Podcasts COMING!

People that I know are calling me crazy…but hey, I am and so what!  I
want to start doing some podcasts next month.  So, deal with it!
Seriously, it will be fun!  I have all the tech stuff at my home to do
it and I have lots of people in my journey who love to talk about all
sorts of stuff.  So beginning in December, the Youth Leadership
Institute will begin a podcast produced live from the Dugall home
studio in beautiful Eagle, Idaho.  We’ll cover topics like the
"Missional Order of Revolutionaries", Missional living and ministry,
YLI, and other topics of interest.  I’m going to try to get some
interviews with some of our YLI speakers from the past…the
irresistible Chris Yambar; the one and only Mike DeVries..Nate, the
Canadian Metrosexual, Barnes…Ben "I am god" Kroeker…the YLI
staff…whoever will talk to me!  We’ll let you know where to pick up
the cast as soon as the first one is ready!  For questions, email me!  rdugall@apu.edu

The Fear of Growth

1_84As you may have noticed from a couple of past blogs, I have been enjoying the learning journey with Richard Rohr through his book, Everything Belongs.  I’m on my second trip through "Rohr land"…contemplating contemplative prayer and the implications of spiritual development in my life.  Last night’s reading was especially relevant to some in the faith community that I am privileged to be in…many of the people in our community fear growth.  I wouldn’t want to come across as overtly arrogant here…but that frustrated me when I first heard many of them share their growth apprehensions.  I thought to myself, "they just don’t get it, do they?"  Until I sat back and realized that although I have a few more miles on my life than many of them, I still fear growth.  There is something about it that sounds good until you start walking on its forbidding shores.  Here’s another taste of Rohr on growth:

"If we’re not willing to be led through our fears and anxieties, we will never see or grow….every step up the ladder of moral development is taken in semi-darkness, by the light of faith.  The greatest barrier to the next level of conscience or consciousness is our comfort and control at the one we are at now.  Our first response to anyone calling us to truth, greatness, goodness, or morality…will be increased anxiety.  We don’t say, ‘isn’t this wonder’.  Instead we recoil in terror and say, ‘I don’t know if I want to go there’."

Egos and Ministry

TitreRichard Rohr in his powerful book, Everything Belongs, states the following,

"I’ve seen far too many activitists who are not the answer.  Their head answer is largely correct but the energy, the style, and the soul are not.  So if they bring about the so-called revolution they are working for, I don’t want to be part of it (especially if they are in charge).  They might have the answer, but they are not themselves the answer.  In fact, they are part of the problem.  That’s one reason that most revolutions fail.  They self-destruct from within.  Jesus and the great spiritual teachers primarily emphasized transformation of consciousness and soul.  Unless that happens, there is no revolution…overly zealous reforms tend to corrupt the reformers, while they remain incapable of seeing themselves as unreformed.  We need less reformation and more transformation"

Ooooo, this is mighty tasty!  I don’t want to get into the proverbial finger pointing…I believe that Rohr is right.  The "revolution" needs less leaders who are growing in popularity, having bigger book deals and growing churches.  In fact, the critique that many of those "emergent" leaders leveled against the church of modernity is having less relevance and a growing "aire" of hypocrisy.  Popularity and notoriety have their place (I think…I’m not sure though) if authentic transformation is occurring in the hearts and lives of those who are living the revolution.  But I believe Rohr has something very powerful and prophetic to add to the discussion these days…if you are leading a revolution, it is ultimately going to lead to your corruption.  Power, the lights of celebrity, growing influence over the populace, ego, etc. will eventually start to draw you into the very thing that you are protesting and trying to reform.  People will start saying stronger and crazier things just to get an ear.  People will start to wield more and more control in order to hold on to that which feeds the insatiable appetite of ego and narcissism.  Rohr goes on in this section of the book and says,

"…we all say, "this is it" and we jump on the bandwagon, the new politically correct agenda.  And then we discover it’s run by unenlightened people who in fact do not love God but themselves."

I’ve been hearing of more and more leaders attempting to get out of the spotlight. Believe me, that’s probably the best move they can make.  I believe it is always best for us to be faithful in the sphere to which God calls us…to covet a broader voice or imprint on culture is to simply ask for trouble.  Wouldn’t you love to see more humility, cooperation, descending egos/influence rather than people who have a real place in the revolution fall into phoniness and hypocrisy?  I know I do! 

