Are we having a rummage sale?

2 01 2009

greatemergenceI’m so over the word “change” – I mean give it a rest – the Obama campaign has flat worn the word out.  Before tucking the word away, however, let me offer a couple observations: 1) Systemic cultural change was well in progress before Obama’s campaign – he simply picked a good wave to surf on; and 2) The level of change the Obama campaign talked about pales in comparison to what is actually going on in American cuture and the church (specifically the church in North America).

No one describes the current transformation of the church more comprehensively than Phyllis Tickle.  Her new book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, provides a view from 50,000 feet of what we are experiencing in this time of liminality.  Her assessment is bold but based upon an historical analysis and whether her conclusions are correct will only be known years from now.  But if she is right we are priviledged to be living (participating?) in a very transformative period for the church.

So what is the book about – what is the “rummage sale” thing?   Check out this short video introduction:

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Apologetics in post-modernity

1 01 2009

One of the statements made by Andy Stanley at the Catalyst Conference this fall keeps ringing in my head: “If you are over 45 years old, you aren’t going to have any good ideas. It’s your job to recognize the good ideas.” I take a statement like this as a challenge not another nail in the coffin for those of us in this age group. The challenge is to not submit to the comfort of just “doing church” but to press forward – learn new things and engage in new ways.

Well, Andy Stanley’s statement rang again today when I read a series of questions that John H. Armstrong used in a graudate class in apologetics he taught last month at Wheaton College. I think these are the type of questions that can really help us move toward engagement – they provide a good map about what we need to be learning and applying. John Armstrong credits these questions to Newbigin’s book Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt and Certainty in Christian Discipleship:

1. What are the questions that the postmodern person asks that were not asked 25 years ago?

2. What specific influence does Hinduism have upon the “new-age” movement in the West?

3. How can we speak about apologetics in a way that makes it accessible to ordinary people?

4. How do we approach the issue of evil with unbelievers?

5. Does conservative and fundamentalist Christianity actually pose a major problem for serious apologetics in today’s world and if so how do we deal with this problem?

6. Do Marxism and radical Islam have anything in common and if so how do we address these problems?

7. How do we respond to the “So What?” responses of many postmodern hearers?

8. Does our commitment to seeking justice and mercy in society act as a form of apologetics and if so how can we do this better?

9. How do we change every sphere of society?

10. In what ways is the Christian faith “public truth” as Newbigin cogently argues?

11. Is the community of Christ our greatest apologetic and if so what does unity and John 17 have to do with this in actual practice?





Penn and the real deal

29 12 2008

I saw this clip on a couple other blogs yesterday and thought it was worth posting here because it speaks volumns about our lack of love and authenticity with people.  Penn Jillette is a well known atheist who not only advocates his beliefs but does so vigorously (check out this atheistblogger.com post).  So what do you suppose would happen if a Christian prostelitized him?  Well, it all depends… I was both amazed and sobered listening to what he had to say about a recent experience:





New leadership skill set

29 12 2008

The vast majority of leaders surveyed by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) agreed that the definition of leadership has changed in the last 5 years.  This survey was the central part of a 2003 international study designed to forcast trends in the field of leadership.

The results of the study were published in 2007 in a report titled The Changing Nature of Leadership. One of the researchers, Andre Martin, comments that “[t]he most striking difference between the skills that were deemed most important in 2002 and those considered to be vital in the future is a new emphasis on skills that are tied to relationships and inter-connectedness. The new leadership skill set emphasizes participative management, building and mending relationships and change management.”

The research concludes  that leadership will continue to shift over the next 5 years. The leadership skills that are expected to move to the highest priority are leading in ways that focus on flexibility, collaboration and crossing boundaries. Leaders with the capacity to build relationships, collaborate and effectively lead change will be critical to the long-term success of organizations.

Chuck Warnock correlated this report to the church with the following observations:

1) 21st century challenges require adaptive, not technical, changes. Adaptive changes are systemic, and require new solutions that we may not have thought of yet. Technical changes are improvements or adjustments to strategies we already know. Sunday School might be a good example. Does Sunday School need an overhaul (technical change) or is there a better strategy for teaching the Bible in the 21st century than “classes” on Sunday morning (adaptive change).
2) Develop a new skill set for leading. Participation, building/maintaining relationships and change management replace the old skill set of resourcefulness, decisiveness (“lone-ranger decision-making”) and doing whatever it takes.
3) Reward teamwork, collaboration and innovation. Collaborative, participatory teamwork emerges as the preferred strategy of the future and successful leadership will reward shared team efforts.

 





Leadership is spatial

18 12 2008

“The primary work of leadership is to continually stand in the place (space) where it is compelled to ask the question of what God is about among this group of people who comprise this local church in this specific context at this particular time.”

-Alan Roxburgh





The Fine Line

18 12 2008

thefineline2Reaching people is less about knowing the answers and more about relating to the questions. But living out how to relate well to people in the world – how to be in the world but not of the world – is tricky.

We have a sense there are lines that should not be crossed but I find those lines much more clear in theory than reality- at least in the reality of loving people in need.

Kary Oberbrunner’s new book The Fine Line went on sale this week and based upon the reviews I’ve seen is quite helpful at shining some light on this oft murky matter. Below is a short intro video for the book:





Thomas Merton

13 12 2008

Please avoid reading anything written by Thomas Merton – you will probably not sleep well. Thomas Merton exposes more than most of us want to see – he looks at life very seriously in stark contrast to most of us busily being busy. I’ve started reading Merton and not I’m sure what would be safe to post … well – here’s something short that may not cause much harm:

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. 

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the end of Thomas Merton’s life (1915-1968 ) which is being commemorated, in part, by a documentary produced by Morgan Atkinson that will air on PBS beginning tomorrow. Locally WFSU-TV didn’t place it very well on their schedule so set your DVR to record at either 2 or 4 am Monday.