Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Laura Cunningham on Jan Richardson's Advent Door blog

Yes, Virginia, there really is a way – some beautiful ways, in fact – for faith and technology to come together in Advent. One of the highlights of my Advent this year has been collage artist Jan Richardson’s blog, Advent Doors. Her creative reflections on lectionary passages, both visual and verbal have moved me in both personal meditations and Sunday worship this year. Let this seed simply function as a link for you to experience her work yourself! Once you’ve discovered the Advent series, make sure you explore her other "books of hours". Expect a contemporary contemplative take on an ancient liturgical art...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chris Shelton on Savvy

Marcus Borg is thoughtful and scholarly. Peter Rollins twists parabolic plots with skill and wisdom. Barbara Brown Taylor soothes, inspires, and stirs. But, every now and then (and surely I’m not alone in this), I want – I need – to read something that didn’t come from the Christianity shelves in the bookstore. Of course, as we all know, “bidden or unbidden, God is present” – and this is true even in Barnes and Noble or on Amazon – so sometimes Jesus shows up even when I’m not looking for him. Thanks be to God.

This month, my escape was into the land of Kansaska-Nebransas where the Beaumont family is anticipating a 13th birthday. Mibs is about to become a teenager – and in this curious clan, 13 comes with a special, often uncontrollable, always surprising gift – her savvy. The book itself is called Savvy, written by Ingrid Law – and you’ll find it in the Young Reader’s corner of the bookstore. Mibs’ brothers have savvies that cause windstorms and electrical shock. Her grandmother could collect radio waves in jars…and Mibs hopes her new-coming savvy will help her save her father, who’s just been in a terrible auto accident and is now in the hospital.

The plot is a delight – a heart-warming and goofy adventure that unfolds while riding (of all strange things) a pink Bible delivery bus. (Hmm…there’s a metaphor waiting to be found in here, what would Peter Rollins say?)

The whole book is a vision seed – and well worth the couple of delightful hours it would take to read. The invitation is to recognize your own savvy, and to live into it, with all its challenges, quirks and possibility.

From the book:

Momma said that lots and lots of ordinary folk have a savvy, but most simply don’t recognize it for what it is. “Some people know they feel different, Mibs,” Momma told me. “But most don’t know quite what makes them that way. One person might make strawberry jam so good that no one can get enough of it. Another might know just the right time to plant corn so that it’s juicy and sweet as sugar on the hottest day of summer…”

Maybe yours is preaching. Maybe you know just the words to say when someone is hurting. Maybe you help your Session make sense of the budget. Maybe you have a light people can see without opening their eyes. Paul said something about this, “there are varieties of gifts…” after all.

Shouldn’t we all live into our Savvy?

Harriet Sandmeier on The Orthodox Heretic

Audacious! Provocative! Compelling!

British author Peter Rollins captures our unsuspecting consciences with the first words in the introduction to his most recent publication, and propels us into spiritual introspection and often mind-blowing recognition as we proceed through his insistence that we pay attention to the unspeakable. Such was my experience with this small book of thirty-three modern-speak parables and their accompanying Rollins commentaries. Rollins, indeed, called out from these pages for me to “get real, sister!”

Rob Bell has written of these parables, “Everybody needs to hear these. And now you can.” You can read, hear, and absorb individually or within a group, but whatever you do, DO read, hear, and absorb! I predict that your experience will lead to a clearer, if far more challenging, walk in true Gospel shoes.

Prepare to be startled! Prepare to be accosted spiritually! Prepare to face Christ as Rollins presents Him in our face.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Peter Surgenor on "Cause Marketing"

Cause Marketing is becoming an important force in our country.  Pink for October is Breast Cancer awareness emphasis this month.  Even a quick wander through Baseball and Football during the first weekend of October demonstrated a large pink presence from shoes to hats.  Airline crews are wearing pink (some well and others not) and making announcements during flights.  

The American Camp Association, which includes our own Holmes, is beginning a campaign, “Because of Camp…”  (http://www.CampParents.org/becauseofcamp/) to highlight the gifts of a camp experience.  

The United Methodist Church has launched 10,000 Doors  (www.10thousanddoors.org) to rethink church.  

