23 December 2008

pirates, heroes, and time travellers

a place where creativity helps change the human condition for the better ... i love it.

and it involves pirates too!


15 December 2008

it has begun

i wanted to say thanks to any and all of you who made the effort to attend Ember.

to all of you who thought seriously about whether or not you could make it.

to those of you who invited someone to come. even if you knew that they wouldn't.

Ember was. that is a stand in and of itself.

ideas were shared. creativity was encouraged. dreams were nurtured.

and we all believe that there will be more.

please feel free to join us as we stand against the desecration of the human spirit.


30 November 2008

Ember - the emergence of The Republic

hey everybody,

just wanted to let you know that The Republic will be presenting it's first ever event, here in downtown Barrie, ON (Canada) ... it's called Ember, and will be at Casa Cappuccino (91 Dunlop St. E.) on Friday, Dec. 12th, 2008 from 7-9pm.

... featured musical talent will be local artist Bob Charters.

... we'll be showcasing the work of Illume Photography.

... the rescuing movement of To Write Love On Her Arms will be in focus.

if anyone is in the neighbourhood (or you know of someone who is), please pass the word out.

18 November 2008

home of the dirty donut

my friend and fellow provocateur in The Republic sent this along to me ... I'd seen it before, but man does it ever resonate still.


16 November 2008

kilroy was here

rob bell has a great quote in the book Jesus Wants To Save Christians -

"If our church was taken away - from our city, our neighborhood, our region - who would protest?

Only the people who are members?

Only those who are a part of it?

Only those who attend its services?

Single mothers?



it's the dilemma behind that question that compels The Republic to be.


11 October 2008

poems in the machine

i happened to be doing some research as part of my job, and while trying to locate information on online quiz design i stumbled (consider how that happened as you will) on this poem by steve turner ... and i dig it.

If Jesus was born today
it would be in a downtown motel
marked by a helicopter's flashing bulb.
A traffic warden, working late,
would be the first upon the scene.
Later, at the expense of a TV network,
an eminent sociologist,
the host of a chat show
and a controversial author
would arrive with their good wishes
-the whole occasion to be filmed as part of the
'Is This The Son Of God?' one hour special.
Childhood would be a blur of photographs and speculation
dwindling by his late teens into
'Where Is He Now?' features in Sunday magazines.

If Jesus was thirty today
they wouldn't really care about the public ministry,
they'd be too busy investigating His finances
and trying to prove He had Church or Mafia connections.
The miracles would be explained by
an eminent and controversial magician,
His claims to be God's Son recognised as
excellent examples of Spoken English
and immediately incorporated into
the O-Level syllabus,
His sinless perfection considered by moral philosophers
as, OK, but a bit repressive.

If Jesus was thirty-one today
He'd be the fly in everyone's ointment-
the sort of controversial person who
stands no chance of eminence.
Communists would expel Him, capitalists
would exploit Him or have Him
smeared by people who know a thing or two about God.
Doctors would accuse Him of quackery,
soldiers would accuse Him of cowardice,
theologians would take Him aside and try
to persuade Him of His non-existence.

If Jesus was thirty-two today we'd have to
end it all. Heretic, fundamentalist, literalist,
puritan, pacifist, non-conformist, we'd take Him
away and quietly end the argument.
But the argument would rumble in the ground
at the end of three days and would break out
and walk around as though death was some bug,
saying 'I am the resurrection and the life...
No man cometh to the Father but by me'.
While the magicians researched new explanations
and the semanticists wondered exactly what
He meant by 'I' and 'No man' there would be those
who stand around amused, asking for something
called proof.


03 October 2008

the other off-limits topic

so i'm watching the vice-presidential candidates debate last night, interested at how the leadership race of the world's most influential nation is shaping up ... and without ever really having pre-chosen sides in any political campaign, i'd back the obama-biden ticket easily.

feel free to disagree.

oh, and while you're thinking about people who can impact the future of the planet ...


29 September 2008

wins and losses

a few random thoughts for today ...

