Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Wanted: Notorious Leader of an Underground Liberation Movement

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Notorious Leader of an Underground Liberation Movement

Wanted for the following charges:

  • Practicing medicine, winemaking and food distribution without a license.
  • Interfering with businessmen in the temple.
  • Associating with known criminals, radicals, subversives, prostitutes and street people.
  • Claiming to have the authority to make people into God’s children.

Appearance: Typical hippie type—long hair, beard, robe, sandals.

Hangs around slum areas, few rich friends, often sneaks out into the desert.

Beware: This man is extremely dangerous. His insidiously inflammatory message is particularly dangerous to young people who haven’t been taught to ignore him yet. He changes men and claims to set them free.

Warning: He is still at large!

Jesus Movement

These are the opening lines of the June 21, 1971, cover story in Time magazine. It covered the “Jesus Revolution” or as we usually labeled it, “The Jesus Movement.” It was the time when the Spirit moved deeply among the under 30 generation — a generation growing up in “an impersonal and despiritualized life that increasingly finds release in sexploration, status, alcohol and conspicuous consumption.” A world falling apart, being exploited and destroyed, where a “Silent Spring” seems very likely, a world on the “Eve of Destruction.” It was a time when many of us honestly never expected to see our 30th birthday (seriously).

And the Church? Irrelevant, meaningless and sold out to “The Man.”

The Jesus revolution rejects not only the material values of conventional America but the prevailing wisdom of American theology.

Times don’t seem to have changed much, but the Spirit is blowing a refreshing breeze among His people which has again opened spiritual eyes and ignited a movement — the missional movement — where “the way of Jesus” informs and radically transforms our existence to one wholly focused on sacrificially living for Him and others and where we adopt a missionary stance in relation to our culture.

The Jesus Movement faded, but its fruit radically impacted the American church. I expect the missional movement as we know it will also fade, but it too will (and already has) have a radical and deep influence on western Christendom.

Because the Jesus Movement is the root of the missional movement, it is well worth your time to read the full Time magazine story. You can find it here.

Other Relevant Posts

Learning From the Jesus Movement

Living Life As Beautifully As We Can

Another Jesus Freak Called Home


A Typical vs. Missional Church Foundation

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

I was in my “nothing” box just mindlessly popping around the web when I ran across Adam’s blog, The Thin Place.

In 2005 he created and posted a couple of interesting visuals inspired while reading Dan Kimball’s book “Emerging Worship.” I found them interesting and clarifying. What do you think?


Missional foundation


Missional foundation


The Church: A Who, Not a What

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

I’ve often noted that the term “church” refers to the people of God; the called out ones; those formed for his dwelling and bearers of his presence in the world. It doesn’t refer to a building, denomination or physical location.

This video clip points this out well. I wish I’d had it for the class I recently taught on the subject. My tagline for the class was, “The Church is a who, not a what.”

HT: Rob Fairbanks

Leadership and the Missional Church

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

This is a repost from 2007 that fits with the post on Missional Transformation – Three Shifts.

Back in the 80’s I had a very wise and forward thinking pastor. His name is Dr. Wayne McDill, who is now Senior Professor of Preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I was looking through some old journals for a specific piece of information. As I’m want to do, I got sidetracked reading notes and observations from the past including an item Wayne shared in a disciplining session for his elders. Using the illustration below, he talked about two models a pastor or leadership team could use to “build” a faith community.

The viewpoint of the pastor or leadership in the exploitation model is that people are the resource for the work. Note that the focus is on the leadership directing and using people so they can “build a great church for God.” The common lament is, “If only the people were more committed.”

The viewpoint of the leadership in the edification model is that God is the resource and he will build his church. The focus is on God and Eph. 2:10 and Eph. 4:11-16 would be the guiding ideal.

I was recently reading a paper by Krista Petty titled, “Making Good Ideas Happen: How to Help Your People Unleash Their Best Innovations,” where she talks about flipping the common church leadership paradigm and equipping and guiding the people of God to launch new ministries. Like Dr. McDill, she sees two models.

Using the first diagram below, Ms. Petty explains, “The senior minister, staff or leadership are paid to come up with the vision and direction, followed by the events, activities and programs to make the vision a reality. Often, leaders have the ideas and together with the people, they do the work.”

Instead of this American triangular organizational business model with top-down results, Petty suggests that “shared-vision leadership can present itself more like a diamond as both leaders and individuals shine with vision and passion to reflect blessing to the community. As individuals are impassioned with service ideas, successful church leaders will not be the only keepers of the vision; they will also serve as a conduit and encouragement for helping others develop in Christ and for community ministry benefit.” Sounds similar to Dr. McDill’s edification model.

I really don’t think many in the modern institutional church realize just how much American business models and theory have seeped into and permeate the way we go about the work of God. Our dependence is all too often on the right model, marketing effort or program (a business model) instead on God and his people.

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.

What’s the Difference?

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

This is a 2-minute video that attempts to provide a sense the change in perspective between our traditional view of church and missional church.

HT: Alan Hirsch

The Theology of SAFE

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Good read at Neil Cole’s blog today on the sin of self-preservation.

Here is a noteworthy observation:

We often approach church and ministry with a theology of SAFE.

Safe is…

Self-preservation = our mission
Avoidance of the world and risk = wisdom
Financial security = responsible faith
Education = maturity

Does that not describe many of the churches, denominations or ministries you have encountered?

Sure does, and describes the theology of many Jesus followers also.

Hearing From the Emerging Conversation

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Many are quick to point out the issues they have with the emerging church conversation. So it is refreshing when we get to read a post that doesn’t address the negative aspects of this movement. Singing to the Deaf is one such post. In it Michael Newnham gives us a list of things we need to hear from the emerging conversation.

Here is the ten items:

1. We can’t hear you when you talk at us instead of with us.

2. Jesus said go and do after we sat and listened.

3. Jesus probably wasn’t a Republican.

4. The story is a lot bigger than proof texts.

5. Most of us wrestle with some truths we’re not supposed to question.

6. There was a Christian faith before 1900.

7. The Lord didn’t give us a dress code.

8. We would actually like to see each other after the lecture.

9. Anything worth believing can stand up to questioning…and the big one…

10. Isn’t this supposed to be about the love of God and each other?

Some good discussion also, so pop over a give it a read.

Lots of Love for the Emerging Church

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Have you notice the number of blog posts lately talking about the positive good the emerging church movement has had? The posts usually (but not always) reminisce about how the movement has been an important part of the authors journey. They are a good reminder of the significance this movement has been in breathing new life into the spiritual wandering of so many.

Here are some recent samples:

Five Things to Love About the Emerging Church

Wheaton College and Positive Things About the Emerging Church

What Do You Do When a Revolution Isn’t Sexy Anymore?

Why I am still a friend of Emergent (even if we don’t talk that much anymore)

There have been even more “Is the Emerging Church Movement Dead?” posts and even a few of the posts noted above almost sound like eulogies. For a perspective on this, you might read David Fitch’s “Emergent, Organic, Missional Church: Methinks We Worry Too Much.”

Most good movements eventually fade as the nucleus of the church takes on the beneficial elements it espoused and is transformed. Let’s hope this is the case with the emerging church movement.

How Religious Is Your State?

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Which of the 50 states in the USA has the most religious population? The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life just published their state-by-state survey to rank each state on four measures: the importance of religion in people’s lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God.

How did your state rank?

Go here to review Pew’s data release.