30 December 2007

greetings from holiday limbo

just a quick hello and belated merry christmas / early happy new year to everyone! i hope that you've been able to pause in the middle of the mania that is the christmas holidays to reflect on the wonder of the incarnation. let it seep into your mind and soul ... that the infinite entered the frailty of infancy, and that the uniquely sacred became the commonly mundane. and all for the sake of hopeless humanity.

it's enough to make you cry ... or sing.

catch you all in '08.

16 December 2007

the voodoo world tour

well, this is as big as it could get folks ... 3 venues, 3 different weeks. i'm not sure exactly why, but every now and again I get asked when and where I'll be speaking next. so for the dangerously curious, the gluttons for punishment and those who won't be persuaded otherwise, here's where you can find me over the upcoming weeks:

Dec 24 @ 7 pm - Trinity Community Church (Oro)
Dec 30 @ 10:30 am - Tweedsmuir Presbyterian Church (Orangeville)
Jan 6 @ 10:30 am - Living Faith Community Presbyterian Church (Baxter)

as far as the new ministry launch plans go, i'm going to try to schedule a coffee gathering for any and everyone who's interested in tracking with the voodoo lounge (it's funky, it wasn't my idea, and i don't have a better name for it yet) once the Christmas rush is over. if you'd like to be part of the underground, please leave me a note with your email address.

as my friend alex would say ... heroes wanted. safe return doubtful.


09 December 2007

rick's cafe americain

i just watched casablanca again last night. classic actors, classic lines, classic tunes. i was captivated by it this time not because of the love story-line, but by the notion that a nightclub could set the stage for a movement of resistance. an underground swell of truth-speakers and freedom-fighters. from my seat it wasn't just the front for these rebel heroes, it was the conduit. a place where ideas are born and ideals are supported.

i'd like to help give birth to something like that here. i may not be rick or sam or even victor, but it'd be a privilege just to be in the company of would-be heroes.


25 November 2007

the need for speed

i'm really starting to like James Gleick.  i'm well into his book Faster and for a work that's almost 10 years old, he seems to have legitimately penetrated into the dna of western culture and identified our insatiable appetite for speed.  last night during a saturday evening tub-soak, i was absorbing his thoughts on how we have even come to measure intelligence according to the speed dial.  quick-wit and quick-thinking must be evidence of higher intellect, right?  those people who deal in the realm of psychometrics (studying the speed of thought) sometimes have their discipline labeled in these kind of simplistic terms.  and yet many psychologists would agree with their Yale colleague Robert J. Steinberg, who says "If anything, the essence of intelligence would seem to be in knowing when to think and act quickly, and knowing when to think and act slowly."

what do you think, my a-type friends?

or how does this hit you (from the chapter, "Decomposition Takes Time":

"Biology fights back (or is it technology?).  Pauses manage to reinsert themselves into the flow of our faster, multitasking mental lives.  Your Web browser is connecting to a distant site, while a voice in the telephone handset at your ear has just said, 'An operator will be with you shortly,' and you realize three minutes later that you have entered a sort of trance; the operator is not with you, and your Web browser has found nothing.  Shortly the computer will announce, 'The operation has timed out.'  Yes.  Catatonia.  It's the Sabbath."

i love this guy.


20 November 2007

cultivate learnings of freeway for make benefit glorious lounge of voodoo

not intended to be as funny as Borat, but hopefully just as insightful and meaningful ... (really!)

here are some of my scribble notes from last Saturday's "Cultivate Gathering" hosted by Resonate and The Freeway Cafe:
- - - - -
M I S S I O N A L   I M A G I N A T I O N
Joe Manafo – Missional Imagination & Creativity
- our experiences are a fusion of images, sound, music, lights, structures
- forming a ministry is like pulling together various images to fashion/decipher a story
- mind-mapping is a process that allows messages to emerge

Krista Jefferson
- reflect on one of the core values of Frwy – beauty – and took a tour of the Beasley neighbourhood to look at the poverty but still identify places and images of beauty
- “I don’t want to photograph someone’s wedding more than once”

Katherine Siebert
- “conviction” may be just that intuitive sense that something isn’t quite right
- “experimentation” – acting on conviction, even if it means stepping out into uncertainty
– started edeva, a blog for artists and artisans to discover (being the beautiful gift and unwrapping yourself to the world)
- “taking the leap” – moved to Dominican Republic … maybe for a time, maybe forever
- “confirmation”
- “evolution”

M I S S I O N A L   T H E O L O G Y
Tim Bailey
- there is a difference between our new images and the process of reimagining - how do we help people reimagine?

reimagine :: the concept of ‘fellowship’
- how do we facilitate authenticity? Scripture talks about ‘putting off’ (e.g. falsehood) … you don’t become authentic, you are already authentic – you can only choose to mess that up
>> we give up and dump off things – e.g. my privacy, my protection/protectiveness
>> we try to become the kind of person that doesn’t require you to exercise grace, which is counter to the message of the Gospel

reimagine :: ‘freedom’
- it’s getting rid of my own bondage – getting away from my selfishness, not moving towards more of what I want
- love will drive you to the people that you think least deserve it … love is inherently missional
- grace = being addicted to forgiving

reimagine :: ‘worship’
- if worship is about sacrifice, it leads us to give up my whole being for His creation
- if it’s about being filled as opposed to being emptied (Phil 2), then we have missed the point

reimagine :: ‘truth’
- if it’s seen as downloading information through to conclusion, it finalizes and resides with us
- truth is a person – and we are growing into the truth (there are things even 15-20 years ago that we believed to be incontrovertible truths which today we laugh at and can’t believe we ever held them so firmly)

