Archive for June, 2005

A little nervous

Saturday, June 25th, 2005


It’s late on Saturday night. I need to go to sleep because I have
duties at all three services tomorrow morning. (I hate the pressure of
getting enough sleep on Saturday night!) I guess you could say I am a
bit nervous about the week ahead. I am deaning Senior High One camp at
our conference camping center. The actual job isn’t that intimidating,
but I have to speak three times this week. I wish I was better at
multitasking. When so many messages are staring me down, especially
when they are disconnected thematically, I have a hard time giving the
proper amount of focused attention to each one. I jump from thought to
thought, adding notes here and there, but struggling to wrap my mind
around the full picture for each individual message. We will see what

Tonight I also feel a concern for how "ungrounded" I feel right now.
Since coming to Mansfield in February, I have had a wonderful time. It
has been challenging and rewarding. I have appreciated the intellectual
exercise of trying to grab hold and transform the culture of the
organization, but I just don’t feel like I am a part of the community
yet. I feel orphaned… That word may be too dramatic, but at the
moment at least it seems appropriate. I feel like a pastor without a
flock… a shepherd who doesn’t quite know his "new" sheep. I know that
disconnect is due in large part to geography… I just pray that the
distance that I feel, and I know Steph feels, will be better very soon.
I am married to an incredible woman whose patience and support feel
limitless to me, but I want something better for my family soon. I
appreciate your prayers as we wait for the ability to make Mansfield
more than just a place of employment, but our home as well.

So, there are some random thoughts. What’s on my heart tonight…
Tomorrow, camp begins. How incredible and glorious God’s sense of humor
can be… that my life would come full circle… now I am the dean of
SHI.  We’ll see how this goes. Matt better bring the funny. Otherwise,
we are in big trouble if  the "witty banter" depends on me.

A Hero?

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005


When Pope John Paul died in April, I was leading a High School youth
conference in Fort Worth. Our leadership team had discussed at the
beginning of the event what we would do if the Pope did pass away
during the event. How would we convey to our "protestant" youth that
this was a big deal for the true "catholic" or universal church? I
spent a great deal of time that weekend thinking about how I would
convey this to the students. After we found out that Pope had in
fact passed away, I approached the next gathering session with the
awareness that something needed to be said, but not knowing exactly how
to say it… but luckily the words came… I said to the students that
in every generation the community of faith needs heroes. We need great
leaders who challenge us to believe that life can be different…. that
faith matters… that this precious "gospel" idea has real life
implications for how we live. John Paul was one of those men. He was a
hero for the church and his generation.

I write all this today because I read this morning that another one
of the heroes of John Paul’s generation is nearing the end of his
public ministry. Billy Graham told ABC news that his current crusade in
New York would probably be his last at least in America. He is
considering an offer to come to London at a later date. Six decades of
public ministry and witness are drawing to a close as the 86 year old
Graham struggles with hearing loss, Parkinson’s disease, prostate
cancer, and other health complications.

I hope the church grasps the significance of these two events that
are happening relatively close to one another. One generation of heroes
is passing away… but the people of God still need heroes of the

So who will it be for us? Who will challenge and inspire to continue
to move, grow, and breath life into our communities? Who will walk out
into the areas of the unknown and invite us forward into a better
understanding of the "full" life of Christ? Who will be our heroes?

Click here for the ABC news article.

Professional Monopolies

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

0500137490900_2Is it time for us to begin protesting in the streets against the
professional sports monolopies that are allowed to exist in this
country because of congressional support? More specifically, isn’t it
time for us to let the NBA know that they are killing basketball? Did
you hear that David Stern, you are killing basketball! The filth that
has been labeled as "professional basketball," is one of the most
disgusting sights in sports today. Not only is the presentation poor
(Has Al Michaels ever watched a basketball game before?), but the
quality of play is poor is well. As Dale Hansen said today on the
Ticket, "I don’t even know why they have referrees in the NBA." I’ll
tell you why Dale. Somebody has to fix the game so that the series goes
7 games and the owners make more money!

It’s disgusting, but the NBA’s
stupidity could be a huge money making opportunity for someone else.
Like DirecTV or Dish Network. Here’s an idea for a new sport’s package.
Show us some European Basketball. All of the most entertaining players
in the NBA are Euro’s anyway, perhaps because they still coach and play
basketball overseas, and opening up that market might allow more of
them to play from home rather than be subjected to the "rugby" rules of
the NBA.

The "Showtime" Lakers were the greatest team in the history of
professional basketball… but for some reason David Stern and the rest
of the NBA nuts have forgotten about them… all they can remember is
some guy named Jordan… And their failed memories are killing the
game… NBA… your problem isn’t your marketing… or your "bad boy"
image… or video games
your problem is you have forgotten how the game was once played… You
have forgotten what made the game great. Bring on the Euro’s… These
Americans are screwing it all up!

Here’s what the NY Times has to say about the ratings for this year’s finals.

By the way… are you tired of having to register at every site you want to read an article on? Visit to bypass these annoying login systems!

A huge announcement!

