Archive for the ‘Orthopraxy’ Category

Seeking Slowness

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

I’ve posted on the concept of missional being the “slow movement” of Christianity. Give it a quick read and then see where Dan White takes another slant on this topic in “Missional-Marinating.”

I really like this quote:

I’ll tell you up front, my old-high-capacity-leader-self resists this marinating process. My old self can’t rest, it can’t sleep. It needs quick returns, escalating numbers, regional buzz and high excitement. All of those pieces previously helped me not feel like a failure. But here in the laboratory of a Missional-Community, slow is our friend. Seeking slowness is essential in the stew of discipleship. Cultivating a culture saturated in the embodied life of Jesus requires purposeful patience. A new character needs to be developed while leading in this type of atmosphere. Slow is not something to bear with, it’s something to embrace. No longer am I trying to launch an organization that sparkles before its consumers. The call is to shape a way of life; to create a conducive setting for transformation. In this stew we need unhurried time and grace-filled space for:long conversations, unearthing conflicts, detox from consumerism, facing missional fears, relearning how to listen, frustrated prayers and moving beyond suspicion to trust.

You can follow Dan on Twitter @danwhitejr .

Neighborhood Action

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

For many years, our faith community has worked with our neighborhood high school to help them maintain the school grounds and landscape. One year we took a Sunday, and instead of the usual worship service, we had everyone show up at the school. It was amazing what a few hundred people can get done in a few hours.

Today we joined with Waterfront Foursquare, Portland Christian and local community neighbors for a clean-up, fix-up and spruce-up before school starts next week.

A great way to “moved into the neighborhood” and become involved with our neighbors.

Building Community

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Helped organize a neighborhood event this morning along with the Stephens Creek Stewards and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. We got a neighborhood work party together to help protect the wetland on our street from Purple Loosestrife and other invasive weeds.

We filled two garden waste recycling containers, saved the City the expense of sending in a crew, create some ownership of our local environment and got to know some of our newer neighbors.

It was another step in bringing a greater sense of community to the neighborhood. At the social hour in our backyard afterwards, I got a good response about doing a block party next year.

Small positive steps in community and relationship building.

Into the Neighborhood

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Our faith community is actively moving back into our neighborhood by joining with our neighbors to accomplish community improvement tasks.

On Saturday, January 15, a bunch of men from our faith community joined a neighborhood volunteer work party to improve the native habitat in the Stephens Creek Natural Area (just a block from our campus) by planting native shrubs and trees. It was a wet day, but the work party got 410 native shrubs and trees planted and mulch.

Here are some pictures. Sorry for a couple of fuzzy ones. I’m still learning to take pictures one handed.

Stephens Creek Natural Area

Stephens Creek Natural Area

Stephens Creek Natural Area

Stephens Creek Natural Area

A Tough Season for Believers

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Good op-ed piece in the New York Times, “A Tough Season for Believers.” Here is the closing thought.

[B]elieving Christians are no longer what they once were — an overwhelming majority in a self-consciously Christian nation. The question is whether they can become a creative and attractive minority in a different sort of culture, where they’re competing not only with rival faiths but with a host of pseudo-Christian spiritualities, and where the idea of a single religious truth seems increasingly passé.

Or to put it another way, Christians need to find a way to thrive in a society that looks less and less like any sort of Christendom — and more and more like the diverse and complicated Roman Empire where their religion had its beginning, 2,000 years ago this week.

And Christianity did thrive under an intolerant Roman Empire. God doesn’t need a “Christian nation” or tolerant environment for his people to flourish. But we do need to be the people he calls and empowers us to be in the context we find ourselves.

Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. (1 Peter 1:11-12, The Message)

Making Distinctions

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

divided highwayAs a people we seem obsessed with dividing people, questions or problems into clearly defined groups. We like to draw lines. Among the lines we draw between people include male and female, conservative and liberal, young and old, Democrat and Republican, black and white, rich and poor, King James and The Message, and so on. We make distinctions about people because we find it a useful (if erroneous) way to comprehend who a person is — what they think, what they believe, or what their role in life should be.

As Jesus followers we need to remember that, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.” And by extension of the principle, no division into conservative and liberal, young and old, Democrat and Republican, black and white, or rich and poor. Our common relationship with Jesus Christ involves the laying down of such cultural, political and biological identities and presumption.

