Tag Archives: discipleship

When Noise Returns

This past IMG_1821Sunday afternoon, for the first time in 47 days, the radio was on while I was driving. There was some song playing – I really did not recognize who it was. I did not mind the music itself. It’s simply that after nearly seven weeks of driving in radio silence, the music seemed oddly out of place.

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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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Faith of the Wind and Waves

This morning, I found myself praying by simply listening to the wind. Don’t get me wrong: I am not talking about a mystical or other-worldly experience that overtook me. And I am certainly not advocating the adoption of a neo-pagan meditation practice. Rather, in listening to the wind, I found myself praying – but the praying was not me bringing words to the table, but me learning to be still. Psalm 46 comes to mind. As I think about it, this listening prayer really started last night as I noticed one of our trees leaning a bit more than usual as the rain soaked the ground and the winds pushed their way through our area.  It continued through the night as the wind howled around the corners of our house and the trees’ groaning woke me several times. And then again this morning, as I drove our kids to school this morning and felt the need to adjust my steering in order to compensate for the wind’s continued pushiness, I continued to listen.  Continue reading

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Your Daughter’s Hand…

I remember making that nerve-racking phone call.

Me: “Mr. H., I have a question to ask you.”
Mr. H. “Hold on. I think Mrs. H. better be on the other phone for this one.” Mrs. H. picks up the other phone.
Me with trembling voice: “Okay. Mr. & Mrs. H., I would like to ask your permission to ask your daughter for her hand in marriage?” 
Mrs. H. “You only want her hand? What about the rest of her? Don’t you want all of her?” 

Yep. That was my (now) mother-in-law’s quick-witted response to my nervous fumbling over how to ask them for their blessing on our plans to get engaged and married. “Don’t you want all of her?”

How do you respond to that?! I am sure I stammered out some sort of response – though even now, I’m not sure that it was even halfway intelligible – and they graciously helped me finish the conversation and gave us their blessing.

My mother-in-law’s question “Don’t you want all of her?” has stuck with me. And though the context is somewhat different, I have found myself reflecting on it quite a bit lately.

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How Will They Taste & See?

Sometimes, a disclaimer is needed right up front. So here it is: I am not a youth pastor or a specialist in youth ministry by any stretch of my imagination. I suspect that some who read this post will be smerking knowingly because whether through personal experience or through professional training, the thoughts and questions that follow are all too familiar. My thoughts and questions on young adults – which at 40 years old, I can no longer rightfully claim to be – and faith emerge both as a parent of teenagers and as a pastor of an “established” congregation. What follows is an extended version of questions and comments I raised in our congregation’s spring 2013 Family Ties newsletter.  Continue reading


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“Who are you eating with on Friday night?”

Abandoning the industrialized approach to discipleship and embracing an organic approach to discipleship that Bryce Ashlin-Mayo is calling for (see yesterday’s post) is not an easy transition to make, if for no other reason than we are a people who like numbers.

We are convinced that to make something count it needs to be counted, particularly financial numbers. We look for them in our entertainment industry. Nowadays, the quality of a movie is often simply depicted in terms of how much money it grosses in its first three day weekend. The content is secondary to the perceived popularity determined by how many millions of dollars the movie grosses. We watch numbers with our celebrities: who was the highest paid actress last year? How many downloads has an artists new video or song had? Where does a person rank on the list of the world’s richest people? Our economy, likewise, is healthy or not based largely on the number of job losses or gains in a given month. We constantly poll the popularity of government leaders and of government itself, determining whether they’ve done their job based on whether the people answering their phones have a favorable impression of our politicians – an impression that is shaped primarily by the most recent sound bites the media, spammed email, or a boisterous talk show host has fed them. The quality of their work is understood by popularity polls. 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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Monastic Discipleship for a Missional Church?

Last fall, Mike Breen offered a course-corrective 2 part blog post called “Why the Missional Church will Fail.” The post provoked a fair bit of conversation within missional church circles about the tendency to overlook discipleship in our enthusiasm for engaging with our neighbors. Mike writes:

While the ‘missional’ conversation is imbued with the energy and vitality that comes with kingdom work, it seems to be missing some of the hallmark reality that those of us who have lived it over time have come to expect: Mission is messy. It’s humbling. There’s often no glory in it. It’s for the long haul. And it’s completely unsustainable without discipleship.

Discipleship, as Mike goes on to describe it, involves an ongoing process of growing into the character and competency of Jesus Christ. In discipleship we become progressively more and more like Jesus, integrating more fully who we are with how we live so that we live as Jesus would if he were us.

The question that follows from this emphasis is “how do we cultivate discipleship?” Continue reading


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