Thursday, July 31, 2008

What do we offer?

What does our church offer the community.
In our world of church consumerism, who has the best band, best Children's ministry, cleverest preacher, best small groups, best lattes, etc. what is our goal? Lives transformed.

How do we do that, the right amount of foam or baddest music? I don't think that is it. Church baristas will not have the skills of the neighborhood barista and may lack the warmth of my barista John as well. Music will be rock but for what.

I was reminded of the goal by Simon Tugwell, "We had thought of God as the dispenser of all good things we could possibly desire; but in a very real sense, God has nothing to offer but himself."


Our task as a church is to point, promote, lift up Jesus. If we can be the good news, share the good news, be like Christ, and make communion with Jesus our primary goal then we are doing the right thing. Without Jesus, we are just people with crappy coffee and jammin' music that changed lyrics from sex to God without changing hearts.

God let Disciples of Christ-Visalia be a conduit for one thing, Jesus. sola Jesus.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dark Knight Review

A few thoughts

1.) The Joker is a chaotic villian. Not really seeking to gain anything, but seeking to destroy everything. I like that type of villian, because that is my image of evil. Conservative Christians see a one world approach as found in the Left Behind series, but I see evil much more destructive in the form of chaos than creativity.
2.) Political statement. If Batman is America then Joker is the terrorist forces of evil America fights, it paints a stark picture. There is not much difference between evil and good. There were conversations that read through that lens paint a stark picture. Batman breaks the rules and resorts to torture to save Harvey and in the end he cannot save both. The movie expresses the point of view, even in the moments when torture is used we still have no control. Even with the information, can we really save everybody. Political conseratives should hate Batman. Religious conservatives will hopefully be informed by a more real sense of evil. I think the political interpretation is one of the lenses that the Dark Knight is to be seen. It is uncomfortable, but provoking.
3.) There is no messianic figure. Harvey Dent becomes Two-face. Batman breaks the rules. The institutions are flawed. We have no ability to save ourselves, but we always seek scapegoats.
4.) Violence. Violence is seen as the only solution. Don't we want a world where violence is scorned. There was a day when Barney was given one bullet by Andy.

Fearless Joy,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thought on Rob Bell

I think Rob Bell is trying to reform the church's thinking in a way that Martin Luther did 500 years ago. Of course Luther did that with 95 theses on the Wittenberg door, that was mass media. I wonder if Rob will stop the NOOMA series at 95. Rob sends out 95 theses about the church and the church bought it, literally. Hmm, do you want to participate in such a reformation?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Does emergent work in Appalachia

Question I have had for awhile?
Does emergent Christianity work in the context of a culture that is impoverished and undereducated, aka Appalachia?

The Fresno Bee ran article yesterday (July 17) stating that the South Central Valley of California was a worse place to live than Appalachia. The radio talk shows which have a conservative bent were ambivalent about it. (podcast) I have struggled with this issue.

In the Valley there are places of wealth, not extreme wealth. However, as I look on careerbuilder for jobs, the jobs are not high paying jobs. There is not much opportunity. There is a concern about brain drain. The interesting part of the study to me is the dichotomy of California. In the report, some of the higher ranked places for education, livability, and life expectancy were in California and likewise some of the lowest were in California.

Visalia is that way as well. There is a dichotomy of rich and poor that live alongside each other. I am not sure how well the interaction is going? Do the wealthy see the poor as people, a nuisance or a project?

As a minister and minister with an emergent bent, I look at where emergent is thriving. Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Kansas City, Dallas, Capital Area, et al. Those are places ranked higher on the well-being index. The central valley is low on the index? Question, does Appalachia need an emergent church? Does a largely undereducated, underemployed, predominantly Hispanic culture find use for emergent ministry and Christians?

This is a missionary context and I am here not by own calling but God's. I would be in Newport, Oregon outside outside of the Rogue Brewery. I am trying to understand this mission field better. Sometimes, I wish that I had a couple of hundred thousand and I could build a barn church based solely on the attractional model but God does not let me go that route. So, can an emergent church be useful and make a significant impact in Appalachia or the San Joaquin Valley? If it can, what might it look like?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Diversion sort of

Bill Mallonee former front man for Vigilantes of Love found himself in my house on July 8.
A few highlights of the event.
1.) The wide gathering of people. I invited folks from groups, church, and running to come be part of the event. Also, Bill attracted some folks who had followed him for a while. It was a good crowd for our house.
2.) It was hot. Felt bad for Muriah and Bill they travelled all day. After a long day of travel, my son had a lot of questions and insights about gear and instruments. They even being a little road weary, worked with him with great grace, patience, and care.
3.) A few folks were overwhelmed at how good Bill was. Which made me think, "Hey, I don't invest in things that suck." I think that will be my mantra in ministry. "Listen, if I am asking you to go to this won't suck." Despite the Gen-X review of not sucking, Muriah and Bill were great. He handled the crowd very well.
4.) I was reminded as he was playing and I softly sang his lines how much I love the way Bill puts together words. He writes 50 songs a year and not all 50 are great, but on an album I am guaranteed that two or three will pierce my heart. Every once in awhile, he will make me laugh.
5.) I love my wife. Amy allowed for this to happen and was delighted to see it work. In the past, she would have set up road blocks. I think after 16 years perhaps we are growing and trusting a bit.
6.) Richard Rodriquez is awesome, a running buddy, he worked with my youngest in the back room building legos as Bill sang. He helped out tremendously.
7.) If Bill makes it through your town make sure you check him out. He is worth it. This is my fifth time to see him. His music has healed wounds in me, challenged me, and comforted me several times in the last dozen years. I think he can do that for you.
8.) How this ties into Emergent. It was in 1996 at Mt. Hermon that I first heard Bill play with Jake the bassist from VOL. Bill and Mark Driscoll talked about his music engaging culture from a Christian perspective. Bill is part of the journey for me into emergent thinking.