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Posts from June 2011

Wild Jesus freaks gathering at a festival

This week we will be part of a global gathering of emerging urban underground ministry leaders who are coming together as part of a roundtable event. Cornerstone Festival in Illinois, USA has generously allowed us to gatecrash their event and in fact has even put some of us on the speaking schedule. Like me, my good friend Olgalvaro from Brasil, and others. Somebody counted 39 nations. It is one of the most exciting mission movements I have seen, involving a generation of young people serving the poorest and most difficult areas of their cities, usually without funds and without encouragement. Often enduring the ridicule of churches more wealthy and respectable.

This movement has, at least in my corner of the room, been supported from the beginning by a small number of organizations, namely the Church Multiplication Center of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (which closed down 6 years ago), Dawn Ministries International (which has also ceased), Church Mission Society and the Underground Railroad network which started around 1996. Now there are other groups kicking in all over the world which is great.

A little history. For the past 15 years I have been a part of a movement of young people from alternative sub-cultures deciding to follow Jesus. We started out in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco living among really weird people who we came to love and serve. That was the mid nineties and we soon discovered there were other churches and ministries starting up like ours in other places.

In 1998 I starting working for the Baptist General Convention of Texas as a church planter in their Church Multiplication Center. My boss was E.B. Brooks who shared my passion for the generation of lost youth. He was greatly supportive and the BGCT loved what we were doing in Austin and beyond. Actually, they allowed us to travel the country in our RV helping to start churches in all the cities where there was a significant population of young pierced, tattooed alternatives who would never make it into one of their typical [cheesy] suburban or uptight urban churches. In 2000 they supported us to travel beyond USA into Europe which became our new base. We did not call ourselves missionaries because in the Southern Baptist world, missionaries are the people who join IMB and we were instead with the BGCT. So I was a 'consultant' for BGCT and we started The Boaz Project as a way of bridging the new churches with the old. E.B. has since retired but he still prays for us and cheers us on. The BGCT no longer have us on their radar and since we have found funding from other sources, we have only a relational connection that I try to maintain. I wish they knew what great things they helped to start.

Continue reading "Wild Jesus freaks gathering at a festival" »

Emergent Blogging Nomadic Couch Surfing Apostles

I told you I was speaking at Cornerstone this year. Check out the name Cornerstone Festival has given for my 3 seminar sessions. Here's how it looks on their website:


Emergent Blogging Nomadic Couch Surfing Apostles
Andrew Jones (3 Sessions)

The Tall Skinny Kiwi offers a travelogue of places and people on the road into the 21st century. First, an account of one man's journey through Emergentdom, its rise, controversies, and what remains after the movement finally shaves off its goatee and gets a real job. Second, a survey of Christian blogging and look ahead down the online stream. Third, a look at existential migration as an alternative to short term missions — how to survive, and how to make an impact.


Sorry to say that while Northern Seminary is offering credit for some of Cornerstone's seminars, they are not offering credit for my sessions so if you need the credit then I understand if you cant come.

Which is a pity really because I feel what I am talking about, despite the funky title, is actually quite important and not at all irrelevant to Seminary students - in particular the global shift in world missions to the next generations and how they are reshaping and revitalizing mission today, the impact and importance of social media in world mission (I just taught this at a University in Australia) and the 25 year history of what has been called the most significant and most controversial movement in Western Christianity during the 21st century.

What's really exciting, and I will be drawing from this in my sessions, is the 3rd Global Emerging/Underground Church Roundtable that will happen during Cornerstone. The Festival has been really generous and have given us our own tent and program inside the festival. Trevor has written up a little history of these roundtables here if you are interested. And if you are one of the invitees coming to the roundtable, you might want to read up a little.

The Cross in China

I was hearing all kinds of conflicting stories about Christianity and the emerging church in China.

So I thought I would pop over and take a look for myself. And last month I did just that - I went to China. Met some great people. Saw some cool stuff. Here are some thoughts and images, that I will start posting over the next few weeks.