  1. our volleyball team ... the "beach bums" ... have not won a set yet, and can easily play well enough to be a contender ... frustrated yet hopeful.
  2. tried to get the republic involved in providing free drinks for the barrie new music festival (newmusicfest.ca) or even colour-sorted m&m's for the band green rooms ... no dice. the organizer said that while appreciated, the effort would undermine the sponsor venues' potential beverage sales (drat - capitalism wins out again). still - be sure to check this out and support our local artists!
  3. approached the local out-of-the-cold program with the idea of hosting free(!) bi-weekly coffeehouses at the shelter locations ... once again, organizers felt that it wasn't a practical contribution to their efforts. still - do what you can to help those who are going to struggle through a difficult and dangerous season ahead.
  1. the bears! took on philly last night and held their ground ... i'm always proud to pull for the blue and orange.
  2. the connexus small group that we're a part of is going to help sponsor me to go and be a part of the IMN 7-day immersion by helping to cover my flight and perhaps even accommodation costs! you guys rock and we love you.
  3. i spoke briefly with my wife's hairdresser, who's interested in being part of the phoenix art project that the republic is planning for next easter. all that she knows is that it's going to be a guerilla art event, involving a shared canvas around the theme of 'resurrection'. how cool is that ...


19 September 2008

i'm going to disney world! ... ok, not really - but close ....

first off, i'm still giving pernell goodyear a run for his money as world's worst blogger ... but definitely check his stuff out. i'm so rooting for him.

secondly, this week i got word from my friend alex mcmanus that i've received a scholarship (ergo acceptance?) to be part of the 2009 international mentoring network 7-day immersion in orlando, florida. these guys are the pioneers of the culture pub movement, and i am super stoked to get to pray and plot with these would-be heroes. i'm still working on figuring out how to pull together the pennies to get me there, but i'm treating it as a non-negotiable. i believe that this is going to be absolutely integral to the republic gaining momentum.

in the meantime, here's the second part to the video interview with sir ken:


16 September 2008

artsy-fartsy, eh?

i came across this video on garr reynolds' blog. i'm persuaded that he's onto something in what he says about the model of education (and measurement of intelligence) being based on an outdated system. part of me also wonders if there isn't an element of that in how most of us in north america approach the faith institution that we know of as church. is it not in large part a specialized model of education (don't we call the community part for kids, 'sunday school')? and is there a kind of partitioning of leaders based on the scales of intelligence? are we even encouraging (by some of the existing, even trendy models of ministry) a high degree of conformity?

lots of questions, no presumed answers. but if sir ken can posit that perhaps education is killing creativity, could it be that certain approaches to church are more outdated than they think - and even squashing the human spirit?


08 August 2008

the republic is on the move

with the summer whipping by, and 2008 now more than halfway done, i've felt a little stalled out on this new service initiative that i've been working on. so i thought that i'd better go back to the instigator - the guy that really helped shake things up to the degree that i sensed that maybe my life direction was going to take a more daring and possibly heroic path - alex mcmanus.

so i gave alex a call yesterday, and we talked for about an hour.

and wouldn't you know that he'd give me more than enough to stoke up the fires and generate new ideas.

here are a few ideas that we shared:

  • it may be more helpful to get out of the mode of thinking about 'church planting', because most church planting strategies are essentially about launching the careers of the 'church planter' ... so i've been encouraged to adopt the language of an activist (or, as i prefer, 'provocateur')
  • the culture pub movement is not driven by the timeline of business, but by a sense of existential urgency ... the world is dying untouched by love, truth, beauty and community, and what are we doing about it?
  • raising money for a new initiative can creat a false sense of security ... rather than using $ to generate momentum, it's better to start with very little resources/overhead and use $ to preserve momentum
  • and here's one that i definitely want to use ... what if there was a gathering of not-Christian artists (e.g. painters) who came together to develop a collaborative work on Easter Sunday - and the only guidance that they are given is that they are to depict themes of resurrection, be it the phoenix, the Matrix, the story of the Christ - just some images rooted in literature or media. wouldn't it be awesome to simply have the community abuzz talking about resurrection on that day and not even be in church? this event will already be taking place in Orlando, Sacramento, and Sheffield (England) ... and i hope to add Barrie, Ontario to it to make it truly a global event.

and if you didn't catch it, the name of this movement/space/community is The Republic (web presence soon to be developed - wearetherepublic.org).

we are on the move ...


