Abductive Columns

Monday, October 31, 2005

Wikipedia Gives

Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia and I had a lover’s quarrel but recently reconciled our differences. After a quick course in Wiki writing I rewrote the article on the Emergent Church of Christ from a neutral point of view and in a more concise, encyclopedic kind-of-way. Very difficult when one has a strong passion and belief in the ongoing conversation and a strong dispassion for what’s on the Church of Christ Wiki page (of which I’m linked from). I also wrote all the pages that I’ve linked off the Emergent Church of Christ page. Take a look. It’s eerie to know that what is happening in this third millennium is very similar to what happened in the 1850s.

The article is an ongoing project (currently it needs cleaned up) and can be edited by anyone as long as their inclusion meets Wiki standards, etc.

What I'm looking for are emergent churches of Christ or churches of Christ that feel they are moving in that direction. Send me your web address and I’ll list your congregation in Wikipedia. I’ve added a four links to emergent churches of Christ.

I am thankful for the editors at Wikipedia.

Read the article [...link] and give me your comments

Sunday, October 30, 2005

What Half-a-Century Has Taught Me

Forgiveness is an active process of the mind’s displeasure as a “wronged person,” overcoming the displeasure requires one to abolish the obstacle that hinders fellowship with the “wrongdoer,” to reestablish the freedom and happiness of friendship.

Remember that it is what people do to us that creates the obstacle to our getting together, in spirit as well as space. When people hurt us unfairly and deeply, the wrong they do comes between us.

If we ignore the “hindrance” and act as if it did not really matter, we take our first step into an opiated life where nobody really gives a damn.

Hold out your hand to the one who did you wrong and say, “Come back to me, I want to be your friend again.”

If you can’t say friend and can’t find “friend” in your vocabulary (with this particular person) offer the next best thing: forgiveness and cordiality.

Friday, October 28, 2005


I’ll be in Orlando/ Daytona Florida area November 23 through November 28. If you live in the area and would like to meet up let me know where and when and we’ll make arrangements. If you’d like me to talk to your faith community about “Spiritual Explorer, Sometime Guide in the 21st Century,” I’ll gladly make myself available for no charge. Only requirement; taxi me to the site and back.

I’ll be in Dallas, Texas February 12-14 and would enjoy meeting up with anyone there interested in good conversation. The same offer goes to any faith community in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area curious of exploring new era evangelism (Spiritual Explorer, Some Guide).

Missional Church: Ministering in a Post-Christian Context

The phrase “missional church” simply suggests that the church finds its calling within the mission of God. On the face, this statement seems both overly obvious and conspicuously vague. “Of course the church is about the mission of God! Wait a minute. What do you mean by mission of God? Is that defined anywhere? What is God’s mission?”

In the American church experience, the “place where certain things happens” notion has been wed to the twin cultural values of consumer capitalism and individualism to produce a church that functions primarily as “a vendor of religious goods and services.” Here the church attracts “members” by addressing the expressed needs of individuals. We often evaluate the experience of church (almost exclusively thought of in terms of going to corporate worship) by what “I got out of it,” or by how much “I enjoyed it.” The measure of a church’s effectiveness is the spiritual progress or enjoyment of the individual. A missional church, in contrast, sees the church as a community sent on a mission, or as a missional outpost for the reign of God. As will be made apparent below, this shift from a “vendor” orientation to a missional church orientation carries dramatic implications.

The conceptual move from “vendor of religions goods and services” to “outpost for the reign of God” is necessary, proponents of the missional church suggest, given the dramatic cultural changes we have experienced recently in North America. We minister in a post-Christian context—a time when the culture no longer knows our language, honors our stories, or privileges our symbols. In this new context, our churches must recognize the need for a missionary engagement within the North American culture. We must reorient our ministries to reflect the mission interests of God.
from New Wineskins Magazine; Missional Church by Mark Love

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Church Has an Image Problem: A Deconstruct

In an image-is-everything culture where images have supplanted words as the cultural vernacular, the church is “logocentric” (word-based)—alienated from its own image-rich pedigree.

