Abductive Columns

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Metaphor for Leaders

Buffalo and cattle handle storms in a revealing fashion. Cattle turn their back on a storm and try to outrun it. Buffalo turn their heads into the oncoming storm and race toward it. They engage it and get through it while the cattle run and hide in fear.

Setting our faces, not our backs, to the future and prophesizing (not planning) the way forward will God-enable us to move mountains (bring about desired futures by creating those futures).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Chat with Sally Morgentaler

You can sit in on my chat with Sally Morgenthaler by going [...here]

Monday, November 20, 2006

Why NO Dynamic Church Planting Movements in the West?

My, my, Alan Hirsch nailed this one!

Why don’t we see dynamic church planting movements in the West of the same magnitude that we are seeing in many parts of the developing world?
 Consumerism is a major problem—largely for discipleship, but discipleship is needed before any movement can take place.

Hyper-reality: people live in a consumerist paradise. Or what at least appears to be a paradise. The market economy, effectively a religious alternative to Christianity, has delivered us a lifestyle that replaces what heaven has always stood for in the Judeo-Christian tradition. All is available now we don’t have to put our longings off and connect them with hope in God. The market creates a false immediacy. Life is like a Sunday afternoon, people can’t feel the need for the gospel.

There are few (if any) places in western, market dominated, democracies that mass people movements ala China have been able to activate and maintain themselves. The environment is inimical to the kind of energies that are required for networked exponential movements.

A pervasive existential crisis of belief and meaning in the West. And this relates to worldview. The genre of belief in non-Western contexts is different to both the modern or post-modern cultural environments that we live in. Indian, Chinese, or African movements can be written off as fundamentalist by westerners. I don’t think they are in the way that we mean it (hard-line pharisaism) but they certainly look like it in our eyes. Transformative movements are filled with people who really believe that their message is the answer to the world’s problems…..they believe and they act out of their belief. Westerners struggle to really believe.
Makes everything very hard doesn’t it. That’s why my heart burns for the West. Alan Hirsch co-author of The Shaping of Things to Come

I picked this post off Steve Addison’s World Changers
Shaping of Things to Come Michael Frost & Alan Hirsch

Friday, November 17, 2006

From My View

Unity in Christ integrates the dimension of ecology, giving it a deeper and fuller meaning.

Think with me.

Ecology teaches that the meaning of the part is in the whole and the meaning of the whole is in the parts.

From my view, God’s economy is inherently ecological. It sees all things as coming from the same source, interrelated, sharing a common story and goal.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New Wineskins Magazine

I’m one of the new Editors at New Wineskins.org. In the near future they’ll be a number of my conversations published with noted leaders who lead from the cusp; Brian McLaren, Dan Kimball, Ron Martoia, Sally Morgenthaler, Leonard Sweet and a host of others. These will be New Wineskins exclusives.

I would encourage you to add New Wineskins.org to your favorites and visit often. At one time NW was a print magazine (now only two a year roll off the press) but it’s a quality ezine.

NW readings are grace oriented and Christ-centered and more and more is becoming a leading edge in the emergent conversation. Let it be known: we don’t walk the party line. NW comes out of the restoration heritage (my tribe) but without the legalistic trappings and attitudes that has polarized our movement over the past fifty years. It saddens me when I hear friends; acquaintances, family and others tell church of Christ horror stories that color and shade their views of who we are. Check out New Wineskins.org

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Content In Prayer Life

Iraq. Israel and the Palestinians. Iran and western culture; clashes in perspectives and worldviews…clashes in religions, nations, and cultures.

At one time Israel and Egypt were near war. Civil war looked inevitable in South Africa and the Soviet Union loomed as a major threat. Because of the complexity of the body of Christ and the broader culture, we can never trace an exact cause-and-effect influence of prayer. But there were peaceful outcomes to the above crises.

Most of our prayers focus on the needs of our families (spiritual but mostly physical). Maybe this is to be expected but it should not be the extent of our prayers. God tells us to pray for all those in authority. Individually and collectively we should be praying for the leaders of our cities, the leaders of our states, for presidents and foreign leaders, for parliaments and courts.

Even when Christians can’t fully agree—politically, they can pray that God’s will be done; that the priorities of God’s kingdom be visibly realized.

How does prayer work? We don’t know. How God responds to our prayers is a mystery.

But I believe Tennyson was correct when he said: “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New Wineskins

In Jesus day wineskins were made of leather. Fill an old, dried out skin with new wine, and it will burst as the fresh beverage ferments. There is fresh ferment in the 21st century church, causing new wine to spill out as old church structures fail.

What is “church structure?” We think of buildings and denominations, but church structure also means forms and patterns the churches uses to carry out its mission in the world. If these structures are not made of goatskin or bricks or committees or worship teams, then what are they made of? Where do we find the best material for new wineskins?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Prayer for Ted Haggard

Father, forgive Ted Haggard if, in any way, he has prostituted his life. Forgive him if he has attracted attention to himself and offended you in a perverse way. Forgive him for cheapening his life while, at the same time, hurting the lives of the one’s he loves and the ones that love him.

I pray this prayer not just for Ted Haggard but for all of us whose hearts are prone to wander and quick to forget the vows we have made with you.

Help the community of faith to love Ted Haggard more than he could ever imagine. Now is the time for your people to shine by nurturing one of yours; one who has spent most of his life nurturing others. I pray all those who are brought into his circle of pain will have the same spirit of compassion Jesus showed the woman caught in adultery so many centuries ago.

May our own conscience be pierced by our own sinfulness, our hands the first to drop the stones, our feet the first to leave the circle of self-righteousness.

Thank you for the sweet words of forgiveness: “Neither do I condemn you.” Words that continue today to flow so freely from your lips. Words Ted Haggard needs to hear every day as he struggles with his sinful wandering.

In the strength of those unmerited words I end this prayer. So, today, at this very moment, comfort the Haggard family. And when their terrible nightmare ends, I pray he will freely go on his way and sin no more.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

When Criticized Do As Rob Bell Does

In a Chicago Sun Times article entitled "The Next Billy Graham?" Rob Bell said of his critics:
"When people say that the authority of Scripture or the centrality of Jesus is in question, actually it's their social, economic and political system that has been built in the name of Jesus that's being threatened. Generally lurking below some of the more venomous, vitriolic criticism is somebody who's created a facade that's not working."
"But I love everybody and you're next!" Rob says, giggling. "That's how I respond to criticism."

The Church; a Complex, Chaotic System

There’s a relatively new branch of science called complexity theory defined as “the emerging science at the edge of order and chaos.” It’s a look at the way order sometimes arises from seemingly chaotic systems.

If we look at the church as a complex system, perhaps we would lessen, what seems to be a natural tendency to simply see her as a social service agency, a church-growth machine, or a Sunday event with a few main players. By understanding the complexity of the body of Christ we stay closer to the church’s real DNA—which is highly complex.

Church programming assumes that the church is a linear cause-and-effect system. This is why church leaders readily adopt the latest program or craft their all important Sunday event after another faith community’s success. This common practice has bought into the faulty assumption that the church is like a machine and is pretty much the same everywhere, with interchangeable parts. Plug in the right program, sing all the relevant songs and off it goes!

But the truth is there are too many factors to give us any confidence in a method or a program developed in a context unique to another. The church’s DNA is just too complex and inimitable for that to be true.

Like trying to program a teenager, we get into trouble when we try to program a church, or the love between two people, or the life of a family. Human relationships are way too dynamic.