10 June 2008

if you want to change the world ... and avoid bozos

ok, so i'm breaking my own rules by not posting about 'the language of heroes' ... but let me tease you with this - at a meeting last week with some other ministry leaders and church planters, one dude (let's call him, oh, sean) reminded me that "language defines culture". so be very careful (and intentional) about what language you choose to use ...

today however i stopped to take a peek at this video - i literally was going to give it about 30-45 seconds max viewing time - and couldn't stop watching. if you have at all caught the vibe of what this blog has been about, i think you'll probably be glued to it too:

i think that i'll have to watch this repeatedly for the rest of my life.

19 May 2008

the village well ... or the city gate?

i haven't posted in a while, partly because i actually (for a relatively unemployed guy) feel quite swamped with activities and meetings.  not a real good excuse - especially when you see (on facebook) that i've managed to catch a ninja mouse and several bionic mice recently ...

two conversations of particular note this past week - one took place as i caught up with an old friend from my hometown of orangeville (props to the o-town!).  i met with shawn murdoch who's had his own dream of getting involved in some sort of ministry that might be hosted in a coffeeshop.  shawn's got an awesome life story that's he's crafting, and he also shared an insight into the human condition which struck me as interesting.  he said to me that his experience of life has taught him that everyone is looking for love, understanding and acceptance - and that in each of those exists the reality of forgiveness.  i think that it's worth consideration - much like erwin's suggestion that humanity has a craving for meaning, intimacy and destiny.

conversation number two took place on the golf course yesterday - in near hypothermic conditions (who needs to fall into the lake when the lake is falling on you?) but on an amazing plot of land (bigwin island - thanks again kevin!).  my friend ray was telling me about an article he'd read that talked about a sports bar that in the daytime often served as a 'real office' for virtual company employees.  workers from various organizations who were used to otherwise working in isolation come together in one space to conduct their business and share ideas.  it's an intriguing new approach to trying to build community ... read about the concept here.

coming next post - the language of heroes ...


30 April 2008

artists understand artists

yesterday i spent about an hour and half talking, laughing, consulting and visioning with janette vanderzaag of groundswell coffeehouse in alliston, on. the venue there is not unlike what i have envisioned for here in downtown barrie - a cultural hub, nurturing creativity and community. she's been paving a path there for about 3 years now, and was very gracious in sharing the practicalities and pitfalls that need attending to when trying to open up a business like that.

i walked away with several contact names, great insight into what makes a successful coffeehouse tick, and encouragement that this kind of ministry resonates with all sorts of people.

and she delivered a pretty mean cup of hot chocolate - rivalling my good friend marty's product.

anyway, business plan here we come! and do check out groundswell, if you happen to be swinging through alliston.


15 April 2008

add me to the campbell soup

i've been having many encouraging meetings with various people who seem to share some of the vision of the voodoo lounge (... on another note altogether, i was thinking about other possible names yesterday and wondered about "the soularium" - so i googled it, and found that it is in use by a number of bands and is also the designation for a supercool project put on by campus crusade - check it out here).  just yesterday i happened to chat it up with someone at a funeral who worked with an old friend of mine at a local bakery ... and this friend is interested in seeing a coffeebar type venue open up here in barrie.  

did i mention that he's a baker?

as in baking stuff?


and today i had this incredibly energizing meeting with don campbell and matt campbell.  this father/son dynamic duo shared with me their family's vision, nurtured over the last several years, of creating a venue for local musicians and music lovers that would become the foundation for a kingdom community.  we shared dreams, and i think that we all felt that we were reading from the same page.  man, it was inspiring to hear where their hearts are at, how they see that it's not about Christ-followers trying to make a dent but about reclaiming everything beautiful and creative and passion-filled about the world back for God.

i just love it when a plan comes together.  cause believe me, that's what it's feeling like.


