Archive for May, 2009

Change!?!, Media for Worship

Updated Story of Noah’s Ark?

Last night, my wife and I watched Wall-E, a movie we got from Netflix. This is an 2008 academy award winning Pixar film about a robot left on earth, after the humans had destroyed it. A probe named, Eva, arrives and a love story begins. Later, you find out that many of the humans that left the planet are in a huge space ship waiting for the time to come back to earth. When Eva discovers a green plant growing on earth, it goes back to the space ship to inform them of the discovery of “life” on earth. This starts the chain of events that brings the humans back to earth to repopulate it. (If you haven’t seen the movie, there’s a lot more to it than what I write here.)

As I watched the movie, I thought, “This is awfully heavy material for a children’s film!” One of the major focuses of the movie was how terrible humans have treated our planet. It shows the planet as a virtual wasteland, filled with garbage made by people. Wall-E is a machine whose purpose if to box and stack-up the garbage to clean things up. While watching the film I thought there are several scenes in it that could be used to illustrate a sermon on caring for creation.

Later on, after we finished watching the movie it dawned on me. . . this is a highly adapted story of Noah’s Ark in a science fiction genre. Garbage all over the earth is symbolic of the flood of water in the Biblical story. Eva is symbolic of the dove sent-out by Noah to find signs of land. The space ship. . .

Have any of you seen this film or used it to illustrate your sermon(s)? What other movies have you watched lately that would be good fodder for a sermon?

Books / Readings

So Beautiful

Saturday afternoon I picked up the mail and found that I had received my next book for being a part of the Ooze Viral Bloggers…and it came on my birthday. The book is called “So Beautiful” by Leonard Sweet. I have spent some time reading it and I am in the 2nd chapter. I will be blogging about each chapter over the next several days as I read it.

In the book Sweet talks about two types of Church, the APC Church (Attractional, Propositional, and Colonial) and the MRI Church (Missional, Relational, Incarnational). The book is laid out in 5 chapters. The first is the Introduction, followed by one chapter for each part of the MRI, and the epilogue. Just like every Sweet book I have ever read So Beautiful is amazingly researched (you should see the footnotes at the back of the book..I think they go on for 45 pages.) He also loves acrostics….MRI, APC, EPIC.

There is so much in the introduction but here are a few quotes that stand out to me:

“The attractional church thinks that if they build it, and build it hip and cool, people will come.”

“The church that is missional had better know how to attract people to Christ.”

“APC Creates A- Members, P- Believers, C- Consumers. MRI creates M-Missionaries, R-Disciples, I- World Changers.”

“Jesus gave us ‘the form of a religion without religion’ or alternatively, an ‘irreligious religion’ or an ‘antireligion’ Jesus didn’t do establishment church.”

“Christianity minus Christ equals religion”

“These are the best of times to be the church. These are the worst of times to be a church”- Reggie McNeal

“We become imago Dei by participating in the Missio Dei”

“There is no spiritual life. There is only life. One life where the spiritual is not separate but the whole.”

“Missional is not a program arm of the church or a line item in the budget. It is living a life born in the very being of God.”

“You can’t program MRI into the church anymore than you can program missional or program relational or program incarnational. The words missional, relational, and incarnational are not tag phrases in the slanguage of faith but the operatic sweep of the gospel in brevity, beauty, and threeness.”

I’ll share more from the introduction and the chapters over the next few days. It’s a good book so far and one that I would recommend to anyone.

Community, Missional, Third Places

Third Spaces

Many people are probably aware of the concept of Third Spaces developed by the sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place”. For those who aren’t here is a little run down of what Third Spaces are from Wikipedia.

“The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Oldenburg calls one’s “first place” the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. Oldenburg suggests these hallmarks of a true “third place”: free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there.”

So your coffeehouses, pubs, bars, etc are Third Spaces.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about Third Spaces and the problem that most Pastors have with them…they are so busy that they can’t be in them. I know that has been true for me in the past and I am seeking to change that.

One thing that I am thinking about is a rental space that is literally next door to my house. I am in the process of thinking through the idea of renting the space next door, creating a third space out of it, use it for all kind of community events, have coffee and bakery items for sale all the time, and then use the space for Sunday Worship gatherings. The one problem as far as Sunday worship gatherings is there is no space for nursery and children ministries in that place..we would have to use my house for those things..which could be doable.

This idea is just in it’s infancy..though I am trying to find out what it would cost to rent it and if I can fix it up (paint it, etc..). I’m interested in your opinions…what do you think? And what kind of community activities/events could we hold there (some ideas are story time for children, after-school tutoring, music nights, movie nights, open mic nights, karaoke night, etc..)?



I mentioned yesterday that I wanted to share a quote from the book “Exiles” by Michael Frost regarding the dreaded word..evangelism. These thoughts came to me on Saturday when I was visited by a Jehovah Witness, who was at my front door. Here is the quote from the book:

“For too long the church has been preaching to a world that will no longer listen. As a result, many exiles are nervous about ‘preaching Christ’. As I mentioned, I acknowledge that they have been turned off by exploitative and manipulative evangelistic methods and repelled by an oversimplification of the gospel to a few short points in a brief tract. They would rather perform acts of service that ‘share the gospel’ with someone, for fear that they might become the very thing they wish to avoid: a narrow-minded, bigoted fundamentalist. This is an overreaction, though I understand where it comes from. But exiles need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. As we go about our lives, practicing proximity, presence, and powerlessness, there will undoubtedly come a time for proclamation. It probably won’t take the form of an uninterrupted monologue. In all likelihood, it will occur over multiple conversations, over a period of time, with those who we live among. But it will be the kind of private discourse that is intimate, personal, and life-changing, precisely because it has emerged out of a loving, long-term, trusting relationship between equals.”

This paragraph so contradicts, especially the last part, how the Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses practice their “evangelism”. There is no dialogue. There is no multiple conversations…just a knock on a door. And there definitely is no relationship. As I said yesterday, and the quote from the book gets at, the best way to share your faith is in the context of a relationship. Which means that not only your words need to point to Christ, but more importantly, your life needs to look like Christ…and that is tough stuff.

Missional, Understanding Context

Jehovah Witnesses

So Saturday was a beautiful day to be outside. It felt so good to have the sun shining, the birds singing, and to just spend time outside. We were getting ready for company to come and I was running errands. I had some downtime so I went onto our back patio and sat down to finish reading Rob Bell’s “Sex God”. As I had pulled in a few minutes before from an errand I had noticed guys walking around our neighborhood in suits. I knew they weren’t Mormons because there were more than 2 of them and they weren’t dressed alike. Anyway, I was continuing to read the book when I heard a knock on our front door. It was a guy with a suit on, holding a tract, and a bible. He began to walk through the tract that he had and I just kind of let him for a bit. Then I stopped him, and shared that I was a Pastor and that he could save the tract for someone else. I shared where I was Pastoring and then found out that he was a Jehovah Witness. I didn’t have the desire to get into a theological discussion with him and so he left.

This began me thinking about this type of “outreach”. Does it work? Do people really hear them out and then really show interest. I said to Kim, “It’s like trying to sell me a ‘product’ that I didn’t ask for and I don’t want.” It got me thinking of evangelism and how Christians have done it. Can evangelism be done without the context of a relationship- sure. Can God change a heart through a stranger sharing a message- sure. Does it happen that way most of the time…I don’t believe so. I believe evangelism best happens in the context of a relationship, slowly over time, where the person knows they are loved, no matter what the “end” result. I will be sharing a quote from Exiles tomorrow regarding this very thought. I end with the thought from Saint Francis, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

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