What was that about spring??
March 28, 2008, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Seattle

0328081519 So that picture there . . . it was taken five minutes ago. As in, 3:40pm, Pacific Standard Time. As in March 28. Five days after Easter. Did I mention that it’s Spring Break?? Sheesh.

I just talked to a friend in Houston. 80 degrees and humid. Hmmmmm.

I don’t even live in Canada!


_____mergents Rise!
March 28, 2008, 7:17 am
Filed under: denomination, emerging church

Over on the Emergent Village blog, there’s a post talking about all the different sub-groups developing either explicitly or in more covert ways under the “emergent” banner.  I’ll let you go check out the many varieties of the ______mergents for yourself.

It does leave me curious about the denomination I’m affiliated with, and it’s multiple similar brother and sister denominations . . . namely, the Baptists.  Normally, I don’t make a habit of outing myself like this.  But I do wonder if there’s a “Baptimergent” collective floating around out there.  My hunch is that a lot of the folks who might be interested in such a conversation are:

a) already of another existing ______mergent persuasion, such as Submergent or Reformergent.

b) are too embarrassed to come out of the closets as Baptist, lest they get laughed at by all the cooler-than-thou emergents.

c) are too scared of denominational blacklisting and/or losing their jobs, to come out of the closets as emergents.

d) are already ambivalent about all the hype around emergent, and would be hesitant to commit to this direction.


There may be some other reasons as well.  But in case this has struck a chord with anyone out there, if you act fast, you can get in on the ground floor!  Got $10 or $20?  I just checked: the URLs for both baptimergent.com and baptimergent.org are up for sale!  You can invite me to the party if you want . . . but in the above multiple choice list, I am at least two, sometimes three of the four, so I might say “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Disconnected Connectedness
March 26, 2008, 2:33 pm
Filed under: coffee, culture, friends, technology, the purple door

In the exciting new world that is Web 2.0, it’s all about the social networking.  There are some very cool sites that help people network around common relationships, common hobbies, common web surfing habits, common wine palates, common brands of hair spray, common transportation choices, common preferences in vacation getaways, and on and on we go.

I personally spend most of my social networking time on Facebook these days.  By looking at my friend totals, you wouldn’t be impressed.  I’m not one to go around requesting friends for people I don’t know.  If someone I don’t know requests me as a friend, I’ll usually agree, but as far as I can remember, I’ve only made one friend request for someone that I haven’t had a personal interaction with at least once (and by “personal,” I include e-mail conversations).  I don’t fault anyone for racking up as many friends as they want, without knowing people . . . but I don’t understand it, either.

I find myself a little overwhelmed by the growing number of social networks I’m seeing, and being invited into.  I’m sure they all have value for people, which is cool.  I just don’t have the bandwidth to spend time in more than a couple of these things, keeping up with friends, making new friends, updating profile info, and all the stuff that makes belonging to these networks worth while.

I do love the extra conversations that I get to have as a result of these networks.  But the obvious drawback is that these are not “real” relationships in most cases.  In many cases, they make my friendships with people that are spread all over the world, a lot more fun, and easier to keep up with.  But what’s the saturation level?  And what about the friends you have that don’t want to go online to make connections? 

As usual, I’ve got more questions than answers on these things.  I’m just watching a lot of online interactions that lack the personal touch.  I know I’m not alone in being amused by walking into a coffee shop in Seattle, and seeing tons of notebook computers open, being operated by people with iPod earbuds . . . and what are they doing?  “Connecting” with people online.  It’s almost as though they didn’t realize that the reason they’re in the coffee shop in the first place is to be around other people.  There are actual human bodies all around them, but they choose instead to focus on the virtual.

This spring, we at The Purple Door, will be doing a social experiment aimed at bridging the disconnectedness of pseudo-connections.  We haven’t figured out specifically what it’s going to look like yet, but the rhetorical question we’ve asked is, “What if Facebook was real?”  Any ideas on what we should do?  Comment away!

Tim & Jesus
March 25, 2008, 5:01 pm
Filed under: books, humor

When the original is so good, a sequel is sure to follow!

Find the full review here.

The green apron people just made a good move
March 21, 2008, 7:19 am
Filed under: coffee

Coffee geek post here. 

Starbucks announced on Wednesday that they are acquiring a Seattle coffee equipment company that makes a machine known as the Clover.  This small, funky looking gizmo is an innovative thing of beauty. 

What does it do, you ask?  It brews drip coffee . . . but it does it really, amazingly well.  It basically allows your barista to treat a cup of brewed coffee the way she or he treats a shot of espresso – with personal care. 

I don’t know what Starbucks’ operation manual will say, but having had coffee out of Clovers a few times at a few different places, here’s a non-technical view of how it works:

1. You choose your coffee – typically from a selection of coffees that are higher-end, and display more subtleties than you might be accustomed to in mass-marketed beans.

