Posts Tagged ‘Dan Kimball’

Notes from Recalibrating Concepts of Church

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

“Recalibrating Concepts of Church” is part of George Fox Seminary “Ministry in Contemporary Culture” series and was held on February 4, 2009.

What they wanted to do at this presentation was to bring five noted authors together to discuss a single issue “Recalibrating the Church“ and then allow for interaction and conversation between each other and the conference attendees. The authors were: Alan Hirsch, Dan Kimball, MaryKate Morse, Len Sweet and Frank Viola. It was moderated by Lance Ford.

Recalibrate Photo
(The hand is an actual part of the graphic image.)


Recalibrate: To calibrate something anew. Calibrate means “to standardize by determining the deviation from a standard so as to ascertain the proper correction factors.”

From the perspective and context of their latest book, each author had 20 minutes to deal with what they felt needed to be recalibrated in the church.

The following is an edited and condensed version of my notes. They are often paraphrases of what I was hearing and don’t reflect all that an author said or their exact words. The interaction between the authors was some of the best stuff, but hard to capture.

Dan Kimball — They Like Jesus But Not The Church

We have to go back into our communities and see them as a missionary would.

Instead of having a model to copy, we rethink how a missionary would plant a church reflecting the values and people of the local community.

The NT gives some guidelines on what a church is, but there is almost unlimited freedom in how it happens.

Some things that need to be recalibrated:

  • Recalibrating leadership “ (Eph 4:11-12) There is no difference in status between those who are paid staff and those who aren’t. Staff = everyone who serves on mission, not just those paid. Pastor = shepherd.
  • Recalibrate language — We have to change our language. For example, being the church instead of going to church.
  • Recalibrating buildings — The building is your equipping center.

Not-yet-Christians often fine Jesus followers creepy. One of the others mentioned that creepiness often is a reflection of attitude.

Len Sweet — Do you think Christians were any less creepy in the 1st century than they are today? Lots of laughs, but interesting point.

Frank Viola “ Reimaging Church

“Reimaging Church” is a theology of church as organism as opposed to organization.

The most important chapter in the book is “Church Practice and God’s Eternal Purpose.”

Gen 1-2 — God created people who were not in need of salvation. There are over 30 themes in these two chapters that speak to the internal purpose of God. These themes are like golden threads throughout the entire narrative and find there culmination in the last two chapters of Revelation. Therefore, winning souls is not God’s eternal purpose. It is not the end, it is the beginning.

Dan Kimball — But we are in a post-fall time. What were Jesus first words to the disciples? They were about making them fisher of men and his last words were to go make disciples. How can we not make this an important aspect of what we do?

I don’t recall a satisfactory answer to Dan’s question, but in his book Frank says this, “Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not against any of these things. On the contrary, I’m strongly for them. But God has a purpose “an eternal purpose“ that humans were to fulfill before sin entered the scene. And He has never let go of it. Everything else is and should be related to it.” He then quotes DeVern Fromke as saying, “Redemption is not the end, but only a recovery program. It is but a parenthesis incorporated into the main theme.”

Marykate Morse — Making Room for Leadership: Power, Space and Influence

Her theme was “Recalibrating the Concept of Power.”

One thing we have to figured out is how to get along with one another. We have to get our hands on this thing called power.

Myths about power:

  • Myth: Leadership is embodied in a person whose thoughts and ideas must be followed. Actually leadership should be a corporate experience. The group is part of the process. Leadership is an activity, not a role. It is a process between people.
  • Myth: Power is a corrupting thing. Actually power is a very neutral thing. It is just something that is able to cause or effect change. It is how it is used, there is a stewardship issue. In Luke 7 you can see how Jesus contrasts with Simon. Power is a good thing to cultivate when you think of it as something we use to bring others into the conversation and involved in community.

She said that other myths are covered in her book.

I think it was Len Sweet who strongly suggested that we read about the body language of power in her book.

Alan Hirsch — ReJesus

Reformation is not the critical process, but refounding is. We don’t need to reform church, but we need to find and practice the way of the Founder.

Rebooting is a recalibrating process. This is just what needs to be done within the church, i.e., reboot the church. But we are in uncharted territory, because the model that has been our guide for 17 century’s, although good and effective in its day, will not work in our post-Christendom culture.

ReJesus — Getting back to Jesus. Taking us back to our founder. There is nothing more important to the church than rediscovering Him. It is Christology that will rejuvenate and recalibrate the church.

  • Jesus defines our understanding of God. It is not just that Christ is God-like, but that God is Christ-like.
  • Jesus set the model for discipleship. The gospels need to be our primary text for studying about Jesus and how he worked.
  • Jesus must be the center of church. How is it that people can say they love Jesus and not the church? It is because the church doesn’t reflect Jesus and his values.
  • Jesus must set our mission. What is it that we need to do to be like Jesus? We need to discover Jesus and not holiness. If we are going to reflect Jesus we should take up his values and our mission should reflect those values.
  • Jesus sets the agenda and model of ministry. (At this point we were three hours into the presentations and my laptop battery was spent because I forgot to turn off the WiFi function. So I didn’t capture anymore on this point.)

