Category Archives: responses

Andy, Andy, Andy…

Three weeks ago, those of us around Hamilton, Ontario had the opportunity to engage with Andy Crouch over a three day period. We found ourselves immersed in Andy’s enthusiastic vision for God’s people to engage the resources God has entrusted to us to create culture in such a way that the most vulnerable in our communities might flourish. What follows are a few short summaries and some of the lingering thoughts & questions that have stuck with me since then. Continue reading

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Other People’s Thoughts: From Undercurrent to Mainstream?

IMG_0300Among the refreshing waters of the missional church movement, a few voices are drawing attention to an undercurrent of concern. This concern surfaced a few times in the converstations surrounding the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference last week. One person, who was following the various #MRSC13 tweets, simply asked about the demographics, noting that the speaker list was primarily (though, not exclusively) white, males. This same theme was lamented by Danielle Rowaan (‏@DanielleRowaan“Hoping that as we dream of a better missional future for the Western church @ #MRSC13 we include the voices of women. #alwaysreforming Voicing a similar perspective, Kyuboem Lee (@kyuboem)  tweeted: “Q I wish I could’ve asked @ #mrsc13: How can missional convo esc fate of academic fad if not done w subdominant cultures in urban contexts?”  Continue reading

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Reflections on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 2

Calvin Seminary recently hosted the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference. The conference brought together Christopher Wright, Tom Wright, Mike Goheen, and Darrell Guder along with a well-rounded group of workshop leaders to facilitate dialogue on how a missional reading of scripture impacts various aspects of living as God’s people. In part 1 of this reflection, I posted some of my summaries and responses to what grabbed my attention from the first day of plenaries and workshops.

This post reflects the happenings of Day 2 at this conference. I did not stay for the panel discussion at the conclusion of the conference – though I heard I really missed out on a meaningful and encouraging dialogue. Word from Mike Goheen (@MikeGoheenSays) is that audio from the conference will be available on Calvin Sem’s website some time next week.

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A Few Thoughts on A Missional Reading of Scripture – Day 1

This post covers Day 1 of the A Missional Reading of Scripture Conference. My reflections on Day 2 can be found here

I’m spending today and tomorrow at the A Missional Reading of Scripture conference at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, MI. Michael Goheen has pulled together the line up for this conference, giving space to N. T. Wright, Christopher Wright, and Darrell Guder to share their perspectives on the way mission shapes God’s word and God’s people. Perhaps, the brilliance of the conference, however, is found not in the big names, but in the three streams that shape the space between the plenary sessions. These streams focus on the relationship of A Missional Reading of Scripture and Preaching, and the Local Congregation, and on Theological Reflection on a Missional Hermeneutic. I’m planning to spend most of my time in the Local Congregation stream as it looks like it will have a fair bit of overlap between my current academic and pastoral work.

Throughout the next two days, I’ll add a few thoughts and reactions to what catches my attention in the conference. While this won’t be a live blog, I’ll keep this post going as a running commentary with updates throughout my time here. If you’re on twitter, you can follow the larger conference dialogue at #MRSC13. Continue reading

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No individual missional Christians

In a recent post, Scott McKnight sketched an outline of a lecture he gave on the Mission of God. I appreciated his attention to missional identity being rooted in the Trinity and in God’s sending.  It’s a good foundation for understanding the grounding of our inclusion in God’s mission. From this foundation, Scott transitions to consider how to identify a missional Christian. It’s to these reflections on what it looks like to be a missional Christian that I have been reflecting this week. In all fairness to Scott, I have not heard the lecture nor is this post the only thing he has every written on being missional. Yet, what struck me about Scott’s sketch of God’s mission was what appears to be left out of his caricature of a missional Christian.  Continue reading

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A well thought out post…

I was on twitter this morning. I usually check it most mornings, even when I don’t tweet something new. This morning, I saw a tweet from Leonard Sweet  (@lensweet) mentioning a colleague’s blog on discipleship. I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about discipleship in our church lately and how to cultivate a culture of missional discipleship. So Sweet’s tweet caught my attention. I clicked the link and was drawn in quite quickly. It’s honestly one of the more well thought out blog posts I’ve come across this year. Bryce Ashlin Mayo reflects quite profoundly on a post-industrial call to discipleship, exposing and critiquing the church’s insistence on efficiency in discipleship making. Playing off a brilliantly done Chipotle video on returning to sustainability, he invites his readers to consider what it might look like to pursue discipleship more organically. He even draws on the tendency toward uniformity over diversity through the greenhouse industry, recognize that the same potential for a “greenhouse disease” exists in the Christian church as much as it does in the agricultural industry. Continue reading

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An Embodied Argument

I’ve been working my way through the Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (2nd edition, Hauerwas and Wells) the last couple days. The book is an extended argument for the integral nature of worship and ethics. It’s pretty costly book, but certainly worth encouraging a library near you to pick up.