David Fitch
- ‘missional orders’ – much of church planting has been based on the premise of Christendom … there used to be an established structure/church organization, and someone was paid to extend the franchise
>> missional order is about surviving – knowing we’ll get banged up, and finding ways to make ends meet
>> not about repackaging church for disgruntled Christians
>> we’ll have to take on disciplines of resistance … we’re told that a venture is not worthwhile if it’s not making money
>> old order of Christianity is about having power – now it’s decentralized, governed by mutual submission
>> not about organizing a system at an excellent level, but living a way of life together

M I S S I O N A L   P R A C T I C E
Dan Sheffield
- missio Dei – the restoration of shalom throught the expanding influence of the Kingdom of God on earth
- church’s ministry is incarnational, not attractional
- what does shalom look like in a culturally-diverse community?
> the meeting of different cultures can bring a richness of values to all, including the dominant culture
> multicultural accepts a duality of interaction: positive adjustment is necessary for all (not ghettoism – segregation of cultures)
> cultural self-assurance empowers minorities to interact with other cultures
- as Christians we are all moving from loyalty to our own cultural values, to an adjusted worldview
- we have loyalty to Christ and are seeking to incarnate him as “counter-“ in our own cultural contexts, but we also seek to interact with, be enriched by, and adjust to believers of other cultures
- the multicultural congregation empowers all cultural voices to participate in setting goals and making decisions
- - - - - - -

aj and i had a grand ol' time at the cafe.  i think that between free coffees, multiple trips to the bathroom, and exploring half of the one-way streets in hamilton, we felt God's call to missional ministry really amplified through the reflections and networking that took place.

and call it rebelliousness, unbelievable self-assurance or all-out stupidity ... for all that i heard people say "but don't do" or "you shouldn't try", i felt even more compelled to try to navigate those avenues that seemed to frustrate everyone else.  

dream big or go home, i guess.


14 November 2007

uncomfortable grace

the funny thing about grace is that it really is undeserved. last year i remember struggling through this issue with a good friend of mine, who was blessed with a great show of kindness from a group of friends and strangers. he seemed to be in real anguish over receiving this gift, because he felt deep down that he and his family didn't deserve to be blessed in that kind of way - or at least that there might have been others who deserved that type of a gift even more.

isn't that funny in a strange kind of way? that people would be inclined to turn away an act of grace on the basis of who deserves what?

let me clearly say that this is not to criticize my friend's actions or attitude. i do remember being struck by the irony of the conversation/situation. little did i realize that not even a year later i would be entangled in the same contradictory line of questioning.

some of you may know that i walked away from a staff position with an incredible church ministry (check it out - www.connexuscommunity.com) in order to pursue a dream of instigating a whole other format/brand of ministry. where that left me was without any employment and us with a whole lotta bills still to pay.

but there we were, out trusting that following God out on the road is the very best place that we could be. and believing that maybe God has a vested interest in not seeing us go completely bankrupt.

well, this past weekend we received a really generous - i mean really generous (especially if you knew the backstory of the givers) - gift from some friends. our first instinct was to say - you guessed it - "we don't deserve this!".

grace can make us feel quite uncomfortable.

but we have decided to receive this gift, and not try to give it back. instead we have resolved that to be gracious in accepting the gift means that we must become people who in turn look for ways to extend grace to others. pay it forward. make sure that what comes around, goes around.

so just a warning to look out - grace may be coming (to a theatre?) near you.


11 November 2007

open season

every now and again, i want to share some thoughts that will hopefully provoke some soul-reflection and culture-engagement. if you know me at all, you'll know that i enjoy a good argument ("oh i'm sorry, but this is abuse ...") - which doesn't mean that i like to get into emotionally charged conflict, but rather a solid no-holds barred evaluation of ideas and practices. if an idea, no matter how uncouth or unorthodox it may be, might be worth some consideration, i say let's give it the time of day. in the end we may all agree that it is a silly or bad idea, but there may be intrinsic value in trying to figure out 'why' or looking at what light it might shed on our own tightly held beliefs.

so just to get things rolling, here's a discussion that i participated in online with some other ministry provocateurs ... what is the goal of a Christian ministry? i've been in the church circles that promote that it's all about the 'decision' to give one's life to Jesus. so is that it? an exercise of the will that gives mental assent to a proposition about who Jesus was and what was accomplished by his death on the cross? does that define a Christian?

what if being a Christian is not so much about a set of assumed beliefs as it is about the trajectory of our life choices that fashion us more into the likeness of Jesus?

what if true Christianity is more about the kingdom transformations that we are effecting here and now than about the security of an (attractive) eternal destination point?

and what if the attempt to put the definition of "Christian" into a category is a violation of the essence of Christianity itself?

this, i believe, is truly a wrestling match worthy of pay-per-view.


10 November 2007

a sign of things to come ...

hey everybody,

thanks for checking this out.  i wanted to give anyone and everyone an opportunity to track with the emergence of this new ministry format that i feel God is expressing through me.  i really don't know what it looks like yet, but i definitely have a sense of what it will feel like.

next saturday my buddy aj and i are going to participate in an event called the 'cultivate gathering'.  it's hosted by the leaders of the freeway in hamilton, ontario, and i'm anticipating that it will be a critical launch moment for this new work that i believe God is instigating here in barrie.

if you feel that the ground is ready to shake beneath our feet ... please stay tuned ...