Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Reflections on Tony Jones' "The New Christians"

I want to take an excerpt out Tony Jones' book.
It is a painful paragraph.
Let's throw it out and let's deal with it.

"Potential mainline preachers have to pick a flavor of Christianity early on in their careers-Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, Quaker, Baptist-the list could go and on. Like ice cream, these are the main flavors, but there are also all kinds of exotic variations-Baptist Chip, Baptist swirls, .... The pastor then becomes a one-flavor guy. He goes to that seminary, learns that theology, buts into that pension plan, and goes to that annual trade show. This is not to disparage erstwhile pastors-they really have no choice; they don't get to pick a new flavor on a whim. That's how the system of getting to be a pastor is set up; those are the rules by which the players are bound to play."

He goes on to tell the truth. Nobody cares about denominations anymore and mainline influence has waned under its bureaucratic mass.

Two thoughts.
1.) Bingo! That is absolutely the truth. I pray for Disciples Pension plan regularly.

2.) There was a moment when I wanted to drop out of Disciples. I searched to where I would go. I am not comfortable with the non-denominational denomination. I do not have street cred in those circles. I am not excited about Methodism and working with a Bishop and the third testament, the Discipline. So, where to go. I decided that my own tribe of folks Disciples was where God had called me to minister. The process of reformation needed to take place in this group and I need to work on that reformation.

As I read Stone and Campbell and live that tradition. I get the sense that they would agree with Jones' assessment of mainline Christianity. The problem with mainline Christianity is that we have divided into denominations and those are as Campbell would say 'a sin.' It has divided the church into schools, theologies, and ecclesiologies. I am a product of TCU and Brite Divinity School. I support both financially, because I seek a gentle reformation and I love TCU football.

The problem with seminary is that there is an expectation that we will have a job at the end of the tunnel. We give 3 years of our lives and lots of money to be educated and then there are jobs that do not pay enough for the education given. I think the education is important, but the reality is that many of us will have to work part time. Some of us will be resign positions, be fired, or quit. There is not a guarantee that another church will hire us even though we have skills and gifts for ministry. So, we have to work our own path to serve Jesus Christ.

My solution, as folks beholden to denominations, we need to challenge our leadership to remember that on the ground in the local church few care about general and regional structures. They are seeking a Jesus who will heal, liberate, and sustain them in their daily lives. They are seeking a path that is illuminated in the darkness. We guide folks down that path.

What happens if the Pension fund goes belly up like NBA? What are you going to do?
What happens if Church Extension folds?
Do we keep with this denomination or do we leave?
What keeps you committed to your denomination?
Is it the support of the bureaucracy or is it something greater and grander?

Why did I stay with my tribe? I believe that Disciples allows me to have conversations across lines of doctrine and creed. It allows me to hold to two fundamentals Jesus and the Bible. It gives me the freedom to work my own path of ministry. It is a grand tradition that provides some meaning. I need no Creeds. I need other books than the Bible. I need that freedom to converse with a majority of the world without the baggage of fundamentals that I have to hold onto, creeds I must confess, or rites and traditions that have no meaning. I believe that Disciples can help reform the church again.

If emergent is truly a reformation. Disciples need to join the conversation, because we have deconstructed Christianity once before. We can help do it again.

Fearless Joy,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where to begin

When emergent began, I was there. Leadership Network saw Gen-X coming. Willow Creek had issues with attracting younger generations. There was a problem and there were folks working on the issues. What happened was that folks said, "The world is changing and we have to engage the culture or we will be irrelevant." I comprehended that and I swallowed it.

My initial intrigue with Emergent was the smells and bells of worship. Bring in a screen to replace the stained glass windows. Work at it. I built the technology and brought it, but folks did not flock to it. Frustrating. I tried to be cool, too cool, too hip.

I switched churches and instead of bringing my emergent background, I got caught in my own issues of recovery. Recovery became for me the guiding force. 4 years in recovery and they have been the four best years of my life.

Now, I am in a new situation and I feel call back to engage the emergent issues. Not from technology or practice, but theology. Theology (who is God), missiology (what is the mission of the communty of faith) and ecclesiology (how is a community organized) guide it.

I want to address some of those issues from my Disciples of Christ background. How do we as Disciples handle the issues of emerging. I think we can easily say, "Emerging is cool, we are on board if it attracts young folks." However, Gen-X leaders and emergent theology carry sledgehammers. Post Modernism deconstructs.

In the midst of that deconstruction, I find some key Disciples ideals.

1.) Stripping or restoring the church so that faith makes sense daily.
2.) Freedom of interpretation of scripture.
3.) Ecumenical bent. I can learn from Pentecostals as much as my Disciple colleagues.

Over the next couple of weeks, I want to explore these things and invite folks into dialogue.

Fearless Joy,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

church basement roadshow

A great deal of fun.
Need to go see Doug, Tony, and Mark.

Pictures to come.

Fearless joy,

Monday, June 16, 2008

A cup of redo

I hang out at Starbucks and I will be rather unapolegetic about it. All the haters of corporate coffee...get over it. It is the closest place next to my house.

I get free wifi there...don't know how, but I do. It works.

At my local Starbucks, they know me there. I show up and the Grande Americano is going. Except when the new person works the register.

"Your name please," says the youngling.


There is a moment when the Sharpie just is pressed still against the cup.

"You don't know Guido" says the shift leader, "Everybody knows Guido"

The youngling begins the struggle to right the name on.

Then at the counter, "REDO"

I picked up my cup with "REDO" emblazoned on the side and laughed.

That is God's grace is it not? We all get a chance to "REDO" with Jesus, that is the promise.

I got a cup of Redo and savored it.

On Sunday I went and got Starbucks cups and handed them out with the "REDO" printed on the side.

"May you find Jesus the barista who serves a cup of 'Redo' this week when you need it."

Fearless Joy,
Guido in need of "redo" Climer

Monday, June 02, 2008

Jeff Cordiner writes

In X saves the World.
The media "obssesses about the mating habits of AARP members."

Guido concludes
Let us says sing together a new song..."Muerto Viagra!!!!"