an All-American at Ohio State). After the game we all went to my brother’s house to spend time with him and his wife. They have two boys: a fifteen year old and a thirteen year old.

At different points in our conversations I heard from all of them, with the exception of the thirteen year old. I don’t recall their exact words but here’s the gist:

When I was a teen I had to attend one-of-those hard Christian camps.”

“I had to go to those also.”

“Christians judge me because of my appearance

I’m not sure it would be fair to say their comments are representative of their generation. But I think it’s fair to say many 20 year olds have this impression.

How did they get these opinions? Here’s my take…

When I was raising my children I was under the spell of legalism (as were many in Christendom). It was after my children grew up that I discovered grace. Because my generation (boomers) majored in the minors and spent more time proving their positions than trying to understand and exemplify the Person of Jesus Christ we now have a large segment of generation-Xers who are sorely mistaken about what it means to be a Christ-follower. But the saddest part is many of them will no longer give Christianity a fair-hearing.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spiritual Explorer, Sometimes Guide

Come-to-church evangelism was effective in the modern world in getting people to come to Christ. In the third millennium come-to-Christ is what peaks people's interest. In the modern world evangelism meant a "decision." In the emerging culture it means a "long term journey"—where spiritual friends walk together and explore together. Spiritual friendships in this new era is based upon a few key premises:

Trust: Modern evangelism was dominated by the notion we brought Jesus to the people through Open Bible Studies, film strips, diagrams, and spiritual laws. Today it seems arrogant to think that we are the ones bringing Jesus to anyone. Isn't Jesus already there? Jesus intersected people's lives long before we got there.

Relationship: Unless we value and appreciate all sorts of people and enter in relationship with them, we are treating them as objects, not people whom Jesus loves and died for.

Listen and Learn: Spiritual explorers listen to learn what Jesus is already doing in a person's life. Be open to what this person can teach you about how God works and what God is doing.

Connect: At some point your spiritual friend may allow you to become a spiritual guide. This is the time to help them connect the dots between their story and the Jesus' story. The essence of evangelism is connection-making.