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Maybe not huge… but an announcement nonetheless. This little weblog has a new home at Either site name will continue to work, but the new one might be a bit easier to remember. Plus, I just like buying domain names. In case you are wondering, I used I purchased our student ministry domain from them (before their risque superbowl commercial) and have been very pleased with their service.

Finishing Reimagining Spiritual Formation

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

The great risk of the church is not in losing our
traditions; it is losing our ability to reimagine. I really don’t know what to
do with the approach to faith that tells us all the answers have been
discovered and we are simply to apply those answers to our lives. I don’t know
how we are supposed to worship with songs, prayers, and confessions created for
other times and places. And I really don’t know how to live out an
understanding of the gospel that says I don’t have a part to play in what God
is doing in the world.

(Spiritual Formation, 139)

I am increasingly convinced that what matters in our efforts
is our willingness to experiment and try – to develop expressions of faith that
are fully of our day and time, recognizing that our efforts will be adapted and
changed in years to come. Our role is to do our part in our day and time. It’s
not important to me whether someone is still singing our songs or using our
couches 15 years from now (my hope is that they will sing their own songs and
figure out their own seating). It’s the spirit of exploring, of seeking, of
risking that I hope will inspire future generations. Our duty to those who
follow is to leave a legacy of faith and not particular programs.


(Spiritual Formation, 158)

Creativity in God’s Kingdom

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

  Couldn’t Stand the Weather 
  Originally uploaded by notraces.

The gospel is packed with the implication that we have something to give because of our redemption. We are told to go, to make, to build, to speak, to touch, to feed, to create. Those who lived in the time following the death and resurrection of Jesus went out and created something. They formed faith communities that changed the way they lived and ate and used their money. Though they believed that Jesus was coming back for them soon, they lived in such a way as to make their world more like God’s Kingdom. Our calling is no different. We aid the Spirit in the work of the Kingdom by making all things better in our own time and place.

This understanding of the story entails that creativity is a central activity in the Kingdom of God. Imagine the kingdom of Goas the creative process of God reengaging in all that we know and experience. Imagine what it means to wonder if Jesus used so many metaphors  for the Kingdom of God not because he couldn’t find the right words, but because the Kingdom is like so many things, and so many things are like the Kingdom. When we employ creativity to make this world better, we participate with God in the re-creation of the world. And the habits and practices we acquire in the process of being co-(re)creators form us in the way of the life of God.

(Spiritual Formation 132-133)

In touch with today?

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Could it be that the Methodists are catching the fire of the emergent conversation? Who knows, but at least they are writing about it! Alan sent me this link for a UMC article on the Emerging church and the recent convention. Thank God the convention was in Nashville!

What just might be killing the church…

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

  hear our prayers 
  Originally uploaded by johannal.

What just might be killing the church is the idea that this whole Jesus, God, Holy Spirit, Love, joy, serve your neighbor thing is just a good idea. What just might be sabatoging our efforts is the notion that this form of religiosity is simply meant to make us feel better. What just might be sucking away our life is the belief that Jesus simply taught us some good stuff and had some nice thoughts on how to live life.

Christianity has been drained of it’s power if we remain encamped around the idea that Jesus came just to make our lives a little  better. Jesus came to make our lives holy. Jesus came to reorient the focus of our intentions, thoughts, and actions. Jesus came to provide the pattern of faithful living, something far beyond just making our lives better… at least not according to our definition. Our civic religion has infiltrated the gospel to such a great extent that the American dream is hard to separate from the Christian dream, and when those dreams remain unrealized, we can only seem to blame one thing. Spirituality. For many of us, God looks more like a genie from a bottle rather than our Lord and King.

The truth is that Christ does offer a "better" way of living… we’ve just screwed up the definiton of better… and until we rediscover the "absolute" truth behind that call of sacrificial living, we will remain as we have been… bleeding… waiting for someone to bring a fresh pint of life back into our community. And that may be what it takes to save us. Some faithful people from within, and some radical thinkers from the outside to inspire us to believe again in something more than just a good idea.

Wednesday, June 15th, 2005

I finally took this theological assessment test. This might also be a great activity for us at the Young Pastor’s Forum. We could talk through these answers. I guess I am in the right place since my answers reflect Wesleyan thought. I would really like to hear some of the other responses to the test. You can take the test by clicking here. My results are posted below.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God’s grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Classical Liberal


Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal


Roman Catholic






What’s your theological worldview?
created with

Topics for First Young Pastor’s Forum

Tuesday, June 14th, 2005

Membership covenant (Does the emergent church need a new understanding of membership? Can we allow people to covenant with the community without a confession of faith? What does it mean to be a "full" member of the church? Is it appropriate or counterproductive to have levels of membership?)

Social contract being clergy and lay (see Spiritual Transformation 120-121) Pagitt talks about the shift from the pastor as teacher to the community as teacher.

What is your definition of church "success" or church "health?" How is that definition being shaped and changed through your reflection on the emerging church?

How does the emergent conversation challenge and/or affirm our wesleyan understanding of theology?

If you have additional topic ideas, add a comment.