The Definitive Sign that we are in the End Times!

084990059x01_ss500_sclzzzzzzz_v53575989_This is it! The sign that the Bible lays out explicitely about when Jesus is going to return! Mike Erre not only wrote a book but some publisher (a respected one at that!) actually published it. Now, I want you to know that I pride myself on being somewhat of a Revelation scholar. I have taught that book more times than any throughout the entire 66 books of scripture. I can tell you for certain that the following sections of Revelation clearly point to THIS sign (the publishing of Jesus of Suburbia) as a definitive sign of the end times:

“and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword and his face was like the sun shining in its strength” (1:16)Have you ever seen Mike? His mouth could hold a couple of swords PLUS the scabards! His face, well, it only shines when he sweats…which is most of the time!

“do not be afraid” (1:17) I must admit, the first time I met Mike, standing next to him, I was afraid! The guy is a behomoth!

“and I went to the angel, telling him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “take it and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey” (10:9). Now, Mike is a big man…saying he likes to eat is like betting the farm on the fact that K-Fed and Brittany wouldn’t make it to 3 years. Come on! Mike has never met a scroll, a pizza, a burger or whatever that he wouldn’t eat!

I don’t want to belabor this point…but I’ve looked through Revelation again and see too many “coincidences”…too many sure-fire signs of the publishing of Mike’s book as fulfillment of prophesy – could it be he is the “beast from the sea”? Hints – big man, lives near the ocean, big man! Some may even say that his book is one of the “bowls of wrath” (although I must admit, I haven’t read it yet).

Seriously, my SIX copies just arrived today from Amazon (Order it here!)and I am anxiously awaiting the moments that are ticking away until I open the first page and start the Erre feast. Tell you the truth, I never thought Mike would ever put things in writing. I knew he was gutsy but now he really has to take responsibility for what he says!

Here’s to you Mikey! I love ya! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into your book tonight. The other copies are going to some of the members of our community. I figure that they need a bit of heresy every so often…it keeps them honest!

By the way, he DIDN’T have the publisher print his picture on the cover of the book…in case you want to know what he looks like, here are a couple of pics!


My take on the “Evangelical Incident”

Ist2_598907_my_two_centsOk, everybody is throwing in their two cents worth. I thought I would do the same. There are some very perceptive and pastoral comments on the blogsphere. Scot McKnight’s comments are helpful…so are Mark Driscoll’s. I put some comments on “The Jesus Creed” site for reflection with everyone…here they are:

Good words Scot…unfortunately, I think we have to take steps further into this “issue”. I believe it is time to find ways to live life in faith communities where leaders can struggle with transformation without threat of losing their jobs. We have to remember that for many “leaders”, the ministry is their profession. I don’t know of one professional who hasn’t had to wrestle with the “shadows” of their life in the context of their work. We (Christianity) assume that pastors/leaders will have their “act” together when they do ministry. Wrong assumption. All that assumption does is take the issues in the life and push them deeper into the “shadow”. I love one book in this regard, The Paradox of Success by John ONeil. It is pretty explicit about the deadliness of living with “shadows”. We have to find ways to get people and institutions to NOT expect pastoral leadership to be the modern incarnation of the perfect Son of God. BEcause we have titles like “reverend” and “God’s Servant” and “the ordained”, we set men/women in leadership up for falls. The expectation that I have experienced as a pastor/leader for over 30 years is that people expect perfection. That drives a leader into hiding. You can’t be public about who you are. That leads to living a double life. It leads to anger and resentment that displays itself in addictive behavior. I don’t know…this is a huge subject. All I know is that we need some careful reflection on this matter. It is time to let leaders be people…like you said, we all sin. To expect anything less is to set up another Haggard situation again and again and again.

Some serious conversations and decisions have got to be made. Until we start confronting our celebrity culture…until we stop worshipping @ the altars of “successful churches”…until we stop expecting that we are going to model our lives and ministries after people whom we want to put on pedestals as “false gods”…until we start to give some serious consideration about what it means to live in community where everyone is experiencing bold honesty…we are going to experience this type of tragedy again and again (didn’t I already say that? mmmm, yes). All I know is that some changes have got to be made.

What are we calling students into?

