The Church You Didn’t Know About
March 18, 2009, 5:37 pm
Filed under: blogging, Christendom, dissertation, Global South, missiology, school, theology

I’m not sure exactly how to go about this, but this post represents my first attempt at blogging about my dissertation.  I can’t say how many posts I’ll use to write about this, or how frequently I will do so.  I’ll start with some general framing words, though.

When I began the process of research and writing, I was intrigued by the possible implications of some of the writings done by a Penn State University professor, Philip Jenkins.  I had recently read his book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.  In it, he gives a lot of data that proves a surprising fact: there are currently more Christians in the non-Western world than there are in the West, which has always been considered as the home of Christianity.  The past few decades have witnessed an explosion in the number of Christians in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.  All of this has taken place at the same time as we have seen a steady decline in church as we know it in the West.

I seriously doubt that I was alone in being surprised at the shift taking place in global Christianity – most USAmerican Christians would never guess that to be the case.  Once I took that reality in, I had some immediate questions about power.  We in the West are very accustomed to being in control – we have the money, we have the political influence, we have the biggest guns, we have the white skin, we have the theology, we have the authority.  But if we’re not even a majority of the world’s Christian population, should this really be the case?  How is Western power being used when it comes to theology, social justice, missionary practice, etc.?  I was particularly interested in listening to the theological reflections of Christian brothers and sisters from the global South – is it possible that rather than being forced to blindly accept theology developed in Rome, Geneva, London, New York, Nashville, Dallas, Springfield, or Southern California, perhaps they should be practicing theologies that they’ve developed in their own cultural contexts?  Further, is it possible that “they” should actually be teaching “us” about some things they’ve learned?

So those were some of the questions I began this research journey with.  Many of the answers I found were quite exciting to me.  But I haven’t finished setting the stage quite yet.  The next time I post on this, I’ll talk briefly about the context that brings “us” and “them” together.


A milestone passed
March 17, 2009, 6:20 am
Filed under: blogging, globalization, missiology, school

Yesterday morning I was able to successfully defend my doctoral dissertation, and I have now officially completed the Doctor of Ministry degree through George Fox Seminary.  It’s a bittersweet kind of day for me – I’m certainly glad to have this thing done, and have the opportunity to breathe a little and bring a bit of harmony back into my schedule and life, but it also marks the close of a process that I’ve definitely enjoyed.

In part because of my busy-ness with school reading and writing, the frequency of my blog posting has dropped over the past couple of years.  I’ve also not posted very heavily on the areas of my dissertation research.  Maybe it’s just that I’ve been writing so much in academic forms about the research that I haven’t been highly motivated to do more of it here.  At any rate, I am now prepared to reveal the title of my  dissertation to you.  Ready?  How’s this sound?:


I’ve defnitely learned a lot, and am planning now to begin sharing some of that here.  Globalization is changing our world, and has brought some exciting changes to the Church.  There are some rough and uncertain days ahead, but also some things that I am very hopeful about.  I’ll share some of that as well.

For today, though, I just want to say thanks to my family and friends for all the encouragement and love that I have received.  It’s not been easy, but the support I’ve felt from others has carried me along.

March 7, 2009, 9:33 am
Filed under: blogging, emerging church, friends

I’m here in San Diego, enjoying family and friends.  Last night, over at the Hawthorn House, I had good conversations around the fire out back with fellow travelers.  I won’t take the time to name drop in this post, but we laughed a lot.  As the night wound down, and only a few of us still there, we talked briefly about the whole emerging church thing.  We’ve all walked that road for several years now.  The funny thing, though, was that rather than comparing notes on which emerging church bloggers we follow and who we’re connecting with on the web (which is what we used to do early on), and which conferences we’re going to, we compared notes on how long it’s been since we’ve visited certain emerging church websites that we used to congregate around.  Months, years.  Seems like we’re post-emerging now.  I think that’s a very good sign.

