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Posts from February 2006

Future of Blogging

Jordon is bored with blogging, having logged in a solid ten years on his site at geocities and then at JordonCooper.com. I am a year or so away from my decade of web journaling and I know how he feels. I wrote a sentence in his comments on the future of blogging.

"Andrew Jones is saying the future will come when all the media associated with our life (audio, video, shopping choices, poetry, text, event attendence, web site visiting, menus, etc) is automatically and effortlessly made public (published online). When this happens, the work on our part is not uploading more data but rather choosing to filter what we dont want people to access. That is the future of blogging."

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Out of Africa - 1

I am back from South Africa and am very HAPPY. It was a fantastic time. The South Africans were great hosts and they treated us like kings. I have lots of stories and maybe some videos for later on.

Africa2

One of the highlights for me was meeting some key leaders from India and hearing about their networks of house churches and simple churches. One lady at the conference ( I cant mention names for security reasons) together with her husband, has started 14,000 house churches in the last ten years.

I shared some of the thinking and terminology behind the emerging missional church and Olgavaro shared the example of the Latin American emerging church which is doing extremely well. It has been nearly 3 years since my last visit there (in Colombia) and the various countries all seem to be growing and impacting their regions. I was invited again to the yearly gathering in Brazil - have to check my schedule on that one.

Olgavaro Tgpara

My presentation on the global emerging church had a number of technical hiccups - I really should have used my own computer, rather than the offical PC up the front with an older version of Quicktime (perhaps did not recognize the H264 compression?). And I should not have tried to transfer all my videos from Arkaos VJ over to Powerpoint. Dangitt.
But regardless, I did get to share about the thousands of emerging-missional churches around the globe and what it might take to make that number tens of thousands (from song of Saul to song of David) in the near future.

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A New Kind of Hierarchy

The State of the Blogosphere Part 2 is now available and the graphs you see have a shape that is getting more common. Its not a bell curve but rather a curvy slide down with a long tail. This is because it follows a power law distribution which best portrays the kind of hierarchy we find in nature (yeast cells in a protein network) or in the blogosphere (BoingBoing's vast readership vs. our sad puny blogs).

Slide0001-Tm
This graph is the hierarchy of blogs from Technorati's State of the Blogosphere Part 2 (Feb 14, 2006)

Power laws don't have a peak in the middle, like a bell curve. They start out high, then taper off gradually with a "long tail" that can often begin to rise again slightly due to a second wind or renewal of interest. Most organic systems AND internet based hierarchies are scale-free follow a power law distribution and display the signs of a modular hierarchy. And church planting movements once they are running freely, I expect, would also display power law characteristics. Hence, my interest.

Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has some excellent thoughts on power laws and scale free networks in his book Linked. He says that by "viewing networks as dynamical systems that change continously through time, the scale free model embodies a new modeling philosophy" This philosohy, tied to network theory and complexity, involves a change of thinking from static to growing, from random to scale-free, and from structure to evolution. Power laws, says Barabasi, are "nature's unmistakable sign that chaos is departing in favor of order . . they are the patent signatures of self-organization in complex systems". Or in other words, emergent behavior.

Power laws explain why BoingBoing.net can become so ridiculously bloated with permanent links and why our sad little blogs do not. Growth and preferential attachment, says Barabasi, are the two key factors. Because you already have lots of links, the search engine places you on top of the hierarchy for that particular search. Because you get placed higher, more people find you and more people read you and more people link to you and you get exponentially higher up the ladder of this new kind of hierarchy.

Kinda reminds me of when Jesus said "To everyone that has, more will be given". More on this and its relationship to giving here.

Also, take a look at Dwight Friesen's Scale-Free Networks as a Structural Hermeneutic for Relational Ecclesiology which not only outlines some good application to networks of churches [Christ-clusters] but its also great bedtime reading for your children.

Questions for theology geeks:
1. What is the relation between the hierarchical modularity of a complex system and what is found within the triune complexity of the Godhead?
2. Can Elohim, the Triune God, be a model for a new kind of dynamic hierarchy?

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My Blog's Family Tree - Yours?

Andreas pointed me to TouchGraph Google Browser. This is a topography of my blog and how it is linked in the blogosphere. Interesting to note that of the 7 hubs around me, I played a direct role in encouraging most of them (not all) to start and they have been generous in linking back and recommending others to my blog. In other words, my blog now has a family tree that this tool makes visible. (click to enlarge)

Touchgraph2Tskfeb2006

The advantage of using Touch Graph to map out your linkage is that you can add other URLs and watch the complexity happen as layer upon layer of relationships become visible. This image, though, is just my URL before I add layers. Anyway. I showed you blog's family tree. Now you show me yours.

Grokker is also good if you want to map out key words. I have been grokking the emerging church at intervals to track changes. Try it yourself. Go here and then choose the "Zoomable Map" button on the left. Heres how it looks this morning.

Echurchgrokkedfeb2006

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Hanging with DAWN Ministries in Joburg

Olgavaro Bastos Jnr (from Brasil) and I are the two Emerging Church people giving presentations next week in Johannesburg. I have mentioned Olgavaro before. The Tribal Generation website is still all in Portuguese, but there will be an English translation soon. Both of us will be talking about church planting movements in the emerging culture.

We will be addressing the Global Associates of DAWN International. This meeting was supposed to be in Colombia but the Africans had trouble with their visas so the venue was changed to Joburg, South Africa.

DAWN Ministries International was started by 2 Latinos and an American. It is currently headed up by Ngwiza Mnkandla, of Zimbabwe. Ngwiza is a great guy. He told me once that the postmodern question is a very relevant one for African churches, in particular because the modern church introduced to them by Scottish missionaries could not deal with the demonic or the supernatural with its Enlightenment mentality. It will be interesting to hear stories of the new movements in Africa and to see what shape they are taking.

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Emerging Movement: Future or Fad?

"the EM [emerging movement] is a missionally shaped ecclesiology that seeks to unite Christians for the sake of unleashing the gospel to change the world, rather than a theological movement designed to demand conformity on specific theological issues."

Scot McKnight, The Future of Fad: A Look at the Emerging Church Movement, (PDF)

Ahhhhh. Now I can exhale. An American academic gets it.

Just going to take a little space here to enjoy the moment

ahhhh . . .

ooo!!!!??!!!

uuuuhuhhhhh . . .

Scot McKnight is Karl A. Olsson professor in religious studies at North Park University in Chicago. But more importantly, he is a blogger. This article is an Evangelical Covenant Church publication called The Covenant Companion.

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Valentines

Not very romantic. But I took Debbie out for a valentines lunch yesterday after showing her the flowers I picked for her. We went to the Flattie Bar at the Stromness Hotel and had a pint with our cheeseburgers. And then a game of pool. In the evening we gave chocolate hearts to the kids. Hannah (8) brought a big heart for Hamish at her school. And that was Valentines Day.


Gaming and Training

Hats off to the Christian Century Magazine who just published a (paper-only?) special on theological education for the future. Its entitled "Seminary 2050" and my copy just came to the door. Great to see other voices on the same topic from friends of mine like Brian McLaren and Maggi Dawn. Great also, to see my own humble submission which brings me to an editing point which, I know, annoys publishers to death, especially when authors are as picky as I am, and considering the laughably long sentences i write, broken by commas, and punctuated by afterthoughts and asides, as i do when i speak [its a blogger thing] and its a Pauline thing [see what large letters i write] and it sure sounds like i was sitting next to you with a coffee and a photo album but some publishers just don't want that, which is why I submitted a sensibly written document that would not require heavy editing. Even the right amount of words that was requested. Really.

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