Newsleak_1What is Jesus calling students “into”? When the Kingdom of God invades a student’s life, what should that look like? What are you, as a Christ-follower supposed to embrace? If you love students or you “work in ministry” with students, what is the anticipated net result of your ministry strategy? Experience and observation tell me that most people are interested in what a young person “believes”. As long as the student has a “personal relationship with Jesus”, we are satisfied. Unfortunately, studies have demonstrated again and again that for a vast majority of students “right doctrine” or even a heart-felt response to the invitation of the gospel is NOT enough to sustain a student through the most tumultuous years of their lives. Studies tell us that close to 85% of students who leave high school, even with a “personal relationship with Jesus” fall off the track of faith by the time they are 25 years of age. That statistic alone motivates many of us who are committed to Kingdom work with high school students to wonder how we can help young people bridge that gap. Personally, I believe that SOME of the reason may lie in what we are calling students into through our local ministries. In many ways, we have either sold the Kingdom of God short or we have done a “bait and switch”…we’ve told students about Jesus as Savior (to get them to heaven) without sharing the implications of what it means to follow Jesus as Lord.

Here’s what I suspect – far too many people who claim to be people of Jesus talk a good line…they believe the right things but they don’t LIVE THE LIFE of the Kingdom. In the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), “orthopraxis is just as important, if not more important, than orthodoxy”. Jesus doesn’t call us to a set of faith statements. He calls us to follow Him and to live a lifestyle that has as its prime example, the life of Him who we claim to love. As a result of struggling with the reality of the huge loss to the Kingdom of students emerging from high school into young adult life and as a result of attempting to take Kingdom living more seriously, we at YLI have created something we call, “The Missional Order of Revolutionaries”. The Missional Order is YLI’s attempt at clarifying a lifestyle and calling students into a flow of a historically based movement that provides a framework from which to actualize this goal of Kingdom Living.

Here are a few thoughts that contributed to the establishment of this “order”. First of all, it has to do with history. In my experience, history communicates two distinct truths: firstly, that contemporary human experience is being lived in the context of a broader story. It is a story that has been occurring for centuries and has a profound impact on our current lives. Without understanding the story, we live our daily lives with no perspective and often with a sense of extreme arrogance. The story of history provides the framework from which we do all that we do especially in ministry and living the challenge of making contemporary the realities of the Kingdom of God. Without the story of history, we are bankrupt and irrelevant. I cringe to think of what would occur in the world if ALL we had were the present-day experience of the Church. Without the lessons and blessings of Christian history, the prevailing Church would be dead in the water. In truth history is truly “His-story”. The narrative of scripture begins and ends with the presence and power of God. Through this narrative, God reveals, acts, dreams, relates, works, weeps, laughs, regrets, redeems, sacrifices, speaks, empowers, redeems, and creates. History is the story of God interacting with our story. Genesis 2, reminds us that God says, “it is not good to be alone”. The stories that make up history are the stories of relationship…there is a relational fabric to the universe. These stories intricately and intimately involve the human species. This is a relationship that is created in the mind and through the action of God. His-story would not be complete without our-story. That is what makes the study of history so compelling. It is fascinating to observe how God revealed Himself in various times and in specific relationships throughout history. It is also extremely captivating to attempt to understand our role in his plan. As God attempted to transform human lives through His various activities, history records whether humans “got it” or “didn’t get it”. The pages of history relate the story of a God who is constantly acting and anxious to relate, but whose actions are often ignored and spurned by the very ones with whom He desires to connect.

In the midst of political oppression and theological compromise a movement of teachers and students arose, dedicated not only to “living the text” but also to a revolutionary lifestyle. It was from this milieu that a young, itinerant teacher from Nazareth adopted a methodology of training and lifestyle shaping to mold the lives and hearts of those who would be called his “disciples”. Our present establishment of a contemporary Missional Order of Revolutionaries is mined and refined from this story of God’s relationship with His people, not only while Jesus walked the earth, but also during the early centuries of the Common Era (A.D. or C.E.).

Medieval history, a time fraught with tragedy, mystery, ecclesiastical misstep and apostasy became fertile ground for the moving of the Holy Spirit. Out of the struggle for church identity emerged a movement of young people pursuing faithfulness to God and taking a prophetic challenge exemplified in word and deed to the prevailing culture. Both movements changed the world, as we know it. But both movements also involved people who were often regarded as ones who had not measured up to the fullness of their potential as human beings. They were young, impressionable, and still not seen by many in their time as having what it takes to be influential or important. These young people were still on a growth curve, emerging, questioning, and having as much potential of experiencing failure as they had in faithfulness. Even so, these movements heavily contributed to the work of God in their time and, in essence, were a significant aspect of the story of history that impacts our lives today.

