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Posts from April 2010

Bruce Waltke and Evolution: Just one thing I wanna know

I have followed the resignation of Professor Bruce Waltke that resulted from his pro-evolution talk on the video, the stories and explanations about what was said on the video, the bloggers speculating on the impact of the video. Now maybe I am shallow, or too curious, or maybe its the blogger in me . . . but I just want to know one thing:

Where is that damn video?

missing video bruce waltke

Chuck Swindoll on the emerging church

Chuck Swindoll.jpgI just left a comment on Chuck Swindoll's blog. Dang! I didn't know he even had a blog until now. Its called Insight for Living, like his ministry. The man is a LEGEND and I have read so many of his books its ridiculous. He was also my pastor in the 80's and my wife I were married in his church, First Evangelical Free Church, more commonly referred to as the Pizza Hut because of the roof. Ken Bemis, the pastor that brought Chuck to Fullerton, was the guy who counselled and married us. Lovely guy! My wife was supported out of Chuck's church as an overseas worker but that was a long time ago.

This is how we looked back then.


But I digress into sentimentality. Here is Chuck wrapping up his blog post.

"Let me urge you who are considering adopting the emerging church philosophy, or the “seeker church” strategies, to take a good look at what you are trying to do—and why. Be sure to look at it biblically. Be certain you can support any change you plan to implement from the Scriptures. Don’t look to Mars Hill in Acts 17 while ignoring the essentials of Acts 2:42. Instead of searching for justification in the Bible, search and pray for direction from the biblical text. When you find it . . . follow it.

I would say the same thing to any church—including my own."


My comment on Chuck's blog:

"thanks Chuck for good advice on emerging church. well written. . . .

i would add that for many of us in this world, whether we have dropped the label or not, the example of Acts 17 is helpful but not as powerful as the example of the incarnation and the command by our Lord "As the Father has sent me, so I send you". How did Jesus incarnate his life and message? This is the key.

Hey - when i went to visit Chuck at Dallas Theological Seminary, he was out of the office. [AS IF he would remember me!!!!] But i did notice this funny poster on the wall with Chuck in his black motorbike leathers and the phrase "THE SERMINATOR" in caps. Funny. Does anyone have a copy that they can upload on the web?

Anyway, I hope Chuck will get around to reading Sam Metcalf's excellent post "Backlash to the Emerging Church." Sam writes:

"The emerging church movement as a whole reflects a variety of theological perspectives, some of which I would agree with and some that would give me pause. But overall, I personally believe this is a movement of God which stands squarely in the flow of the great, historical renewal movements of the past 2000 years.

What God is undoubtedly doing is raising up, on the cultural fringes, a new generation of people who are faithfully and wholeheartedly followers of Jesus and true to the bible, but they are committed to living that faith out in an increasingly secular, postmodern world. From my experience, what I believe is most unsettling to the traditional Christian establishment is not primarily the theological nuances and questions that emanate from emerging churches, but forms and ecclesiological expressions that are outside the acceptable box. While some would attack the emerging church on theological grounds, my suspicion is the real backlash is primarily cultural. In many respects, the emerging church movement is profoundly biblical."

Sam was part of Chuck's church plant in Brea (North Community) that Debbie and I hooked up with. And so many good things have stemmed from those times, both in USA, Australia and Europe. WOW! If Chuck Swindoll had not given his thumbs up to that church plant in Brea, the emerging church would probably not look the same. Must write a post on it one day.

Related: Hugh Halter is speaking at Exponential. He is also related to the same CRM trajectory. Punch him if you see him and tell him he owes the TSK a beer!

Kevin Prosch and the Peppercorns

Back in 1998, Kevin Prosch and the Peppercorn Band stayed with us in the Redwoods of California. Our community was full of young hippy kids and rastas who had given their lives to Jesus and were getting off drugs and starting a new life. The Peppercorn Band and Kevin totally rocked. Great energetic worship. Just the ticket.

Over the last 12 years or so, we have found ourselves partnering with Vineyard and Pentecostal churches all over the place. Sometimes, especially in Germany, the young emerging churches were helped along by the Vineyard. As well as this, some of our biggest supporters and sponsors have been and still are Vineyard church people and leaders.

I dont see a disconnect. But others do and so there are interviews and blog discussions about the relation between the new stuff thats going on and the Pentecostals, and the Vineyard. Still worth a read.

Johnathan Stegalthis morning:

kevin-prosch-1.jpg"So the most recent episode of Homebrewed Christianity includes an interview between Kevin Prosch and my friend Mike Morrell. I hadn’t ever heard of Kevin Prosch, but his experiences with the early Vineyard, pre-IHOP Mike Bickle, other prophetic worship music, and his influences on what became the worship genre as a whole are fascinating, and the episode tells stories of these things."

Kevin has seen plenty of ups and downs since he and his band came through our town in the 90's, but he seems to have bounced back. He is a tremendous musician who has left a great legacy already. Check out the interview:

The Fascinating Life and Music of Kevin Prosch: Homebrewed Christianity 77

Green shoots are sprouting everywhere

flower.jpg"I do not trust SPECTACULAR things.

