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 .

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?

Moving Towards a Missional/Incarnational Approach

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Was invited to participate in a panel last night at a local good size suburban “bible” church that is exploring the missional concept. It was a very enjoyable time and I was excited to see the leadership of a church (and this influential church in particular) on the path of discovery and discernment.

The task of us on the panel was to explore and discuss two issues: 1) the difference between the attractional and missional approach to church and, 2) the complexity and difficulties of being missional in a suburban setting.

We got through issue one and into an issue two question of what particular obstacles do suburban churches experience as they attempt to move toward a missional ecclesiology. Unfortunately, we just didn’t have time to deal with the practical question of how might a church move increasingly towards this kind of missional/incarnational approach.

I would have really liked to get into this last practical question. So not to waste my notes and thoughts on the subject, here are the bullet points from my talking notes:

  • Leaders have to take seriously the Ephesians 4:11-12 mandate to be equippers and spiritual body builders.
  • Discipleship doesn’t equal information, but transformation.
  • The apprenticeship model in discipleship should be explored.
  • Openly and freely celebrate those who are living out the life you want to see replicated.
  • Become a story teller. Story is a powerful tool at illustrating and making the theme clear.

I’d love to hear any additional points you would have made.

Missional and the Younger Generation

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

The young adult generation is not hopeless and would welcome us moving into their space and engaging them.

HT: Ed Stetzer.

First Resume and Interview Clinic

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

(This is a cross-post from Missional Tribe.)

Jesus follower Tim Jorgens got a burden for those currently unemployed in both our faith community and the community at large. And the great thing is that he acted on this burden and put together a free “Resume and Interview Clinic.”

We did the first one today and had 15-20 people participate.

This is something that could easily be replicated anywhere and can be a great way to become involved in a meeting a real community need. Here was our schedule. Glad to send alone our handouts to anyone wanting them and discuss what we did.


8:45: Ready for people to arrive. Be available and greet people.

9:00: Welcome:

* Overview of the morning and logistical issues.
* Quick discussion on agencies and services where you can look for job opportunities.
* Quick discussion on additional resources available in the community.
* Discuss the importance of networking.

9:30: Interview Session:

* Introduction including types of interviews and the objective of the interview.
* Review the “Ten Rules About the Interview.”
* Review sample interview questions.
* Conduct a mock team interview with a volunteer.
* Critique of interview and observations.

10:15: Break

10:30: Resume Building Session:

* Introduction.
* How to do a skills assessment using PAR.
* How to document work experience.
* Description of the two types of resumes and where to use them.
* How to construct the two types of resumes.
* How to write a cover letter.

11:15: Break-out sessions

Two break-out sessions (one for interviewing and one for resumes) where participants can have further discussion and get one-on-one help.

12:00: Close

Are We Delusional?

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

There has been some good private discussions going on about “experts” (in general) who pontificate on all thing missional yet don’t model it in their own lives. Michael Frost once said:

It is not any longer possible that we sit in some command center telling other people how to go forth. I’m speaking in particular to those of you who are clergy. You cannot preach about, encourage or motivate or mobilize people into mission unless you model what missional proximity looks like. You cannot sit in some ivory tower spending days and days preparing sermons which are seeking to motivate people into mission unless you yourself are prepared to embrace that similar commitment to proximity. Do you follow what I’m saying? I’m not just talking about proximity like our building is on the street corner on the main street with a gigantic sign and everyone knows that we are there. I’m talking about personal, relational, and geographic proximity to people.

There is a wonderful place for dialog around the missional movement, but we all need to be doers as well as talkers and listeners — especially church leaders and those who hold themselves out to be authorities on the subject. Reminds me of what James told us, “Prove that you are real. Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you’re delusional.” (James 1:22, The Voice).