Outreach Magazine has started a new series that is ranking THE WEBSITES of the top 100 American MegaChurches and GigaChurches. Well written by John Vaughn (Church Growth Today which does NOT have a good looking website) who has been fascinated with large churches for decades. Link
Posts from July 2005
Last night the weather was perfect and we went out fishing on James Stockan's boat. Hannah caught her first fish ever (pictured, she caught 8, actually) and Samuel caught 21. I caught about 9. Cindy Blick came with us and caught . . hardly any.
My lovely wife has a birthday today. Tonight we will feast on scallops and many of her friends will come over for dessert. Her blog is the best motherhood blog in the world. Happy birthday Debbie!!! (Photo taken 2 days ago at a friends farm)
There's a lot of confusion about cruelty free diets, and most websites are not very helpful if you are not vegetarian or vegan. So | will briefly describe our understanding of a Biblical, ethical meat eating diet.
I told you at the beginning of the year about our commitment to a cruelty-free diet in a post called "Righteous Men and Meat", and that i had brought the subject up (perhaps unwisely) at a briefing for some Foundations who were asking about the Emerging Church. I also told you that last week I had a weak moment, a lapse of judgment, and am now back on track. But there is some confusion as to what it is we are doing. Maybe I am assuming that everyone knows more than they do. Here is the skinny on our cruelty free diet.
I believe God gave us care of the animals ("govern" is a better word than "dominion") and they, in return, give us food and clothing. We look after each other. It is a contract we have with the animals. under the eye of God. This is why Solomon can say "The righteous man cares for the needs of his animals" Proverbs 12:10
So the question for us is whether we are caring for the needs of the animals that we eat or not. In many cases, particularly in our highly industrialized world, the answer is clearly "NO!" The "acceptable" premature death rate for animals in intensive farming is outrageously high - up to 30% for poultry in intensive broiler houses and up to 15% for pigs. Thats not acceptable for our family. Neither are their living conditions, the food they eat, or their unnaturally rapid rate of growth due to growth stimulants.
"Intensive farming does provide large quantities of relatively cheap food - but often at a cost to the environment or animal welfare." (BBC for Schools - Intensive Farming VS. Organic Farming)
If you think this is a non-issue among the emerging generation - then its time to think again. Our kids are finding out what goes into a Chicken McNugget and they are not impressed. Mass-produced meat saves us a few bucks at the Golden Arches but the abuse of the animals that makes possible such a small price, at least for our family, is an ethical compromise. And we would rather pay more for meat, or eat less of it, and keep our consciences clear. So thats why we are taking care to find out the history of the animals we eat, and are buying from butchers rather than supermarkets, and have avoided buying "suspect" meat from fast food outlets all year. We used to take our family to either Burger King or MacDonalds about once a month. Now it is far less frequent than that and when we do go (only once this year). . . we don't order the chicken.
"Christ of the Wilderness, hear our confession.
We are MacDonald's, we confess our sin,
This is our temple, where we eat our fast feasts,
We are ready to enjoy a happy meal, but not to eat a meal of sadness for injustice.
HUNGRY GOD - HAVE MERCY ON US"
From a Grace church service mentioned in "Buffy the Backside Slayer"
Anyway - no judgment or snobbiness flowing out of our family to those who hold to a different ethical stance on their diet. And there are times when we go to eat at other peoples houses where we will "eat what is set before us" (Luke 10) I just wanted to explain where we are coming from, the ethics of our kitchen, and our take on how we are applying the Scriptures to our eating habits.
Baptist Standard interviews Bill Leonard: The emerging church offers hope for Baptists, Leonard insisted. "I'd rather be Baptist in the postmodern period than anything else."
Baptists should reassert ritual, particularly the "danger and decisiveness" inherent in the ordinances of believer's baptism by immersion and the Lord's Supper, Leonard said.
With their emphasis on religious liberty and a believer's church grounded in uncoerced faith, Baptists uniquely are positioned to respond to secularism, pluralism and religious establishmentarianism, he asserted.
"We should affirm and accept pluralism without running to syncretism," he said. (More)
The Southern Baptists, BTW, had some great meetings with the European Baptists last week in Poland that may lead to greater partnership. LINK
Å lot of great festivals have already happened this summer. Gocha Unity Fest in Japan and FreakFest in Czech Republic, I think Contra Corriente just happened in Spain, and reports are coming in from Cornerstone in USA.