Much has been learned from the early church, the dessert fathers, as well as the monastic history that was nourished during this Medievel period of time often regarded as the “Dark Ages.” Modern-day expressions of communal faithfulness to the incarnational call of God also add their voices to what is being created in this order.

As the Youth Leadership Institute community pondered its ministry strategy, we realized that we were missing something. We were committed to leadership development and dedicated to enabling and equipping an emerging generation for missional and incarnational leadership in a postmodern world. We were committed and passionate about developing paradigms for surfacing and encouraging the call of a new generation of difference-makers for the Kingdom of God to the glory of God. We had been living the process of building a movement of “Kingdom Subversives”…young people dedicated to assertive Kingdom living. However, we had not articulated a clear “picture” or vision of what students were being called to become. Thus, the creation of a Missional Order became a pressing need.

Historically, new spiritual movements have emerged at critical points in the Church’s life to meet the challenges of their times (contextualize missiology). These movements have often come in the form of Orders (Benedict in the 5th century; the Celts from the 6th century; the Franciscans in the 13th). In more recent times we have witnessed the development of Societies such as the Pietists and Moravians in Germany and the Wesleyans of 18th century England. In the last century Dietrich Bonhoeffer sought to form an order, a community committed to life together. 

 Today, like these bygone eras, there is a huge need for a fresh engagement of missional orders. The language of mission expresses a climate of change that presents massive challenges to the witness of local faith communities as God’s pilgrim people. Growing numbers of people are expressing the conviction of the need to form missional communities around an ordered life of practices. My question has become, “why not start with young people?” Below is a brief outline of what we have envisioned. You can discover more by visiting: http://mo.yliapu.org/

To provide relational accountability, resources, and support as we discern ways to practice the life giving narrative of Jesus and live out the emerging shapes of the Kingdom living across North America. We desire to:
•Incarnate the presence of God as sign, witness and foretaste of the kingdom.
•Invite men and women to become participants in the movement of Jesus for the sake of the world.
•Promote mutual accountability around practices and learning.
•Engage Scripture as the transforming center of common life.
•Practice the vocation of the church as a demonstration of the Kingdom.
•Participate in the worldwide mission of the Church.

The Order is a voluntary, self-perpetuating organization consisting of a community of emerging Christ-followers who choose, for themselves, to live missionally and incarnationally through a commitment to the Vows, Principles and Practices of the Order. The Order is established through the context of the mission of the Youth Leadership Institute. The Order calls its adherents to enter the following engagements (oblations) as a way of life:
oGod-centered life (from self to a theocentric life).
oA community of relationships which recognize the church as the living and organic body of Christ rather than a gathering of individuals or an institution.
oLiving incarnationally in and for the neighborhoods, communities, campuses, networks and world in which they live.
oTo orient oneself around the promise of spiritual formation and development
oThose choosing to join the Order agree to live out of the Vows, Principles and Practices of the Order

Members covenant to live out these practices:

oParticipate regularly with the members of the order for encouragement through YLI events and interactive community (www.yliapu.org). Members recognize that the Order does not replace focused commitment and involvement in one’s own local spiritual community.
oWorship within a fellowship of believers on a regular basis.
oEmbrace and renew one’s vows semi-annually.
oUse his/her stage of life/vocation as an instrument of the kingdom.
oPrayer ordered around the direction of the “Prayer Closet” of the YLI website.
oMonthly fasting for one day (dawn to dusk).
oDevelop incarnational relationships with others, practicing hospitality to the stranger and inviting others to enter the kingdom as disciples of Jesus.
oLive in the vows and practices of the Order and be guided by the YLI leadership in fulfilling the vows of the Order.

Vows of The Order – Those desiring “membership” are invited to make five vows:

* Love Jesus with all your heart, mind, soul, body, and strength
* Love People as you would love yourself
* Live the Gospel of the Kingdom of God
* Enter into a formation process that seeks to live life Simply, Purely, and Obediently
* Form a relationship with a Anamchara (a “soul friend”)