Len Sweet — So Beautiful: Divine Design for Life in the Church (due out in March)

To be honest, I didn’t find much to take note of in Len’s presentation and he was rushed for time. It may have also had to do with my lacking attention span.

Update: You can read the reaction of others here, here, here and here.

Got any reaction or comments to share?

A Morning With Dan Kimball

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I just got back from spending the morning, along with 140+ others, with Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, and author of “The Emerging Church” and “The Like Jesus, but Not the Church.” He was here in Portland as part of the George Fox University “Ministry in Contemporary Culture” series.

It is always fun to see a person live. You have this image of the person from pictures and podcasts, but they are never as you picture them. Dan is not tall :-).

The three hours of conversation covered pretty much what he deals with in “The Like Jesus, but Not the Church,” but it was good because you got to interact and also listen to his response to specific clarification questions.

In talking about what it means to be a church leader, here are three things Dan suggest:

1. We must see ourselves and the people of our churches as missionaries vs. having an evangelism department or program. The church becomes a worshiping community on a mission and church leaders become missional trainers.

2. We must become listeners to people and watchers of culture so we know the people in our community, not just those in our own Christian bubble and subculture.

3. Decisions for the whole church are then made by how they advance the missional purpose of the church rather than how they create a safer and happier Christian bubble and subculture.

Dan was optimistic about the time and culture we live in because people today are respectful and open to Jesus.

A major advantage we have today, is that in our culture virtually everyone has some basic knowledge of “Jesus” where they didn’t back in the Early Church time period. Today, when someone thinks of Jesus, the thoughts are generally very positive and people respect him, respect what they believe he stood for, even if they don’t know all his teachings or believe he rose from the dead. So, we have a very optimistic opportunity right now where people are open to talking about Jesus.

And let me insert here something from his book about what the younger emerging generation wishes your church were like.

  • I wish church were not just a sermon or a lecture, but a discussion.
  • I wish the church would respect my intelligence.
  • I wish the church weren’t about the church building.
  • I wish church were less programmed and allowed time to think and pray.
  • I wish the church were a loving place.
  • I wish the church cared for the poor and for the environment.
  • I wish the church taught more about Jesus.

Reaction and comment welcome.

Becoming a Positive Influence

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

A common characterization of the average evangelical church among my not-yet-Christians friends and acquaintances is that it is judgmental and negative. And I’ve got to tell you that I can see why so many think this — because countless are. As Bono said, “Christians are hard to tolerate; I don’t know how Jesus does it.”

Here some of the things I’ve heard or read:

    “All you do is focus on God’s wrath and punishment.”
    “You all hate homosexuals, don’t you.”
    “You condemn all other religions. It is arrogant of you to think you are the only way.”
    “You’re a sexist, male dominated organization.”
    “You’re against the environment and those who work to improve it.”
    “All I ever saw in the church was endless bickering over nonessential doctrine and man-made rules.”
    “Church! Why would I ever go there? I already feel terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”
    “I rarely go to church, because the church is just there for money.”

Whether you agree or not with these sentiments, it is the perception of the general public which I find amazing since we should be known for the exact opposite — those who glow with the fruit of the Spirit, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control.”

How did this happen? “This unflattering perception of the church and Christians comes from seeing Christians protesting on the streets with large signs telling people they are going to hell,” says Dan Kimball. “It comes from reading about various things Christians protest against, such as the teaching of evolution in the schools, or the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, or homosexual marriage. It comes from seeing Christians on television crediting God for natural disasters to punish sinners, and from being approached by Christians who ask leading questions to witness to them, putting them on the defensive and invading their privacy.”

What I’m not suggesting is that we abandon a call to repentance from sin and wrong living, but that we not make this the starting point for building bridges with the not-yet-Christian. At some point in time we have got to quit focusing all our efforts on what we are against and start being as concerned about what we are for, like the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed, the creation and the worth of every individual.

Let me remind you of something Jesus told us, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The starting point is positive good deeds which then brings about the glorification of God, and I believe openness on the part of not-yet-Christians to hear the gospel message.

If you want to examine the message you or your faith community may be communicating, consider these questions I’ve summarized from Dan Kimball’s book, “They Like Jesus, but Not the Church” (Zondervan, 2007, page 113).

1. If you were to look at the sermons of your church over a period of time, would you say they are more positive or negative in tone and content?

2. What is your congregation’s attitude toward those who hold beliefs different from yours on secondary doctrinal issues? How do you talk about other denominations or Christian groups?

3. How is your church known in your community? How do you think people in your town would describe your church and the people of your church? Do they even know you exist?

4. Are there any ways your church is involved in compassion and social justice projects both locally and globally, demonstrating that the church is a positive agent for change in the world?

5. If you were to ask those you associate with daily, both inside and outside of your home, whether your talk is judgmental and negative or loving and positive, what would they say?

6. You may say that you are loving and accepting, but if someone came in to your church and began following Jesus, can you honestly say that that would be your foremost concern, not what they look like or how they dress or whether they drink or smoke or what language they use?