The Japanese festival intrigued me most.
From Mika (Japan):
Hi, this is Mika--(^0^)/// GOCHA UNITY FESTA was held, in the central Tokyo last month, which was a chrisitan music festival(concert?)
Two books arrived this week and I kid you not . . they look like twins, despite coming from different book publishers. Both have deserts on the cover. One book (The Jesus Creed) goes for the old-skool-Lawrence-of-Arabia desert aesthetic and the other (Perimeters of Light) draws a glassy cyber-desert.
Do these companies spy on each other? Is there a shortage of creativity in the land of Christian publishing? [ . . . dont answer that!]
The desert metaphor is good - its a new world, unexplored and dangerous and a new breed of desert fathers are needed to give some navigation. And these books do just that - one hanging out in the gospels, and the other tapping into the epistles and recent missiological insights.
1. The Jesus Creed is an excellent book by Scot McKnight. You may have run into Scot in the comments section of this blog - certainly if you were following the Carson Chronicles - a flow of conversation that I redirected to Scot' s blog. Anyway, this is a good book - nay - a GREAT book - Scot examines how Jesus saw spiritual formation and the Greatest Commandment - to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and mind and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself. This is the backbone of the book and Scot does a great job in weaving the gospel narratives in and out of this theme. Definitely a book to buy and get re-centered to the core of what it mean to follow Jesus. We need more books like this.
Buy the Book?
Yes. And a good book to accompany it would be Mealtime Habits of the Messiah, by Conrad Gempf
2. Perimeters of Light: Boundaries for the Emerging Church, by Ed Stetzer and Elmer Towns.
Both great guys. I met Elmer in the late 80's on his "Most 'Innovative Church" Tour. I haven't met Ed, but I hear he has been taking a risk by investing in the next generation of Baptist emerging leaders which makes him a good guy in my opinion.
The book is OK. There are better books on upgrading church growth theory, missiology, and emerging church, but this book has two great qualities:
Not a headlining blockbuster sin like Jimmy Swaggart, but an unfortunate missing of the mark.
I blew our commitment to a cruelty free diet today. We have gone all year successfully avoiding suspect meat from fast food outlets and cheap supermarkets. But i recently found a large post-easter turkey (neither organic nor cruelty-free) for a ridiculous price, and since we had some crowds of people coming over to our house, i weakened and bought the stupid thing. At the moment, it is roasting in our oven. My wife is a little angry with me and i am angry with myself.
Anyway, after my moral failure today, I am back on track with a righteous diet. [The righteous man is not cruel to his animals (Proverbs)]
New banner on top with a quote from Ballad of a Thin Man, by Bob Dylan (1965)
(i thought it had some interesting parallels)
. . . And you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you
When he hears you speak
And says, "how does it feel
To be such a freak? "
And you say, "impossible"
As he hands you a bone
Because something is happening here
But you dont know what it is
Do you, mister jones?
That guy looking stumped into blankness is not meditating nor being hypnotized but is actually thinking about how to answer the questions about his church Solomon's Porch. And yes, that guy is Doug Pagitt and his birthday was this week. Some leaders of Emergent Village get interviewed at PBS online which is worth a read, and worth waiting for part 2 which will be posted next week. HT Kevin Cawley. And BTW, the Wiki defintion of Emerging Church is now updated and improved, and includes an excellent quote from Chris Seay - “It should be clear we are championing the gospel and missional values, not what (some) describe as ‘ministry intentionally influenced by postmodern theory.’"
It is that kind of clarity we need when talking to the media about why emerging church is often looking different than traditional church. Its a missional thang, NOT a postmodern thang. We are going back to the Bible and taking it seriously, NOT discarding it in favor of French deconstructionists of the 1970's.
As for the concept of "post-emerging" (Ginkworld), it may be helpful to think of emerging church in 3 stages:
1. Submerging - those going deep into culture to listen, think, pray, and share the gospel among the emerging culture.
2. Emerging - When the new church structures begin to rise up and take shape organically inside the culture, a process that will often be described as having "emergent characteristics" and displaying "emergent behavior".
3. Converging - When the new church structures begin to connect to the other existing structures, local and global, and form part of the web that is the body of Christ.
Of course, if you present these options to churches, they will normally choose the one that is most advanced and complete, no matter where they are in this process. But it might help those who have been going 15 years and are now part of the church fabric, despite growing up with emerging culture people.