Give me the seed growing secretly every time."

Roland Allen


"Did you know that couch grass and potatoes, and other rhizome based organisms, do not reproduce? Instead they find dark empty places and export their roots into them, maintaining unity, but allowing growth and new life. If there is no reproduction or multiplication in rhizome structures, then how do we talk about reproduction in church planting strategy?

Andrew Jones, Like a Rhizome Cowboy, 2004


"With 80-100 million followers in secret house churches in China; 100,000 house churches planted in India; one million evangelical Latin Catholics now worshipping in Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) and five million Americans in 30,000 house churches and several other countries reporting explosive growth, the return of the prodigal church back to the house church is a full circle reversal to God’s intended original form and function.

It seems that the 2000 years of incubation period is over and suddenly the green shoots are sprouting everywhere in the spiritual landscape to welcome Christ the King."

Victor Choudrie HT: Simple Church Journal, from "Global Trends, Concerns and Challenges", available here. Previously on TSK: Choudrie and a slice of Nicolatia

Exponential 2010: Attend or Avoid?

Exponential promotes itself as "the largest gathering of church planters on the planet". I was there a few years ago. It REALLY IS large, just like it says, and a great networking experience. Lots of my friends were there including some bloggers.

exponential banner


1. Its a fun event and extremely well organized. Everybody enjoys it!

2. Buy Darrin Patrick a beer and make him feel like he is at church.

3. Meet all those church planting book authors.

4. Annoy Alan Hirsch at the Shapevine area for as long as you like.

5. Its really big and its in Florida


1. Verge was better. They had George Patterson and Exponential didn't. Verge sold out. I told you.

2. The conference doesn't look any different from last year or the year before.

3. The church planting movement doesn't look any different than the decade before.

4. Global church planting leaders, working where most of the action is happening, are absent. See my next post.

5. Its really big and its in Florida


For those that are there, enjoy! It should be a GREAT time!

Exponential Bloggers. Follow on Twitter #exponential

10 ways to stop watchdoggers from barking

There's another breed of watchdoggin' bloggin' out there. You are already familiar with the normal watchdog blogs that protect God's church from the scum of the blogosphere by posting daily about how far the church has moved into Babylon. They do this in a general way, occasionally picking on a few individuals [like the evil Rick Warren and the dastardly Brian McLaren] but very rarely do they land on a single person and try to blog him out of existence. Usually, its trends and streams and influences that get barked at by the watchdoggers.

This time it's personal.

However, In the past few years, some blogs have appeared that are designed to air a personal complaint about a Christian leader or organization and to bring them to justice. These blogs sometimes add another side to the story of a successful pastor, or bring to light a discrepancy in their reputation. Sometimes they allow people who have been spiritually abused to speak out publicly.

At best, these blogs add a new level of honesty, balance, justice and accountability to high-profile leaders. At worst, they generate gossip, promote an outlet for jealousy, and show the world that the church cannot get along with each other.

Recently, things have gotten nastier. Courts and lawsuits. And even Google being called in to bring anonymous bloggers out of the closet. Like they did with Thomas Rich, a disgruntled Southern Baptist who was not happy with his pastor at First Baptist Church in Jacksonville. His blog is FBC JAX WATCHDOG. Other blogs were investigated but let off the hook - and More squabble blogs than watchdog blogs. Nothing much to see, folks.

But what I find fascinating here is the role of Google as the keeper of records, the witness to ill intent, the courtroom spotter who identifies the accused.

“It’s hardball,”  Rich said of the church’s tactics in uncovering his identity. “It’s hardball religion, is what it is.” Jacksonville Times

Our new future, as I see it, involves opposing voices having a stronger voice than they used to have. In some ways, its a return to the village where everyone got to say their peace, including those who were disgruntled. Nehemiah had his detractors yelling insults to him over the wall. Jesus had the murmuring Pharisees in the back of the crowd, whispering and complaining as he was teaching. Street preachers have hecklers. And now, thanks to social media and micro-blogs, every mega-church pastor and high-profile Christian leader will have his or her blogging nemesis as a normal part of ministry. Better get used to it. It's going to get hotter.

What to do when the watchdoggers are nipping at your heels? Here are 10 ways to deal with them:

1. Don't be a jerk in the first place!

2. Be honest and live a holy life. Secrets get shouted from rooftops.

3. Build your own social media platform and keep friends close to you.

4. Take your online profile seriously. High Google ranking will enable you to tell your own story. [See my blogging tips]

5. If you are too busy to maintain a social media presence then have someone close to you do it on our behalf. John MacArthur (who actually has an untainted reputation and almost non-existant fallout online) has Phil Johnson. John Piper has Justin Taylor who handled the recent "Warrengate" issue. Who do you have?

6. If you fly around in a jet then you should be the first person to tell your church that you fly around in a jet.

7. Educate your watchdogging critics on private email. Don't belittle them publicly. Love them and befriend them as early as you can.

8. Own up to your faults. God might be using the watchdoggers to purify you.

9. Don't get paranoid. You don't have time to track everything that is being said about you and it will be a real bummer to read it anyway.