What principles and points were to moderns, metaphors and images are to people of the emerging culture. Images are now the narrative, words support images; they don’t create images themselves.

The greatest communicator in history used the wizardry of metaphoric magic. Jesus, didn’t speak in public without using parables—an image-based form of narrative.

While the faith assembly I attend adorns its worship center walls with words others fill their worship space with artistic touches—icons and crucifixes to brightly-colored walls.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Print and Broadcast Revolution: Facing the Digital Challenge (2)

Clearly, managing the transition into the Digital Era will not be easy or problem free. We must expect challenges in most of our institutions, so we need to rethink them and build them well for what lies ahead.

A few years ago, I spent several hours with an oil company executive charged with designing and constructing the firm’s oil tankers. This helped me construct my own mental picture of how to build for an environment of turbulent change.

Building an oil tanker is an amazing feat. The number of details is mind-boggling, and the obstacles are incredible, especially if it is being designed to face the North Atlantic, the most treacherous environment of all.
Remember the Titanic!

North Atlantic tankers must be able to withstand a head-on collision with an iceberg at seven knots. Without dropping anchor, they must maintain a stable position while buffeted by 50-foot waves. To cope with such a turbulent, hostile environment, the North Atlantic tankers have multiple redundant systems acting as safeguards and backups. They have powerful stabilizers on their sides to keep them in position even while enormous waves crash over them.

The North Atlantic tankers give us a phenomenal metaphor for today’s institutions to consider as they rebuild themselves for the challenges of the Digital Era. Today’s institutions must navigate stormy seas of social and technological change. Unfortunately, we are still building the social equivalent of vacation cruise liners: large, slow structures made for calm, balmy seas and friendly ports of call. These “cruise-liner” institutions may be a little more user-friendly, but they are built for calm seas and a sunny horizon. And that is not what we are likely to get.

Today, we need institutions built like North Atlantic tankers to meet the colossal waves of largely unpredictable social change. They need to be highly agile and fast-changing, with extra capacity, awareness of the environment, powerful stabilizers, and buffering, like the double hulls of the tankers.

Redesigning our institutions for stresses and opportunities of the Digital Era is now the greatest challenge.
from the article The Digital Dynamic: How Communication Media is Shaping our Culture by Rex Miller

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Print and Broadcast Revolutions (1)

When Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type about 1454 and printed the Bible, he initiated a revolution in communications. Gutenberg’s Bible became a best-seller, and the art of printing spread rapidly. Within 70 years, Europe had more than 1,000 printers, and books were widely available. Later, newspapers and magazines proliferated.

Printed words, unlike speech, remain fixed in space and motionless over time. This permanence allows readers to return to the same words again and again—a process that permits thoughts to be examined and tested from many different perspectives.

The dominance of print communication created more-analytic, rational minds that see the world as parts assembled in an orderly whole, like the words in a sentence. So printed literature enabled linear, “rational” thought to largely supplant the “irrational” thought of the oral world. Understanding through analysis began replacing understanding through dialogue. With printing, the West exploded with new discoveries. Books nourished the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, science, and much else.

Print continues to play a critically important role in communications— just as does speaking—but it lost its dominance in about 1950 to television, which now feeds more information into people’s minds than does print.

Television showed the world to itself. Hundreds of millions of people sitting at home could watch stirring events in faraway places and see the world’s leaders more frequently and up closer than their next-door neighbors. Television broke down barriers that had separated people from each other. Poor people now could see how rich people actually lived. Whites and blacks could see the realities of racial segregation. The American people could see the horrors of the Vietnam War, and their government could not explain away its failures.

Print had made reason king and stimulated reflective thinking, but now broadcast elevated desire and emotion and encouraged reflexive thinking—the kind of thinking we do while driving a car. Television demands only our attention and reaction, requiring of us no analysis, no historical perspective, and no connection to any other event. Printed words drive us toward reaching a conclusion or having a perspective, but TV images leave information open to many meanings. They encourage us to keep our options open and “go with the flow.”

