American Pastoral Idol

Sometimes I get the feeling that contemporary "churchworld" is diminishing into one big popularity contest.  Between comparing of sizes of congregations/attendance stats (yours is bigger than mine – something guys have a problem with anyway you look at it), book deals, salaries, publicity, conference exposure, etc…you have to start to wonder.  I have to admit, years ago – I fell into that trap.  There was a secret placator alive and well within my soul who took great pride in the adulation of others.  I was seeking information and encouragement and stealing as many ideas as I could to be able to achieve the culture's standard of success.  Well, maybe I'm older (definitely) and wiser (not very likely)…my importance is no longer a dream, goal, objective, or hope.  I'm simply glad to be alive…taking my place within the Kingdom and doing what I can do to incarnate Jesus in the circle of relationships in which I find myself.  It seems a bit arrogant to quote the, "I must decrease, He must increase" verse…but that's essentially what it is all about.  My life these days?  See how much I can get out of the way and let the Spirit work…if I'm involved, great.  If not, great.  Maybe this Naked Pastor cartoon can put it in perspective for ya:


Let the New Adventure Begin!

Adventure-travel-2 This past Sunday, at a very humbling and exciting meeting, a coalition of followers of Jesus, leaders in local congregational ministry and a denominational executive/visionary met to be able to discuss a new ministry proposal that involves my (our) future. 

I am going to post the proposal (if you are curious) but for the sake of quick information, this is a ministry proposal that keeps Vicky and me in the Treasure Valley of Idaho – specifically called and challenged by the Holy Spirit and supported by a "mother congregation" to be able to plant as many missional/faith communities as the Lord God leads us over the coming year. 

It is a specific call that is takes advantage of my entrapanureal spirit, passion for teaching and disciple-making, commitment to personal and communal transformation and my knowledge of the various "missional" movements throughout the world.  There is alot at stake in this new adventure…but the incredibly humbling part was how many people at my "home congregation" were not only enthusiastically behind this venture but were also willing to place themselves firmly in a team of people were join our common passions to see this vision come to fruition. 

For those of you who have been praying for me to receive a "call" from the Spirit that would lead to a new full-time ministry, it appears that your prayers as well as ours are in the process of being answered…we have waited on the Lord and God's direction and will continue to hope and pray…so continue to join us.  Things seems to be coming clearer.

Download Ministry Proposal

It appears that there is a convergence going on – one that is serendipitous and miraculous…this local congregation, our personal lives and desire for faithfulness, as well as the denomination's dreams are all being joined at this moment.  The words that Vicky continues to remind me of – "for such a time as this"…that's all I can say – it is becoming clearer that the last two and a half years of struggle, questions, and wilderness are now bearing fruit. In addition, God continues to surprise and delight…I know there is more on the horizon.

Obviously, more to come…for those of you who are my ministry companions, be prepared to be bombarded with questions and a need for community – that means you Jamie, Alan, Mike, Nate, Rickard, Chris, Henry, Dave, Bob, Mr. Kiwi, Dennis, Clint, Bro Maynard, Doug, Len, Ed, and the list goes on…

Marketing of “Church” out of control…

If there is ANY doubt about how far the contemporary church has gone to PUSH itself into culture with “perceived” relevance for the PURE reason of marketing, here is a CNN story about how one local church ticked off a community with a recent mass mail blast regarding a sermon series on sex. 

I had my doubts about posting this…in fact, I sat for about 10 minutes and prayed for some guidance…but many of you who look at this blog know that I like to comment on current church praxis. I tell you, this is simply one more example of how some local churches will DO ANYTHING to be attractional. If you can’t get people in the door with the good news you go with the SURE CULTURAL THING – sex! Sex sells…but it also continues to push the usual “bait and switch”…in other words, the attractional methodology issue – get people in the door any way possible and then hit them with the ticket to heaven so that you can feel good about yourself and how many people yo got “saved”.

Most of the marketing we receive in our neighborhood doesn’t go this far – but it does blast away at any and all other faith gatherings by saying, “we’re better, hipper, cooler, with better preaching, teaching, singing, music…whatever”. Like I said, another example of how far some will go to market themselves. To say I’ve got problems with all this is an understatement…without saying any more, I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!