The 798 art district in Beijing is a funky place to hang out. You can spend the whole day inside all the galleries and exhibitions housed in recyled military factories. This image below is actually my official computer desktop image right now.


At 798, I saw an installation by artist Yan Lei which involved 3 large pieces curated under the title Eternal Value. This one is says "Eternal Value: Cross"


An explanation:

On the artwork, whose shape resembles that of a cross, he inserted four words: sex, show, speed and suck. The usage of these words is to stress the relation of the artwork with today's popular culture and ideas, stimulating also the psychology of a “Vanity Fair”. Link

At 798 there is also a huge statue of Jesus on the cross which had a sign below it saying "Man at Work".


Jesus really is at work in China. More images and thoughts later.

Blogging Nomadic Couch Surfing Apostles

My 3 talks for Cornerstone Festival are coming together. Let me know if you will be there.


The first one will cover what has happened with church from the mid 1980's onwards and the 10 main streams of the global emerging church movement. Remember that we are having a roundtable event for leaders from about 39 nations so there will be a good mixture of folk there. The second will cover the impact of social media and blogging on mission and church  - ie, church 2.0. And the third will look at the future of missions in a greener, leaner mission landscape and how young people are turning the world upside down through missional social enterprise. Pioneer stuff . . you know . . for normal people who want to save the world on a budget.


BONUS: Northern Seminary, in a creative partnership with Cornerstone Festival, is offering Masters level credit for some of the seminars. My seminar, which the organizers have given the most interesting title at the Festival, is included in that line up. Seminar schedule now online.

A fuller explanation of the 3 talks is here. Let me know if you can make it.

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Christian Festivals and the Jesus Movement

I am REALLY PUMPED about speaking at Cornerstone Festival in a few weeks. Its been 12 years since I was there. In 1999 our family turned up in our Winnebago, set up camp and met a stack of friends, in particular the DJ's who ended up camping around us and throwing underground parties late at night. Lots of fun at Cstone '99.

Here's some thoughts and useless trivial facts about Christian music festivals in general and the Jesus Movement that gave them birth.

- Although there are similarities to old time Chrstian tent revivals, Christian Musical Festivals were actually born out of the Jesus Movement that started around 1967. I was 4 years old at the time and had nothing to do with it. Really.

- On June 21, 2011, it will be 40 years since Time Mag published the famous Jesus cover in the issue that explored this wild new movement.

- With the Jesus movement underway, the first Christian festivals in USA started in 1970 with Faith Festival (Youth For Christ), Icthus Music Festival (Asbury Seminary), and The Love Song Festival in 1971. Explo '72 (Campus Crusade for Christ) in Dallas, with an attendance of 80,000, brought attention to what was happening.

- In 1970, Greg X Volz was singing with the "E Band" at the Faith Festival and [BONUS] he will be playing Cornerstone this year with Petra which was formed in 1972. Glenn Kaiser and Rez Band (started 1972) obviously will be playing Cornerstone. Also performing is Randy Stonehill, who I almost interviewed at Greenbelt. Randy has been around since the early days. The band Servant (I keep in touch with Owen and Sandie Brock) will be playing Cstone also, as will Barry McGuire who I also met ... once . . .briefly . . but I am sure he will remember esp. since Barry married a kiwi girl.

- I have never met Greg X Volz. But I am sure he is looking forward to that moment with great expectation.

- Christian festivals have continued to grow in the last decade. Christian Festivals in USA with an attendance over 5000 grew from only 5 in 2000 to 35 in 2006. [Source]

- At the Jesus Festival in 1974, "Randy Matthews was "chased off stage by a crowd which pronounced him to be demon or drug possessed due to his musical style" which was influenced by rock music more than folk music. Wikipedia

- Christian festivals that I frequent most include Greenbelt (UK), Slot Art Fest (Poland) and Freakstock (Germany). Last year I went to the 2 best Christian Festivals in New Zealand  - Parachute Festival which had 23,000 people and PassionFest with about 300 people. We enjoyed PassionFest the most and hope to return.