The Print Era lasted for 400 years, coming to an end within the lifetime of people still alive. The Broadcast Era will have a much shorter run. Already, broadcast’s dominance is yielding to the digital media, and they will likely become the dominant media of communication by about 2010.

from the article The Digital Dynamic: How Communication Media is Shaping our Culture by Rex Miller

Thursday, October 20, 2005

New Wineskins; New Design

There are some good things happening among my tribe. One of them is the ezine New Wineskins. It has a new look and design; thanks to Keith Brenton.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A New and Noteworthy Blog

I’ve sat at the feet of Larry Chouinard many times. He’s taught me more about church culture and the broader culture than there is space for a blog post. I’ve eaten with him, had some excellent conversations with him and considered him a good friend. Larry was a shepherd at the Norway Avenue Church and a professor at Kentucky Christian University before he left to engage the culture of Post Falls, Idaho. He’s both missional and scholarly; an unusually rare combination. He’s written a commentary on the gospel of Matthew and he has just started a blog titled ‘Spiritual Conversations.” Visit it; bookmark it; go back…and back…and back again. [...link]

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Biblical Exegetes and Culture Exegetes

Words should never impede. The idea is to remove the obstacles in words; some words we've used in the past are turn-offs and have the potential of hindering ones ability to listen.

Telling me that “we have said it this way for years” is probably longhand for obsolescence. So----

Blow-up the phrase Church Membership and replace it with Partnership
Membership” assumes privileges.
When partnering with a faith community you don’t gain rights, you lose them.

Blow-up the word “Evangelism” and replace it with “Spiritual Explorer, Sometimes Guide."

The word evangelism has been so bastardized through the years I find difficulty using it. It’s a word with a good heart, but a terrible reputation. On the street the word is equated with pressure. I prefer to be what I am…a fellow spiritual explorer walking alongside those Jesus’ misses. Ninety-five % of the time I’m an explorer. The small remainder of the time I become a guide. But this only happens after I have cared and genuinely liked the person I’ve walked with. This may take years and I’m willing to wait and even accept the possibility that they will never ask and that’s okay. If they ask, then I help them connect the dots.
Blow up Lord and Savior and use Leader and Forgiver
No luggage and no mistake about that phrase. Everyone understands.

Blow up Disciple and replace with Apprentice

Blow up Preacher and replace with Transformational Architect

Blow-up the word Lost and replace with the Missing
When missing people here us call them lost it’s a synonym for “unclean” or “impure”
They wonder…lost? From what?

Become introspective. What images are conjured up when the missing hear our words? What are we hoping they hear and are they hearing what we hoped they’d hear?

And remember words are not sacred. Christians forget that words like gospel, discipleship, evangelism and a host of others are English words translating another language.
Thanks to Ron Martoia for providing ideas

Monday, October 17, 2005

Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia

I love Wikipedia; The Free Encyclopedia. It’s open-source and definitely pomo. But I am totally frustrated with the editors (from what I can tell each page has its own set of editors) who seem to have complete control over any additions or edits to the (their) Church of Christ page. The perspective they evoke is right-winged conservatism and it’s not the predominant view among churches of Christ today. I’m sure some of you who read this blog have at some point crossed paths with this right-winged group. I’m so sorry.

I’ve spent my weekend (and part of Monday) negotiating with these men for space that would describe the emergent Church of Christ. Sometimes I’m ashamed of my tribe.

I made an addition Friday evening to the section titled “Other Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement bodies” by Saturday morning it was gone; deleted! I had also added a section titled “Noted Blogs among the Church of Christ.” Guess what? They deleted it too. Strange thing; they had links of their own on the (their) site. They referred to my additions as spam links.

After a bit of navigation, I discovered a backside to the Church of Christ main page where a lively conversation was going on on the Wiki discussion page. I lurked for awhile and learned my attempt to add an EC section to their Church of Christ page was creating quite a stir.

The better part of my Saturday was spent on this discussion page pounding out the differences between traditional and emergent. The word liberal was thrown around far more than necessary. I felt their understanding of the word was spurious. So I suggested that in matters of faith a liberal was someone who rejected the death, burial and resurrection.