As Presbyterians or Hudson River Presbyterians what is our cause?  How is our experience of God helping to identify our cause?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Steve Huston shares from Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger

Since we in the Vision Ministry Team have been talking about missional leadership here's what Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger wrote in a recent article "Simply Missional":

Dell Computers has shattered the warehouse myth. Most companies love big warehouses. They feel safe with lots of inventory on large shelves in massive warehouses, always ready for that next order. In their minds, the well-stocked warehouse confirms the belief they will always be able to meet customer demands and customer expectations.
Dell disagrees with the warehouse approach. In the technology business, the product literally rots in value on the shelves. Because Dell does not want their best resources on the shelves, they only keep two hours of inventory. Which means that if you order a PC on dell.com, the parts will not arrive to Dell until two hours before your PC is shipped to you.
Dell wants their resources out there, on the street. Not in the warehouse, where the resources merely gather dust and produce no impact. So Dell has designed a very strategic process to move their resources to the street.
Sadly many churches are betting their futures on the warehouse myth. Most churches build big warehouses and shelve a bunch of Christians (those rows look suspiciously like shelves). They design attractive programs to "retain" people in the sacred warehouse, keep precise records of how much inventory (people) is on the shelves, and brag about their warehouses being constantly open. And warehouse managers love to show other warehouse managers their newest warehouses while dreaming together of bigger and better warehouses.

God is calling churches to shatter the warehouse myth, to change their warehouses into strategic distribution centers, where people are distributed as salt and light to the world--sending them out on mission. Some churches are strategically challenging their people to be out there, and these churches have a strategic and simple process that moves people from the warehouse to the street. These churches are simple and missional. They are simply missional.
We need all types of missional churches--big, small, traditional, contemporary, with country music (did we say that?), hip-hop, some with guitars, some with organs. We need churches in homes and churches in well-marked buildings.
The container is not the issue. The issue is not staying contained. All types of churches should seek to release their people to be missionaries in the culture. And all types of churches need a discipleship process based on knowing and doing. We believe having a process for discipleship is essential in any effective church model and that process must contain an equal amount of lab work and classroom study. We believe any effective church model will challenge and cause their people to be missional.

As you read this, Dell's parts are being moved to the street. Out of the warehouse. What about the people in your church? They are your greatest resource. Are they being distributed to the world around them? Do you have a simple process to move them to missional involvement?

Susan Andrews on The Great Emergence

In her wonderful book The Great Emergence, Phyllis Tickle describes the full scale "rummage sales" that the Christian Church has undergone every 500 years or so since the birth of Christ. Shaped by and responsive to large cultural and historical forces, the Church has been changed by context - and the shifts in authority, practice and community life have been radical in every instance. One age must clean out the ghosts and relics in the attic, so the house of one's forbears may be sacred space and story for contemporary times.

100CE - The end of the Apostolic Age, where fresh faith blossomed through personal testimony, apostolic authority, and the stories and narratives of to eye witness events. Second, third, fourth and fifth century authority is found secondarily in creeds and councils, culminating in Chalcedon in 451.

590CE - Gregory the Great becomes Pope, just as Dark Ages are ushered in by the fall of the Roman Empire. Gregory's authority institutes and extends to a broad system of monasteries and convent that solidify the faith and preserve the tradition.

1054CE - The Great Schism, when Constantinople and Rome went separate ways in terms of doctrine, papal power, and liturgical tradition. Authority becomes vested in the Church/Pope.

1517CE - Luther's 95 theses ushers in the Great Reformation, where a decaying church institution is challenged by the authority of the scripture, printed in the vernacular, ushering in the idea of the priesthood of all believers.

2000CE - The Great Emergence - where technology, globalization, intellectual scientism, institutional and familial decay lead to an anti-intellectual, post-modern revolution and the unfolding of a relational, mystical, emergent church - based on the fluid authority of the Holy Spirit expressed through relationships, experiences, and missional engagements in the world.

MY THOUGHTS:This paradigm of the half century "rummage sale" is liberating in several ways. First of all the radical changes are inevitable - wrought by trends and historical winds we cannot control. Or to put it theologically, since our Sovereign God is in charge, God is in the midst of these massive changes. We simply cannot hold on to "old church" - and if we try, we are standing in the way of the continuing work of resurrection. And when looked at from above, these historical shifts during the past 2000 years have been very good for the church. By letting that which is decayed or dysfunctional die, the Church rediscovers the mother lode - the Gospel of grace and love and justice at the heart of our faith. By getting rid of the junk, we find the true treasures and reclaiming them as the family jewels. And we are turning our energies toward telling the stories, not dusting the archives.

So, do we need to get rid of our buildings - so there is no place to store the junk? I wonder.....