07 April 2008

of chickens and eggs

just a quick thought ... instead of planting a church and trying to build a community, i would love to plant a community and see a church emerge ...

05 April 2008

a wild and woolly week

well, the basement flooded again (which means the office that i finally moved back downstairs got moved upstairs again ...!), it was gus' 2nd birthday yesterday, and i got two very intriguing and separate phone calls that have bearing on the voodoo lounge.

the first call was from a colleague in ministry whose congregation is thinking of launching a satellite site. they are a fairly traditional worshipping community who are considering of starting a coffeehouse venue, but they need someone to provide leadership for it. i was told that if i was interested, it would provide the kind of partnership where my "hands won't be tied". plus they already have some money set aside which they could funnel toward this new venture.

the second call came from an acquaintance through my former church home, trinity community church. this man and his son have been dreaming for a little while about trying to get something rolling in the downtown sector of our city, which would be a venue for local musicians to showcase their talent. he'd heard through a mutual friend that i was very much interested in facilitating a lab for creatives, and so we may be sitting down to chat about sharing visions.

i wonder if maybe the legs are finally getting underneath this wild dream.

24 March 2008

i'm tellin' y'all it's existential sabotage!

so more than a couple of people have checked out the lounge blog here and wondered what 'existential sabotage' means ... is it a threat?  am i a threat?  or is it just a weak attempt at sounding somewhat intelligent?

yes, yes and yes.  

i don't know if i made the phrase up or if i heard it somewhere before, but it runs along the lines of the mandate that some of us feel we have to 'comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable' ... emphasis on the latter.  i believe that many of us become 'reactants' to life - rolling with what it gives us, waiting for the next situation that demands our attention or yanks us to one side.  and we stop being the 'agents' in life - making deliberate and bold choices that not only determine our life's trajectory but also create a positive ripple effect that travels beyond us.

yes, yet another feeble attempt to sound like i have more than a few working brain cells.

but i think i know what i'm talking about.

too often we trade in our destinies for monotonies.  and we end up living with a whole list of 'what could have beens'.  when i think about what the Scriptures say, i often think of Paul saying that he's learned to be content in every situation.

it wasn't that he sought contentment, but that he was able to apply the discipline of knowing contentment instead of anxiety.  still, he believed that his life could accomplish something great.  so he tried to save the world.

existential sabotage is about challenging others in their life's journey.  it's about shaking things up where they are not settling into letting time drift away.  it's about picking up the hero's torch and running hard and fast into the future.

and i can see that i'm messing people up already ...


05 March 2008

i wish i'd written this stuff

i'm finally getting down to reading "organic community", and really digging it. joe myers is one smart writer imho. i'd love to see him speak some time.

and my good friend carey nieuwhof (whom i have had the great privilege of seeing speak on many occasions) pointed me to an article that resonates with the ethos of the voodoo lounge. check it out here.


03 March 2008

the soul of the voodoo lounge

i thought that it might be time to start discussing what it is that fuels the soul of this venture that i've named the voodoo lounge. the whole idea of this kingdom experiment is to try to cultivate something that is responsive to God's movement and presence in the world today ... and it begins with my admission that i don't know everything. hey, some days i wonder if i know anything at all ... but i am confident that if the voodoo lounge is an 'open source' initiative - that it is attentive to voice of Jesus speaking through the voices of others who are also desperately seeking after Him - that it will take on the kind of shape that will profoundly impact our community.

let's give credit where credit is due ... my taking-off point is the work of my friends at the mosaic alliance. i've had the privilege of conversing with them on a number of occasions and in a variety of settings. their approach to the Jesus-following community has resonated with me at the deepest levels - those places where you don't 'process' but where you 'feel' and 'just know'. but don't get me wrong ... believe you me, they're as smart as anything.

they describe 5 core values, and i want to share my thoughts on them one-by-one. each one is described in elemental terms, and the first platform is "wind" - mission is why the Church exists. for a while now, i've held to the belief that the Church is not an institution but a movement. easy for me to say, I know. what it means is that what holds it together and what propels is a commitment to follow ing Jesus.

following ... a verb.

it's as we focus on where Jesus is going, whom He is healing, where He is teaching, what He is resurrecting that we are His people. Jesus started this whole deal by calling people to follow Him. to tag along for the ride. to press forward together.

moving on mission is how the Kingdom of God takes shape in the world today. and i believe that that is what Jesus came proclaiming - the realities of God's presence in the here and now. if the church simply becomes an enclave for religious observers, it runs the very real risk of becoming an impotent assembly.