10. Ask God for mercy because we are all jerks sometimes.

UPDATE: Uber-watchdog blogger Pastor Ken is giving me a hard time on his site for my "condescending" blog post that you have just read. Pastor Ken Silva is the most relentless watchdogger I know and his daily diatribes have earned him a very high ranking. Now, to be fair to Ken, although he occasionally peddles in the trivial, his site is a real watchdog blog and not a squabble blog. And actually, my post was a little condescending - my apologies Ken. But I was not thinking of you when I wrote this. And Ken, I dropped the "emerging church" label a long time ago so please honor me by keeping up with the Joneses.

Whats happening in the church, NOW?

My comments on today's World Mag article on the death of the Emerging Church.

Firstly, I didn't kill it. Really. I was framed.


Secondly, Anthony Bradley does a great job on the article and is reeling in a ton of comments. Well done! Although the comments do seem to degenerate into a little group of 5 or 6 names which makes me so glad I am not using the word anymore in my own realm of things - only as a historical marker {a point that anthony makes very well}.

Thirdly, I have said enough on this whole topic {and cant even be bothered adding some links}, because I have moved on to the future that is leaking in through my front door. I am far more interested in the things that have been happening over the past year or so and it is these new and exciting things that drive me.

Big question, that is not being asked very much re: the EC, as well as "What did we learn?" is the question, "What should we be looking at right now?" So I will ask you.

What do YOU think are the biggest shifts shaking the globe as the next generation starts their own spiritual communities? What kind of things are happening now in the church that one day we wish we would have paid closer attention?

Making a Difference by watching TV

TV is suddenly better than movies. It used to suck. I refused to watch "Friends" and all those other 20-something shows that all looked the same. But then came Alias, Heros, and of course, Lost. And TV was cool again.

tv familyWe don't regret giving our TV away because we dont have room for it as we travel the world. But we do download "Lost" each week and watch it religiously on our computer, no matter where we are. TV is better than movies because there is more time for the plot to complicate and deepen. And I like the discipline of having to wait until next week for the next episode.  

My friend, Bob Beltz recommends a new TV show airing this Friday called "Making A Difference". Some of his mates were involved in making it. He writes about it in his column as well as why he thinks people should start watching TV again. See Making a Difference in the Media, Pt. 6

Also, Paul Lauer recommends the Friday night airing of Secrets of the Mountain as part of a move towards Family TV


A white guy and a black guy in the emerging church

Here's a story about the emerging church if anyone cares to listen. Just one of many stories. Its not a very popular one because it doesn't include any famous speakers or horrible heretics or ten ways to transition your church into coolness. There are also no images and no links but you might appreciate it anyway.

This story is about a white guy and a black guy and like many stories, this one actually happened. I was there. Rudy Carrasco was there also. Rudy and I were part of a fantastic group in USA called Young Leaders. There were about a dozen of us initially but most of the guys had more typical Sunday service kinds of churches that a lot of pastors could identify with and emulate. Rudy and I were a little different. Rudy's church was an intentional community among the poor in Pasadena. The churches I was helping to start at the time were small organic churches among the alternative cultures of San Francisco - punk, goth, hippie, etc, and eventually around USA. Churches like these dont have salaries, dont require a winsome charismatic stage presence and its leaders don't get famous so churches like these are not very popular on the conference circuit. Even one of the guys in our Young Leaders group told me they were not REAL churches. But that was the 90's and now there are thousands upon thousands of them and I dont feel as much like a freak. Neither does Rudy, I hope.

So, when I was in Pasadena, Rudy invited me to speak at the Harambee Center and I told this story there. But it's interesting because Harambee was the place where this young black guy had found his way into this story. I think his name was Jamal and was a really nice young black guy from a poor background. He was a "fine black man" as a Jewish friend in my church in San Francisco used to say. She actually married a "fine black man". Although he was more West Indies and some other things included. And their kids were a wonderful colorful mixture as you can imagine.

But about Jamal. I didn't think he would connect with the other emerging church people at our meeting, and certainly not with the Colombians. Not because of his color, but because of his culture. I find the culture gap to be a greater barrier than the race or color gap is, but then that's just my experience.

It all happened in Cartagena, Colombia. There were a lot of us from all over and Rudy had brought this young black kid, this fine young black man along. He had those stupid baggy jeans hanging half way down his legs. Why cant they wear a flippin' BELT? Why cant they turn their stupid baseball caps forward? I thought he would choke. I thought the Colombians would assume he was from Mars and his story would have no impact.

But I was very wrong. Jamal was, in fact, a soccer fan, and not only did he appreciate the Colombian soccer team, Jamal could practically list off all the Colombian players. Within seconds the Colombians were talking up a storm with Jamal and had pretty much adopted him as their own. When Jamal finally told his story, they were all ears. Jamal had gone native and I felt like an alien.

So much for my predictions.

Actually, there were other surprises for me as well. And I love surprises! Keep reading . . .

Continue reading "A white guy and a black guy in the emerging church" »