Showing posts from November, 2010

The Naked Anabaptist: Book Review

The Naked Anabaptist: The Bare Essentials of a Radical Faith by Stuart Murray ; Herald Press (2010) In The Naked Anabaptist, Stuart Murray makes a case for Anabaptism as the "original" emerging church movement .  It's a bold assertion, and one that has merit considering it was part of the 16th-century version of the Church's 500 year rummage sale (read Phyllis Tickle 's The Great Emergence for more about this).  Murray sees modern Anabaptism as more of a theological underpinning that could easily be embraced in a variety of Christian communities.  He also sees the end of " Christendom " as the perfect time for Anabaptism to find a real foothold in Christian culture.  Murray assumes as fact that we are living in a post-Christendom historical moment--a moment he describes thusly: the culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story ans as the institutions that have

A Defining Vision - Part Two "Reveal"

This week I am concluding a two-part sermon series on the vision of our church.  I have to confess that I have sweated over these two sermons a lot more than I thought I would.  I decided at first that the best way to approach them was to think like a prophet.  But when I thought about what happened to the prophets---they were reviled, stoned, imprisoned and basically ignored---I wondered if my strategy might have a flaw in it. There is something prophetic in casting vision, though.  Especially if the vision that is being cast is a holy vision.  I imagine that sounds a bit pretentious to some, but let me explain.  When I say "holy" I just mean something that strives to be as close to God as possible.  A holy vision is one that is unmistakably God's.  There's no way that someone could equate it with anything else. In other words... it sounds a little crazy.  It seems impossible to reach.  To think about such a vision brings both the chill of fear and the

A Defining Vision - Pt. 1

Two and a half years ago I asked the elders of my church a question:  If our church ceased to exist tomorrow... who would miss us? We struggled with this question because we knew the way we answered it would reveal a great deal about the focus, and vision of our church. Some of our elders were brutally honest back then and said, "Only our people would really miss us."   Believe it or not, that is the sort of answer that almost every church in America would have to give if they were pressed to be truthful. You see, most churches are focused like a laser on just staying alive, retaining the people they have, making everyone happy, preserving the status quo... And in our case it wasn't that our church neglected missions and ministry to people outside the walls of our Sanctuary, it just wasn't really our main focus.  It wasn't what defined us. Our elder team recently commissioned a task force to identify the defining vision of our church. We began by exploring ou

Golden Years Week Two: "Old?"

This week I am concluding a two-part sermon series on aging. Several of my church members confessed to me that prior to last week's sermon, they were more than a little skeptical about how I would have anything at all to say about getting older---since I'm such a young whipper-snapper. What we learned last week supplied the foundation for what we'll be talking about this week.  We were challenged to ask ourselves, "Are our best years behind us or ahead of us?"  And we explored the Biblical difference between a kainos and a neos understanding of what is "new."  Our culture only cares about what is neos, what is fresh and young in terms of age.  God is more concerned about kainos which tells us that no matter how things look on our outside (even if they are falling apart!) God is constantly renewing us on the inside. But what if we don't get this?  What happens when we continue doing things as we've always done them, and holding on to our twiste

The Gospel According To Jesus

The Gospel According To Jesus: A Faith that Restores All Things by Chris Seay ( Thomas Nelson , 2010).   Chris Seay's newest book  The Gospel According To Jesus is the kind of book that I will be pondering long after I have finished reading it.  Seay, a church planter, author and pastor, is a man after my own heart.  He's the author of The Gospel According to Tony Soprano and the Gospel According to Lost-- which reveals that he's the kind of guy who's not afraid to make the connections between the sacred and the "profane."  The fact that The Sopranos happens to be one of my favorite TV shows ever doesn't hurt either.  However, The Gospel According to Jesus is something completely different--it's a call to repentance for the Church and for those of us who call ourselves Christians.  In Seay's mind, the Church has ceased to place Christ at the center of it's theology, ecclesiology, soteriology and a host of other "ologies."  It&#