Ash Wednesday – The Lenten Journey Begins
February 25, 2009, 6:44 am
Filed under: blogging, Lenten Synchroblog, spiritual formation

Today is the first day of Lent, the Christian journey toward Easter.  I am participating in a Lent Synchroblog, organized by Christine Sine.  A number of bloggers and communities will be posting regular reflections throughout the season.  Check in at Christine’s blog to explore these.  I will be using, and posting reflections on the excellent resource that Christine has prepared – A Journey Into Wholeness: Lenten Reflection Guide .  I would encourage you to do the same.

There are so many misconceptions about Lent out there.  Having been raised in a non-liturgical Christian tradition, I’m not even sure I knew that it existed until I was in my 20s.  In the past ten years, I’ve been much more aware, and have learned some of the value of observing.  Some of the misconceptions have to do with the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”  Set aside chocolate, caffeine, television, meat, etc. – as though it’s just something you’re supposed to do.  Somehow the sacrifices are able to magically translate into brownie points with God (except we have a gnawing feeling inside that we might not quite be getting it right).  Fasting and sacrifice are good, but it’s critically important that we do so with the right motives, setting our hearts right.

David’s famous psalm of repentance (51), which begins with:

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

later says,

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

It’s not about what I do for God, in giving up something I love.  It’s about allowing the Spirit to train my senses more completely on Truth.

Lent isn’t always the most pleasant season – fasting and reflection on brokenness reminds of our insufficiency and need for God.  But it is important for so many reasons.  It sets us in line with God’s generosity toward us.  It sets us in right relationship with people around us.  It prepares us to celebrate the Resurrection, and the change in our world that results.  I am personally walking through a season in which I am acutely aware of my brokenness.  May Resurrection hope infuse me, even as I walk in the difficulty of repentance.

Peace to you this season.  Unite with God.  Unite with the suffering of others.

25 Random Things Meme
February 21, 2009, 9:54 am
Filed under: blogging, family, friends, social networking

I usually avoid doing these things, but I did give in to peer pressure this time around.  I’ve cross-posted this from my Facebook page.

25 Random Things About Me

1. My resume includes these jobs: pastor, barista, cook, parking attendant, music journalist, and puppeteer.
2. I have been to 44 states in the U.S.  I do not remember all of them.  I have been to either Vermont or New Hampshire, but not both . . . and I can’t remember which.
3. In college, I was accused by my conservative friends of being liberal, even though we all knew it wasn’t really true.  I am now actually liberal in many ways I was only accused of being.
4. If I could choose contestants in a celebrity death match, I would put Ben Affleck in a cage with Matthew McConaughey.  I would cheer for them to both lose.  I have liked both in certain roles in certain movies, but seeing their names on a movie poster makes me automatically less likely to see the film.
5. Rock music was considered evil in my home growing up, therefore I am mostly ignorant of “classic rock” between about 1970 to about 1982.  I feel an alternating mixture of relief and sadness about this fact.
6. I secretly hope to write and rehearse material, and do stand up comedy at a comedy club open mic night.  Once.
7. I have enjoyed watching American Chopper and Project Runway . . . for the exact same reason.
8. I have a brain disorder which causes me to get songs stuck in my head – whether I know lyrics or not, whether I have even heard the whole songs or not.  This happens to me no less than 10 times per week.  Usually with songs I dislike.
9. I can be obsessive about ink pens.  I hate losing or breaking them.  I like to buy a new pen and write with it until it is completely out of ink.  It feels like I’ve accomplished something.  I clearly have low standards of accomplishment in life.
10. I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I have never seen U2 live.  Some day I’m going to hear they’re playing a show in Cleveland or Tucson or San Antonio, buy a plane tickets, go there, and pay way too much for scalped tickets to see the concert.
11. On beautiful weather days, when I have an hour of down time, I enjoy going outside to smoke my pipe.  Because it requires down time and beautiful weather at the same time, I do not often smoke my pipe . . . I live in Seattle.
12. I have a low-grade allergy to avocados.  This does not affect my love for guacamole.  My mouth and throat get itchy, but it is so totally worth it.
13. I am a people pleaser.  It is not o.k. (for me) for people to dislike me.
14. I am not a patriotic USAmerican.  I have respect and gratitude for those who have served this country in sacrificial ways. I happily pay my taxes and receive the benefits of living here.  I think our system of government is imperfect, but a really good idea. . . . but . . .
15. I think USAmerica is arrogant in many ways, and has used greed as much as guns to assert power in the world.  We have some disturbing double standards when it comes to “justice.”
16. I spend as much time reading news reports from Al Jazeera and BBC as I do from any USAmerican news source.
17. Despite the previous three items, I am not cranky about politics (am I?).
18. I am a complete cheapskate when it comes to clothing.  If it’s not on the clearance rack, it’s probably not coming home with me.
19. I have seen the championship game in an MLB World Series.
20. I have spent time in two King County jails.
21. I used to wear an eyebrow ring.
22. I used to think it was very strange that my grandparents grew up without television.  The college students I work with now likely think it is strange that I grew up without computers and the internet. It is now so much a part of life, that I also think it is strange.
23. I like hats of many kinds.  Sadly, I do not look good in hats of many kinds.  Baseball caps and some cowboy hats are the only kind I look good in.  But I am not a cowboy, so I do not wear cowboy hats.
24. I am a California driver.  This often presents problems in Washington and Oregon.
25. I am very close to completing a doctoral degree, but cannot imagine a scenario in which I will feel comfortable being called Dr. Lewis.  Even typing and reading that looks weird and wrong to me.