New Spin on the Commandments

I just read the 10 Commandments of speaking at the TED Conferences…I thought they were not only timely but also applicable to many of my pals who are communicators.  If you know nothing about TED, you should.  New ideas, new perspectives, new spins on old subjects, challenging talks given by many of today's brilliant thinkers and innovators.  They put all the talks online so there is no excuse for not checking them out.  The issue with TED is this – it is not so much the content that interests me but the issue of presentation.  We in the Kingdom journey have LOTS to learn about how to present information, vision and truth.  TED communicators are those who lead the charge of how to make presentations effective and life transformational. 

Here are the 10 Commandments for TED communicators:

10 commandments of speaking at TED:

1.    Thou Shalt Not Simply Trot Out thy Usual Shtick.
2.    Thou Shalt Dream a Great Dream, or Show Forth a Wondrous New Thing, Or Share Something Thou Hast Never Shared Before.
3.    Thou Shalt Reveal thy Curiosity and Thy Passion.
4.    Thou Shalt Tell a Story.
5.    Thou Shalt Freely Comment on the Utterances of Other Speakers for the Sake of Blessed Connection and Exquisite Controversy.
6.    Thou Shalt Not Flaunt thine Ego. Be Thou Vulnerable. Speak of thy Failure as well as thy Success.
7.    Thou Shalt Not Sell from the Stage: Neither thy Company, thy Goods, thy Writings, nor thy Desperate need for Funding; Lest Thou be Cast Aside into Outer Darkness.
8.    Thou Shalt Remember all the while: Laughter is Good.
9.    Thou Shalt Not Read thy Speech.
10.    Thou Shalt Not Steal the Time of Them that Follow Thee.

Good commandments for Kingdom communicators to consider, huh?

What a waste of time!

Key_art_the_day_the_earth_stood_still What a waste…I remember the original. Well, honestly I can barely remember the film.  I was pretty young when the black and white version hit the screen.  But I saw it on the tube a number of times when I was a kid.  But this version – well, it just stunk!  First of all, it was an eco-nazi film…so preachy it was embarrassing.  Then, there was the blatant worldview that pure, stoic reason was what would solve all human issues.  Of course, all the animals are saved from the horrible human race.  It is an "ark" thing…but no destruction happened because humans got our intellectual act together and promised to solve the "earth's" dilemma.  In addition, there were some absolutely blatant references to previous political administrations and ideologies…but that's for another post (no it won't be really…I don't want to waste my time with it).  It is a shame that actors and actresses like Reeves and Connelly put their time into it.  Oh well…I'm going to watch "Hotel for Dogs" tonight with my sweetie!  I'm sure that will be TONS better!

A New Book to Recommend! The Narcissism Epidemic!

Rarely to I recommend a book before I have even finished it.  But in this case, I have the feeling that I am on solid ground.  It is a subject that we have investigated before…yet this book spells it out as plainly as possible.  The ultimate display of humanity's desire to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is revealed in our struggle with blatant narcissism.  And no other age in the history of the world is turning out to be one that has sold out so completely to the chilling implications of narcissism run amok. 
Narcissism_Epidemic_book Here is a snippet from the book:

"Understanding the narcissism epidemic is important because its
long-term consequences are destructive to society. American culture’s
focus on self-admiration has caused a flight from reality to the land
of grandiose fantasy. We have phony rich people (with interest-only
mortgages and piles of debt), phony beauty (with plastic surgery and
cosmetic procedures), phony athletes (with performance-enhancing
drugs), phony celebrities (via reality TV and YouTube), phony genius
students (with grade inflation), a phony national economy (with 11
trillion dollars of government debt), phony feelings of being special
among children (with parenting and education focused on self-esteem),
and phony friends (with the social networking explosion). All this
fantasy might feel good, but, unfortunately, reality always wins. The
mortgage meltdown and the resulting financial crisis are just one
demonstration of how inflated desires eventually crash to earth."

Enough said?  Get the book…especially those of you who are parents or youth workers, this is a must read.  My assertion is this – we are actually participating in the epidemic by tailor-making programs and strategies in local churches and faith communities that are focused on individual satisfaction.  Consumerism breeds narcissism.  I could go on and on…I won't!  Get the book!