Jesus was all about power and transformation, not impotence. and i'm not sure that He cared much for assemblies ... but He sure did have a lot of people mobbing Him - as He went.

if the voodoo lounge is at all going to be connected with the Church, it will be a place of intersection for heroes and revolutionaries. people who believe that the world has a future, and that God is desiring to map that future with us. we will gather, but only because in gathering we will find the common strength and desire to catapult each other out.

my hope is that even people who never step foot into the voodoo lounge will know the life-changing impact of those who have been sent out from it.


27 February 2008

it's not Wagner, you know

this month, i've been invited to be the communicator at Trinity Community Church in Oro (where i'd been on staff for 3 1/2 years). it's a real privilege to be able to share with this community of Jesus followers again, and especially to cover the Easter season. honestly, when i initially said 'yes' to speaking, i didn't realize that i'd agreed to the month encompassing Easter ... neither did i have the foresight to check whether or not it was a 5-Sunday month ... oh well. no worries.

i'm going to try to deliver a message series called "oh, the humanity!". you probably know that phrase from the coverage of the hindenburg disaster. we're going to use it as a leaping-off point to look at the worst of human behaviour in the bible ... and how even those incidents became the putty with which God has been able to sculpt something beautiful and lasting.

if you can join us (and that's not intended to be an enticement to leave behind your own communities of faith and worship), i'd love for you to be in on the conversation.


13 February 2008


i just got back from sunnybrook health sciences centre visiting my friend cindy. she was in a horrific car accident when she collided with a school bus. after undergoing numerous surgeries, she is now out of intensive care and slowly recuperating.

she seems to be in really good spirits, and deeply concerned about the welfare of others - including her children and close friends. can you believe that she actually mustered up the energy to grill me about how the voodoo lounge initiative is progressing??!

anyway, she tells me that she plans to be out of the hospital and at home in a week.

don't laugh - she's a fighter. if anyone can do it, she can.


05 February 2008

let's get physical

some of you know that I've gotten involved in my first community theatre production ... and having a blast with it. it's called "Boeing Boeing", and it's being presented by the South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown, ON. we're driving towards opening night this thursday, and tonight is our first dress rehearsal with an audience ... yikes!

it's been a real steep learning curve for me. from memorizing plenty of dialogue to memorizing stage blocking to ensuring that cues come quickly and accurately, i've definitely found myself stretched and, on numerous occasions, quite underequipped.

another real challenge for me with this play has been the fact that my character ("Robert") is required to kiss two of the other female characters. that's awkward enough when you consider that i've only ever kissed two other girls other than my wife (all of them before I was married, I might add!), but add to that that both of the actors that I kiss are younger (one much younger) than I am ... well!

but here's the real revelation for me: it's astonishing to me that I can kiss these women, both of whom are incredibly beautiful and talented, and feel nothing. no romantic feelings, no animal magnetism, no improper thoughts. nothing.

i wondered at first if there was something wrong with me ... and then i started to feel sad. not for me or for them (well, maybe sad for them because they have to endure kissing me), but honestly sad for any and everyone who engages in relationships and physical intimacy where there is no emotion or commitment. i imagine that that must be the tragedy of sex without love, of desire without devotion. it may seem appealing from a distance, but there's an emptiness that resides within.

i'm grateful for the talents of my co-actors (thanks Kristen and Ashley!) who make our kissing encounters work in the context of the performance. i just hope that there aren't that many people who are trying to play those scenes out on the stage of life.