Long overdue update
January 28, 2009, 8:09 am
Filed under: blogging, family, friends, mac, San Diego, school, technology, twitter

Well, it’s been riculously long since I’ve written a real post about anything – in particular anything that’s going on in my world.  I do intend to get back on the blogging wagon, but I think it may take a little while to catch up.  This is because I want to be thoughtful about how I do this.  I’ve noticed that since Twitter came into my life, a lot of the short, quick take things I used to blog are now ending up there instead of here.  That’s fine, but there’s a hidden implication – when I do blog something, it tends to be several paragraphs in length, and a lot of blog readers just don’t have the patience for that.  So, I’m going to work on posting mainly short items, with an occasional longer treatment of something if I feel like drilling down.

By way of categorizing things that have happened in my personal world since I last really wrote an update:

– Michelle and I went to San Diego for Christmas.  Saw lots of family and friends.

– Shortly after the Christmas holiday break, I completed a draft of my doctoral dissertation for review by my academic advisor.  I await feedback and editing requests, but the big beast of a project is largely complete.

– Shortly after I turned in said dissertation draft, my trusty laptop, which had been giving me many fits for the previous few months finally crashed on me enough times that I went and bought a new computer.  Much to the delight of many of my friends, and the chagrin of other friends, I bought a MacBook, and not another PC.  Whatever.

– Since I don’t have a dissertation keeping me busy, I’ve taken on some projects around the house that have been perpetually on the back burner.

– I’ve been scheduling out some inter::mission teach-ins.  Really excited about a few of them that are on deck.

– Michelle and I are trying to prepare ourselves for several weeks of a higher-maintenance-than-usual life with a dog.  Tomorrow, we take Maui in for the doggy version of an ACL surgery.  She’ll be in a puppy cast for like six weeks, and then we’ll have to rehab her for another six weeks.  Did I mention that our house has stairs?  Should be lovely.

– Since I’m trying to get a fresh start, I popped a new WordPress theme on here.  I’ve spent very little time, and intend to do a bit more, editing blogroll links, widgets, etc.  I’ll try to make the thing look and function better for those of you who still visit the site, rather read through a feedreader.

O.k., so there are some other items as well, but this post is already breaking the “short items” blog post rule.  To those of you who have regularly checked in despite the lack of updates, my apologies and my thanks.  You both mean a lot to me.

Quick Apology
January 22, 2009, 8:33 am
Filed under: blogging

Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

I’d like to apologize for my lack of posting here. Thanks for visiting. Sorry I’m so delinquent. I have multiple highly credible excuses and alibis, but I won’t go into those here. Instead, I’ll just say that I may be coming into a clearing soonish, and I’ll get back into a more regular posting rhythm again.