Mike Sares, pastor of Scum of the Earth church in Denver, just popped over to have a chat. Great to meet him and hear the story of his church. Josh Cook told me about it last year in Scotland and its been good to finally meet Mike in person.
The sharing session at this house church conference is raging on and I don't think i will get a chance to share this. But I feel God's heart on it so in case I dont get to stand up and say it to the group, here it is.
God is doing a new thing in this country and those with blue collars will have special honor.
GOD LOVES BLUE COLLARS.
And I know He loves white collars also and has used white collars in church leadership for hundreds of years in this land.
But blue collars? Ahhhhhhhhh . . . thats something new.
So if you have a job where you spend the final ten minutes of your day washing gunk off your hands
or putting away the tools of the laborer,
or your watch says Casio and not some Swiss guys name,
or you live in a trailer,
and you couldn't afford to go to Seminary,
and you can see the road through the floor of your car
. . . then
you have special honor and favor in this new thing God is doing.
And you wont have to switch from Dunkin' Donuts to Starbucks
and you wont have to change your mullet to a side parting
and you wont have to swap your Eddie Bauer for a Georgio Armani.
God will use you to LEAD and this leadership will not have to sit at the feel of white collars to be appreciated.
Be free to lead and serve.
God loves your blue collar.
Be grateful for the state in which God has called you and play it out where you are and how you are.
There is a reason for it.
This DAWN house church leaders conference is drawing to a close. Here are some random thoughts in reflection.
- Mike Steele shared on the beginnings of this journey began in 2001. 170 people met in Tony house. I was there also in that meeting which was a part of the Epicenter Roundtable. Actually, I thought it was 120 but it may have been 170. This is the 9th major leadership group since that time that Mike has led.
- John White and Mike Steele shared about how they disagreed on some things but diversity is good. I AGREE. The leadership team here seems very CONGENIAL and homogenous and its good to see some diversity.
- Some bloggers here. Greg Hubbard from Las Vegas and Alexander Campbell (who has been sharing a room with me) and of course the inimitable Tim Pynes of the House Church Chronicles Blog. WE went out for a drink the other night and Tim apologized for interviewing me in South Africa last year on the differences and similarities between 'emerging church' and 'house church' movements and then accidentally deleting the entire interview - as well as interviews with Wolfgang Simson and Thom Black who works with George Barna. Oh well.
Cant please everyone. Even Emerging Church folk. I am sure there are many people that hate my blog and protest it but only a few people do so multiple times. Someone from an emerging church in UK stopped reading my blog a while back because, or so she told me, I was not willing to take a strong stance against capital punishment. Which is true - I visit a lot of countries and try to respect each nation's decision on that issue as much as possible. Its a divided issue with about 52% of the world being in favor of the death penalty [Wikipedia].
I am still at this house church conference in Denver, Colorado. Words being used here to describe this new movement are "simple", "organic" and "house" church. I have introduced another word that may add another layer or two of meaning.
My contribution to the conversation in my group yesterday was about being a "LOCAL" church. That may sound quite mundane because the word has been thrown around for decades, but driving 30 minutes across a city once or twice a week is NOT a local church, its a DISTANT church. I think we will see a new movement of "local" churches. This is what i mean.
In the USA, changes in society's values have been reflected in the cuisine as well as in the church. I love food and cooking so it speaks to my mind as well as my stomach. Here are some trends i have noticed over the past 20 years that have affected the way i see both food AND church.
The gourmet food movement in the 80's, which educated hairy alpha males in the nuances of brie cheese and balsmanic vinegar, focused on bespoke foods of excellence. Churches in the 80's were also pursuing excellence in programing and worship. Second best was not good enough for God. We aimed at health, growth, and a high level of communication and art.
Sometimes gourmet food had to do with relative scarcity. Sometimes regional identity (coffee beans from the south-west slope of a remote Sumatran mountainside) allowed geographical location to add exotic value to the eating experience. Information about the food also enhanced the experience and increased the price.
The organic food movement in the 90's contrasted the artificial nature of industrial-processed food and offered a higher standard of food grown in environments free from suspect chemicals and stimulants. Many churches used the word "organic" to focus on the simple churches not enamored or ruled by institutional structures or outside leadership or value systems imported from another time or place. The word is still in use.
The recent slow food movement, which may come partly as a reaction to fast food abuse, challenges people towards cooking slowly and eating in. People are re-imagining their own kitchens and enjoying the cooking experience. Also in the church, we see house church meetings that linger over long casserole meals and conferences that resemble parties. Going OUT for church is in competition with staying IN with friends in the confines of a home for an extended period of time.
Ngwiza Mnkandla, President of Dawn Ministries, challenged us to honor the womb from which we came. He talked about his physical mother and how he sends her a check each month. He also talked about how we in the organic/simple church movement must also honor the church that gave us birth. Yeah!
Other discussion groups are reporting right now. Conference is going well.
UPDATE (April 28, 2007): Message from Northern Seminary
"It is with great sadness that we announce that Robert Webber passed away Friday April 26. We will be posting details on www.seminary.edu and on the AEF Call web site www.aefcall.org about the upcoming public memorial service in the Chicago area as soon as details are finalized. Please keep the Webber family in your prayers."
ORIGINAL (April 27, 2007): Robert Webber has been battling cancer for some time and is now having a bad turn, according to Jim Hart at the Webber Institute. The last year Bob has been continuing his ministry despite ill health. Jim says pray for God's timing in all this.
Denver, Colorado. Meeting for house church network leaders has begun. I joined the proceedings this morning. There are about 75 people here, all of whom came by personal invitation. Very focused group of leaders who are all doing house church/simple church but at the same time there is a desire to connect and integrate with the wider church.
No speakers at this conference but instead there are group discussions and creative exercises in thought, prayer and reporting. Scriptures are woven through all the conversations and presentations. Very house church like in its flavor, even though we are meeting at the Radisson hotel.
The event is sponsored by DAWN Ministries. A lot of married couples are here and the women add a more wholistic element In fact, as I speak, a lady and her husband are sharing their group's disccussion that included a "passionate desire of and for God Himself", and "catching the eyes of the Groom"
Mary not Martha, Intimacy, connectivity, identity, bride and bridegroom, only do what you hear the Father say, listen to God before moving ahead.
I was running kinda late to catch my flight to Denver. Jim Newberry and I had to go back to the house to pick up some things i left behind [not the first time] and i arrived with 25 minutes to catch my flight. They had stopped accepting luggage and told me to take everything and run to catch the plane. I was packing light but i still had full size toiletries and clippers and whatever was in my bag. I threw it on the belt and prayed up a quickie that God would cover over the contraband stuff and . . . thankfully . .. it emerged without security personnel jumping on me and i grabbed my bag and ran to catch my plane. Which I did and i have now arrived in Denver. Tell you about it tomorrow. It 12:30am and probably time i went to bed.