I was surprised to learn that one of the editors was 27 and the other 31. I could be wrong but my hunch is they were graduates of Freed-Hardeman College. I found it very difficult to articulate the gathering conversation with a couple of uninformed young men. This weekend was their first exposure to the EC. We went back and forth. Throughout they sent mixed signals; first it’s on then it’s off.

Finally I was told that the person who deleted my addition Friday evening was someone who only visits the site once a month and has a habit of deleting everything and anything he disagrees with.

I was told to go ahead and add the section on the Emergent Church of Christ. I went back and made the addition and shortly after received the message that my article was being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy. I went back to the discussion page. Here’s what I read:

This article should be called "The Emergent Movement in Churches of Christ." But even then, I doubt this page can be salvaged. Emergents are apparently not clear on what their movement is, where it's going, who's involved, or what vocabulary to use. They are very, very long on philosophy and wordiness.
Since Punk Monkey and others had already started a page for the emergent church on Wikipedia I had to ask for a subsection on my tribe’s page. I’m happy there is an EC stand alone page. But too bad for the EC and what’s happening among my tribe. It’s simply not going to be included among a dying segment whose archaic perspectives and methods are given front and center on Wikipedia. By the way the Wiki editors slammed the EC article also. Here’s their comment:

They (emergents) are very, very long on philosophy and wordiness. Look at the Emerging Church article and you'll see what I mean. I believe the author (that would be me in this case—as if I can do better than the writers on that page) should focus his energies on improving that article. It needs a lot of help.
So Punk Monkey; get busy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Differences between Traditional Church and the Emerging Church

I could wax all day long but for sake of brevity--

The traditional church relies upon a pastor system and lecture.
Dependent upon the traditional bible class established over a century ago as an evangelistic tool while teaching english to America's illerate.
The emergent desires a facilitator and talking points.


Emergent=acknowledges mystery
Emergent=lives within mystery
Emergent= EPIC

Modernity=linear, rows and lines. (Hence pews all lined-up in neat rows)
Emergent=circles, loops, and unending lines (prefer seats 'even pews' strategically arranged so everyone is facing someone).

Modernity=learn then do
Emergent=learn while doing

Emergent=strategic giving

Modernity=attractional evangelism (come-to-church; modernism’s seeker movement)
Emergent= (come-to-Jesus) crosses border and engages the pre-Christian on their turf allowing them to live by their code of conduct. More non-Christian friends than Christian friends. Recreates the court of the Gentiles.

Modernity=Purpose driven
Emergent=Values driven

Modernity= looks for a resume
Emergent= looks for vision and excellence

Modernity=wants to follow proven trails
Emergent=can live without clear maps; prefer becoming a cultural cartographer

Modernity=They call it evangelism (responsibility to take God to the people)
Emergent=Incarnational: Spiritual explorer, sometimes guide. Realize that God intersects the life of an unbeliever before we arrived. Emergents know they can't take God to the people (borders on arrogrance!), instead they walk along side the people they know as a fellow explorer allowing them into the reality of their story; at some point, they invite us into their story. Only then do emergents become spiritual guides; given permission to help connect the dots of how God might be working in their life.

Modernity=Continues to use theological words and phrase that carry tons of freight.
Emergent=currently re-lexiconing the Christian language.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Misunderstood....Stuff Happens

A blog titled ‘Church Voices’ has responded to the post just below this post. (Museum Church or Missional Church).

The writer says…

First he (Fred) labels churches as “museum churches” or “mission churches”. As I noted before there’s a lot of name calling coming from emergent types, and it begins here with some extremely loaded language. I gotta wonder why he chose “museum church” rather than “crappy church”, maybe because that would be too obvious. But anyway, onto the show.
I hate name calling and will never resort to it. I am sorry the poet of church voices (as he refers to himself) mistook ‘metaphor’ for ‘name calling.’ The point of my post was to help the reader understand that unless the mainline church adapts, in time she will become Amish (irrelevant in wider culture). There are many conversing and shaping the emergent church, it just so happens I expend most of energy in helping the Christ-follower connect with the people Jesus misses the most. (missional)

The writer states that, “…nothing fundamentally or essentially changes just because the day or time changes.” Often, fundamental change is imperceptible while living our lives in a day to day world. But changes involves the essential. Obviously this writer's cultural antenna is failing him.