What are the implications of making such distinctions?
What are the consequences of not making such distinctions?
What kind of questions does this raise for you?

Moving Into the Neighborhood

Friday, August 27th, 2010

What happens when roughly a dozen young Christian men and women move into a low-income housing complex (Barberry Village here in the Portland area) with the primary goal of creating a sense of community in a chaotic neighborhood overrun with drugs, prostitution and gangs?

People are suspicious. A few people shut the door in their faces. One guy answered with a Taser gun. Safety is a concern. And some of these young Christians burn out. But there has also been so much good done that other low-income housing complex owners have asked them to replicate their efforts.

You can read the full story here.

And they appear to have an appropriate attitude when attempting such work:

So while they were open about their Christianity, they didn’t plunge into conversations about their faith. Nor did they move in acting as if they could solve the social ills at Barberry Village

“We were very conscious of that,” said Knepprath, who has since moved out but remains active in the ministry. “Our perspective from the start was that we’re not here with all the solutions or even thinking we know all the problems.”

The article calls these Christians part of the “new monasticism” movement. They certainly express much of what the missional paradigm is about.

Fostering a People-Development Agenda

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Yesterday I shared three major developments that Reggie McNeal believes must take place in order for the church to undergo a missional transformation.

The second shift in the three is to move from a program-driven agenda to a people-development agenda. This shift is necessary because the North American church has largely become a collection of programs run by staff and non-staff leaders and has lost its people-development calling.

Reggie believes the “rise of the program-driven church correlates directly with the rise of the service economy in post-World War II America. The manufacturing engine powering the economy yielded to the service sector as Americans could afford to pay other people to do things they no longer wanted to do themselves or couldn’t do themselves. People began to outsource food preparation, lawn maintenance, laundry, oil changes, and child care. And Americans outsourced spiritual formation to the church. It was during this period that the concept of church as a vendor of religious goods and services became entrenched in the ethos of the North American church culture.

“The demanding service expectation on the part of church families drove the church to proliferate its offerings in children’s and student ministries at first. This was followed by scores of other programs in an increasingly market-driven approach to capturing church members. The church growth movement of the last quarter of the twentieth century fed this frenzy as churches clamored for customers who could support the program expansion. The result was a resettling of the church population into congregations who have both paid attention to this program expectation and fed it as well.

“Church programming became increasingly complex as churches became more adept and more able to develop ministry options. The assumption grew that the church could provide the venues and opportunities for people to live out their entire spiritual journey as part of a church sponsored or church operated activity. This approach to Christian life has gone on now for so long that it seems natural and normal to North American church people.”

Because the program-driven agenda has become so deep-seated and expected, nurturing a people-development agenda and culture will require some important alteration in the way church leaders think and behave. In this video, Reggie talks about this second shift and how to foster it.

Reformed Church in America: One Thing: Reggie McNeal: What Are You Going To Do About It? from Phil Tanis on Vimeo.

Spirituality and Workplace Ethics

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Some company managers believe that employees who are more religious or spiritual than others also tend to be harder-working, more reliable and ethical than their non-religious peers. But a recent study suggests the opposite may be true.

Daniel Martin, a professor at California State University — East Bay, “recently conducted a study involving 158 students at his school of varying ages and from a variety of backgrounds and religions (including those with no religious beliefs).

“The students were given a series of widely used psychometric tests along with questionnaires to determine their ethics, morals and professional and social habits as well as the degree of their involvement with religion.

“The research revealed little correlation between spirituality and integrity and responsibility, Martin says.

“More notably, the researchers found positive correlations between religiosity and negative behavior towards the organization, such as stealing supplies, filing false expense claims and the like, he says.

“The study also revealed positive correlations between religiosity and negative behaviors toward other people, such as lying, making disparaging remarks, etc.

“Martin says he was surprised by the findings and is not sure why religious people may be more prone to the negative behaviors shown in the study.”

Most disturbing if true of Jesus followers.

What is your reaction to these findings?

Nashville Flood Recovery

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Ed Stetzer on how you and your church can help with disaster relief efforts in Nashville, TN, USA.