In chapter 5, “Gathering: Worship, Imagination, and Formation,” Philip Kenneson writes:  “Every human life is an embodied argument about what things are worth doing, who or what is worthy of attention, who or what is worthy of allegiance and sacrifice, and what projects or endeavors are worthy of human energies. In short, every human life is “ bent ” toward something. Every human life is an act of worship.”

The question I am left pondering this morning is: “What embodied argument am I making by the way I live my life about who is worthy to be worshiped?” It’s a good question to ask from time to time and answering honestly means paying close attention to the rhythms and patterns of my days and weeks. Some rhythms are more obvious – gathering for worship on Sundays, nightly family dinners; some I would guess are less so. To really answer this question, I need the insight and perspective of those around me. I wonder how my wife and our children would answer this question? I wonder what reviewing my calendar or my bank statements would reveal? I wonder what my neighbors and friends and others in my church would observe?  Continue reading

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Where to begin…

When I saw the advisory committee report on the Belhar Confession late Monday night, I was quite concerned that the conversation and voting among the delegates would unfold the way it did. I am still processing last night’s decision and expect I will continue to do so for some time. It was not the outcome I had hoped for. As several delegates expressed last night, there is a bit of frustration in not being afforded an opportunity to vote on the Belhar as a Confession or at least as a Testimony. The non-binding nature of the Ecumenical Faith Declarations designation leaves the Belhar in an awkward place for us. How do we relate to a confession that does not bind us together? On the other hand, by providing some official status to the Belhar and approving it for use in discipleship and liturgical purposes, synod held open the door that the Belhar can be utilized in very beneficial ways within individual congregations.

My post yesterday morning (When Excellence is Not Enough) outlined my concerns with the advisory committee report. What I did not say in that post was that I was actually quite encouraged to see recommendation number 6 in the advisory committee’s report. This idea is extremely important in that it would allow us to explore one of the underlying issues that our denominational dialogue on the Belhar has exposed over the past three years: we have multiple operational definitions of what a confession is at work among us. The fact that a study committee on “what we mean by confession” was not approved by Synod was extremely disappointing. Perhaps, many of the delegates discerned that such a study committee would be all about the Belhar for another three years. Whatever the personal rationale, the communal decision left much to be desired.  Continue reading

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When Excellence is Not Good Enough

Like many of you who will read this post today, I have eagerly and perhaps somewhat curiously been waiting to see how the advisory committee responding to the overtures related to the Belhar Confession would present their recommendations to the CRC Synod (This is the annual leadership gathering for the denomination in which I am rooted). Admittedly, I was quite surprised to see a predominately unified report emerge. I had fully expected a set of majority-minority reports to be presented this year. For their efforts to present unity in the presence of an ongoing disagreement about the status of the Belhar Confession within our denomination, this advisory committee needs to be thanked.

However, for as much as I would like to see consensus emerge in our discernment surrounding the Belhar, I do not believe that the creation of a new category of Ecumenical Faith Declarations is the route we should take. I have three significant concerns related to the advisory committee’s recommendations and two comments in response to our reactions around the Belhar. Continue reading

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More than a mutual sharing of good gifts

Brian McLaren offered a blog post last week in which he shared his response to a question from a Hindu friend regarding the place of proselytism in a multi-faith world. His post has been running in the back of my thoughts for a couple days now.

McLaren suggested that there is a difference between proselytism and evangelism. Proselytism is where some “actively recruit people from other religions to defect from those religions and join their own.” Evangelism, with its missional character is concerned with the common good and, in it’s original sense (distinguished in his post from “the traditional sense of demanding conversion with the threat of eternal damnation”), occurs as “each religion is encouraged to bring its good news – its message about the common good, its transferable wisdom, its treasures to be shared.” Continue reading

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