This gentleman points out that both Rob Bell and Brian McLaren pastor large churches (although Brian recently resigned as the senior pastor @ Cedar Ridge Community Church).
As for Bell, McLaren and other emergent(s) operating out of churches; there’s no duplicity in this, neither should it seem strange or unusual for an emergent church leader to be associated with a (traditional) faith community while in this transitional period. Email and snail mail also run side by side, and will probably do so for years.

I pray I’m not divisive as this writer says I am. I don’t want to be divisive. I don’t attempt to use loaded language. There is enormous diversity within the larger faith community yet I love my brothers and sisters in the traditional churches. I love all of them. I just want to be out front leading and clearing and paving the way for the next generation.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Museum Church or Missional Church?

At one time the church occupied center stage in western society, but that period is gone. The church of the third millennium must adopt a missionary posture or become a museum church.

The museum church is:
Attractional – expecting people to come to it and measuring effectiveness by attendance at the Sunday service.
Dualistic – seeing the secular and the sacred as two separate spheres of life, leading to the belief that God is only encountered under their definition of ‘holy places.’
Hierarchical – relying on a ‘top down’ corporate management system with a strong minister/leader / member distinction.

The three core characteristics of the emerging missional church are:
An incarnational ecclesiology – a church that engages with the culture in every way and that lives ‘in the world’ rather than hiving off into Christian enclaves and seeking to draw others into its gig.
Messianic spirituality – seeing God in all of life and living with more of a Hebrew approach to life.
Apostolic leadership – seeing the church as led by people with a mix of the five gifts mentioned in Ephesians 4.

The Misperceptions of What it All Means

I have often wondered what the percentages are among the people Jesus misses who would consider “becoming a Christian,” but are afraid if they become a Christian they will become worse people.

After all, who wants to become less tolerant and grow into a tapered perceptive? And for God’s sake—who wants to become known as a ‘bible-thumper?

And give up all my old friends? “You’ve got to be kidding!”

Where did their perceptions come from? Are we responsible? If so, we sure had it all wrong!

Again, I wonder what the percentages are.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Word-Smith to Image-Smith

With one generation aging and the next emerging, “word-people” are rapidly declining. To demand that an “image-smith” become a “word-smith” is both shortsighted and unfair. Expecting an “image-smith” to step into a bygone-era and learn as a “word-smith” falls just short of quenching the Spirit direction. Stamp out one’s desire to express what’s in the heart and they shut down. Some leave. Others move on to a more visual, artsy faith community.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Vanilla Latte, Blueberry Scone and Good Conversation

Today I sat in Starbucks sipping a vanilla latte while my good friend Jeff Garrett ate a blueberry scone. We talked about our families, friends, our weaknesses, the deer he shot with his bow, and much more. I enjoy being with Jeff. He’s so open, genuine, and honest. There are no secrets.

I was especially excited when Jeff told me he was going to retell the story of King David via a series of lessons. I love the story of David.

I’ve probably said this before but it’s worth repeating.

I don’t think David felt like a sinner when he sent for Bathsheba; he probably felt more like a lover. But in reality God had receded into the background, and David had stepped front and center. The more David, the less God. The less David is paying attention to God, the more he is acting as if he were God, acting like a god in relation to Bathsheba, pulling her into the orbit of his will so that she’s dependent upon him, acting like a god in relation to Uriah and giving the commands that determined his fate.
Before you read any further, think about that...
Now, read 1 Kings 15:5
For David had lived an exemplary life before GOD all his days, not going off on his own in willful defiance of GOD's clear directions (except for that time with Uriah the Hittite). The Message
Amazing! David’s sin was no more than a blip on God’s radar.

Praise our God…the God of Grace.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The People Formerly Known as the Lost

I’ve written a review of Jim Henderson’s aka Lost. You need to buy this book! Read the review at Next-Wave