January 31, 2003, 2:29 pm
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After reading the book off and on for the past six months, I finally finished Missional Church the other day. Reading that book was a trippy experience for me. I really got a lot out of it, but I was distracted numerous times, which is why it took so long to get through it. In retrospect, those distractions may have been orchestrated ones, and not by me, either. It seems like every time I was able to pick the book up after not having read it for a few weeks, I read something that plugged in exactly with where I’ve been in my own journey toward understanding where I am in this whole emerging church thing. On Wednesday as I read the final chapter, it happened again. I had been doing some thinking and grappling with my church planting future and my ambivalence about doing it through my denomination. Without further commentary on why, here are some words that really hit me:

We know from an attentive reading of our history that we may expect the church to continue to reduce the gospel to a comfortable fit with its culture. Therefore we know that we need to repent of such reductionism. We know that the church will, again and again, fail to perceive opportunities for witness in its cultural context. We know that we need to repent of our lack of vision. We know that the church will allow itself to be seduced by power, fame, prestige, and wealth. We know thus that we need to seek God’s cleansing and forgiving work to prepare us for our continuing mission. We know that we, as the church, will deny our Lord by allowing other masters to dominate and use us. We will have to break these idols and be restored to our proper place as Christ’s disciples and apostles.


January 29, 2003, 3:48 pm
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I’ll be meeting with a church planting strategist from my denomination next Tuesday. I still don’t know what to think about that.

January 29, 2003, 1:04 pm
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I’ve been super busy over the past couple of days, and haven’t kept up with my blogging or others’ blogging. However, I’ve been very interested in reading a few of the reflections on the Allelon gathering in Idaho this past weekend. I said awhile back that I was jealous of those who got to go. Now I know why. Sounds like a very similar scene as the one I experienced at Seed Stories last May. It’s such a powerful thing to share air space and look deeply into the eyes and hearts of people who are thinking, feeling, and living the same dreams, struggles, and realities as you are. Here are some of the reports from Mike Bishop, Alan Creech, Kevin Rains, and Craig Pelkey-Landis.

January 24, 2003, 2:08 pm
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I’ve been a San Diego Padres fan all my life. That means I’ve put up with some really bad baseball, and at times some horrendous ownership. Now, they’re really testing my loyalty. The other day, the Padres announced that the new stadium being built in downtown San Diego will be called PETCO Park. Noooooooo!! PETCO? The new nicknames for the stadium are already flying around town – “The Litterbox” and “The Pound” for starters. It’s also a guarantee that stupid song, “Who Let the Dogs Out,” will never die. Dude, I am so embarassed right now. Chad Canipe mourns regularly about the Bengals on his blog, but I don’t know if he can top this.

January 23, 2003, 12:54 pm
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Bootcamp Reflection #3

Out of the various versions of church planting bootcamps that I’ve seen out there, the reason that I chose to go to the Acts 29 bootcamp was that the churches being planting though them seem to have a strong grasp on actually applying missional concepts to their communities. They have done the hard work of deconstruction when it comes to the gospel and culture, and the harder work of reconstructing a version of church. The thing that puzzled me initially about their version of church, though, is that on the surface, it doesn’t look all that different than the version of church that we’ve come out of. I have to be honest and admit that I’ve never been with an A29 church, and that what I’ve heard about them is that when you go to one of their worship gatherings, there’s a very noticeable difference in the air. I hope that’s the case. But again, on the surface, we’ve got our service with a great band over here, and our children’s programs over there, and our women’s groups over there, and I’m sitting here trying to figure out if there’s something beyond the candle light and the casual clothes and the volume of the music that’s actually changed.

I was talking with Rick, the lead pastor at Imago Dei in Portland, Oregon about this stuff. He confirmed that they had done a lot of thinking about what church really is, and that much of the reason things look the way they do is purely pragmatic. I understand that, but I’m really hoping that of the churches that get planted in the next several years, we see some visible changes being made. One of the obvious changes that’s already happening is the house/simple/organic church approach. But what about the transitional forms of church that bridge the gap between the “institutional” and the “simple?” What shifts need to take place? Missional churches seem to be doing well with the whole culture and contextualization thing – but are we making progress in actual communal transformation?

January 22, 2003, 5:05 pm
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Ummm, I’m not quite sure, but I think I might have just resigned. All will be made known in due time.

January 21, 2003, 9:41 am
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Bootcamp Reflection #2

There were some really helpful things about the bootcamp, and some that we really had a problem with. Maybe I’ll get off some blasts later, but for now I’ll focus on the good stuff. The things we enjoyed most and were challenged the most by were the conversations of applying missional concepts to church planting. Obviously in planting and developing a church of strong Christ followers, there is a need for some directed attention. We were challenged to focus that attention on developing specific pathways of applying the values of the community to the situations the community members are involved in. The church of North America has been disgustingly guilty of creating a subculture for people to retreat into and be shielded from the rest of the world. Our challenge is to engage people with the gospel in such a way that they remain integrated in their current life dynamics. As their lives are transformed by Christ, they themselves become a bridge of connection with other people. The gospel does not need to be packaged in a slick and flashy way in order to be relevant to people. We need to get over ourselves and our self-importance in order to live real lives among the people we now fear.