- Creation Fest, the largest Christian music festival in USA, helped to sponsor Friendship Fest in Morocco which I hope will happen again. I havent been to Creation Fest but I think it's a bit more mainstream than what I am used to.

- My picks for USA are Purple Door and TOM (I dont think Mikee is running it this year) and good ol' Cornerstone.

- A new festival this year in USA is Wild Goose Festival. I stopped by North Carolina last year and talked to some of the organizers who are friends of mine from the emerging church stream. This festival is somewhat inspired by Greenbelt in UK and will have a strong focus on social justice. It will be also be theologicaly wider than other festivals so you are guaranteed to feel uncomfortable. Which is not always a bad thing. I will not be attending (Cornerstone invited me first) but I recommend checking it out, especially in its first year. Be part of history!

- I have been collecting books on the Jesus movement for 15 years, ever since I started ministering in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 90's. I am a bit of a geek on the subject and many of my older books are from the library of the late Francis DuBose. But I  have 2 friends that have done a lot more research than I have and can speak with more authority:

John Smith who did his PhD on the impact of the Jesus movement, and

- David di Sabitino, who informed you with his Jesus Movement history, amused you with his movie on Lonnie Frisbee, and really messed you up with his documentary on Larry Norman.

 I have some thoughts on the missing link between the Jesus Movement and the current day global emerging church movement . ..  which I hope to speak on at Cornerstone and publish something on the blog soon.

Nuff for now . . .

Shameless Plug: Hear me teach at Cornerstone. Details here.

Southern Baptists officially spank Rob Bell

I followed the SBC annual meeting in Phoenix - they are my homies after all - and I have to say I was a little disappointed to hear the official Southern Baptist response to Rob Bell's book. Not because I think its a must read book but because it represents a larger reevaluation of eschatology, in particular a dispensational eschatology that has flavored Baptist life for a long time. I thought they might suggest a good old fashioned Bible Study on the subject. But I was wrong.

Christian Post put it this way:

Rejecting Rob Bell’s view on hell, Southern Baptists affirmed the historical biblical teaching on hell as an “eternal conscious punishment” in a resolution that was passed on the last day of the denomination’s annual meeting."

This surprises me because I dont think even Rob Bell is sure on what his view on hell actually is. It also suprises me because I was expecting a challenge to read the Bible for ourselves rather than just refer to three paragraph resolution called The Reality of Hell.

Its a nuanced discussion, as I have said, and assuming that every instance of the various words translated as "hell" in the Bible all point to the same reality is at best sloppy and at worst misleading.

Personally, I think the issue of last things, heaven, hell, judgement, the role of Israel, and eschatology in general, is a huge issue right now and there remains a window of time for us to examine the Scriptures afresh. Like Francis Chan says, its too important to get wrong. But that does not mean we will end up in the same place.

If Southern Baptists wish to push deeper on this issue, I suggest starting with Ed Stetzer's well written response to Rob Bell, which does not shy away from reading the book, and go from there. After that, try the Anglicans. Why does nobody want to deal with NT Wright on this subject? Is is because they are scared they will get their butt kicked like Piper?

Related: Rob Bell and my predictions about this book

39 nations at the emerging leaders roundtable

I am looking forward to seeing my Brazillian friends in a few weeks in USA. We are part of a global network that has been meeting for over ten years now. Leaders from about 39 nations are expected to be at the next event which we are holding inside Cornerstone Festival. Trevor from Canada has some history of these roundtable events. Its always been an invitation only event and its always been done on a TINY budget - which is why we generally camp out at a festival rather than do the hotel and restaurant thing which is way out of reach for most of the leaders here.

The Brazillians [NOT the noisy Pentecostal Brazillians I mentioned in the last post]  are hosting another Global Gathering in April 2012. These are great events. I think they had nearly 5000 young people at the last one in Brazil. I will do my best to be there.

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