I am in Edinburgh this weekend and am traveling with my two youngest daughters. Tamara turns 6 on Saturday and we will visit the Build-a-Bear Shop to adopt one as her major birthday present. Done this before with Hannah. I'm a PRO!
Heres a couple of guys practicing, as far as I can see, emerging-missional ministry in a fabulously Reformed way and at the same time telling people why they are not 'emergent'. You have to see the irony of the whole thing! Especially funny is the use of postmodern graphics on the front cover and then an innocent rib-poke at postmodernism. Beautiful! Classic! And the fact that it poses as an "anti-emergent" book gives it an automatic thumbs up by virtually every critic under the evangelical sun.
I haven't read the whole book and I have never met these guys - at least if they have shown up to any of our Emerging church roundtables or events, then they probably didn't introduce themselves - but what I briefly googled about them seems great and I think I will like them when I finally get to meet them one day.
Ted Kluck is a well-received writer. I don't know much about his ministry - whether emergent ministry principles are employed or not - but his writings certainly take the necessary relevant form. Kevin DeYoung is Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church that supports "green" church planting and portrays its worship as "missional". His church is described with words like "mission minded" and "pilgrim" which is all very good. The missionaries sent out from his church seem to be doing wonderful contextually sensitive work overseas - exactly the same qualities and signs I would look for in an emerging-missional ministry back in the home country. And I was especially impressed with URC's one officially sponsored mission agency listed on their website - which I will not name due to its sensitive nature but you can look yourself. And I bring it up here because its a great example of what "emergent" looks like . . . without using the tag.
A book gets released next month in Melbourne by Brent Lyons Lee and Ray Simpson who is also one of my co-speakers at the Grassroots Festival. Looks like a wicked cool book. HT: Matt Stone who gives the blurb for the book:
"Emerging Downunder: Creating Celtic New Monastic Villages of God" taps into the current hunger for spirituality, the death pains of obsolete church forms, and the rising tide of hope felt by many Christians. It suggests ways the fragmented church may reconnect both with its roots and the contemporary environment, providing practical examples of church that bring praying, eating, learning and hospitality together in one place."
Heres a little email chat I had with Brian McLaren recently. He agreed to let me post it on my blog. I reviewed Brian's book "Everything Must Change" but my mixed review was a little harsh and I had a few questions unanswered. I thought it would be worthwhile to post the conversation here in case you had the same questions as I did. Anyway, thanks Brian for your responses. Here is a shortened piece of the conversation, right after I was complimenting Brian on his book:
Brian, I have 3 concerns from your book that linger:
1. the apparent absence of the CHURCH as God's primary instrument in accomplishing his mission on earth - and the gaping hole in your book where the example of equality and justice in the early church of Acts 2-4 should have been, in my humble opinion. [i read recently that the love feast happened daily in homes and the poor could always find a meal with the believers - a justice element in the lords supper that has gone by the wayside]
Great point. Because I decided to limit my focus to Jesus, I didn't bring in a lot of stuff from Acts and the Epistles that I could have (except one chapter to show that Paul is part of the revolution, so to speak, not a traitor to it as so many think) ... Limiting my focus to Jesus kept me from bringing in much about the church per se, or from church history - or from the Old Testament, for that matter - each of which could be a book in itself. A church history written from this perspective would be powerful - kind of a 21st century re-write of Broadbent's "The Pilgrim Church" (which I'll bet you've read, but if not, it's worth finding in a used book shop or seminary library).
One of the things that I hope the book does (by understatement, perhaps?) is help people think of "church" in broader ways. For example, I don't think that the church per se is going to intentionally solve economic problems in Africa. But churches will inspire entrepreneurs and activists and politicians and health care workers and community organizers and film-makers, etc., to work together in ways that will bring more and more healing. In this way, "church work" is building up the church, but "the work of the church" is doing kingdom work in our daily lives and jobs, from business to art to government to education to agriculture to whatever.
. . . however, you have already written a great book (the church on the other side) where you affirm your faith in the body of Christ and you also are choosing to speak to the church in your Deep Shift tour which tells me you actually DO see the primacy of the church . . .
Yes. I was deeply impacted a few years ago by Alan Roxburgh at one of our events (you may have been there?) when he said, the church is like a person who gets invited to a party and only talks about himself. I've been thinking that we get into a syndrome of trying to save our lives denominationally, etc, which makes us lose them ... when instead, our churches need to lose our lives, pour ourselves out for the sake of the world, become more interested in joining God in caring for the world than in getting God to join us in caring for ourselves, that sort of thing. But of course, at heart I'll always be a pastor, and in the end, none of this matters unless it's embedded in local churches of whatever form. My next book will lean back in that direction - it's on spiritual formation and disciplines, etc.
Easter Sunday in Orkney. Its snowing outside and quite cold. Nice to be back with my family after 10 days on the road in the most harshest, heathen lands you could imagine.
And speaking of all things heathen and pagan, we decided to do away with the easter eggs this morning and instead we hid some fair-trade chocolate bars around the house for the kids to find. Then we went down to the local Baptist church where they had an easter egg hunt [oh well . . so much for trying]. After church, we all went over to the local Brethren Gospel Hall because we were baptising a few people (great Easter tradition) and they had a baptismal that we could use.
Some of the Gospel Hall folk stayed around for the baptism which was great because they have a very formal dress code with all the men wearing suits and the ladies in black and with dark head coverings. In our group . . . well . . . lets just say that I usually dress down for church so I don't stick out. Anyway, I took this photo inside the Gospel Hall this morning that depicts that culture clash. How great that we can all get along!
I had the privilege of spending Good Friday morning in London Gatwick airport so I went to their ecumenical Good Friday church service, led by volunteers from the Salvation Army, Anglican and Catholic churches, all at the same time. Good teamwork! Hope you have a good Good Friday.
Leaving Austin, Texas in a few hours, and heading home to UK. I was able to teach the natives how to look Texan and still maintain their coolness. They will be forever grateful.
Actually, none of us are really Texan. Thats me on the right. The tough looking one. I am not really Texan but rather cant remember where I am from. Mark Stoney on the left is from England where he and his band toured with some unknown Sheffield group named Arctic Monkeys and was performing last week at SXSW as "Stoney". Derek Chapman, in the center, is from North Carolina. You may remember his cool Volvo, for which he had to fight Colin Powell, from when I was here a few years ago.