2. The barista grinds the beans on the spot, and pours the grounds into the machine.

3.  The machine comes to life, and the barista attends the brewing process the whole time.

4. A single cup of goodness comes out.

To put this in perspective, this combines all of the flavor richness that you would get out of the previous-best way to drink brewed coffee – the french press – but in much less time, and without the gritty sludge at the bottom of the cup (which, I will say I’ve heard some people lament as a downside to the machine).

I’ve seen different approaches to the use of the Clover.  Some shops only brew high-end beans – the kind you’d pay, say $17 per pound and up for.  That means really great coffee, but it also mean about a $4 or $5 cup of drip coffee.  Other shops basically do away with their large format brewers and only make one cup at a time, but do their normal selections, and a pretty normal price.

It will be very interesting to see how Starbucks rolls this thing out, what kinds of coffee they emphasize.  It’s a pretty significant move for them, given the Clover’s $11K price tag per machine, so it seems that they’re trying to back up the recent public statements about getting  back to focusing on the quality of their coffee.

The Wacky Emerging Church: Reason #54
March 20, 2008, 8:03 am
Filed under: blogging, denomination, emerging church, innovation

This post is part of a continuing series. You may want to read my list of disclaimers and intro remarks here, if you haven’t done so already.

Reason #54: Walking backwards

One thing I enjoyed about the recent New Conspirators gathering was that they kept asking the question, “What in the world is God doing?”  Sadly, much of the time, the emerging church walks around with a different question, which goes a little something like this: “What in the world is the church doing that we wish it would stop doing, so it can get back to the business of doing whatever in the world God is doing?”  The difference between these two questions is not subtle.

Yes, a big part of this “conversation” is deconstructing the church, and providing a prophetic critique to the many broken systems and structures that have been added over the many years.  It’s a very helpful thing to do from time to time.  But once again, that’s not the point.  When we spend so much time looking back at all the things we supposedly left behind, it’s all too easy to become a) arrogant, b) angry, c) lost.

I’ve covered the arrogant and angry pieces in other posts.  But the “lost” part is important.  When we focus on the things we’re leaving behind, we fail to properly attend to the things in front of us.  This new thing – whatever you want to call it – is still very young, and it’s still very experimental, but I’m confident that the only thing that will make it into a true renewal movement is if we actually start doing things differently. 

Thinking differently is not enough – it has to form us beyond the talk.  It has to take root in our souls.  And the only way that’s gonna happen is if we create and create and create and figure out different ways of living.  I submit for your consideration one quick example: If you’re big thing is to rail against the professionalization of pastoral ministry, then you’d better be spending some time figuring out how to teach and encourage and empower young accountants, software engineers, waitresses, school teachers, janitors, and city council members to become the replacements for all the professional pastors.  And while you’re at it, you would do very well to figure out how to teach all those soon-to-be-unemployed pastors how to be accountants, software engineers, janitors, etc., because most of them have non-marketable academic degrees and even less marketable resumes.

At the risk of talking like I’ve got everything figured out, please indulge me to give a personal illustration (yes, I’m still a narcissistic blogger).  Several years ago, when I was considering resigning my position on staff with a regular evangelical denominational church, I was trying to figure out the right timing to make the move.  One of the clearest signals that helped me take that step was when I knew I had a vision for what I was going to, rather than simply what I was getting away from.

It’s far too easy to be known by what you’re against.  This is a chronic problem for many of the critics of the emerging church – we’re just the flavor of the month pseudo-heresy for them to get all worked up over.  But it’s also a problem with us.  We’re just the younger, hipper version.  And by the way, one of my fellow team members here in Seattle is great to remind me that “THERE IS NO ‘US’ AND ‘THEM.'”

Thank you for your attention. That is all. Comment at will.

I heart my BFF team members
March 19, 2008, 5:38 pm
Filed under: uncategorized

It was a good, mostly mellow day at The Purple Door.  We bid our goodbyes to our friends from Texas, and now the house is back to it’s mostly quiet self.  We have large quantities of leftover pancake mix and chips and apples from the past few weeks – each team that comes in buys its own groceries, and leaves the leftovers behind.  Looks like we need to get creative with our Thursday family meal times. 

Over the past three weeks, we’ve hosted just shy of 60 overnight guests.  We did have some fun, indeed.  But we’re all ready for the break.  I was thinking about how much better the past few weeks have gone, with the input and work and sleepless staff I get to work with.  Each of the team members I’ve been privileged to spend time with during this school year have been a tremendous source of encouragement to me.  They’ve worked hard, been very experimental, and very trusting of some fairly crazy ideas.  I think I’ve become more aware than ever of some of my failings, and how those impact the people around me, but these friends have given me tons of grace and support and love.  It’s an honor to be with them.

As our dreams continue to unfold, we have a long way to go.  But two-thirds into our first school year with inter::mission, I have to say I’m pretty satisfied.